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As Expected, Longhorn Network Has Aggies Thinking About Options

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been beating the drum rather loudly that eventually — we believe — Texas A&M will become a member of the Southeastern Conference.  That talk came to ahead during Expansionpalooza last summer.

At this site we broke down expansion possibilities for the SEC in a number of areas.  Just as league presidents and commissioner Mike Slive will do (and have done), we focused on the business side of expansion.  While Georgia Tech and Clemson may be great fits in terms of proximity, for example, other schools in other areas would bring more value to the league.  Other schools would grow the league’s footprint and that’s really what expansion is all about.

Out of 18 possible expansion targets, we graded Texas A&M as the second best option for the league behind only Texas.  The Aggies bring just about everything to the table that the Longhorns would — major television markets, a recruiting foothold into a rich recruiting area, quality academics, top notch facilities — but they would do so without all the UT attitude.  The Harvard of the Colorado River A&M does not pretend to be.

So we weren’t surprised then when in the final hours of Expansionpalooza it was learned that Slive and the SEC were actually courting A&M (and Oklahoma).  The SEC and A&M have been playing footsie for two decades.  Slive’s trip to College Station made sense.

And even when the Big 12 was saved, we projected that a league duct-taped together at the last minute would not survive in the long run.  Eventually — in our view — A&M and the SEC would consummate their relationship.

This past January 25th, it was announced that the University of Texas would partner with ESPN on a new Longhorn Network that would bring in as much as $300 million dollars to UT over the next 20 years.  As soon as that announcement came, we asked if that network could potentially speed up the Aggies drive eastward.

A day later on January 26th, we reported that indeed the network was already causing troubles.  Issue #1: Is it even legal under NCAA rules for a school’s own network to air high school football games involving prospects that that school is recruiting?

Now there’s an Issue #2. 

The folks at TexAgs.com – an ESPN-affiliated pay site — are reporting that many Big 12 schools aren’t happy about the fact that the University of Texas has cut a deal that allows UT to air one of its conference games on the Longhorn Network.  In other words, this year fans of Oklahoma State or Texas Tech might have to subscribe to Texas’ TV network just to watch their own school play an in-conference football game.

We don’t want to steal the thunder of TexAgs.com — again, you can subscribe at the link above — but as a tease of their content we will tell you that they feel this kind of power play by Texas is “exactly what Texas A&M decision-makers were most concerned with when they decided to remain in (and essentially save) the Big 12 Conference rather than accept an invitation to play in the SEC.”

You heard it here first.  And second.  And third, folks.  You’ve heard it here so often that lots of people who were talking up Clemson and Georgia Tech a year ago are now pointing to A&M as the SEC’s dream date.

So why not say it again: The Big 12 cannot survive as the Mega One and Little Nine.  Texas is so rich and powerful at this point that it really doesn’t need to play nice with others.  That fact will eventually rub the other Big 12 members the wrong way.  To the point that Texas A&M will someday be a member of the Southeastern Conference.

Apparently — according to those who closely cover the Aggie program — that possibility is once again becoming a hot topic in Southeast Texas.

UPDATEAggieWebsider.com is also reporting today on a change in mood at the top of the Texas A&M program.  AggieWebsider.com is the Scout.com site covering A&M, but the above link is free and clear.

 


30 comments
Mo Johnson
Mo Johnson

thanks for the insightful article. I linked to it at the link on my name. I think it will happen one day and Oklahoma will along too.

Razorback
Razorback

The first football game I attended as a kid was TAMU @ Arky. As everyeone has established, a&m has an ornery bunch of fans that would enjoy being in the SEC.

I'll throw out another school that gets over-looked quite a bit and could be one of those "off the radar" additions if the conference fall-out occurs. It has an enrollment of over 30,000 and I was surprised to find the tailgating/football gameday experience to be great....NC State. In much the same way TAMU is tired of Texas, the Wolfpack is tired of UNC and the other basketball schools calling the shots. It is more of a beer drinking SEC-type university than the wine and cheese party ACC. The state of North Carolina is the 10th most populated state in the country and would add about 10 million residents to the conference footprint. Lots of talent in NC for recruiting too. Also, Carter-Finley Stadium's season tickets have been sold out for nine straight years. Not saying it's my number one choice, but more than worth mentioning with Virginia Tech and even Maryland.

