Talk of the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners leaving the Big 12 to join the Southeastern Conference is back in the news as the two schools apparently will have to wait until 2025 before making their move.
Nonetheless, the idea of expanding the SEC is one that always starts the conversation over which schools could - or should - be added to college football's premier conference. For the Florida Gators, there are a few schools that would make perfect additions to their league while there are several others who also might fit the mold.
Within the current boundaries of the conference, that is, Texas to the west and Missouri to the north, we took a look at 10 different schools that could be a good fit for the SEC. While teams like the Texas Tech Raiders were considered, the lack of any history against the Gators outweighed what such a program would bring - that and we refuse to accept Lubbock as being in the southeast.
Take a look below at our selections.
South Florida Bulls
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South Florida is the final school to consider, but frankly, their athletic program simply has not lived up to the brief bump it got over a decade ago. Still, the geographical connection is immensely strong as the two programs are separated by a two-hour drive on I-75 in Florida.
The Gators are 3-0 in the all-time series that dates back to 2010 in Gainesville, with a win also coming in 2021 in Tampa as well as last season back in the Swamp. Another meeting is set for 2025 that will also be played inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
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Louisville, while lacking any real direct historical connection to Florida, was the home of former Gators coach [autotag]Charlie Strong[/autotag] for a spell (as well as USF, funny enough) and at least geographically fits into the boundaries. The program has also seen some modest success in recent years that could signal that the Cards are ready to take the next step.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
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Georgia Tech is the first and one of a few entries on this list that look to reignite a rivalry from the past, albeit a distant one in this case. The two schools once belonged side-by-side in the SEC before the Yellow Jackets cleaved away in 1964 and would later join the ACC 14 years later.
Florida and GT have faced each other 38 times over the years, with the Peach State team holding an overwhelming 23-9-6 record dating back to 1912. The Gators prevailed in their final two matchups with the Yellow Jackets in 1980 and 1981 while tying them in 1979 for the only game that did not end in a loss that season.
Virginia Tech Hokies
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Virginia Tech has a relatively well-established history of putting quality teams on the field against ACC opposition, though it has stumbled a bit in recent years. The Hokies are geographically relevant to the SEC and have nine 10-plus win seasons over the last two decades, albeit only one since 2011.
Florida has tangled with VT only twice in the two teams' history, winning both meetings. The Gators won one in Blacksburg way back in 1934, 20-13, while more recently prevailing at home back in 1985, 35-18. Still, Tech would add some nice variety to the competition, even if they are not perennial bruisers.
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Another school from the Old Dominion state, Virginia and Florida have only faced off twice as well over the years. However, the Cavaliers are once again regionally relevant from a geographical standpoint and have a modest history of success in the ACC.
In the two meetings between orange-and-blue-themed teams, the Sunshine State warriors have emerged victorious in both. The first win - a 55-10 drubbing - came back in 1959 at Florida Field while the Gators also brought home the bacon in the 2019 Orange Bowl, 36-28.
Central Florida Knights
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Now we are getting into the meat of this list. Not too long ago, Florida's young sibling UCF was little more than an afterthought, as the teams in Miami and Tallahassee posed a more clear and present danger. However, things have shifted a bit in the last decade and the Knights assumed the de facto state crown with its win over the Gators in the Gasparilla Bowl.
That victory, however, was the lone one in a three-game all-time series that was dominated previously by the state's flagship university. The two schools recently signed an agreement to play each other in a 2-for-1 series with the two bookending games played in Gainesville in 2024 and 2033; the middle game is set for Orlando in 2030. Of course, if UCF were to join the SEC this arrangement would immediately become moot.
North Carolina Tar Heels
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The Tar Heels have not made a lot of noise on the gridiron over the past few decades but recently have seen a surge of talent that has brought the program to respectability. The basketball team is obviously the crown jewel of the athletic program and it has historically been an excellent school for academics as well - both are qualities that would bolster the SEC.
The history between Florida and North Carolina goes back a long way but is ultimately rather shallow, with UNC holding the all-time edge in the series with a 7-2-1 record dating back to 1921. It would be nice to get an opportunity to steer that stat back in the Orange and Blue's favor.
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The orange and purple team from the ACC would be a fantastic addition to the SEC, both from a competitive standpoint as well as geographical. Clemson has an early connection to the conference, as the game was brought to the school from the institution that would eventually be known as Auburn University.
The Gators historically have the edge on the Tigers with a 9-3-1 record that began with a 9-5 victory for Clemson at home back in 1911. The last time the two schools faced each other on the collegiate gridiron was in 1961, when the Gainesville gang won, 21-17, on its home field. It has been more than 60 years since the last meeting but would it not be fun to rejuvenate this series?
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The Gators and Hurricanes had quite an ardent rivalry before the 1980s which reached a boiling point with the powder keg event known as the Florida flop back in 1971. Then after a dominant run in the 1980s, Florida chickened out of the series which put the once-heated feud on the back burner over the next few decades.
Despite the Hurricanes' dominance over that decade, the series record is still pretty tight with Miami holding a 29-27 edge dating back to its 1938 win in Gainesville, 19-7. In the seven games played since the cancellation of the annual matchup, the U has remained in control winning six of those eight games. Florida did win the most recent matchup on neutral ground in Orlando in 2019, 24-20.
Florida State Seminoles
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The top entry on this list is both the most obvious and also a chance to finally fulfill the Seminoles' destiny.
"The SEC is the only logical conference for us to get into from a geographical standpoint, but that depends on two things: increase in the size of our stadium and the ability of our football team to beat some of the SEC members." -Dr. Howard Danford, FSU Athletic Director, 11/20/1955
When FSU had the chance to join the Gators back in 1990 in what was a powerhouse conference even then, the team in Tallahassee instead chose the basketball-heavy Atlantic Coast Conference. Sure, the 'Noles played in five football national championships over the course of a decade, but their path may have been easier than others, dealing with a mediocre ACC schedule.
Nonetheless, there have been some rumors recently that the Seminoles are looking for a new conference home, with reported discussions between them and both the Big Ten and SEC.
For the record, the Gators hold the edge in the all-time series with a 37-27-2 mark dating back to the first meeting in Gainesville back in 1958 - a 21-7 win for the Orange and Blue. Florida has won three of the last four but FSU has taken seven of the last 10.
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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire