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“A&M To SEC” Topic — All Aboard!

The rumored move of Texas A&M to the SEC has been a fun one to watch for those of us here at MrSEC.com.  A year ago, most pundits were projecting Clemson, Georgia Tech or Florida State to the Southeastern Conference.  A&M was viewed as a throw-in candidate only if the league could grab Texas.

We saw things differently.  In our multi-part series “Expounding on Expansion” — which was about 75 pages if printed out — we looked at expansion from a business sense, not from a fan perspective.

Despite the mutterings of the masses, we knew and stated the following:


1) Academics would play a big role in expansion.  (At the league’s spring meetings, we saw SEC presidents prove that football doesn’t rule the roost, despite the money it brings to league coffers.)  I recently spoke to someone who served in Penn State’s athletic department during that school’s move to the Big Ten.  In his view, academics absolutely drove the bus on that move.  Ignore the facts if you wish, but these are schools first and while football is a large part of the equation, it isn’t the only part of the equation.  (This piece on academics and politics includes a history lesson on A&M-SEC relations.  And here’s a conference-by-conference, school-by-school look at academics.)

2) Distance and travel wouldn’t be the end-all, be-all.  Most fans aren’t driving from Gainesville to Fayetteville now, yet the SEC hasn’t collapsed.  The Pac-12 stretches from Seattle to Tuscon.  The Big East reaches from New York to Chicago to Ft. Worth.  And the ACC’s footprint spreads from Boston to Miami.  It’s an atlas, not a Bible.  Don’t grow too attached to it.

3) The “South” has nothing to do with it.  “SEC” is a brand, not a definition.  The conference doesn’t have to look inside its own borders to expand.  The idea is outward growth — bringing in new TV markets, new recruiting ground, and new fans.  Interestingly, I recently read someone who pooh-poohed Missouri as a potential SEC candidate because the state is not football crazy and because it was a border state in the Civil War.  Egads.  I don’t guess that person realized that he’d just described Kentucky, as well.  (Here’s our take on why the SEC should act boldly on the expansion front.)


Last summer, we looked at 18 different schools as expansion candidates.  We graded them in several different areas: population base, academics, athletic budget, athletic success, location, etc, etc.  (Here’s a look at how we chose our criteria.)

You can read our reviews of each school here.  Pay close attention to our review of Texas A&M.

By the numbers, we found that A&M ranked behind only Texas in terms of being a great potential mate for Mike Slive’s league.

Even after Expansionpalooza wound down last June, we wrote in July that A&M to the SEC was just a matter of time.  And in January of this past year, we speculated that the Longhorn Network could provide the Aggies a final push eastward toward the SEC West.

Now it seems that the whole world is dancing to the “A&M to the SEC” beat.  Well, we say, “welcome.”  This story is no more clear today than it was 15 to 18 months ago when we first started writing about it, but at least a few more people are opening their eyes and recognizing that this marriage will eventually come to fruition.

Twitter exploded yesterday with unconfirmed reports that A&M and the SEC were already working out membership details and that the Aggies were prepping to give their Big 12 mates the news by the end of August.

Messageboards were filled with conspiracy theories.  OutkickTheCoverage.com bought into one — the idea that Texas has been forcing the likes of Nebraska and Colorado and Texas A&M to make moves with a flurry of DeLoss Dodd’s Jedi mind tricks.

All the talk meant A&M coach Mike Sherman had to dance around the SEC topic at practice yesterday.

We stated yesterday that our sources inside the SEC were mum on the subject.  For that reason, we didn’t buy into yesterday’s Twitterlanche. 

Turns out, Brent Zwerneman of The San Antonio Express-News and The Houston Chronicle poured some cold water on the hullaballoo courtesy of a “high-ranking A&M official” who said there will be “no imminent announcement or anything of that matter” anytime soon.


So here’s what everyone needs to keep in mind at this point:


1) Slive and Texas A&M officials came close to making a deal last summer — with help from A&M regent Gene Stallings.  The groundwork for a deal is in place, you can be sure.  So in all likelihood it wouldn’t take much for A&M to land in the SEC.

2) Slive wants no part of blowing up or breaking apart someone else’s league.  The SEC nabbed Arkansas from the SWC back in the day, but Slive and the current league presidents don’t want to go that route again.  Therefore…

3) The ball is in A&M’s court.  When the Big 12 finally breaks apart — and it will — the Aggies will call Slive and Slive will answer with a smile on his face.


That phone call isn’t coming anytime soon.  The Big 12 schools will try to hold together for now.  They will all experience life in a Longhorn Network world and then make their decisions as to how each wants to react.  When that happens, the Aggies will move to their right. 

But it’s going to take some time.

 


22 comments
OC Bruin
OC Bruin

I came across your site today looking for info about A&M to the SEC. I am very impressed, especially with your in depth analysis of potential expansion schools. Excellent job.

A couple of notes about expansion from a West Coast point of view (I am a UCLA alum living in So Cal):

1. Expanding a league's footprint into major media markets/recruiting hotbeds is very important. That is why the Pac 10 tried to raid the Big 12. It is also why "Your 2012 Big East champion TCU" is much more logical than originally thought.

2. Expansion may need help within the league in order to go outside the league. By this I mean that the only way the "Pac 16" would have been possible was by the Arizona schools being willing to join the eastern division. Arizona and ASU would have done this for the good of the league despite severely hurting their recruiting in California, which is their lifeblood.

3. As you have said, don't discount academics. There was some serious push back to allowing OK State and TTU into the Pac 16 because they were not seen as being academically equal to the schools now in the league. This is the same reason that Fresno State and Boise State are not mentioned in serious Pac 12 expansion scenarios.

4. As far as future Pac 12 expansion goes, the key is OU. When the Big 12 collapses, if OU is willing to go west instead of east, my guess is that the Pac 12 will try to add OU, KU, and two other former Big 8 schools. The Pac 12 no longer wants UT with the headaches its Longhorn Network brings (the Pac 12 is starting its own network and just implemented equal media revenue sharing with all its members, where in the past UCLA and USC got a bigger share). Assuming A&M goes to the SEC, none of the other Texas schools are appealing. If OU goes to the SEC, the Pac 12 may stay at 12 for a while.

Keep up the great work. I have added a new bookmark today that I will begin using frequently. .

Fayettechill14
Fayettechill14

John, I'm wondering if you think this is a possible outcome of the Longhorn Network. Obviously, it gives Texas a significant recruiting advantage over Texas A&M. But as a lifelong Razorback fan who has lived in both Texas and Arkansas, I know that there are some families, and even cities, that absolutely loathe Texas and won't go there even for recruiting.

Could TLN also give Arkansas and LSU recruiting advantages in Texas? A&M looks like the weak little brother right now, being bossed by Texas and their new network. But Arkansas and LSU have the conference argument. If the Hogs and Tigers start snapping up 3- and 4-star prospects in the DFW area and down the interstate towards Houston, could you see A&M realizing its outgunned on its own turf? The "conference prestige" argument could give A&M a reason to move to the SEC.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

I don't remember what I originally thought about all the expansion talk when it first started last year, but it didn't take long to realize that the likes of GT and Clemson would be and should be on the outside looking in. Texas A&M is a prize whether people have realized it yet or not. As any A&M fan will point out, the fact that they are in Texas, have about as much money as any big time program, and will also open up recruiting markets in TX to a much greater degree are the reasons they should be coming to the SEC. People should not be fooled over the fact that A&M football hasn't been that great recently. They were more competitive than UT throughout the 90s. UT wasn't that special in recent times until Mack Brown got there. In addition to that, for A&M to be in the SEC gives them a recruiting advantage in Texas as they will be the only program that can promise in-state recruits that they can play in the SEC AND stay close to home. Add almost any team to the SEC and they will immediately become better, especially if that team is in a recruiting hotbed. Opening up the huge and loyal Texas TV markets to the SEC is a slam dunk. They also add a stronger academic reputation.

Now who will come with A&M is still a mystery. Mizzou has been the hot name as of late and it very well could be them. As someone pointed out earlier, the SEC raiding the ACC may not happen because that conference is not splitting up. I suppose Slive could go back on his word if he feels he could get VT, FSU, or NC State but I don't know. I don't think WVU would be the pick either for the same reason unless the ACC decides to try to build a super conference and raids the Big East again. They are probably licking their chops over adding teams like Syracuse or UConn. If the Big East starts to fall apart then I suppose WVU might fit into the SEC if it isn't too late by then.

The report I was hearing yesterday was that OU, OSU, and TT were heading to the Pac-12. Baylor was begging to get in. A&M was coming to the SEC and the conference was going to open up the floor and let other schools petition for membership. There was no specifics on whether the SEC was looking for 14 or 16. I believe this was coming from a UT blog so I thought it had a little more credibility seeing as how the Texas people had been denying all along that this breakup would occur. I woke up this morning though and Armageddon had not occurred so I don't know. There was also a report that the SEC was dropping one of the OOC games for the 2012 season and that this was presumably a forerunner to adding a 9th conference game. Did anyone else read about this?

