Is The SEC Moving West?

Jul 4, 2022, 10:42 AM
An 'SEC' logo is seen on an end zone pylon before the Missouri Tigers take on the Auburn Tigers during the SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 7, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY- The rumor mills continue to churn in the aftermath of USC and UCLA’s departure from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten in 2024. Since the blockbuster move last Thursday by the Big Ten, there has been speculation as to how this impacted ESPN/the SEC and what moves they may make to counter. Word on the street is the Big Ten and FOX’s aggressive move to grab the L.A. T.V. market caught ESPN and the SEC off-guard and they have since been huddled trying to figure out what to do.

A Move Out West

There is educated speculation out there that ESPN and the SEC are seriously looking at adding four former Pac-12 schools to increase their imprint in all four time zones. Sports Illustrated has already laid out an in-depth piece as to what that could possibly look like and why it makes sense.

Interestingly enough, it sounds like Oregon and Washington are the main two. Most talk up to this point has had UO and UW  heading to the Big Ten.

By that count it leaves two more open spots for some combination of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and Arizona State, though the SI article specifically zeroed in on the Denver and Phoenix TV markets as the primary targets. This is also an interesting development if true due to the fact it has been reported those four schools have been in serious talks with the Big XII.

What Does This Mean For Utah?

Maybe something and maybe nothing. Is it possible the Utes could be part of the SEC’s expansion plan? Sure. Once again though, it feels like so much of this is contingent on what others do. There are some interesting scenarios that come about depending on who lands Oregon and Washington who seem to be the most coveted prizes remaining now that USC and UCLA are off the board.

If Oregon and Washington end up in the Big Ten it possibly opens the door for Utah to go to the SEC if they truly are serious about expanding west. If Oregon and Washington end up in the SEC, the Big Ten might be more inclined to make a move to grab Utah as a western bridge for USC and UCLA.

Numbers continue to be a part of this mad equation as well. If both the Big Ten and SEC are content to stay at 18-20 schools, Utah is likely out. If they are competing to hit 22-24 schools, Utah very well could be in. It really just depends on how serious and fast FOX and ESPN want to continue moving on conference realignment.

Just How Serious Is The SEC About The West?

Just how realistic is any of this? Frankly, it’s anyone’s guess at this point. There are so many rumors swirling around about what FOX and ESPN are planning to do next  to one-up each other and who is “interesting” to them in that quest that it is getting hard to keep track of every possible scenario.

On any given day depending on who you ask there will either be three or two super conferences, Utah is in or out of the super conference discussions, Cal and Stanford will survive or shut their doors because of super conferences, Notre Dame will align with a conference or continue to be independent, etc. Just a lot going on with what feels like very few solid answers in the here and now.

All anyone can really do right now is be prepared for and expect the unexpected. This ride has been wild and it looks to only get crazier.

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