LIKE IT IS: Arkansas has nothing to prove to SEC

By: Wally Hall
Published: Wednesday, June 9, 2010

— A Birmingham, Ala., radio show host who writes an occasional sports column ripped Arkansas and South Carolina on Tuesday for being members of the SEC.

One of his readers dubbed him the Buzzard of Birmingham.

Basically the column said that adding Arkansas and South Carolina to the SEC 18 years ago was a mistake. That Texas was a better fit.

Texas, like it or not, was and is the homecoming queen.

With a $137 million athletic budget and located in a state with 27 million people, the Longhorns are to the Lone Star State what Castro is to Cuba - the boss.

Which is why the grandold lady probably won’t be interested in the SEC if expansion stretches into the Big 12, which now seems not only probable, but likely.

Way back when Arkansas left the crumbling Southwest Conference, Texas and Texas A&M were supposed to be their escorts, but the Longhorns brass has always wanted to be part of the Pacific-10, alongside academic giants Cal-Berkeley, Stanford,UCLA and USC.

Ann Richards, now deceased, was the governor of Texas and a Baylor graduate, and the threat of losing state funding for the Longhorns became a very real threat. Suddenly, Texas was saying yes ma’am and tiptoeing home for chili.

Now, 18 seasons down the road, a radio show host wants to drop-kick Arkansas and South Carolina from the SEC and go back to the original 10.

First, as powerful as SEC Commissioner Mike Slive is, he doesn’t have the authority to erase anyone from the dance card. That would take a majority vote of the SEC presidents, and what they, and Slive, seem to be moreconcerned with is the possibility of adding teams.

Besides, the Razorbacks have brought a basketball national championship to the league, a runner-up finish the next year, and while they are overdue for some more success, they have had more than most of the SEC teams.

The Razorbacks have played in three SEC championship games in football, and that is as many appearances as Georgia, LSU and Auburn and two more than Mississippi State.

Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and South Carolina have yet to darken the door of the SEC championship game.

If the Big 12 hasn’t knocked on the Arkansas door with an invite, then that conference isfurther behind the eight ball than it appears, if that is possible.

What the SEC is concerned about is which four teams to welcome into the SEC family, not divorcing current members.

All sorts of names are being heard as possibilities for SEC expansion - Slive plays his cards so close to his vest that he could probably win the World Series of Poker - and there are probably a dozen schools that would love to be a part of the most successful football conference in the country.

That list should include Texas, but it appears the Longhorns are still determined to go West, and they might have to take Texas A&M and TexasTech with them to keep the lid from blowing off the legislative pot.

If that happens, someone is going to grab Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Missouri and Kansas, and it might as well be the SEC (that’s just a guess).

That would give the SEC something it has never had - television exposure in St. Louis, Kansas City and the entire state of Oklahoma.

Which is what started the expansion talk a few weeks ago. Televisions tuning into college football games translates into big money for conferences and their members.

Arkansas brings some TVs, but it has earned its SEC stripes on the playing fields, too.

Sports, Pages 21 on 06/09/2010