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Tuesday, June 15, 2010
What's next for the SEC?

By Chris Low

Before it really got crazy these past couple of weeks with all the gale force expansion winds blowing across the college football landscape, the SEC powers that be were adamant that they were in the driver’s seat.

Now that the Big 12 has survived and Texas isn’t going anywhere, the SEC remains convinced that it’s in prime position.

It’s hard to argue that it’s not when you consider the last four BCS national championships and five of the last seven national titles have been won by SEC teams.

The thing to remember in all of this whirlwind of activity is that the SEC never wanted to expand. The presidents, athletic directors and coaches are comfortable with the current lineup and didn’t see any reason to shake things up just for the sake of adding more teams.

When you do that, the slices of the pie get smaller.

But give SEC commissioner Mike Slive credit for not being so oblivious to everything going on around him that he sat there and did nothing. Hence the conversations, flirtation or whatever you want to call it with Texas A&M.

And you can bet that the Aggies weren't the only school Slive talked with in the past few weeks.

The SEC’s stance has been and will continue to be that if there’s an opportunity to strengthen itself and broaden its horizons, particularly if a conference is on the verge of crumbling as it appeared the Big 12 was late last week, then the SEC is going to explore all of its options.

Officials I’ve talked to within the SEC have been adamant that they’re not interested in raiding conferences. But that doesn’t mean the SEC won’t listen if other schools make it known that they’re interested in changing addresses.

There were strong rumblings that Florida State was going to make a pitch to be the 14th team in the SEC had Texas A&M come aboard.

But with Texas A&M staying put, the SEC will stand pat for the time being.

The conference to watch, as it relates to the SEC, is the Big Ten. If the Big Ten stays where it is at 12 teams after adding Nebraska, then the SEC won’t feel the need to do anything.

If the Big Ten goes to 14 teams or even 16 teams, bringing in schools from the Big East or even the ACC, then you can count on the SEC once again taking a hard look at who in those conferences would be interested.

As for the SEC potentially losing any schools, Arkansas has come up in some discussions about potentially reuniting with their traditional rivals in the new Big 12.

I’ve been told repeatedly by Arkansas officials that they have no interest in leaving the SEC and are completely content with staying where they are.

So, in short, it bears repeating that the SEC in 2012 will probably look exactly the way it does right now.