Thumper
Thumper

UGA will never allow Tech back into the SEC! Mark my words!

phdivers
phdivers

I find it interesting about the comment made about the arrogance that the Texas folks display. I'm a LSU fan living in Houston. The Aggies also think their smellly stuff doesn't stink. Should of heard them before the Cotton Bowl but you could've heard a pin drop from their side once LSU started to kick their big loud mouths!!!! And I do agree that A&M will have to make the move to the SEC. It is a natural rivalry. Can still remember for years how that was always a good game between the two. As for another team FSU was invited before Ark. and S. Carolina accepted. Bobby Bowden made the statement that he wasn't crazy. He said he'd never win it all playing the SEC.

qualey
qualey

Texas and ESPN will ruin college football.

RWGJ
RWGJ

While a&m to the SEC might end up happening at some point I think something needs to be made clear. There was no "power play" by Texas in terms of getting football games on their network. ESPN has already ponied up the money to Texas and it's in their best interest to get as many football games on the network as possible. That's why ESPN, not Texas paid for the rights to a conference game.

The bottom line is that the Big 12 was never going to a conference with longterm viability and most people knew that from day one. You can't blame Texas for looking out for number one. I suppose this is where I will be told that Texas and ESPN will ruin college football.

SMD
SMD

JCS, YOU are the one without a clue. The original invite from the ACC was to Syracuse and BC. VT was NOWHERE in their plans. Were you off the planet in 2003, or do you just have a really bad memory. The Va. Gov. forced VT into the picture, over the objections of UVA.
If you're going to spout off on here, then you get to get at least a BASIC understanding of the facts, which you CLEARLY LACK, while ironically accusing others of the same thing. YOU are the one without a clue. Go back and do some research.

Rio
Rio

The Texas governor is not only an Aggie grad, he was a yell leader. No problemmo with him being on board.

Dave
Dave

I say if the SEC expands, they should take Mizzou and Clemson, stick them in a division with LSU and Auburn, and call it the all-tiger division.

hog
hog

explain clemson to me, i don't want them, rather have a new market.

B Roberts
B Roberts

I'm not sure UVA will be happy to see VT leave. they went to bat for the hokies to get them in. I'm not familiar with that dynamic though. Freeing the ACC up to grab syracuse is a good point.

Steve
Steve

Good Points, Jon

Jon
Jon

If the SEC wants to expand into ACC country, it would be prudent to do it in a way that is acceptable to the ACC.

If we've learned anything from the ACC expansion in 2003 and the Pac10 expansion in 2010 it is that if you try to expand in a way that destroys or severely harms another conference, expect some serious resistance. And more precisely, expect to end up with something short of what you wanted. The ACC wanted Syracuse, and ended up with Virginia Tech. The Pac10 mainly wanted UT, A&M and Oklahoma, and ended up with Colorado and Utah.

If A&M comes to the SEC, and the SEC wants a 14th team, Virginia Tech would be a good choice. First, A&M and VT are very similar schools and would be great fit for the SEC. The SEC would gain new markets and recruiting areas in Virginia and DC. It also wouldn't ruin the ACC and cause a political firestorm. And it would allow the ACC to be freed to go after who they really wanted in the first place without losing markets or recruiting areas (UVa). And if the ACC would want to go to 14 teams as well, they could add Pitt and UConn, along with Syracuse. This would probably actually be good for the ACC.

If the SEC goes after UNC, a) UNC would likely not come and b) if they would, this would probably lead to the downfall of the conference. Also, ACC football can't afford to lose FSU or Clemson; plus USCe and UF might not want their instate rivals in the SEC.

Otto
Otto

Agreed on Clemson and GT, they do not grow the market. FSU maybe an option and would further decrease the ACC's exposure to Florida talent.

If FSU does not move. I would shift Auburn east, keep a constant rival with the other division which would naturally be Bama. Auburn was always bigger rivals with UT and UF than LSU and the MS schools anyways. Mizzou is ready to move and would be another good TV market. I expect Oklahoma to follow Texas into the PAC12.

B. Roberts
B. Roberts

Clemson and GT have zero business being in the SEC. Whoever the SEC invites will have "pay their own way" so to speak. 2 more teams mean that the pot of money at the end of the year will have to increase in such away that current teams and the conferences will see a benefit. no one is going to vote for the checks in Destin to decrease. Slive has said the SEC has "look ins" on the TV contracts. No doubt, Slive has a pretty good ball park figure on what A&M brings to the table (a whole lot) and what GT brings to the table (not much). Ideally, to me, the 14th team would be Virginia Tech, though I'm not sure how realstic that it is. Clemson is already in an SEC state (that only has a pop of 4M) and Ga Tech has a 2 bit stadium that doesn't sell out. UGA plus all of the SEC alumni living in North Georgia make Atlanta SEC territory regardless of what conference the jackets are in.

dwp007
dwp007

Having dealt with the enormous arrogance of UT during the former SWC days, it's ludicrous to believe that the OrangeBloods would not try to force their will on any conference, including the SEC. aTm was/is almost as bad, in terms of trying to run the conference. These guys deserve one another.

Brian
Brian

With Clemson* Reviewed*

Brian
Brian

When the Big "Ten" grabs another one or two schools (Pitt and or Rutgers) The SEC will have had enough. Texas A&M will also at the same time will have run out of options on how to keep up with big brother Texas. This will make for a win win situation. The SEC will need another team to balance out the East. I believe that will in fact be down to Georgia Tech or Clemson. Will Clemson being the 1A option. Clemson sells out there stadium. In fact they are on par with most major SEC programs when it comes to capacity sold per game. When looking for a SEC invite the whole athletic program and academics of the school will be review. While Georgia Tech has the edge academically, they have poor alumni support, and a very mediocre sports program as a whole. While Clemson athletic program isn't much better. They do sell out all home games, buy up all away game allotments, and travel to bowl games. Plus, a look at the big three revenue producers (Football, Basketball, and Baseball) has Clemson ahead by a mountain of money. One less East vs West game, which means one away game closer to home for fanbases, and the Dallas, Houston, Texas in general TV market the SEC craves.

Wheres the papers, I'll sign for both schools!

Patrick
Patrick

I think the other possibility is that Texas goes independent and the remaining B12 tries to keep the conference afloat.

Jon
Jon

If the SEC could get them, NC State and Virginia Tech might be a good fit. Neither is in the ACC blue blood category within their own state. And the ACC could survive without them. The loss of UNC, UVa, UMd, FSU, or Clemson would be very bad for the ACC. I also think A&M and Mizzou would be a nice move for the SEC to get to 16. Four nice markets, four new and connected states, four schools that would be a credit academically to the SEC, and four schools that seem serious about football. Two in the east, two in the west.

Maryland would likely stay in the ACC. And they should.

Hogdini
Hogdini

Not college football, just whatever conference Texas joins who is resistant to the idea that the conference will now exist at the pleasure of Texas. If ESPiN is going to ruin college football, at least ESPiN will ruin it in favor of the SEC.

Jon
Jon

If it was just VT leaving (meaning no other ACC team) and it wouldn't ruin the conference, UVa would be fine with it (barring a few good-natured rivalry zingers on the way out the door). UVa didn't want Tech either, but were forced to support them due to state politics. The big thing with VT getting into the ACC is that ACC expansion was going to destroy Tech's existing conference (BigEast). Consequently, Tech wanted in on the deal and didn't want to be left behind in a seriously depleted BigEast

State politics can't be ignored in all these expansion scenarios, especially if we are talking about state schools. Heck, even Baylor (a private school), used it's connections to get into the BigXII back in the day, and was a key figure in the blocking of the Pac16 deal. A&M can threaten to break off from Texas, but the state legislature and governor might raise cain. This is not just a Texas and Virginia thing, but any state legislature with schools affected by expansion (Oklahoma, South Carolina, Florida, et al).

