Football rules the roost with basketball next on the list, so that lens is undoubtedly in place as the Southeastern Conference (SEC) looks out upon the college athletics landscape to find its next addition. The Texas A&M Aggies are likely to be the next member of the powerhouse conference. If it goes through, the membership will officially be at 13. That round number means the SEC is likely to add at least one more team to align itself properly as it expands.
There’s a lot of conjecture about what the SEC will be looking for — which athletics programs are stable enough, successful enough and marketable enough to make adding the school worth the effort. Several names have been bandied about, but it’s likely to come down to two: Virginia Tech and Missouri.
The Virginia Tech Hokies would largely fit the bill because of one primary factor: they’re a nationally recognized football brand. While they’ve never won a national championship, they’re perpetually among the top teams every year. They’re a storied program that started in 1892 with nearly 700 total wins in its history. Frank Beamer has coached the team the last 23 years with a 198-95-2 record to show for it, including three of the last four ACC Championships.
Adding the Hokies would also increase the SEC’s presence into Virginia and extend the conference’s recruiting and marketing reach a bit up the Eastern seaboard and bring with it Virginia Tech’s recognition and brand.
The Missouri Tigers, however, are the better fit. The reality is that both the football and basketball teams are ranked and play at a high level, and should continue to do so despite the Frank Haith drama that extends from Miami’s recent unfolding scandal. Not only this, but they would bring two nice Midwestern markets with it — St. Louis and Kansas City. It’s also a better geographic fit for the conference as they already have teams in most surrounding states of Missouri and are adding a Big 12 colleague already in A&M.
Perhaps a surprise team like Maryland would land in the SEC or Louisville for that matter. But the two teams that make the most sense to round out the conference’s realignment look to be Missouri and Va. Tech with the better of the two being the Tigers. Time will soon tell us what other conference will be rocked by the moves: the Big 12 or ACC.