Watching the Big 12 slowly die is part awesome (since college football is at its best in chaos) but part unreal (the Big 12 started as the Big 8, which was founded in 1907). It also proves the theory that college football drives the Brinks truck for colleges. With the newest NCAA Basketball Tournament contract essentially maxing-out basketball revenue, college football is the next place to go. The reported moves by the Big Ten and Pac-10 prove this. Why would the gentlemen of college football turn into robber barons? Because they have finally seen what the SEC already knows; a 12-team football conference is a money maker and a playoff system is in the future.
Assuming all the unnamed sources are right, and they haven't been wrong, eight teams leave the Big 12 (six to Pac-10, two to Big Ten). This leaves Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State. Kansas and Kansas State can make the biggest case for remaining in a Power Conference. While Kansas has said they won't leave K-State behind, if the Big Ten wants the Jayhawks for team 14, it will be hard for them to turn the deal down.
If those Forgotten Four schools are left adrift, the SEC should consider inviting Kansas and K-State. While people in Kansas would surely flip in their graves over being paired with the former Confederacy, money always wins (besides, they are all red states now). Both schools would increase the SEC's basketball profile and put the SEC into new markets. You could make a strong case that the SEC should stop with a 14-team league, as 16 could be a huge mess. The Pac-16 works because it is the original Pac-8 and the old Big 12 with Arizona and Arizona State. As for Baylor and Iowa State, they cannot be considered by the SEC. Baylor is a religious Vandy and Iowa State doesn't make any money.
The college football middle class becomes the Mountain West and Big East. If the Forgotten Four schools want to stay in a Power Conference, they may have to jump in with the Big East. Not only would this save Big East football (they become a 12-team league), it would make a killer basketball conference into NBA Triple-A. That might be enough of an appeal over the Mountain West. The MWC plays good ball, but Utah, BYU and UNLV can't match Syracuse, Georgetown and Louisville. Basketball is secondary to football, but you can't discount a monster basketball conference.
I was in favor of the SEC expanding, specifically picking off Texas and Texas A&M. But it is clear the SEC looked at expansion as a crap show they did not want to get involved in. They already have their football title game and epic TV deal. The Pac-10 and Big Ten don't. Why mess up something good? But if Kansas and K-State are available, the SEC should pounce. If they don't want to get involved, the Big East should pick up the Forgotten Four.
That said, what would my idea of the SEC look like? Here are some suggestions;
SEC EAST: Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
SEC WEST: Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kansas State, LSU, Miss State, Ole Miss
SEC GOLD: Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, K-State, Kentucky, LSU, Vanderbilt
SEC BLUE: Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Miss State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, South Carolina
Tell us what you think in the comments. [Bonus points if you can figure out the pattern used to determined the Gold and Blue divisions. Also, a North/South alignment would be murderous. Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and LSU would all be in the same division.]