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Pac-10 to become Pac-16?


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Chip Brown

Orangebloods.com

Columnist

The Big 12 meetings are reaching their climax Thursday and Friday in Kansas City with the presidents and chancellors from the league coming together to discuss pressing issues, including sites for championships. (Look for the Big 12 title game in football to stay at Cowboys Stadium for the next three years.)

But when it comes to possible realignment, the Big 12 meetings may be premature.

Why?

Because it appears the Pac-10, which has its meetings in San Francisco starting this weekend, is prepared to make a bold move and invite Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado to join its league, according to multiple sources close to the situation.

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Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds has maintained that the Longhorns will do whatever it takes to remain the Jones' of college football.

Left out would be Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska and Missouri.

Messages left with Pac-10 officials by Orangebloods.com on Thursday were not immediately returned.

The six teams from the Big 12 would be in an eight-team division with Arizona and Arizona State. The other eight-team division would consist of USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State.

The thought is the Big 16 (or whatever they decide for the name) would start its own television network that could command premium subscriber dollars from cable providers on par with the Big Ten Network and pay out upwards of $20 million to each of the 16 schools in TV revenue.

Such a merger between the six Big 12 schools and the Pac-10 would build a conference with seven of the country's top 20 TV markets (Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco, Houston, Phoenix, Seattle and Sacramento). And such a league would likely command attention from every cable system in the country and command a premium rate from every cable system west of the Mississippi.

Those projected TV revenues would double the current payouts of roughly $9 million to Big 12 and Pac-10 members. If the Big 16 reached its projections, the league would also surpass the SEC's projected payout of $17 million per school reached in a 15-year TV deal with ABC/ESPN and CBS signed in 2008.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, the TV revenues paid out to the Big 12 in 2007 (the last year revenue was made public) were as follows:

1. Texas: $10.2 million

2. Oklahoma: $9.8 million

3. Kansas: $9.24 million

4. Texas A&M: $9.22 million

5. Nebraska: $9.1 million

6. Missouri: $8.4 million

7. Texas Tech: $8.23 million

8. Kansas State: $8.21 million

9. Oklahoma State: $8.1 million

10. Colorado: $8.0 million

11. Iowa State: $7.4 million

12. Baylor: $7.1 million

AN OFFER THAT CAN'T BE REFUSED?

An invitation from the Pac-10 will be hard for the six Big 12 schools being targeted not to consider. Why? Because Fox Cable Networks (a division of News Corporation), which serves as the chief operating partner of the successful Big Ten Network, appears ready to make the Big 16 Network happen.

Fox is the chief television partner of the Pac-10 currently, and its subsidiary Fox Sports Net currently holds the rights to the Big 12 cable package, which comes up for bid in the spring of 2011. The Pac-10 also has television deals with Fox up for re-bid at the same time.

The Big Ten has shown the conference network model works. According to published reports, the TV revenue paid out to Big Ten schools jumped from $14 million for the fiscal year 2006-07 to $22 million for the fiscal year 2007-08.

A&M TO THE SEC?

There does appear to be some resistance to an invitation from the Pac-10 from at least one of the six schools being targeted - Texas A&M. According to a source close to the situation, A&M officials have had serious conversations with the Southeastern Conference about the Aggies joining that league.

In Thursday's editions of the Houston Chronicle, A&M athletic director Bill Byrne was asked if the SEC is an option for the Aggies should the Big 12 break up, and he said, "It might be. You know what? It might be."

Byrne, the athletic director at Oregon from 1984-92 before going to Nebraska, has been openly critical of having student-athletes travel west, only to return home at odd hours.

Byrne has used the example of when the Aggies had their men's and women's basketball teams in Spokane and Seattle for the NCAA Tournament in March and couldn't get back to College Station until 6:30 a.m. with students having to attend 8 a.m. classes.

It's no coincidence Byrne's example included cities in the Pac-10's dominant time zone.

