With the SEC considered the top conference by most, the Big Ten and Pac-10 have been rumored this offseason as hoping to land big-name schools to push conference brands further financially.
The implication of such expansion has brought Big 12 schools into the mix, while SEC officials have made it clear that a monitoring eye has been kept on the situation.
“It’s really interesting to hear that it’s such a hot topic,” Richt said at the Pigskin Preview at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. “I think this time of year people are just looking for things to talk about, but I think there’s some really serious stuff going on out there.”
With the SEC currently sitting atop college football athletically, and financially, other conferences are pursuing schools to keep up on the field, and to garner greater interest in broader television markets.
While the Big Ten is rumored to be courting Notre Dame, Nebraska and Maryland, and the Pac-10 possibly adding Colorado, other reports place the SEC in reactionary mode, ready to expand as well.
Richt didn’t seem enamored with the idea.
“I really feel like we have a great league, and we all believe that,” he said. “We have a tremendous SEC Championship game. We’ve got a great TV contract. We’ve had a lot of national champions lately, so I don’t think we’re in a rush to change any time soon.”
Over $17 million is given to Georgia from the SEC annually, with another $9 million guaranteed through Georgia’s marketing agreement with ISP.
“We kind of like the way things are going, but I really do think commissioner [Mike] Slive will make a good decision,” Richt said. “I’m sure he’s got to be thinking about what’s going on in the college landscape today. I think he’ll keep us on top.”
Florida State, Virginia Tech, Miami and perhaps Clemson appear to be the most likely candidates should the SEC expand. Texas A&M has also reportedly discussed the notion of moving to the SEC, but they seem tied to Texas.
When faced with the question of how the recruiting world could be altered in this scenario, Richt said he doesn’t see much change. Recruiting as the “SEC school” against regional foes may hold advantages, Richt said, but it’s not always the tipping point for each kid.
“I’m trying to think if it would make a big difference,” Richt said. “I don’t think it would. I think those are outstanding schools no matter what league they’re in. Just the proximity of those teams makes it a natural for us to compete in recruiting. I think the young men are just looking where they fit the best. Some of them really want to play in the Southeastern Conference, but some of them are just trying to find the best fit.”
For Richt and his Georgia program, as well as the rest of college football, waiting to see which schools align with which conference is the only option.
“I don’t think anybody believes something drastic is going to happen any time soon,” Richt said.
Reports indicate otherwise, however.