With Texas A&M still intent on making the jump to the SEC and the SEC still intent on catching A&M when they do, not even the threat of legal action from half the Big 12 has tamped down the rampant speculation about what might be next step in the SEC's expansion plans.
Much of that speculation has centered on the possibility of Mike Slive adding a second West team along with the Aggies, and Auburn -- the easternmost current West team and a program with more traditional rivalries in the East than West anyway -- shifting to the SEC East. That speculation has become widespread enough that Auburn president Jay Gogue was asked about the possibility Thursday, and told the Birmingham News he'd readily sign off on such a move.
"If that's what it took, if you ever went to 14 [teams] and needed to make it work, that wouldn't be something I would be upset about," Gogue said. "I don't see any real difference. We already play Georgia, a longtime rival."
Gogue added that the move would reestablish his Tigers' annual series against Florida and Tennessee, while the Iron Bowl would be preserved (of course) as the two teams' designated cross-divisional game.
At the same time, Gogue said that he didn't see such a move as necessarily directly around the corner:
"I don't think there'd be any real push to get to 14, at least there wouldn't be from my perspective," Gogue said. "We could really easily say, 'Texas A&M, we want you to meet all the schools in the Southeast, so this year you'll play in the West, next year you play in the East.' If a 14th came around and everybody was all excited, that would be fine."Gogue's hypothetical plan would seem to put off SEC team No. 14 until 2014--at least one year longer than most observers would expect, and closer to two. But given the hurdles the SEC is encountering just in adding A&M and that the Aggies are already contemplating independence for a year as the legal wrangling is resolved, it's possible he's closer to the truth than most would believe.
For more on SEC expansion, check out Tony Barnhart's rundown of potential 14th members and video of former league commissioner Roy Kramer discussing the issue on the Tim Brando Show.