There is also reason to believe Oklahoma could be enamored with joining the SEC. But that does not appear to be an option Texas officials would be willing to consider. There is a sense among UT officials the academics in the SEC are not on par with Texas.

If A&M and Oklahoma were to splinter off and join the SEC, the Pac-10 would obviously have to revise its invite list.

Any move the SEC made in terms of expansion would likely cause the 15-year, $3 billion in TV contracts the SEC landed with ABC/ESPN ($2.2 billion) and CBS ($825 million) to be re-opened for negotiation.

The question would be how much more money the SEC could command in TV revenue without starting its own network?

A&M is starved for cash because its athletic department fell $16 million into debt and received a loan from the school's general fund to pay it off, causing a rift between the university and athletics. That rift, in part, led to A&M school president Elsa Murano to resign under pressure because she was pushing for the money to be paid back and was met with resistance by A&M system chancellor Mike McKinney, whose sons played football at A&M, and possibly even Texas Gov. Rick Perry, an Aggie who is still very involved in the school's politics.

Surprisingly, the Legislature doesn't appear to be an obstacle for the state's two biggest schools to split off into separate conferences, although that is not an ideal situation for either school. If A&M opted to head to the SEC and Texas opted to go elsewhere, there is a very good chance Texas would no longer play the Aggies in any sports.

NEW OPTIONS

So after this weekend, there will be a new option for half the schools in the Big 12 to find a new home.

There also appears to be a chance Nebraska will not get invited to the Big Ten, which means the only school the Big 12 stands to lose to the Big Ten is Missouri. The Big Ten and its efforts to move south, thus far, have been rebuffed by Texas, which doesn't like the logistics of serving as the southern boundary of the Big Ten.

So the Big Ten continues to focus on Notre Dame and is seriously considering whether to invite Missouri as well as three schools from the Big East (Rutgers, UConn and either Syracuse or Pittsburgh) . Such a move would likely collapse the Big East, where Notre Dame plays its sports other than football, and might cause the Irish to finally acquiesce to joining the Big Ten.

If that happened, there would be a strong likelihood that four super conferences of roughly 16 teams could emerge: the Big Ten, the SEC, a collaboration of the Big 12 and Pac-10 as well as a collaboration of the Big East and ACC.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe warned against that when the Big 12 meetings started this week in Kansas City.

"I think it's very serious," Beebe said. "And I think it's something that we better be very careful about. If we come to a day where there are four 16-member conferences, then it's going to be a sad day, and it's going to be very difficult to not have more legal issues and interventions. The pressures will be immense for certain programs to be successful, (and) there will be less chances to win conference championships and national championships."

CAN THE BIG 12 SURVIVE?

Believe it or not, it's still Texas' goal to hold the Big 12 together, and simply create a non-conference football scheduling alliance with the Pac-10 that would help generate a big-money, cable TV deal for both leagues.

Such a move would continue to allow Texas to pursue its own network and create a unique, potentially lucrative revenue PIRATED VIDEO IS ILLEGAL UT wouldn't have to share. If Texas ended up as one of the six schools going off to join forces with the Pac-10, it would likely have to forgo its own network.

Larry Scott, the Pac-10 commissioner, told Orangebloods.com recently his schools are "very interested" in exploring a conference network and that it would have to be an "all rights in situation."

Can Texas convince the rest of the league the Big 12 is the way to go? Would all the wandering eyes like Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Nebraska and Missouri commit to staying in the Big 12 immediately if Texas committed to staying in the Big 12 in light of the Pac-10 offer?

Missouri probably would not. The Tigers already have one foot in the Big Ten. But Nebraska has no assurance it will be invited to the Big Ten and could be left completely out of the power conference structure if it's not careful. Texas A&M doesn't have the resources to start its own network and doesn't appear eager to be in a league that allows Texas to generate added revenue. The same might be true for OU.

So the plot thickens. The Pac-10, which is hamstrung by geography and would love to have its sports aired into the Central time zone, wants a merger. And it appears ready to upstage the Big Ten in this game of musical conferences. No one would have its own network in the Big 16, which could compel A&M and OU to accept an invitation.

