Monday, September 19, 2011

Taking a Closer look at Clay Travis' Argument against WVU joining the SEC

Clay Travis wrote an interesting piece today, essentially calling for the SEC to not even look in the direction of Morgantown. The writer believes that WVU would be a terrible fit. This has created a bit of a firestorm around, considering most Mountaineer fans believe that the Mountaineers would find a nice home in the south. While WVU fans are looking for pitch forks and torches, let's take a look at the arguments, and do some debunking!

Clay's First Argument. West Virginia adds nothing to the SEC television Contracts.

Clay writes...
Keep in mind that the SEC has to increase payouts to existing schools in order
for expansion to make financial sense. That is, I've been told that SEC schools
will not vote to add any school if it means that the conference will bring in
less revenue per school with the additional teams.
Yes, West Virginia doesn't bring a major city market with it, but games are shown on regional television packages in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, New York, Charlotte, and Buffalo.

Clay's 2nd. West Virginia would be the worst ranked school in the SEC per U.S. News and World Report.

Oh yeah, well according to Forbes' Best College School list, WVU is not the worst. Here is a list of all the schools in the SEC, with WVU.

Vanderbilt: 53
Florida: 137
Texas A&M: 178
Georgia: 206
Ole Miss: 301
Arkansas: 348
Auburn: 359
Alabama: 369
Mississippi State: 387
West Virginia: 403
South Carolina: 424
Kentucky: 427
LSU: 442
Tennessee: 512

So, I guess WVU isn't the worst school according to everyone. Maybe next time using a few different surveys would make a better argument. It's one thing to say that academics are a new driving force for the SEC when the schools are all Top-50. However, that just isn't reality.
FYI...Here is Forbes' philosophy on the grading.

Clay's 3rd. West Virginia has a population of 1.8 million.

Clay writes...
That would be the smallest state in the SEC by over a million people. What's more, the state had virtually the same population in 1930. At a time when SEC populations are exploding, West Virginia is akin to much of the Big Ten, facing a demographic problem that leads to a slow drip of population South.

Since 1940 West Virginia's population has actually declined.

The Big Ten has a demographic problem, not the SEC.
According to the US Census, West Virginia increased by 44,650 between 2000 and 2010. Decreasing?

Clay's 4th. The SEC doesn't want another team on probation.

Please, do I even need to go into this? Every college in America is breaking a rule as I write this. The NCAA chooses only to react when the cheating hits mainstream. If they wanted, they could investigate every school from Division 1 to Division 3 and throw just about every school on probation. This is just silly.

Clay's 5th. ACC schools are much more attractive.

He writes...

The ACC expanded not out of strength, but out of fear. The ACC knew the SEC and Big Ten might come calling for some of its big name schools. So it went ahead and killed the Big East to ensure its own survival. It was a preemptive strike.

But ACC schools remain in the SEC's long-range plans. It's a function of simple geography. North Carolina and Virginia are growing markets that fit the SEC's footprint.If 16 is the top-end number, why would you take a school that aces out your chances at a better prize?

Put simply, Mike Slive wouldn't.

Also, you think it's a coincidence that the ACC passed on West Virginia? If West Virginia isn't good enough for the ACC, do you really think the SEC is going to add them?

Oh, well if the ACC doesn't want them, why would the SEC? The ACC always makes the right move. Well, other than wasting money on Boston College...a team that can't even beat Duke anymore, in a market that couldn't care less about college sports. And, Travis even says the ACC expanded out of fear. How do you respect a conferences choices on moves out of fear?

I don't know why the ACC passed on WVU. I don't know why they didn't want a team that is known for having one of the best traveling fan bases, top-15 in merchandise sales, and is competitive in every sport save for volleyball.

Clays 6th. This isn't a rush

Maybe not, but did anyone see Syracuse and Pittsburgh joining the ACC in the matter of a weekend? At least, publicly doing it in a weekend.

I do agree that the SEC is in the better position. The conference isn't going anywhere, and now can essentially wait to invite the schools that fit the best...for now. What if Missouri, Kansas, WVU or another big time school goes elsewhere? There are absolutely no givens now in conference realignment.

Clay's 7th. Missouri and Kansas are better Options

He writes...

I believe that Missouri, barring Big Ten pursuit, will be the SEC's 14th school.
But if Missouri doesn't work oout don't forget about Kansas. The Jayhawks would have no other options other than remaining in a reworked Big 12/Big East. Could Kansas be an attractive addition to the SEC? Yes, potentially.

Missouri would be the first choice of the Big 12 schools, but Kansas is a much better addition than West Virginia would be. Just in case y'all are wondering, Missouri is the 90th ranked school in the country per U.S. News and Kansas is 101. Those rankings are both much more palatable to the SEC presidents.

Missouri would bring St. Louis, and Kansas would bring Kansas City. Those are both good markets, and obviously better than Morgantown. However, WVU can bring good numbers in Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Baltimore, and Washington. All hotbeds for WVU alumni. WVU is actually playing two games at FedEx Field in the future, and always draws well at U of Maryland and Hines Field, and for bowl games in Charlotte.

The Mountaineers are also more competitive than those two schools in all sports, having finished above both in the Directors Cup in 2011. Also, Missouri is only 386th on Forbes' Best College List, and Kansas is behind WVU at 428th. So, they are better in what regard?

Listen, WVU may not be the best option for the SEC, but to single the school out like it's a viral disease is a bit over the top. Like any school, the program has it's positives and negatives, and will hopefully find a conference with some stability.

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