Alabama Football: What would trigger SEC to move to 18 teams?


It appears many Alabama football fans are tired of hearing about college football realignment. For good reason, Crimson Tide fans are more interested in what will happen in 2023 rather than what might happen in 2024 and beyond.

For those in the SEC engaged in the business side of college football, forward-thinking is always required. From a business perspective, being mindful of the competition is essential. As every Alabama football fan knows, the best college football, with the most top teams is in the SEC.

The SEC brand is and has been supreme for a long time. To the extent the Big Ten is behind, it is not far behind. And in the race to distribute the most media dollars to teams, the Big Ten leads the SEC.

What should the SEC do next in terms of further expansion of teams? One possible answer is nothing. Not too many weeks ago, SEC Commissioner, Greg Sankey said, “Our focus is on the 16.” When asked if further Big Ten expansion would alter his perspective, Sankey answered,

"Why would we be concerned about that? We’re not playing catchup to anyone. … We’re not going to make decisions based just on somebody else’s actions."

It is possible the Big Ten’s growth to 18 teams or more does not alter Sankey’s opinion. A reason why is that the media landscape has so changed that for the SEC, less could be more. What prospective candidates could significantly enhance the SEC’s negotiation in future media deals? Notre Dame would along with Florida State and Clemson. Otherwise adding additional teams could mean a not much larger pie having to be cut into more slices. Without ditching the SEC’s philosophy of equal team shares, it is possible on a per-team basis,16 SEC teams would do better financially than 18 teams.

The University of Notre Dame gives every indication of remaining independent in football for many years to come. What FSU and Clemson could bring to the SEC are strong brands. Their TV markets are small but the two fanbases are sizable. The size of media markets no longer matters. What counts are games between two upper-tier, college football brands.

Alabama Football fans have contrasting opinions

Few, if any, Alabama football fans care about what has or will happen, to the never-to-be-again, Pac-12. Many Crimson Tide fans like the idea of adding FSU and Clemson. At the same time, the schedule adjustment to 16 teams has brought disappointments. The issue would be more difficult with 18 teams.

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Although it runs counter to the conventional wisdom that more is always better, the SEC at 16 teams might be the optimum size.