By Josh Cook
While all of the moving has shaken up college athletics, it hasn't really had an impact on our local schools - the University of Louisville is still in the Big East, Kentucky is still in the Southeastern Conference and Indiana is still in the Big Ten.
And while all the dominos seem to have fallen...for now...I think that one school should jump at the opportunity to jump to the Southeastern Conference if given the chance. That school is UofL.
And here are my five reasons why Louisville should join the SEC:
1. Geography & economy - Geographically, and economically, it just makes more sense for UofL to be in a conference with schools that are a bus ride away (i.e. Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt) instead of a plane ride. It would make it easier for fans to follow the team too.
2. National exposure - Sure UofL men's basketball coach Rick Pitino loves the East Coast exposure that his team gets by playing in the Big East, but let's be honest given Pitino's background in that area (as well as that of assistant coach Steve Masiello) any school he coaches is going to have in-roads to the East Coast, especially the New York City area. But the when it comes to college football the Big East doesn't have quite the level of exposure that the SEC does. You don't see Verne Lundquist calling nationally-televised Big East games every Saturday like he does for the SEC do you? And that's not to mention the TV deal that the SEC has with Raycom as well. And let's face it a nationally-televised shellacking from Florida would be a lot better than a regionally-televised loss to Pittsburgh, wouldn't it?
3. The SEC is the best conference in the country for college football - Year in and year out the SEC is hands-down the best conference in college football. Most years there isn't even a debate. Whereas the Big East is the best conference in college basketball depending on the year (and occasionally the SEC at least can be included in that argument), but there's never any question about the depth and dominance of the SEC every year. A jump to the SEC would immediately improve the profile of Louisville football. And a jump to the SEC by UofL would immediately improve the profile of the SEC basketball-wise. And that's not to mention what it would do for Dan McDonnell's UofL baseball program. It sounds like a win-win situation all the way around.
4. Recruiting in-roads - I've already mentioned Pitino's recruiting on the East Coast but also, as I've mentioned, he doesn't really need any help. The UofL coach who could, and would, benefit the most from a move to the SEC would be new football coach Charlie Strong. The South is rich with football talent and a spot in the SEC would only help the former Florida assistant coach compete with the Alabamas and LSUs for the top-ranked recruits.
5. My final, and favorite reason that UofL should join the SEC is...a regular-season finale against Kentucky - Sure when UK-UofL meet in any sport its for a huge amount of bragging rights, but wouldn't it be great if it meant something more? What if the two schools played their final regular-season games against each other in both football and basketball? What if a bowl bid or an NCAA berth was on the line? What if a conference championship was decided by the outcome? What if one of them was vying for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament? That would add even more heat to a rivalry that is only getting more heated with John Calipari in Lexington.
So here's the bottom line...Louisville, if you are ever given a chance to leave the Big East and join the SEC, just say "yes."