David
David

Good points Jon. I agree that VT would be great and that they are similar to A&M - especially with the Corps. If they (VT) was taken the ACC could also be freed up to take KU. They want to go BigE somewhat, but in the end: they want to go to a BB conference. the B12-2 isn't bad for BB... but it plays second fiddle to football.

JCS
JCS

I've never heard that the ACC wanted Syracuse over Virginia Tech? Did you make that up? The ACC CLEARLY expanded with Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College (to a lesser extent) to become more powerful in football. A powerful football conference makes a whole lot more cash than a powerful basketball conference does. Football is the top revenue sport in college athletics and the ACC realized this. They clearly went with Miami, Virginia Tech and BC to bolster their football product. They weren't looking to become more powerful in basketball. You can't really top Duke and UNC (those two make enough money alone, therefore Syracuse wouldn't have added as much as a fourth of what Hokie football alone does to the conference). Hence, they went out and got two strong football schools and a third traditionally strong program in BC. If the ACC truly wanted to become stronger in basketball they would have. This adding Syracuse theory just doesn't add up.

Cal
Cal

Exactly, been to a game at Bobby Dodd and they have some tradition and they have some tradition with SEC schools (being a former SEC school). But Atlanta has become a horrible sports city with Yankee transplants making up a majority of the population (see Hawks vs. Knicks 2011). The Thrashers left town, the Hawks can't fill their arena, and Braves attendance is sad. All this while the Braves and Hawks were and are contenders in their respective sports. It's also sad to watch a Georgia Tech football game against a strong ACC football program and see half of Bobby Dodd empty. If the SEC went with Georgia Tech we might as well go ahead and add Miami too (who plays in that empty, off campus pro stadium on Saturdays). We could be the SEC +2 (asterisk) Yankee transplant city, empty stadium, out of place with the rest of the league large market schools conference.

RWGJ
RWGJ

Funny, yet the $EC top target for expansion was and is the University of Texas.

Jon
Jon

No, I didn't make it up. Here is one of many stories from 2003.
http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/105280/

Syracuse was likely invited for the new markets more than basketball. The net result of VT and BC in, and Syracuse out left just one school (BC) in the entire northeast. The original plan was Syracuse and BC to come in together.

The ACC was getting national power Miami, it didn't care that at the time that VT was a bit better than Syracuse. They thought Miami alone would be the answer to their football issues. In retrospect, VT continued its winning trend that started its latter years in the Big East. Syracuse continued to tank. And Miami dropped off big time since joining the ACC. I retrospect, it looked like a good move to add VT, but it was an accident on the part of the ACC

Eicht
Eicht

I live in Atlanta and yes it is awful PRO sports town. If GT was joined the SEC the conference home games would sell out just for the simple fact of all the other fans of SEC schools would go to Bobby Dodd to see there team play.

RWGJ
RWGJ

I agree with you for the most part. The problem is that Texas has always been the big fish in a small pond. They drive the conference because people want to see them. While I respect other programs in the old SWC and Big 12-2 there just aren't a ton of people turning on their TV sets to watch the Iowa State, Baylor, Texas Tech, TCU and Houston's of the world play. In this day in age where college football is big money many of those universities should be lucky that they are in a BCS conference with the TV money they are getting because of schools like UT, OU and A&M. The fact that Texas is a cash cow and is looked upon as the evil empire or Yankees of college sports bothers me a little. I think going independant would only add to that stimga... special rules for special schools type of thing ala Notre Dame.

Hogdini
Hogdini

I'm not saying that Texas isn't an attractive addition to a conference, just that they come with baggage. Texas ran the old SWC, then they forced the Big 8 to move the new Big XII conference headquarters to Dallas (Irving) when the league expanded.

The Big 8 had OU and Nebraska as their nationally recognized football programs prior to Texas. The SEC already has Florida, Georgia, LSU, Alabama, and Auburn. Texas would not be able to manipulate the SEC like they did the Big XII, but they would try. Texas will be better suited to go independant and play a Notre Dame-esque schedule plus OU and maybe A&M(unless they spin the yarn that A&M ruined the Big XII by leaving and refuse to play them)

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