Friday, June 11, 2010
Weaver: Tech likely staying put
Amid major changes in college sports, Virginia Tech might be a target of possible SEC expansion.
The Roanoke Times
File 2009 Nebraska, pictured here in a game against Virginia Tech last season, is expected to announce a move to the Big Ten as soon as this afternoon.
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The first domino fell Thursday in what could be a summer of upheaval on the college sports landscape.
Will the dominos eventually roll toward Blacksburg? What would happen if the Southeastern Conference decides it wants to be a mega-conference and knocks on the door of ACC football power Virginia Tech?
"We are very happy where we are," athletic director Jim Weaver said Thursday. "We're in the right place for Virginia Tech because we're in the footprint of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"At this point in time we're not even thinking about [the SEC]."
Colorado, which has been a member of the Big 12, accepted an invitation to join the Pac-10 on Thursday. Nebraska could jump from the Big 12 to the Big Ten as soon as today.
The Big Ten and Pac-10 could be interested in growing to as many as 16 teams. There are reports that Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State could follow Colorado in moving from the Big 12 to the Pac-10.
If the 12-team SEC sees the Pac-10 and Big Ten expanding to 16 teams in a quest for bigger TV paydays, it might want to do the same.
ESPN.com reported from the SEC spring meetings last week that "two of the [expansion] possibilities that popped up the most during casual conversation with coaches, athletic directors and other league officials were Texas and Virginia Tech."
The SEC might be running out of time to grab Texas, but might the league indeed pursue Tech?
"I have not heard that at all," Weaver said. "That surprises me tremendously.
"I don't think that's going to happen. I think it's really farfetched. ... I don't think the Southeastern Conference would come that far north."
There have been reports that the SEC might stay within its geographic footprint and pursue ACC members Florida State, Miami, Clemson and Georgia Tech.
Television seems to be driving expansion, though. If the SEC wants to add four teams, it might prefer that one or two of them be in new markets. That's why Texas is the biggest prize in the expansion drama.
But Virginia Tech could help the SEC crack not only the commonwealth but also the Washington, D.C,, TV market. Maryland might also be an SEC target because of the D.C. market.
SEC membership could fatten Tech's wallet. The league has deals with ESPN and CBS worth $3 billion.
But Weaver, whose school left the Big East for the ACC in 2004, said there are compelling reasons for Tech to stay put.
"We are where we're best suited at this juncture," he said. "The ACC's the best place for Virginia Tech because of the footprint, because we have so many like institutions.
"We don't want to [leave] because we're in the best position for us in terms of travel where we are.
"That was one of the primary reasons why the ACC was better for us than the Big East, because we had to spend all of our money traveling our teams to the Northeast."
Weaver isn't so sure the SEC will expand. The 12 SEC members will reap $17.3 million apiece in league revenue this year.
"I'm really not sure that everybody's going to try to go to 16," he said. "I don't know where that makes senses for all the conferences because you've got to be able to stay whole revenue-wise.
"I don't see [the SEC] getting bigger for the sake of getting bigger."
But the SEC's TV deals could become even richer if the league adds more schools. Would Tech need to join the SEC for self-preservation? What if the SEC went after some of Tech's ACC rivals? There is also talk that the Big Ten is eyeing Maryland and Georgia Tech.
Would Tech need to switch leagues to avoid being in a watered-down ACC?
"I'm not going to respond until something like that happens," he said. "We have no intention of going to another league."