Teams That Should Join and Leave the SEC

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Every few years there are a few teams that decide to join a different athletic conference. The most recent example was in 2012 when Texas A&M and Missouri left the Big 12 to join the SEC. Schools usually base these decisions on numerous factors such as TV deals, financial and branding opportunities and better competitive landscapes. While Texas A&M’s success and fame have cemented their spot in the SEC West, the same cannot be said for Missouri. Debates have recently arisen on which teams should be removed from the conference and which programs would replace them. A few changes could gain ground based on competitiveness and geographies alone. We take a look at these changes solely based on each university’s football programs.

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Who Would Leave The Conference

Missouri Tigers

Despite being the most recent addition to the SEC, the Missouri Tigers would be one of the top options to be replaced. The Tigers have seen mild success since 2012 but have failed to gain any national recognition or success. With a bowl record of 2-2 in eight seasons, Missouri has failed to gain any momentum. The program has seen a couple of promising seasons, only to be followed up with ones of disappointment.

Aside from their success, their location is one that hinders their ability to feel like a member of the SEC. Being located in Columbia, Missouri’s next closest SEC program would be Vanderbilt which is nearly seven hours away in Nashville. However, not all is negative when it comes to the Tigers. They have produced tremendous college and NFL talents which include Drew Lock, Chase Daniel, Shane Ray, and Sheldon Richardson. Much of the talent and success can be attributed to legendary coach Gary Pinkel, who retired in 2015.

Arkansas Razorbacks

The other program that we could see leaving the SEC would be the Arkansas Razorbacks. Since joining the conference in 1991, Arkansas has only finished in the AP Top 25 five times and has a 6-9 bowl record during that span. However, their bowl record is not what would make Arkansas a favorite to be booted from the SEC. It is actually their lack of a true SEC rival. Over the past 28 seasons, the Razorbacks have yet to gain a strong rivalry that is so common throughout the SEC. From the Florida-Georgia rivalry to the Iron Bowl, rivalries are the reason that fans tune in on Saturdays as two schools battle it out for bragging rights.

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Who Would Join the Conference

West Virginia Mountaineers

This is the fun part of the debate. For which schools does it make sense to join the SEC? A few criteria have to be met to join such a powerful conference, right? The program must have a track record of success, a rowdy fan base and a history of producing NFL talent. One of the common answers to this question would be the West Virginia Mountaineers. With the state of West Virginia located along the Mason-Dixon line and being bordered by current SEC schools in Kentucky and Tennessee, the Mountaineers would be an easy travel for any SEC East program. West Virginia, a current member of the Big 12, is in the same situation as the Missouri Tigers in that their fans have to travel an abundance to watch their team in any conference road game.

Also in the Mountaineers’ favor is their fan base. The West Virginia faithful are known to show up and show out, no matter who or where they play. And like most SEC schools, they have a tradition of their own that is known across the country. Saturdays in Morgantown consist of 70,222 fans coming together to sing John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”. If they were to join the SEC, their fan base would add to the historic fan base that the SEC already possesses.

UCF Golden Knights

Picking a second team to join the SEC is a not so clear choice. There have been a few programs that have seen tremendous success recently but making the jump to the SEC is a challenging task. Programs such as the Memphis Tigers, the Appalachian State Mountaineers have gained the national spotlight as a couple of college football’s “Cinderella” teams. However, both teams have done so against mid to low-tier Division I programs.

One team that has shown that they can put up a fight against the nation’s best is the UCF Knights. Over the past three seasons, Central Florida has a record of 35-4 that includes a perfect 13-0 season in 2017. In 2017, UCF defeated Auburn in the Peach Bowl and lost its only game in 2018 to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl. With their recent success, the program has seen many of the top in-state high school prospects choose UCF over schools like Florida, Florida State, and Miami. The Knights have produced some quality NFL players such as Blake Bortles, Shaquill Griffin, Brandon Marshall, and Asante Samuel. Should their momentum continue, expect UCF to be in a few New Year Six Bowls. Possibly as a member of the SEC.

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