1. SEC further expands either into Big Ten or by adding Group of Five schools
- Memphis, UCF, ECU, etc. join SEC
- Michigan, Ohio State join SEC
- Vols in a division with Michigan, Ohio State, Vanderbilt and Kentucky
Jack McGuire of Barstool Sports reported that the SEC is reaching out to the Clemson Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes. There are other reports as well that the league wants to become an ultra super conference of 20, maybe 24 teams.
Realignment could help Tennessee football if the SEC sticks to adding ACC schools. At that point, the Vols could be in a division with the Vanderbilt Commodores, Kentucky Wildcats, and a few of the Carolina and Virginia schools.
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However, if this involves expanding anywhere else, UT is in trouble. Let’s say what McGuire is reporting comes true. At that point, the league would have no choice but to have a four-division, 20-team conference. Given the layout, the Vols would be in a division with Vandy, Kentucky, Ohio State and Michigan.
Being in that division and playing those two Big Ten schools every year would be brutal, and they’d likely still draw the Alabama Crimson Tide annually in a cross-division rivalry. This would be a brutal scenario for Rocky Top and one they won’t want to deal with.
Another expansion option if the Big Ten schools reject the league and the ACC holds is that the SEC goes for smaller, Group of Five schools. At that point, the league could add the Memphis Tigers, UCF Knights, East Carolina Pirates, and maybe even the South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Tulane Green Wave and UAB Blazers.
Memphis and UCF would lead the way, though, and they’d jump into the league. That means more competition for the Vols to recruit within the state and now SEC-level revenue for those two schools, which would dilute the stranglehold on talent the Vols may have in certain areas.
Simply put, expansion is not by nature going to be bad for Tennessee football, but these are scenarios that the Vols have to take into account. Being in a rough division or having more competition with unlikely schools could turn disastrous.