SEC Fans Chime in on the Possibility of Virginia Tech Joining the Conference

via gallery.me.com

As rumors of Virginia Tech possibly receiving an invitation to join the SEC continue to swirl, I wanted the opinions of fans from the SEC the issues of expansion and the Hokies joining the conference. I asked writers from several of SB Nation's SEC blogs the following questions:

1. Do you think the SEC should expand to 16 teams?
2. How receptive would  you be to Virginia Tech being a part of the SEC?

After the jump, you'll see the answers of writers from Team Speed Kills (SEC), Roll Bama Roll (Alabama), A Sea of Blue (Kentucky), And the Valley Shook (LSU), Red Cup Rebellion (Ole Miss) and Rocky Top Talk (Tennessee).

Team Speed Kills (SEC)

Year2

1. Do you think the SEC should expand to 16 teams?

I'm not thrilled with the prospect of expansion. The SEC works on almost every level as it's presently composed, and there's no way to guarantee that an expanded league would work as well. Not only that but I have a feeling that an 16-team SEC wouldn't happen without adding FSU and perhaps Miami as well for the national TV folks. As a Gator fan, I'm less than thrilled at that prospect.

2. How receptive would you be to Virginia Tech being a part of the SEC?

Personally, I'd be happy to welcome Virginia Tech into the SEC. I've lived in Charlotte, NC for the last two and a half years after having lived my whole life in Florida, and I've met quite a few Hokies in the meantime. Based on that experience, I think VT would be an excellent fit into the conference.

Mike Slive has played things remarkably close to the vest. You'll note that there have been exactly zero leaks out of the SEC and its member schools despite expansion conversations having happened, and the AJC's Tony Barnhart says he's never seen the conference so locked up tight. If Slive is working on an expansion package, I'd be shocked if Virginia Tech was not a part of it. At this month's SEC meetings, the top two expansion candidates thrown around informally by coaches and administrators were Texas and VT. The interest is definitely there.

Roll Bama Roll (Alabama)

Todd

1. Do you think the SEC should expand to 16 teams?

Personally, I don't, because a 16 team conference seems like an unwieldy behemoth that is going to wind up collapsing sooner rather than later. 16 teams represents too many cooks in the kitchen and the kind of problems that ultimately doomed the Big XII (too large of a footprint and therefor an inability to create genuine rivalries between divisions, the problem of one division being perpetually stronger than the other, unequal revenue sharing, etc) are going to rear their ugly heads again. The revenue sharing isn't a problem since the SEC already splits everything equally, and there are certainly ways to solve some of those issues by being smart in who you choose to invite (i.e. raiding the ACC and essentially staying within its own established footprint), but a 16 team super conference still just strikes me as logistical lunacy and I think the SEC would be foolish to go that route for the sake of "keeping up." That being said, I can completely understand the desire of the Big Ten to expand to 12 or even 14 teams and would have no problem with the SEC adding two more teams so long as they were a good fit geographically and historically, and are also solid athletic programs.

2. How receptive would you be to Virginia Tech being a part of the SEC?

I think the Hokies fit the bill as far as both a geographic fit and as a team that has a national reputation for fielding consistently good football teams. They would certainly up the "toughest football conference" image, from what I've seen have the kind of passionate fanbase that the SEC is known for, and just generally seem like a program that any conference would consider an asset. There are other schools that I personally would rather see join the SEC for historical reasons like Georgia Tech, whom Alabama used to have a very heated rivalry with when they were conference members, but I would have no problem at all welcoming the Hokies into the SEC.

A Sea of Blue (Kentucky)

Truzenzuzex

1. Do you think the SEC should expand to 16 teams?

I don't think any conference should be expanding to 16 teams. It effectively creates two football leagues under one roof, and inter-league play between the two divisions is at best going to be minimal. I think that would be bad for conference cohesion and creates logistics and cultural problems that are solvable, but the overall impact is undesirable for college sports.

All you have to do is look at the mess that is the Big East basketball tournament to see that sixteen teams are too many for a conference. The tournament takes too long and takes too great a toll on the teams that get to the finals. It may or may not be a moneymaker, but I think it is just too much. One man's opinion.

2. How receptive would you be to Virginia Tech being a part of the SEC?

From a football perspective, I think the SEC would welcome Virginia Tech. Culturally, Virginia Tech seems like a good fit for the SEC, but I do wonder if the Virginia legislature might require the SEC to take the Cavaliers as well, and that would make the overall package somewhat less attractive. Virginia Tech does not have any natural rivals within the SEC, so that will definitely figure into the calculus.

