Mr. Whit Babcock:
I know someone, who is smarter than me has already thought about this and knows why it will never happen. Indeed, I can think of many reasons why it seems an impossible, futile effort, but given the state of college athletics and the drastic reshaping of conferences across the country I believe it is time for UC to seriously pitch itself to the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Having worked at a University that has recently been added to the SEC you seem to be in a unique position to make this pitch.
Conference Realignment has consistently taken unexpected turns, and this would probably be the least expected of them all. Still the University of Cincinnati may make more sense to the SEC than it does to any other conference. This is particularly true if the North Carolina schools ultimately decide to stick together in the ACC. The SEC wants to extend its footprint for the SEC network. It has already extended to Texas and Missouri. To extend it to Oklahoma it would probably have to take both Oklahoma schools, and I doubt it wants to make this play. It is not jumping west of Texas and the only Northeast football schools that seem viable are already in desirable conferences. Additionally, a Northeast school would be very isolated in the SEC.
The two logically places, that everyone has talked about for SEC expansion are North Carolina and Virginia, but why not Ohio? In an article last week over at Grantland, the author cited a study showing the best football recruiting states. Of the best recruiting states per capita the SEC had a presence in 6, only missing Ohio and Oklahoma. Adding an Ohio team to the SEC could put the SEC stranglehold on yet another of the top talent developing states in college football.
(here is the article http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8654190/on-urban-meyer-ohio-state-wisconsin-big-ten-expanding-include-maryland-rutgers)
More importantly the SEC could put their brand, right down in the middle of Big Ten Country. Ohio is a very populated state and UC alumni are spread throughout the state. Ohio is more populated than any state already affiliated with the SEC not named Florida or Texas. It is more populated than the two states SEC seems most likely to expand in North Carolina and Virginia. If the SEC is trying to sell it's network to cable companies getting the higher subscriber fees for the most possible people, Ohio could be a great selling point. The ACC does not have the Network where this is as big of a deal, but the SEC getting its footprint into Ohio could be huge.
Additionally, Cincinnati is a manageable rode trip for multiple teams in the SEC East, it is a nice, logical extension of the conference. Kentucky, Vandy, and Tennessee all are just a short ride from Cincinnati. The SEC could add a team from Virginia, like a Virginia Tech, and send Missouri out west where it probably belongs.
You know more than me about how to sell the program and what else could be said, but I think the Bearcats could make a strong case that it offers a ton to the SEC and their network. Clemson and FSU make little sense as they don't expand the SEC footprint. If the North Carolina schools hold the ACC together it may not be a viable option for UC (and if the ACC starts losing teams I am sure UC is now on their radar). In fact if North Carolina holds the ACC together, Ohio could really jump as an area for the SEC to expand.
I am confident that UC is doing everything it can to end up stronger after realignment, but this is a direction I have never heard anyone mention and one I believe makes more sense when you really delve into it. I hope to see UC competing in a conference that will allow its athletics to thrive. I think UC has more to offer the SEC at this exact moment in time than it does any other conference out there and I think you are uniquely positioned to make the argument. Best of luck moving forward.