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Gamecocks coach Spurrier no fan of expansion

When Steve Spurrier won his Heisman Trophy in 1966 at Florida, the SEC was a 10-team conference.

When Spurrier won an ACC title at Duke in 1989, that conference was an intimate, eight-team league.

So forgive the South Carolina coach if he is not doing back flips about what appears to be an inevitable march toward a handful of mega-conferences on the college landscape.

With Colorado joining the Pac-10 on Thursday and Nebraska expected to be introduced as the 12th member of the Big Ten today, the rest of the dominoes could fall quickly as the Pac-10 and SEC pursue the Texas and Oklahoma schools while the Big 12 tries to fend off the raiders and stay afloat.

"I think it's a little sad. I think we need a lot of conferences so a lot of teams have a chance to win conference championships," Spurrier said. "If it turns out there's only four big conferences, that's only four conference championships each year, plus the national (championship).

"That's the fun thing about being in about an 8- to 12-team conference, is you feel like you've got a chance to win the conference championship. That eliminates a lot of teams from that."

Several USC trustees said Thursday they like the SEC as is but are in favor of the league expanding if other conferences move to 16 teams.

Texas, the latest linchpin in expansion, reportedly is considering an invitation to join the Pac-10, along with Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Meanwhile, Oklahoma athletics director Joe Castiglione told the Tulsa World that the SEC has shown interest in the Sooners, but Oklahoma will follow Texas.

South Carolina board chairman Miles Loadholt likes the idea of SEC commissioner Mike Slive making a play for the Texas schools.

"I think that the Texas teams would be very attractive for the conference to look at if the Big 12 falls apart," he said.

Chuck Allen, a trustee from Anderson and former USC football player, said adding the Texas and Oklahoma schools "would solidify the preeminence of the SEC for a long, long time."

But if the Big 12 dissolves and the Longhorns lead the movement west to the Pac-10, and the Big Ten also grows to 16 teams, the SEC would have a decision to make: Stay at 12 teams and risk being passed by those conferences in terms of prestige and TV dollars, or find four other teams?

If the SEC stays within its geographic footprint, most of the speculation has centered on the league considering Virginia Tech, Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech and Clemson.

A couple of USC trustees -- including one of the most vocal -- said Thursday they would be willing to consider adding Clemson to the SEC if it made sense for USC.

"I don't have a strong opinion right now. I'd have to look at it from a financial standpoint. Who else is coming in?" said Eddie Floyd, the outspoken Florence surgeon. "My overall concern is not Clemson coming in or Georgia Tech coming or Florida State coming in. My focus is on South Carolina.

"If bringing in Clemson would help our program, I would be for it. If, after evaluation, we thought that it would hurt our program, then I would be against it."

Allen said he does not believe Clemson will be in the SEC mix, echoing what Spurrier said last week at the SEC meetings.

There is a sense among some observers that Slive does not want the SEC to be perceived as a league that raided another conference, and will limit his talks to schools from conferences that already have lost members.

Spurrier said he has "no idea" what the SEC will do, but is disappointed that jockeying for the most lucrative TV revenues might leave college football with several super-conferences.

"It's sad that it's all about the money. I think that's what it's all about," Spurrier said. "But a lot of athletic departments are hurting. We've got a lot of sports that football and basketball support. So maybe that's the reason the presidents and ADs feel like they need to do the super-conferences to bring in more television money."