Could North Carolina and Duke, along with Texas and Texas A&M, join the Southeastern Conference as the push for mega-conferences (and the subsequent implosion of college athletics as we know it) begins?
That's SEC commissioner Mike Slive's "dream", according to Ken Medlin over at WRAL, who references a blog post from the Austin American-Statesman. According to a "well-placed Southeastern Conference official", Slive's vision, however unlikely, would be to bring those four into the SEC fold. Other scenarios mentioned were standing pat at 12 teams, or possibly adding Florida State, although the official noted that Florida "might throw up a roadblock" over the Seminoles.
It's ironic that I read this piece this morning, as I had the exact same thought last night after watching Kirk Herbstreit discuss conference expansion on Pardon the Interruption. Herbstreit, like most observers, does not expect the SEC, who pioneered the 12-team conference, to sit idly by while mega-conferences form all around them. The conventional wisdom, as Herbstreit espoused yesterday, is that the SEC would try to poach Florida State and Miami from the ACC.
But if the push is for new money and new markets, then FSU and the U do the SEC do no good, since the SEC has the state of Florida on lockdown with the University of Florida. Miami has more of a national following, but FSU is a lot like Florida. No, I figured, the SEC would chase money into new markets, like Texas or North Carolina. Both moves make far more sense than FSU or even Miami, and it appears Slive is of the same opinion.
Texas is, well, Texas - populous, crazy over football, and mostly of an SEC-mentality anyway. UNC and Duke would open up Charlotte and Raleigh TV markets (both in the top-30) , have a national following, and would provide instant credibility for the SEC as a basketball league, lining up with Kentucky to give the SEC three of the top 5 or 6 all-time top college basketball programs.
Meanwhile, UNC and Duke are not of an SEC mentality. Clearly as academic institutions, no one the SEC is really in Duke or Carolina's same area code and the faculty at both schools would probably not look kindly on such a move. In fact, Medlin notes in his piece, "When asked about a just such an SEC scenario, one UNC official told me 'we might not even answer the phone call.'"
On the other hand, as Medlin also points out, if you're going to be left without a chair when the music stops, your thought process on this issue might change. The fun is only beginning in this installment of College Athletics Armageddon 2010™...