Texas A&M to the SEC

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by Wally

Wow.   Lots of announcements down here in Texas lately.    Should we talk about Governor Rick Perry’s candidacy for President?    Or Texas A&M’s almost official move to the SEC for 2012?    Yes, I agree, the A&M move is far more interesting and likely to help the economy, so let’s focus on that  🙂

So what prompted A&M to make a move like this?   Was this a smart almost “first-mover” type of “get a seat in a mega conference before the musice stops” manuever, like Nebraska’s?    Or were they just plain sick and tired of being in the shadow of the Longhorns?   A shadow that seemed to be getting bigger due to the “Longhorn Network.   I think the answer is “a little bit of both”.

Was this an emotional decision (which usually aren’t well thought out)?  Or was it well-calculated and visionary?    Again, I think it’s some of both, but I lean more towards the latter.   However, we won’t really know how visionary this move is until we see how the other dominos fall.   Such dominos are Texas, Oklahoma and members of the “Big 12-2” in general. 

What does Texas A&M get by moving to the SEC? 

— Membership in the best football conference in America, and one of the marquee athletic conferences overall.

— Related to the first point, this probably makes them quite unique for a college sports team west of the Mississippi.  A Texas team that belongs to the SEC will be a recruiting calling card for the mega-talented state of Texas and this region in general, especially if recruits fear that the Big 12 will essentially crumble and disperse.

What do the Aggies risk with this move?

— I believe they just made it harder for themselves to win a national title and be a perennial Top 10 program.    This program has everything it needs to be champion-caliber right here in their current situation:    huge talent pool, money, a large rabid fan base, great facilities, very good academics, good coaching staff …. and maybe the most important thing … a chance to be one of a few  big fish in a small pond.   If they stay put and Texas eventually goes independent, then the Aggies and Oklahoma become the Ohio State and Michigan of this region and dominate for years with less than stellar competition.    But by moving to the SEC, I believe the initial years at the very least will be tough … the Aggies will essentially be a regular sized fish in an ocean of sharks.     Sure the Aggies open the season ranked #7-9 or so, but project them in the SEC this year …. would they even be in the Top 4 of that conference after a full season?   Next season (2012), they essentially move from #2 in their Big 12 conference to #5, 6 or 7 in the SEC. 

Now, if you believe the trend toward mega-power conferences is real, then this is probably a very good move for the Aggies, but it will take 10+ years to really know.  

So what happens to Texas?   I suspect they eventually go independent ala BYU and of course Notre Dame has been independent since it’s inception.   But, are Texas and BYU overestimating their national brand value?  

And what about Oklahoma?   Truly screwed at the moment.   Oklahoma is certainly a player in athletics and of course football, but they are not nearly the attraction Texas is.   Maybe they can find a seat in the PAC 10 or PAC 20 eventually when we’re in mega-conference world.    Maybe the Big 10 or BIG 20 will have a place for them … seems like a better geographical fit.   We’ll see … but OU may be getting some of the leftovers.

What is the SEC’s next move?    Many think Florida State will end up joining to even out the math again.

I’m wondering how others around the country are looking at this.  I’m down here in Aggieland, so I’m getting a biased perspective as I talk to people.   Aggie alums generally seem to be pleased with the move, but I get the sense that their pleasure is mostly derived from telling the Longhorns to go #$%! themselves.   Meanhwile, sports talk show hosts are mixed on the subject.     So how do you CFB fans here on the Pine look at this almost official move by Texas A&M?

8 Responses to "Texas A&M to the SEC"

  1. Smitty   August 14, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Wally, I heard that A&M receives major funding from the State and this move to the SEC might jeopardize that. Any truth to that??

    I also heard rumors that the Big 12 might go after Virginia Tech and another team, which if that is true – would jeopardize the ACC.

    I know A&M thought about this jump last year, I think it is a good move for them.

  2. Wally   August 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Smitty,
    Like any big state school, yes, A+M gets tons of money from the state government. It really is like a state owned corporation and as such is managed by state employees … In this case the Board of Regents. Any such move would have to be approved by the BOR. Therefore, I doubt very highly that a switch to the university’s athletic conference has any state financing ramifications whatsoever.

    The Big 12 is in trouble. 3 teams will have defected by 2012 … Nebraska, Colorado, and now TAMU. I think Va Tech would be crazy to join this crumbling conference. Not that the ACC is a safe haven, but it’s in much better shape than the Big 12 and makes geographic sense for VT.

    Folks are predicting that by 2020 there will be four “super power conferences” of 16 teams each that will make up the highest level of CFB. They are saying that the four will essentially be the Big 10, Pac 10, SEC and ACC. The Big East will be dispersed, as will the Big 12. Talking football now. If the Big 12 were to continue, it would contain the likes of SMU, Houston, Tulsa, etc.

  3. Wally   August 14, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    In the near term (until Texas makes its big move) the Big 12 will likely pursue southwest or southcentral teams that make sense to replace the defectors. Teams like Houston, TCU, SMU, Tulsa, maybe La Tech.

  4. Rey   August 14, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Not surprising to me and seems like a good decision. SEC still a powerful conference with its own network. Big 12 is for whatever reason losing its luster. Texas, as you mentioned, is getting too big for everyone else’s briches on a national recruiting level with their own network. Why not accept an invite to the SEC? I guess you’d know the status of A&M football more than everyone else, but aren’t they an every five or so years team anyway? When have they ever been a national contendor in the Big 12?

    Texas, OU, OK State and Mizzou have a bigger stake in the Big 12 than A&M to me.

    Move while the ship is sinking…

  5. Wally   August 14, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Rey,
    A+M’s recent history is not too dissimilar to Notre Dame’s. They have not really been a title contender since the Wrecking Crew days when, ironically, former mediocre Irish coach Bob Davie was their Defensive Coordinator in early to mid ’90s. I really believe A+M is on the cusp of being a national power and right now they have a bit of a leg up on the Longhorns since UT is coming off a terrible season and may be only a 7-5 team this year. Like I said. the Aggies have all the resources needed to be an annual contender AND a good coaching staff to make it all happen. Like ND, they made several poor coaching selections over the past 10-15 years. And like ND, I think they finally got it right this time.

  6. Wally   August 14, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Ha! Now that’s pretty funny. Hey A&M … In the future, you might want to make sure you’ve actually been invited before you a) leak the story and b) call your Board of Regents together for an emergency meeting and vote. Egg on face!

    Now the Longhorns are laughin’ !!

  7. Wally   August 15, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    My Aggie alum-friends say they’re confident that A&M’s move to the SEC will indeed happen. They say this latest speed bump was just to ensure all parties go through the “best process” to avoid potential opposition and/or litigation. So we’ll see …. stay tuned.

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