SEC reportedly wants to end expansion race, sit at 16 teams
The preference of the SEC presidents is to not expand beyond 16 teams, multiple industry sources told Saturday Down South’s Matt Hayes.
With the additions of Oklahoma and Texas in 2025, the SEC, according to Hayes, feels it is positioned for a “robust future” and doesn’t see the need to continue adding to the league beyond that. If the Big Ten were to add Notre Dame and bump its membership up to 20 teams, the thinking could change, but absent any more groundbreaking moves from the Big Ten, the SEC wants to settle the ground a bit.
From Hayes’ reporting:
“I don’t see any (expansion) move as threatening to us,” an SEC source told SDS.
When asked if Notre Dame to the Big Ten would be a threatening move, the SEC source said, “Why? I’ll put our product vs. anyone’s product. So we’re going to just add schools to add schools? There’s no value in that.”
According to Hayes, the SEC’s presidents would like to stave off the breakup of college football as we’ve come to know and understand it.
In the aftermath of USC and UCLA’s announced Big Ten plans, many postulated that a future where there were two superconferences that ran the sport—Big Ten and SEC leagues that swelled over 20 members each—and those left out would be left to fend for themselves.
It is widely held that both ESPN and FOX are pulling the strings on this latest round of conference expansion as the two networks look to corner the market on high-yield college football inventory. If that’s the case, perhaps the SEC wanting to sit at 16 teams because it feels that’s what’s best for the sport could be taken as ESPN’s view.
Nonetheless, this is good news for the Pac-12. While Oregon and Washington are reported candidates for further Big Ten expansion, the league isn’t in a hurry to move on any non-Notre Dame programs. Longtime Pac-12 columnist John Canzano reported that Nike co-founder Phil Knight would prefer to get the Ducks to either the Big Ten or the SEC if the Pac-12 falls apart.
If the SEC is no longer open for business, does that change the Big Ten’s strategy going forward? Surely it gives the rest of the Pac-12’s leaders some more breathing room as they try and chart a path forward.