The Pac-10 doesn't want to waste time by going out on dates with the Big 12 with a non-conference football scheduling alliance. It wants to take half of the Big 12 and get married. Now, we'll see, who, if anyone, meets them at the altar.

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well the colorado ad believes this is a forgone conclusion that it will happen and the big 12 will be no more.. i think it's a terrific move for the pac-10.. they would surpass what the sec is getting with their own station. I have also said the sec was stupid for not starting their own station. They are missing out on a lot of revenue from the diehard sec fans out there.

the one problem for teams like a&m is the amount of money and the issues with the travel for their non revenue programs. I would love for a&m to come to the SEC because they have a great tradition and would bring a lot to the SEC IMO.

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The conservative side of me is kind of sad to see where this is leading, simply because it'll change so many traditions but the child-like side of me finds all of this kind of exciting. I mean, really, this is going to be like watching a wildlife video of a pride of lions stalking a wildebeest.

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If something like this happens, I assume the SEC response would be to add OU and Tex A&M in the west, and Fsu/one of VT/WV/NC/CLEM/UM in the east?

clemson gives nothing to the sec.. not tv, not winning football.. no way imo will the sec resort to bringing a program like clemson in that doesn't at all provide tv value. the same with georgia tech. whoever they get will need to bring a new tv market to the sec. i would love to see the sec make a move for a&m.. many from the sec don't know the history of a&m and they have a nice fan base and it would add a number of new tv markets to the sec.. now oklahoma gives us nothing in television.. the sec doesn't have to expand at all, but if they do they need to already have their homework done and be ready to send the offers..

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OU would def. add to prestige though. OU is a power, and having them would help us retain our grip as THE conference.

i don't think we will have an issue with getting teams with prestige, but we need a tv market and there isn't one in oklahoma.. i mean literally they add nothing there and their basketball program will be nothing for many years. now i do agree as a football power they add to our conference, but we aren't hurting in that area as a conference.

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IMHO, the two teams that make most sense for the SEC are Texas AM and FSU.

I could be mistaken, but I am guessing A&M has some pretty good history with Arkansas, LSU, maybe even alabama.

FSU also would fit pretty easily into the SEC as far as rivalries go.

Does the SEC need to pull more teams than that? I don't think so. But I guess we will find out in the next few weeks.

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IMHO, the two teams that make most sense for the SEC are Texas AM and FSU.

I could be mistaken, but I am guessing A&M has some pretty good history with Arkansas, LSU, maybe even alabama.

FSU also would fit pretty easily into the SEC as far as rivalries go.

Does the SEC need to pull more teams than that? I don't think so. But I guess we will find out in the next few weeks.

i agree with a&m.. people don't remember their history with the teams you mentioned and they bring us a lot of fans/tv markets in texas.. now not as big as texas, but a&m has a great following and a new market the sec is not in now. i just don't see why the sec needs to follow suit and go to 16 teams. I think if they want to add teams they add 2 more and stay at 14 and still be the dominate force they are today..

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Adding Virgina Tech would make sense... access to VA, NC and DC/MD markets. I lived in MD and VT is huge there. That and A&M makes sense to me. FSU would not open any new markets for us. Finally, living here in Dallas, I really feel that Texas is much closer to the south east in terms of attitude, culture and general "fit". I have a hard time seeing UT being assocuated with the west-cost. Most Texans would baulk at that- they do NOT like the CA crowd. I would not rule out UT, A&M, TT, OK and OK State being in play for SEC

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Adding Virgina Tech would make sense... access to VA, NC and DC/MD markets. I lived in MD and VT is huge there. That and A&M makes sense to me. FSU would not open any new markets for us. Finally, living here in Dallas, I really feel that Texas is much closer to the south east in terms of attitude, culture and general "fit". I have a hard time seeing UT being assocuated with the west-cost. Most Texans would baulk at that- they do NOT like the CA crowd. I would not rule out UT, A&M, TT, OK and OK State being in play for SEC

the teams that don't add any value are georgia tech, clemson, fsu, and miami.. they don't open up any markets at all since the sec is all over florida, south carolina, and the atlanta market already. i don't hope the sec goes to 16 teams.. i think 14 would be enough IMO..

