Is college football about to have another round of conference alignment?
The rumor mill suggests Texas A&M could be ready to join the SEC in time for the 2012 season.
Should Texas A&M leave the Big 12 for the SEC?
Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
The prestige of having that little SEC patch on your shoulder pads cannot be overlooked. But I think the move is more of a horizontal one than the Aggie Board of Trustees will ever admit.
Do they get out from underneath the Longhorn's cowboy boot and Sooner Schooner freight train? Yes, they will never have to answer to Burnt Orange Big Brother ever again. And the SEC is a dramatically more stable, more lucrative place to be as the volatile college football landscape appears far from settled. But Big Brother will still have his foot on the Aggies' heads, it will just go by a different name: LSU, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. In the Big 12, TAMU ranks as the No. 3 program in the league. In the SEC, they would be no better than No. 5 overall or No. 3 in the West (assuming Oklahoma or Florida State do not join the West as well). Thus, the path to winning seasons, bowl games, conference titles and BCS bowls is much more difficult.
The century-long stream of hatred flying down state road 21 from College Station to Austin will certainly slow with a move to the SEC. And the money and the stability might be invaluable to the long-term future of the program. So if it were up to me, I would make the switch. However, it's not the same type of coup the Big Ten experienced with Nebraska or Larry Scott with the Pac-12's creative and incredibly lucrative TV contract.
One thing is for sure, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe certainly isn't too torn up about Texas A&M leaving the league.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Texas A&M should not leave the Big 12 for the SEC. I understand why the Aggies want to depart and move away from the shadow of Texas, but this is a move that does not make sense. Sure, the SEC provides better stability and there’s more money on the table. Texas A&M is also a good fit for the SEC in terms of geographic and fan appeal. The Longhorn Network – which was a point of contention for Texas A&M – is no longer an issue since high school games cannot be televised. The Aggies believe a move to the SEC could help their recruiting, but the Longhorns will always have their pick of the best prospects in Texas. I’m not sure moving to the SEC will really help the recruiting for Texas A&M, especially if Alabama, Georgia, Florida or Auburn start to dip into Texas even more for their prospects.
Although the Aggies are frustrated with the Big 12, moving to the SEC isn’t going to guarantee success. If they leave for the Big 12, it will likely be placed in the West Division, which means it would face Alabama, LSU, Arkansas and Auburn every season – wouldn’t playing Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Missouri and Texas every year be an easier path? Winning a national championship in the SEC wouldn’t be impossible for Texas A&M, but finishing with an undefeated record and a conference title seems more likely in the Big 12. With the departure of Nebraska and Colorado, the Big 12 has no conference title game – one less hurdle to get the national championship.
I understand the reasons and see why Texas A&M would want to join the SEC. However, I’m not sure this helps the Aggies be more competitive on a national level or makes it easier to win a national title.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
The marriage between Texas A&M and the SEC seems inevitable. A word of caution to both sides: Be careful what you wish for.
Texas A&M is currently well-positioned in both football and basketball — yes, I know, football is all that really matters — in the new-look, 10-team Big 12. In football, the Aggies are behind only Texas and Oklahoma on the food chain. Oklahoma State is improving as a program and has a ton of money at its disposal, but Texas A&M has more tradition, a better recruiting area and a larger fan base. A&M can realistically compete for Big 12 titles on a regular basis.
In the SEC, the path to a league title and a BCS bowl would be much more difficult. In a hypothetical 14-team SEC, the Aggies could possibly be in the same division as Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Arkansas. Win that and then you have to play Florida or Georgia (or maybe Virginia Tech) in the SEC Championship Game.
I understand that the SEC offers far more stability at this time, but I firmly believe a 10-team Big 12 can work in the long run. The NCAA’s recent decision to ban the Longhorn Network from televising high school games removes the perceived recruiting advantage that everyone was (rightfully) so upset about.
So my advice to Texas A&M: Stay where you are and stop worrying about the big bad Longhorns.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
I think Texas A&M should stay in the Big 12 for now. We all can understand the frustration of the Aggies administration and fans in dealing with The University of Texas and the league office, but an emotional decision is not always best. A&M should be patient on the SEC move because I believe that opportunity will still be there in a year or two. Obviously playing in college football’s premier conference has a ton of appeal, but I do not see the urgency for the Aggies. If the SEC does expand, it would be very difficult to find a better fit than Texas A&M or see an SEC move west without A&M involved. The Aggies can feel out the new Big 12 landscape, keep their traditional rivalries, bring in solid revenue for the next few seasons and then make a better determination down the road.
The Big 12 could fizzle for many reasons. Unequal revenue sharing (and the Texas influence on the conference office) drove Nebraska away, but Texas A&M gets one of the higher money cuts among league members. Texas and the Longhorn Network are sources of frustration across the league, but the absence of high-school broadcasts (a major recruiting advantage) should calm the Aggies and others. The fact that the league did not invite two new members (to get back to a total of 12 and a Championship Game) after Nebraska and Colorado bolted is still surprising to me. There are many reasons to question the conference’s leadership and direction, but Texas A&M should give it a go until it becomes crystal clear that the Big 12 does not have a future.