The SEC expanded from 12 teams to 14 with the acquisition of Missouri and Texas A&M, with both teams officially joining this past season. A&M surprised many by finishing 11-2 and rode the momentum of redshirt-freshman Johnny Manziel‘s Heisman Trophy winning season.
Although one could argue that Texas A&M’s upset of Alabama during the regular season could have been the biggest factor in keeping a SEC representative out of the big game for the first time since 2006, A&M’s presence definitely added to the SEC’s winning reputation and was a much greater addition than originally expected.
Many SEC teams hold some of the greatest and steadiest traditions in college football. The “good ol boy” conference has seen little change over the years with South Carolina and Arkansas serving as the only members that didn’t join during the inaugural 1932 season, before the addition of the former Big-12 schools this past season. The Gamecocks and Razorbacks joined in 1990.
However, to keep up with the times of an expanding game, the SEC must match any and all moves made by rival conferences. Sure, they have the strength of schedule now and seem to be as close to an automatic bid as anyone. But the fact remains that if other conferences grow stronger, the SEC must do the same to avoid getting weaker by comparison.
With most major conferences gaining television deals and the growing popularity of the sport, each conference will have an increase in revenue to lure teams toward joining. In order for the reigning powerhouse from the southeast to assume their dominance, the SEC must match rival conferences in the bidding wars of conference realignment.