Keith
Keith

I still believe that the best scenario is for the SEC to take Texas A&M for the western division and WVU for the eastern division. I seem to recall from the 1990 SEC go-around that WVU, fresh off of a run at a national championship (they lost in 1988 to Notre Dame), came in just behind South Carolina as the eventual choice for the eastern division team. They have had an impressive run of success against both SEC teams in football and basketball of late (ask Georgia regarding the Sugar Bowl a few years back) and have won 2 BCS bowls. aTm, while sitting pretty in the fertile Texas television and recruiting markets, cannot come anywhere near the success that WVU has had in football and basketball. WVU was a Final Four team recently, and the SEC desperately needs help when March Madness rolls around. Getting WVU is no different that getting Arkansas ... a school that owns the allegiance of it's entire state (sorry, Marshall) and brings a solid national sports cred to the table. Academics? The SEC already has two Mississippi schools, so that's a wash.

So if you are reading this, Mr. Slive, aTm and WVU is your play.

john
john

im all about the business money making side, and understand the 'footprint', but as a pure fan I really dont want TAMU.
They are not very good, I much rather have Southern teams, I would love to see Clemson and FSU. Just my thoughts.

uncle buck
uncle buck

John,

You will be kind enough to remember that some of us emailed you over a year ago saying FSU / Miami / Clemson / Ga Tech would not get SEC invites because they already overlap SEC footprints, and realignment is about capturing new footprints! ;)

@KEGreene1
@KEGreene1

Texas will keep milking the Big 12 (minus 2) cow for all it's worth until it drives the others to bolt - and therefore there is no blood on their hands.

The question is when and where will the other Big 12(-2) teams will go (Texas will go Independent). Will the SEC accept A&M if they come a'calliing before the conference's official demise? Will the Big East get sick and tired of everyone saying they don't matter in football and ask Kansas, K-State, Iowa St. to bolster their football ranks? Will MizzU get on their knees (again) and beg the Big 10 (+2) for acceptance? Are Oklahoma and OSU a package deal?

And most importantly: How does the Texas political machine handle Texas Tech & Baylor not having a BCS home? Do they stop A&M from leaving (my opinion - YES)? So, A&M needs another to bolt first before they can leave. And when A&M leaves must they bring a little brother with them? (remember UVA/VaTech)

Ross
Ross

John,
Don't give SECond2None the time of day. It's funny how he accused you of writing without doing research first when he didn't bother to do that himself. I've been following your site for a while now and I appreciate all the work you and your staff put into it. Your Expounding on Expansion articles were very informative and the most detailed of any articles I came across on the web. Keep up the good work and don't let d-bags like this guy get under your skin.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

REMINDER...

There are only two things we don't allow in the comment boxes... over the top obscenities and free advertising from folks posting links. We don't come post links to our stuff on your sites, please don't do so here.

No hard feelings and thanks for reading the site.

John

HoustonVol
HoustonVol

The B12 will implode from the old North schools. They are the ones that have the most to lose if they are caught unprepared. Texas and TAMU can just keep sitting back and control the conference. If it is not Tx making demands, it is TAMU making demands. Those are the two schools in the catbird seat. Notice how even OU has had to take a backseat in all this mess. Tx has all of the infrastructure in place to go independent, and TAMU has the SEC on speed dial. The SEC also not wanting to break up a conference basically takes all ACC schools off the table, for now. The SEC and ACC to friendly for the SEC just to raid the conference. Plus most of the ACC schools are together for academics, and there the ACC has the SEC beat hands down. So after TAMU, you look to other options, Mizzou, Pitt, WVU even Rutgers. It moves the SEC into B10 territory and takes good schools and TV markets away from B10 expansion. You build while weakening your competitor, Nice.

SECond2None
SECond2None

What? What the heck are you typing about "A year ago, most pundits were projecting Clemson, Georgia Tech or Florida State to the Southeastern Conference?" Those three could not get into the SEC if you held a gun to Mike Slive's head and no member institution would ever even nominate one of those three for admission. None of those three would add one thing to the conference. Expansion has always been about getting into Texas and possibly NC and/or VA. So, if you have been hearing any pundits, at any time in recent history, suggesting that Clemson, FSU or Ga Tech would be invited into the SEC, then you need to go find other pundits with I.Q.s above 70. "A year ago most pundits were projecting .... " LOL, you're a funny guy. How about doing your homework before showing your ignorance next time.

doug
doug

last time i checked the map, texas was a southern state.

john
john

with all due respect you venture on to SEC message boards fans are boasting about the directors cup they are talking football and mens BBALL and maybe a little hardball.
TAMU does bring a decent bball team to the league, but many SEC fans I have talked to arent near as excited about the move as TAMU fans are.

DHP
DHP

John,

A&M finished 8th in the Director's cup...Women's Basketball champs, ranked in the top 25 in football, went to the college world series, #1 Men's and Women's track teams...ranked in top 25 of Women's softball...Ranked in the top 25 in Men's Basketball...I could go on...
A&M is on the upswing...