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I'm not understanding why the SEC would need to "open up a new market." Can someone explain that to me?

Adding FSU and Clemson would be phenomenal for the SEC because of those two schools enormous fanbases and rich tradition- something the SEC is built on. The SEC is built on a tradition of SOUTHEASTERN football, not some school in Texas.

I want both FSU and Clemson in the SEC so bad. Could you imagine the UF/FSU game and SC/Clemson game meaning even MORE every year? I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

If they could pull FSU and Clemson, then that would give them the ability to add two lesser teams to the West division as fillers. Someone like Southern Miss and...****, I don't know...Tulane again? Southern Miss would fit nicely in the West, I don't know who the second team could be, but the East would be absolutely stacked with the addition of FSU and Clemson.

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I'm not understanding why the SEC would need to "open up a new market." Can someone explain that to me?

Adding FSU and Clemson would be phenomenal for the SEC because of those two schools enormous fanbases and rich tradition- something the SEC is built on. The SEC is built on a tradition of SOUTHEASTERN football, not some school in Texas.

I want both FSU and Clemson in the SEC so bad. Could you imagine the UF/FSU game and SC/Clemson game meaning even MORE every year? I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

If they could pull FSU and Clemson, then that would give them the ability to add two lesser teams to the West division as fillers. Someone like Southern Miss and...****, I don't know...Tulane again? Southern Miss would fit nicely in the West, I don't know who the second team could be, but the East would be absolutely stacked with the addition of FSU and Clemson.

there are plenty of sec expansion articles that probably explain it better than me (i will find one i know i read earlier in the week that breaks it down), but the bottom line if you are the SEC you are going to add teams you do it in order to gain a new tv market which will in turn give you areas that you are currently not in and this will help with the future renegotiation which will happen right after you do the expansion or agree to it. Adding clemson does zero for the SEC. You have the south carolina market with sc so adding a second team in that market doesn't do anything to your appeal as a conference. That is why texas is such a huge pickup for any conference you get all those markets in houston and dallas with them coming to your conference and that is a lot of households you have just added and that is a bigger tv market share which is huge for any conference.

there are plenty of teams out there with great fan bases and tradition, but are they going to open up the sec to more households and an additional market we are not currently in and that is the key. of course you look at the school and what they bring to the plate like tradition in not just football, but what other sports do they add value to your conference. why do you think the rumors were out there about georgia tech and the big 10.. delany said he wants to get further into the southern market because they have no presence there right now and that is a big market they need to get into to make even more money. the bottom line it's about money and bringing in clemson, gt, and even fsu imo doesn't really add much to the sec.. now miami due to it being in southern florida that may be something the sec wants, but if you add an a&m we have an entirely new area now for the sec.

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the teams that don't add any value are georgia tech, clemson, fsu, and miami.. they don't open up any markets at all since the sec is all over florida, south carolina, and the atlanta market already. i don't hope the sec goes to 16 teams.. i think 14 would be enough IMO..

That horses*** for Tech, they have one of the best academics in the nation and are an AAU school plus all around sport success. I agree about the markets but Tech offers a lot to the SEC. As for Clemson, FSU, and Miami, not really.

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That horses*** for Tech, they have one of the best academics in the nation and are an AAU school plus all around sport success. I agree about the markets but Tech offers a lot to the SEC. As for Clemson, FSU, and Miami, not really.

