In the current realignment turmoil, here’s what I think I would do. (This could all change this afternoon, or tomorrow.)
First, if the Big Ten stays at 16, you don’t have to do anything. But if Kevin Warren keeps going, and all indications are that he will, certainly if ND will come on board, then the SEC needs to respond.
There is nobody in the Group of 5 that I would consider as an SEC candidate. So you’re looking at the ACC, or the Big 12, or even the Pac-12.
Second, you don’t poach, but you get the word out that if certain schools expressed interest, just as SC/UCLA did with the B1G, that you would be receptive.
Who are those schools? There are a lot of ACC schools that would add value. Not as many in the Big 12, but not to say that there aren’t any. I would be very surprised if any P-12 schools would be interested, but if I’m wrong, you evaluate those too.
The current talks between the Big 12 and Pac-12 schools would be very important. If those leagues merge, or if the Orphan 8 poaches 4-6 P-12 schools, then the landscape changes significantly. But the P-12 schools could also decide that staying in the P-12 with Oregon and Washington is a better fit than traveling to Ames or Manhattan or the rectum of Texas (Waco).
Without that grant of rights the ACC would already be toast, I think. It may still be toast. A Clemson or FSU or UNC may decide that getting out of the GOR is worth the legal fight (but would they win?). The GOR, though, could go away if there is a mass exodus. Which could happen.
If Clemson, FSU, Miami and UNC call and say “the ACC is dead and we all want to get into the SEC,” you take them. Full stop. Just as we took EOE and OU and the B1G took USC and UCLA. You could probably also substitute Virginia Tech or NC State in that group too. Take all six? Well that would certainly blow up the GOR. I cannot imagine Virginia wanting to join the SEC, Georgia Tech isn’t attractive (and had its chance), and the northern schools are also not attractive (I include Louisville in that group). But those six would establish the SEC in the entire Southeast and maintain geographic contiguity.
If any Big 12 schools want to bail? Less certain. Kansas would be a no-brainer if its football wasn’t so bad, because of the basketball value. Baylor brings value in both sports but I’m not sure it’s a hot draw for ESPN. Okie Lite would re-establish Bedlam which is not without value either. I don’t see any attraction for Iowa State or TTech, frankly. Kansas would also extend the geographic contiguity. Maybe Cincy, which borders Kentucky and would plant our flag in Big Ten territory.
Out west: The Arizona schools would be a stretch, but I wouldn’t completely rule them out either. Colorado? Maybe. Utah? Less likely. As for Cal and Stanford, I think they’d go independent before they’d join the SEC. I can’t imagine any circumstances where Oregon and Washington would be interested in the SEC, but if they were, you at least listen. Obviously this goes against the idea of the SEC geographic cluster.
But overall, you see who’s interested, and who brings value of the schools that are interested. If that means a mass raid of the ACC, so be it. And my guess is that’s the most likely outcome – 2 to 6 ACC schools. If one of those ACC schools is Notre Dame, that’s the biggest no-brainer of all.