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

uncle buck...

The vast, vast, vast majority of emails and comments we received took us to task for saying exactly what you wrote. Most people -- including many in the media -- believe that the SEC should chase teams inside its region. We've been insulted and cursed for simply writing the opposite .

When we say "most" and "many" it should be clear that we're not using the word "all." Some people understood immediately that the SEC would make its decision based on business, pure and simple. Those people we loved from the outset. They got it. And now a few more folks are getting it.

But as the person who's been blasted for his opinion by anonymous no-names... you'll excuse me if I point out to those people just how wrong they were.

Thanks for reading the site,
John

theNetSmith
theNetSmith

"Will the Big East get sick and tired of everyone saying they don't matter in football and ask Kansas, K-State, Iowa St. to bolster their football ranks?"

---

I LOL'd.

The Might KC
The Might KC

When A&M and OU bolt, either together to the SEC or split (A&M to SEC, OU to Pac-12), Texas will be stuck with a network no one will want to watch. As it is, there won't be many outside of Texas fans who will watch it anyway.

A&M and OU make up the only remotely interesting games on the Texas schedule every year. With those gone, they are toast. In reality, Texas is digging its own grave conference-wise. I can only guess that they are gunning to go independent. They'll regret it. But, let's face it, after breaking up the Southwest Conference, and now the Big 12, Texas isn't what you'd call a school with a lot of foresight.

As independents, they'll be up against Super Conferences with 16 schools. With that many schools in a conference, there will only be room for two or three out of conference games per season. The best of those conferences are not going to schedule less than six home games per year. And, like Texas Tech already, none are going to simply hand the television rights to their games to Texas.

Texas fans, then, will be treated to a steady diet of Texas versus Navy, Army, WAC schools, and C-USA schools. Pretty boring. Sadly, for all of their money, they only reeled in a total of three Big 12 titles in 14 years. Oklahoma, supposedly poorer and dependent of Texas, had seven.

The truth is, Texas needs Oklahoma and A&M a whole lot more than they need Texas. By joining the SEC, A&M enters a league with nationally TV-attractive games almost every week. Ditto with OU joining the Pac-12. Plus, a Pac-12 (or 16) with two division would likely see many conference championship games between OU and USC - great TV between great, storied programs.

Meanwhile, Texas fans would be turning on their Longhorn Network to watch proudly independent Texas battle it out with...New Mexico...Tulane...Utah State...Louisiana Tech, etc.

I'd bet the WAC would take Texas once OU and A&M move. The WAC is hard up for membesr. With no traditionally strong teams, Texas would be in SWC Lite.

uncle buck
uncle buck

HV,

If we go to 16, and that is a big if.... you must separate the carnivores [B1G/PAC/SEC] from the herbivores [B12/ACC/BE]. Sure the SoCon was an awesome conference once, but after the SEC and ACC fed on it, it became a shell compared to its former glory. Here is my sweet 16 fallout and it assumes the ACC becomes the new SoCon.

B1G adds Maryland, UVA, Pitt + ND (dream date) or Duke (backup)
PAC adds Oklahoma, OK St, Kansas and Missouri to reform the Big 8 as the new PAC 8 southwest
SEC adds TAMU, Va Tech, UNC, NC St (UNC and NC ST are tied at the state level, and NCST will not pass B1G academic issues)

Utx reforms the SWC with TT/BU/TCU/SMU/Rice/UH/ISU/KSU and what ever to get to 12 (because UTx wants total control, and the B1G/PAC/SEC will not agree to such terms)

BE+ACC+ scraps reform as a 12 or 16 team group similar to the old Magnolia Conference that almost formed in the 50's

16 teams gets you 8 team division or 4 team pods, which gets you to a national playoff. If Scott pulls the trigger on 16, an Slive responds the Delany is forced to give up the BCS. Everybody wins - Delany can claim victory on adding 4 academic schools to the B1G fold, but he will still toss & turn at night thinking about the speed in the SEC :)

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

HoustonVol...

You're thinking like a businessman. And that's exactly the right thing to do.

Thanks for reading,
John

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

SECond2None...

I've got HUNDREDS of emails from people who said just that. You're an ugly, angry little person. Do a Google search from last June and you'll find that from ESPN to SI, the assumption was that the SEC would raid the ACC and grab schools already within its borders.

When we said otherwise, we were blasted by ugly, anonymous emailers and posters. You know, guys like you.

Gotta love the fact that no matter what we spend time researching and writing, the first response is almost always ugly and insulting.

Life's too short to deal with people who sling anger at people they don't know... over a post on a website,

John

John
John

How is that plan working out for you?

HoustonVol
HoustonVol

Well I do I have a degree in Business from UTK. It shows that they taught me something!

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