If you think academics are a big part of the equation then you aren't understanding what they are looking at regarding expansion. tech adds a lot to the big 10 because they are in a market the big 10 isn't in and it's a big market for that conference, but they don't do anything for the sec since they don't open up any new market nor do they make the sec any more attractive nationally. at least with fsu and miami they are much bigger names nationally and the also provide a lot of all around sports to the sec and they are at least in areas of florida that may add to the sec footprint even though not a huge addition there. texas a&m is one program that fits most of the categories you want with expansion and even a north carolina would be a better fit for the SEC with what they add.

this is nothing negative on tech, but it's just the facts about expansion.. it's about making your footprint larger as a conference (expanding your reach) and making yourself more attractive nationally and that equals bigger money and tech and clemson just don't do that..

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If you think academics are a big part of the equation then you aren't understanding what they are looking at regarding expansion. tech adds a lot to the big 10 because they are in a market the big 10 isn't in and it's a big market for that conference, but they don't do anything for the sec since they don't open up any new market nor do they make the sec any more attractive nationally. at least with fsu and miami they are much bigger names nationally and the also provide a lot of all around sports to the sec and they are at least in areas of florida that may add to the sec footprint even though not a huge addition there. texas a&m is one program that fits most of the categories you want with expansion and even a north carolina would be a better fit for the SEC with what they add.

this is nothing negative on tech, but it's just the facts about expansion.. it's about making your footprint larger as a conference (expanding your reach) and making yourself more attractive nationally and that equals bigger money and tech and clemson just don't do that..

I disagree, the other schools want add nothing much to the SEC outside of a name in football and Tech has been as good as them by history. Academically is important to the SEC especially if the Big Ten and Pac 10 are getting academically stronger. I am a Miami Canes football fan, but I understand we don't really help the SEC any outside of Football. Tech is Vandy with much better sports teams. Only UF and Vandy our currently AAU schools in the SEC. Tech helps the SEC more than FSU or Clemson who really bring more of the same. Really don't add any market as Tech wouldn't even if Tech went to the Big Ten. Tech is not really a local team, their more national than FSU and Clemson but not as much as Miami.

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there are plenty of sec expansion articles that probably explain it better than me (i will find one i know i read earlier in the week that breaks it down), but the bottom line if you are the SEC you are going to add teams you do it in order to gain a new tv market which will in turn give you areas that you are currently not in and this will help with the future renegotiation which will happen right after you do the expansion or agree to it. Adding clemson does zero for the SEC. You have the south carolina market with sc so adding a second team in that market doesn't do anything to your appeal as a conference. That is why texas is such a huge pickup for any conference you get all those markets in houston and dallas with them coming to your conference and that is a lot of households you have just added and that is a bigger tv market share which is huge for any conference.

there are plenty of teams out there with great fan bases and tradition, but are they going to open up the sec to more households and an additional market we are not currently in and that is the key. of course you look at the school and what they bring to the plate like tradition in not just football, but what other sports do they add value to your conference. why do you think the rumors were out there about georgia tech and the big 10.. delany said he wants to get further into the southern market because they have no presence there right now and that is a big market they need to get into to make even more money. the bottom line it's about money and bringing in clemson, gt, and even fsu imo doesn't really add much to the sec.. now miami due to it being in southern florida that may be something the sec wants, but if you add an a&m we have an entirely new area now for the sec.

Yeah that makes sense, I think I've always thought about it terms of tradition, rivalry and how well they seem to fit in terms of talent and the fan base but I guess you have to look at it even bigger and what market it potentially can open up.

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I disagree, the other schools want add nothing much to the SEC outside of a name in football and Tech has been as good as them by history. Academically is important to the SEC especially if the Big Ten and Pac 10 are getting academically stronger. I am a Miami Canes football fan, but I understand we don't really help the SEC any outside of Football. Tech is Vandy with much better sports teams. Only UF and Vandy our currently AAU schools in the SEC. Tech helps the SEC more than FSU or Clemson who really bring more of the same. Really don't add any market as Tech wouldn't even if Tech went to the Big Ten. Tech is not really a local team, their more national than FSU and Clemson but not as much as Miami.

