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Expansion's Effect on Mississippi State

As we all know, the SEC will expand from 12 to 14 teams beginning this fall with the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri. So, how does this effect Mississippi State?

There are three areas where it will really effect MSU: 1. adding the specific schools Texas A&M and Missouri; 2. difficulty of winning division/making it to a bowl game; 3. additional teams to be brought in/future alignment of divisions.

There's really not much effect for basketball and baseball. Adding more teams to the SEC will make it more difficult to win the conference outright, but you either make the NCAA Tournament or you don't. The sport with the biggest consequences is football, and that is what this is about.

To start, adding A&M and Mizzou don't really do that much to help or hurt MSU. It appears that State will be playing A&M every year as long as there are 7-team divisions. That means we pick up the Aggies and only play two teams from the East, one of which will always be Kentucky. Georgia, Tennessee and Florida will probably always be bigger and better programs than A&M (don't tell them that). During the rotations with East teams, the Dawgs always end up playing one of those upper tier East teams, but adding another West game (A&M) will allow State to avoid them more. That is a good thing, but it could turn into a bad thing if the Aggies tap into their full potential. They are now the only SEC team in one of the best recruiting states in the country...that is a recipe for creating a great program. As far as Missouri goes, I don't think they'll have much effect on MSU.

Obviously, winning the West just became more difficult. In 20 years of two divisions in the SEC, State had only won the West one time (1998). Now, you add another team in A&M and it's going to be even harder to get to Atlanta. That's no good.

As of right now, Mike Slive and Co. is pretty firm on sticking to eight conference games, and you can bet Scott Stricklin is pulling hard for things to stay that way too. As we stand right now, MSU can schedule four easy non-conference games and they only have to win two SEC games and we're going to a bowl game. If a 9th conference game is added (which the Big 12, PAC 12, and Big Ten (2017) have already done), the Bulldogs and every other team will have to win three SEC going to a bowl game just got a lot harder. If the conference expands further, say to 16 teams, you'd have to figure they jump to nine. And, a 9th game will bring in more money, which as time passes, may change the minds of A.D.'s and presidents around the league.

Basically everything I've said so far is bad news for State. Texas A&M is likely to turn into an even better program, it will be more difficult to win the West, and if they add a 9th conference game it will be harder to make a bowl game. But, if a couple more teams are added - bringing the total to 16 - it could be a positive for MSU.

No matter who teams 15 and 16 could be, if the SEC were to divide into four 4-team sections it would give State a much much better chance to advance to a playoff. With the probability of a 4-team national playoff coming soon, it will likely only include conference champions. Because of that, and with all the talk of super conferences, this scenario could play out.

If the SEC were to have 16 teams, you would definitely want to make sure you have the best representative in the 4-team national playoff. So, you'd have four 4-team divisions. Then play SEC semi-finals and a championship game to determine a champion. If all the conferences did this, you'd get a 16-team playoff, just without the "scary" name. Perhaps MSU's 4-team division would include Ole Miss, Alabama and Auburn. OR maybe Ole Miss, LSU, and Texas A&M. Who knows, but four is better than seven. Of course, the 16-team scenario could include two 8-team divisions which would be horrible for State.

In the end, expansion is not the best thing that can happen for Mississippi State. But, if the SEC will expand to 16 teams to include four 4-team divisions then it would be a great thing. We'll see what happens.