Can someone explain to me how Bowen and Byrne can hold up this move when the majority of Aggies everywhere (maybe minus some old army) want to tell tu to kiss our posterior and move to the SEC? I am truly interested.
Last spring and summer, we took a detailed look at what conference expansion could mean for the Southeastern Conference. You can download and read our multi-part series “Expounding on Expansion” right here.
In our research, we determined that one school would be (and is) a sure-thing fit with the SEC: Texas A&M. Going back as far as the 1980s the school and the conference have flirted with one another. We pointed out that A&M is very much an SEC type of program — rural, massive facilities, rabid fans and rich tradition, etc. The school also offers just about everything the more sought-after University of Texas offers — major television markets and a foothold onto fertile recruiting grounds — without all the ego.
Then, lo and behold, we all learned that A&M and the SEC had already been chatting it up again. While Texas was winking at the Big Ten and playing footsie with the Pac-10, the Aggies were meeting with Mike Slive. And former Alabama coach Gene Stallings was using his regent status at A&M to push the school East from the inside.
A&M to the SEC likely would have come to pass, too, had the Big 12 not been saved at the last minute using duct tape and Super Glue.
As we’ve written previously, eventually it will come to pass.
Now that Texas has unveiled its new television network partnership with ESPN, more folks are wondering if A&M might head to the SEC sooner rather than later.
Kirk Bohls of The Austin American-Statesman wrote late Sunday night that one prominent Aggie told him: “I certainly think (Texas’ network) is going to create some reaction from some Aggies who will say, ‘(The heck with) Texas. Let’s do our own deal.’ I don’t think Texas is winning friends and influencing people among their Big 12 brethren.” Bohls, however, does point out that his source doesn’t sense “a groundswell” of support from A&M’s president or athletic director for an SEC move at the moment.
There are those who feel A&M needs to remain locked to Texas like a remora to a shark. ESPN.com’s David Ubben is one of those folks. He believes A&M should just stay put even though “the majority of the fan base supported a move to the SEC” last summer. Ubben writes that A&M has “historically been an underachieving program” and would “win less in the SEC than it already has in the Big 12.”
Just a couple of quick questions for you at this point. How’s Arkansas’ program looking these days with Bobby Petrino at the helm? Do you think A&M would win if it hired Nick Saban?
The point is this: Recruiting and fanbase and money are important, but if you land the right coach, everything else will fall into place. A&M might have the right coach in Mike Sherman. And even if he’s not the right guy, the next guy might be. A move to the SEC should not be ruled out due of fear.
What Ubben fails to grasp is the level of parity that exists in the SEC. Texas and Oklahoma dominate the Big 12. They will always dominate the Big 12. Have-nots do not traditionally rise in that league because they can’t compete financially. But in the SEC, it’s a different story. Revenue is shared. So is hope. Example: No league champion has repeated since 1997-98.
Since 1998, five league schools have won national championships. Throw in Georgia’s #2 finish in 2007 and half the conference has been ranked #1 or #2 in the final polls over that span.
Four schools have won titles in the last five years alone, including Auburn. No knock on Auburn, but the school is as rural as you can get. You think Texas A&M doesn’t have the tradition, facilities and recruiting base to compete with Auburn? With Arkansas? And those schools are competing quite well with Alabama, Florida and LSU. Why couldn’t A&M?
Whether or not Texas’ new network will speed up the Aggies’ drive to the SEC remains to be seen… but it certainly can’t be doing much for the Big 12′s espirit de corps.