With that said, the Hokies have a rich football tradition and are well-suited geographically for the SEC. I know Virginia Tech has a rivalry with Boston College, but they are neither geographically nor culturally suited for the SEC. Virginia would be okay, but they bring little, market-wise, to the table and have been down for a while in the power sports.

If the SEC could have Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Miami join the league, it would be the kind of natural and ideal Southeastern football conference that even a Texas-led Pac-10 could not rival. The Florida schools would create a wild set of rivalries, the addition of Georgia Tech would produce an Alabama-Auburn style rivalry in the Peach state and bring the Atlanta market fully into the SEC fold. The hardest thing to do would be to equalize the power teams across divisions while maintaining the traditional rivalries.

Overall, I think it makes more sense for the SEC, if they must expand to 16 teams, to raid the Big 12 for Texas and A&M and the ACC for Florida State and Miami or Georgia Tech. I think the two Florida schools and/or Georgia Tech maximizes the overall earning potential of the leagues in the biggest markets while bringing together many traditional rivals under the same roof. That sounds like a too-perfect scenario to actually happen, though.

Basketball-wise, none of this matters unless Texas joins the league. They are the only school under discussion that would legitimately change the league a lot from a basketball perspective.

And the Valley Shook (LSU)

PodKATT

1. Do you think the SEC should expand to 16 teams?

I'm opposed to SEC expansion, especially to 16. It just seems unwieldy, with too many teams not playing each other often enough. So far, a 12 team SEC is nearly perfect. Why mess with a good thing?

2. How receptive would you be to Virginia Tech being a part of the SEC?

While I don't really like the idea of expansion in the 1st place, picking up VT (say, in a pair with T A&M in the west) seems like a good fit. The TV markets are a plus, it works geographically, and Blacksburg (from what I'm told) is a good college town. Based on our 07 meeting, VT fans seem passionate enough and willing to travel. It's hard to judge how successful VT could be in the SEC, but your performance as a perennial in the ACC says good things.

Personally, I'm a little concerned about your performance in other sports, but I don't think thats even going to matter in these discussions. How big is your baseball stadium?

In any case, If we do pick up VT, I say welcome.

Billy Gomila

1. Do you think the SEC should expand to 16 teams?

Well, from the start of all this I've consistently said that if further expansion is available (and at this point it clearly is), the SEC has to ensure that it can add quality football teams that add value to the conference's television contracts. Again, sticking more hands into the pt only makes sense if you can make the pot itself bigger. Staying pat won't hurt now, but it could in the future. Do I think a 16-team Pac-something hurts the SEC now? Not really. But if other regions start consolidating, we as a conference can't afford to be stuck with teams that don't add that value to the television contracts.

The question for the Pac-integer is whether whatever TV deal they strike will pay enough for the skyrocketing travel costs of sending teams two time zones away. It's not so much football as it is baseball, softball, track, swimming and so on and so forth. See how much Texas (or any of the other schools mentioned, who don't have the Longhorns' means) like flying out to Seattle, Eugene, Corvallis and Pullman on a regular basis for conference games. It wouldn't shock me if 10 years from now Texas is revisiting the arrangement.

2. How receptive would you be to Virginia Tech being a part of the SEC?

But back to the SEC. Here's where the TV markets come into play. The SEC has teams in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina Tennessee and Kentucky - and within driving distance of most of the biggest cities in those states. Adding a school like Georgia Tech or Florida State does nothing - Atlanta and most of Florida are already watching the SEC every weekend. You've gotta find new markets, and that's why you're hearing about the Texas schools and Virginia Tech. Texas A&M gets you into the Houston market, and Texas gets you even more than that when you factor Dallas and UT's national appeal. Virginia Tech gets you the Washington D.C. area. Add that and I imagine CBS and ESPN would be willing to kick some more money into those contracts.

As much as I'm a fan of "fit," I think we all have to agree that money's always going to come first.

Poseur

1. Do you think the SEC should expand to 16 teams?

Yes. I don't really want the SEC to expand, but I view it as inevitable and if we're going to do it, let's do it now when we can compete for the top programs out there. It looks right now that even a few weeks later is too late. I don't want to expand to add Louisville. If we're gonna do it, do it now. You don't always get to choose the timing. Besides, it's not like I have a whole lot emotionally invested in playing Kentucky, South Carolina, Vandy, Tennessee, or Georgia. The East and LSU are sort of strangers. We have more history against Rice and A&M than we do against most of the SEC East.

