Rumors and reports of Southeastern Conference expansion plans have sparked a buzz of speculation. Clemson president James Barker said the Tigers have not been contacted by the SEC and are committed to the Atlantic Coast Conference. But if the Tigers were invited to join the SEC, should they stay or should they go?
If Clemson wants to be nationally relevant, it should remain in the ACC. Are the Cleveland Indians pounding on the door hoping to join the American League East? No, because it's a lot easier to win the AL Central versus competing against the Yankees and Red Sox.
Against SEC teams located outside of South Carolina, Clemson is 47-123-10. One figures Tennessee, Georgia, Florida will not have many seasons like 2010, combining for a 10-14 record in the conference.
There is not a major recruiting advantage for Clemson in joining the SEC. In 2008 and 2011, Clemson signed top 10 classes. Clemson has a powerful brand, regardless of its conference.
If a program joins the SEC in the near future, it is signing on at the height of the SEC's power. That's like buying a stock at a 52-week high. The ACC produces nearly as many pros as the SEC.
Clemson is an original member of the ACC. There's something to be said for the histories and cultures of conferences as presently constructed. By departing, Clemson would lose a 58-year history with the ACC.
The SEC signed TV contracts worth $3 billion over 15 years in 2008, which could increase with expansion. Last spring, the ACC signed a 12-year, $1.86 billion deal. Moreover, Clemson would likely see an increase in demand for tickets, allowing more money for coaches and facilities.
If you think Clemson's rivalry with USC is heated today, what if the teams were in the same conference? What if the rivalry game someday determined the SEC East champion?
Last year, South Carolina hosted Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas and Tennessee in conference play. Clemson hosted Maryland, Georgia Tech, N.C. State and Miami from the ACC. Which is more intriguing?
There is the argument that having to prepare for a tougher schedule would strengthen Clemson's overall level of play. The last five national champions have come from the SEC.
If the SEC were to expand to 16 teams, there is a chance it would raid the ACC. If Clemson believes the ACC is IN danger, perhaps it should pursue a proactive course.
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