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Monday, August 15, 2011

Texas A&M and the SEC Play Musical Chairs

Much speculation took place over this past weekend about the possibility of Texas A&M joining the Southeastern Conference. For the past year, several big conference schools have changed conferences and several schools, formerly in mid-major conferences, have joined the ranks of the major, Bowl Championship Coalition conferences. Texas A&M would be the latest in a growing number of schools migrating for greener conference pastures.

I would never pretend to have inside information. From my vantage point, however, it appears that an A&M move to the SEC is inevitable. The question is, “When?”

I read multiple rumors and headlines over the past weekend suggesting that A&M would announce that it would join the SEC. I then witnessed a number of “can neither confirm nor deny,” quotations attributed to influencers and decision makers involved in a possible conference move. Where there is smoke there is fire. In sports, it is often a four alarm blaze.


Should the speculation of a Texas A&M move to the SEC prove to be correct, there will be a number of ramifications. First, it will expand the SEC’s footprint to the state of Texas, a state with more than 20 million people. This will add enormous value to SEC television contracts and increase the presence and influence of the SEC in Texas, a recruiting hotbed.

A&M will no longer be “the other” major Texas school in its own conference. Beyond institutional pride, this will differentiate Texas A&M from the University of Texas (and any other Texas school) regarding the profile of its athletic programs. Recruits and potential hires to Texas A&M athletics would be electing to compete in the SEC, as opposed to the Big XII at Texas. A football recruit from Texas, wanting to remain in Texas and compete with SEC caliber competition, will have one option in Texas A&M.

Spencer Ware Spencer Ware #16 of the Louisiana State University Tigers is tackled by Michael Hodges #37 of the Texas A&M Aggies during the AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on January 7, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.
The once great LSU vs Texas A&M rivalry may soon be renewed on a permanent basis. 2


In the past year, the Big XII Conference contended with the defections of Nebraska to the Big Ten Conference and Colorado to the Pac 12. Should Texas A&M move at some point in the near future, I think it is probable that the SEC would add a 14th team to balance its divisional alignments. This would mean another school, possibly another Big XII school, would also defect. The domino effect of a Texas A&M relocation to the SEC cold strip significant assets from other conferences.

Some of the speculation that I read about includes the possibilities of either Texas Tech or Missouri, both Big XII schools, following A&M to the SEC. I also observed speculation about Florida State University, of the Atlantic Coastal Conference, being an addition to the SEC to balance a Texas A&M acquisition. Either of these moves will weaken the conference suffering the departure, possibly crippling to the Big XII.

The 2012 Big XII logo? 3


While the SEC issued pacifying soft denials of a possible move, anyone on the outside looking in can see the possible benefits for the SEC of adding Texas A&M. I think the pros would far outweigh the cons. For that reason, I think A&M to the SEC is a “when” question and not an “if” question.

I believe that an A&M move would be the next step in a long line of steps, which will eventually lead to the NCAA having four super conferences for football, with the Big XII and Big East being either dissolved or on the outside looking in. Ultimately, having four super conferences could pave the way for the elimination of the BCS and its concept and the use of a 4, 6, or 8 team playoff system to decide the national champion in football.

Stay tuned! I am sure this story has a number of exciting chapters to come!

This trophy may be a relic if present alignment trends continue. 4

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