Texas A&M and Missouri representatives likely will feel great about their new conference home after they attend this week's SEC spring meetings, which begin Tuesday in Destin, Fla. And that's not just because the venue is a resort hotel on the beach.
The conference usually comes across as one big happy family at these meetings. Now, with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M, it will just be a bigger happy family.
Why not? Nobody gets fired here. The only hot seat is the white sand behind the Sandestin Hilton. All you have to lose is a golf scramble on Thursday.
This might be as laid-back as you will ever see SEC coaches. Even Alabama football coach Nick Saban has been caught smiling.
It's so inviting, I hate to spoil the mood. But the Aggies and Tigers should know: All is not as it appears; the only undercurrent isn't in the Gulf.
Never mind all the plaudits SEC members have been throwing at Missouri and Texas A&M since they were accepted into the conference. Do you really think league coaches are ecstatic that the most competitive conference in the country has become more competitive?
No one should be less enthused than Tennessee. In this past school year, the Vols didn't qualify for a bowl in football, failed to make the NCAA tournament in men's basketball and couldn't even make the SEC tournament in baseball. They're in no position to welcome more competition.
Missouri and Texas A&M might not threaten Alabama football or Kentucky basketball. But they pose a serious threat to the SEC's middle class and below, which includes UT in most sports.
The Aggies have made six of the last seven NCAA men's basketball tournaments, qualified for the last six NCAA baseball tournaments, and played in bowl games the last two seasons. Missouri has made the last four NCAA men's basketball tournaments, seven of the last 10 NCAA baseball tournaments, and played in seven consecutive bowl games.
All of that beats what's going on at Tennessee.
You could argue that the addition of Missouri actually helps UT in football short-term. If the conference hadn't expanded, the old schedule would have been in place. And the old schedule had the Vols playing Arkansas, which beat them by 42 points last season.
The Vols should be better this season. They won't be good enough to bridge a 42-point gap with Arkansas.
With that in mind, Missouri should be welcome at Neyland Stadium in November. But UT's schedule will be less accommodating in 2013.
Although the 2013 SEC schedule hasn't yet been set, you can assume it will include traditional West rival Alabama. You also can assume divisional opponents will continue to rotate venues on a yearly basis.
That means the Vols would be playing at Florida, Alabama and Missouri within the conference. They also will have a non-conference road game against Oregon, the week before they go to The Swamp.
The UT men's basketball and baseball programs shouldn't be celebrating expansion, either.
First-year UT basketball coach Cuonzo Martin won 10 of 16 regular-season conference games in 2011-12 but still couldn't make the NCAA tournament. Now, the conference has put two more superior programs in his way.
As expected, the Vols finished last in the SEC in coach Dave Serrano's first season. They can't help but be better next season.
But they're trying to make headway in the strongest baseball conference in the country. And expansion has made it even stronger.