2. How receptive would you be to Virginia Tech being a part of the SEC?

I'm a bit biased as my brother is a Hokie, so I would love Virginia Tech to join the SEC. Blacksburg is an incredible town and I have really fond memories of that place. I even charged the field when y'all beat Miami for the first time. I think VT would make a great rival for Tennessee as well. Also, I believe that the East is the weaker division of the two, as only three teams has ever won the division title while 5 of the 6 Western teams have won the division. Adding an additional power to the East would help balance the conference a bit.

But let's not lie. We want VT because y'all can deliver the DC market and no other reason. The SEC is the best conference in the nation and we have a great TV contract, but the balance of power can quickly change. The SEC footprint only has one major TV market, Atlanta. We desperately need more large markets in order to solidify the SEC's place in the pecking order. I have emotional reasons for wanting the Hokies -- I really like Virginia Tech -- but expansion is about money. If we're gonna add teams, they need to add to the SEC's bottom line. Sorry to be blunt, but this isn't a romance, this is a business deal. Love (and hate) comes later. If you can bring us DC, we want you. If you can't, we don't. I think you can, but I am worried about the post-Beamer era. You have to keep winning.

Red Cup Rebellion (Ole Miss)

The Ghost of Jay Cutler

1. Do you think the SEC should expand to 16 teams?

Yes. I have always said with regards to conference expansion that the SEC should expand only if others begin to do so as well. Being as how it now looks as if we will have superconferences, the SEC should follow suit as to not get left behind. Keep in mind the fact that the SEC was the first 12-team conference with a conference championship game--a move which, while implemented nearly 20 years ago, set the conference up for its present dominance.

2. How receptive would you be to Virginia Tech being a part of the SEC?

Virginia Tech is one of the schools I would gladly welcome into the conference. For starters, it opens up a whole new market from which the conference borg can leech cash. Then it brings in a competitive team with supportive fans and a great gameday atmosphere. From a money and football standpoint, what isn't there to like about this move?

Rocky Top Talk (Tennessee)

Will

1. Do you think the SEC should expand to 16 teams?

Mike Slive said he was going to be "reactive in a proactive way", whatever that means. So now that he actually has something to react to, I think the odds SEC expansion happens are extremely favorable. If both the Pac 10 and Big 10 go to 16, I think the SEC will feel like it almost has to do the same. There are ways that 14 makes a lot more sense, especially if they can find two teams that expand the footprint without watering down the product. It seems like going to 16 with Florida State, Miami, Clemson, and Georgia Tech makes more sense, but I think going to 14 with Texas A&M and Virginia Tech is actually the best play on the table. Given the landscape, that's what I'd prefer at this point.

2. How receptive would you be to Virginia Tech being a part of the SEC?

I think VT's big win over Tennessee will certainly help them sidestep the "they can't play in this league" pretense - going into expansion while on a long losing streak to the SEC wouldn't have done you any favors. It's a good fit in terms of culture: the SEC is full of college towns that may not be quite as secluded as Blacksburg, but the atmosphere is very similar and VT has the necessary passion to fit in. There would be an instant rivalry with the Vols. Tech is also getting stronger across the board in its athletic department. Plus, outside of Texas, I'm not sure if there's a better combination of untapped television market/recruiting base than Washington DC and the Tidewater region. It's not going to sound as sexy as other expansion options, but I think it's a very, very good one.

So there you have it. While SBN's SEC writers may be very divided on whether or not the conference should expand, the ones who responded would unanimously welcome the Hokies with open arms. Virginia Tech fits the SEC culturally and athletically and would bring the conference a new media market in Washington, DC. Whether or not the Hokies actually "deliver" DC and to what extent can be argued.

These responses kind of surprised me because I expected there to be some dissent to the Hokies joining God's Conference. We've been a consistent winner, but we've never won a national title and only played for one. The fact that fans of the SEC would like to have the Hokies in their conference has me convinced we should accept any theoretical invitation from the league.

The ACC may be a better fit academically, but are we really so much better than the schools of the SEC that we should turn down any hypothetical offer to join the most competitive (and lucrative) football conference in the land?

Here's something else that I've realize in this exercise. ACC writers and some of its fans from the original eight continue to complain about expansion and how much it has ruined their traditions. The SEC fans meanwhile appear ready to accept us as with open arms as an equal.

Really, the Hokies are in a no-lose situation here. If they don't receive an invitation from the SEC, we remain part of a fantastic conference that I enjoy being a part of. But if they get invited by the SEC, they get a probably once in a lifetime opportunity to join a conference that has produced the last four national champions and is talked about ad nauseum on the four-letter network.

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