This entire expansion is all about football.. that is what is behind this expansion.. it's not about academics, it's not about basketball, and it's not about non revenue sports. Tech can not come close to fsu or miami in the past 3 decades in football and tech is not at all the national name fsu and miami is in football. Academically is not at all that important to this expansion and the big 10 and pac-10 are trying to get on the same field of play with the sec in football (actually trying to surpass). Also using the AAU to prove a school is a good one or not is not at all correct and there are plenty of terrific schools not in the AAU (such as gt was just added to the aau in 2010 so before that gt was a bad school right?). Miami gives baseball and FSU gives a lot more than just football and unlike tech they actually have some areas (miami with south florida) that at can add to the market share of the SEC, but as I have mentioned before it's not much but at least it's something compared to Tech (i am also not avocating either fsu or miami to be added just comparing them to tech).

Tech would add a big market to the big 10. if tech is added to the big 10 they would be adding a huge market with tech. Can you imagine ohio state and michigan coming down and playing tech in atlanta and with the recruiting aspect as well. That would be a wow for that conference since they have no presence in the south. Jim Delany was clear they really would like to move into the South with the amount of population and market share they aren't in.

If I am the SEC and Texas is off the table I would go after Texas A&M, Oklahoma (they are the #1 national power and another new market even if it's not huge), Virginia Tech, and another acc school in a state the sec doesn't have a presence in.

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Yeah that makes sense, I think I've always thought about it terms of tradition, rivalry and how well they seem to fit in terms of talent and the fan base but I guess you have to look at it even bigger and what market it potentially can open up.

Andrew those items you mentioned are indeed weighed, but the SEC is looking at how to expand their brand/market especially with the big 10 and pac 10 looking to go up to 16 teams. The SEC has enough conference long time rivalries where they have no need to add a team just for that. However they are not in a number of markets like texas, north carolina, or virginia. Imagine the SEC adding a Texas a&m which has a ton to offer, a team in north carolina (let's use an example nc state), virginia tech, and oklahoma. If you want tradition there is a ton at those universities, you want rivalries you have oklahoma and texas a&m with arkansas and even some lsu in there, also you have national powers in virginia tech and oklahoma. rabid fan bases? oklahoma, a&m, virginia tech, and even ncstate fit the bill there. Example nc state with just 5 wins filled up their stadium 98% last year and that was a bad year. VT averages a sell out yearly. Recruiting base: i think it's agreed that isn't a big problem for most sec teams, but states such as virginia, north carolina, texas, and even oklahoma have some very nice talent available. Regarding tv markets: North carolina is a great market, virginia as well, texas is a no brainer, and even though oklahoma isn't huge state of population we would have their #1 school in that state and national power.

Now on the other hand the SEC may determine there is no reason to add any teams and we are strong enough as it is, but we know slive has talked to both a&m and oklahoma already and what they think about joining the conference. I am more interested in what happens to the left overs in the big 12 and big east.

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FYI at the league meetings some info on the sec expansion:

1. There’s no doubt that some type of expansion is coming in college athletics, and there’s no doubt that SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has a plan in place.

2. No, he’s not divulging that plan and doesn’t feel like there’s any rush to do anything at this point. But he won’t be slow to pull the trigger if he thinks the league can strengthen itself. The SEC feels like it’s very much in the driver’s seat no matter what happens.

3. Two of the possibilities that popped up the most during casual conversation with coaches, athletic directors and other league officials were Texas and Virginia Tech. Both are tailor-made for the SEC in football, and it would be two brand new markets you’d be adding to the league.

4. Noting how crazy it’s been in the Big 12 for the last several weeks, Slive said there was a “sense of calm and sense of togetherness” within the SEC.

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Its amazing how Virginia Tech has gone from a nobody before the 90`s, to backdoor arm twisting to get into an ACC that didnt want them, to talks of becoming an asset to the SEC. If this happens, Frank Beamer should be nominated for Sainthood.

I worry about what this would mean for our in state talent that already gets picked clean every year. If it lands us more talent nationally that would great too. What does this mean for the SEC if they add 2 or more powerhouse teams to an already powerhouse conference? It sounds like a whole bunch of 7-5 teams to me.

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