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Fifty newly discovered planets announced September 30, 2011

Posted by intellectualgridiron in Science.
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The largest haul yet of newly discovered extrasolar planets was recently announced.  That alone is news, but the types of planets discovered within said haul makes for even more amazing news.  In addition to numerous Neptune-like planets, scientists have also discovered what they call “super-Earths” that orbit stars very similar to our sun.  One planet in particular, dubbed HD 85512b, lies at the edge of what astronomers have determined to be the star system’s “habitable zone.”

That term deserves a bit of explanation.  Layman and scientist alike clamor for finding a planet that can support life as we know it.  But to do that requires particular conditions that were not discovered outside of our solar system until recently.  Basically, the “habitable zone” is the distance range from a given star in which a planet can orbit and be able to support life.  Too close to the star outside of this zone, and any water — aside from a Nitrogen-Oxygen mix atmosphere, is pretty much the Nummer Eins requirement for complex organisms to survive — will boil away (read:  Venus).  Too far away from the star, and water will perpetually freeze (Mars being a borderline case in that regard).  What scientist have just discovered are some planets within the zone — not too cold, not too hot, but just right.

Another such planet inhabiting its own “Goldilocks zone” is a world dubbed Gliese 581d, though it orbits a red dwarf star, and as such, its habitable zone is much closer to its respective star than Earth’s orbit is to our Sun.  On the other hand, should the system in which the binary Rigel star (a.k.a., Orion’s left foot) have such a zone, it would be much further away.  The reasons could hardly be more obvious.  In addition to being many times the size of our Sun, it also burns much hotter:  it’s temperature is about 11,000 Kelvin, in contrast to the Sun’s comparatively milder 5,778 K emanating from its photosphere.  Translation:  Rigel’s habitable zone, should it even have one, would be a heckuva lot further away from that star than Earth 93 million-mile distance from Sol.

Seeing things in a larger context, it is remarkable how many gas giants have been discovered outside of our solar system, but how very few smaller rock planets we have found.  As Earthlings, it is only natural to see things within the purview of our own star’s system, and as such, we are quite apt to see Jupiter, Neptune, and Saturn as exceptional worlds.  But given the extrasolar gas giant-to-rock planet discovery ratio as of late, these recent developments should serve as a reminder how truly exceptional this third rock from the Sun is.

Much more information on this remarkable finds are offered in great, engaging detail on this National Geographic web pages.  Read on!


Leftists hijacking Jesus September 25, 2011

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This photo was taken at an Anti-Tea Party rally.  Apparently there are a lot of people out there that think taxes are not high enough, and that there is not enough government intrusion and regulation in our lives.  But all sarcasm aside, this protest sign is disingenuous on a host of levels.  Start with the “brown-skinned” premise.  Was he as light-skinned as northern Europeans and their descendants in the western and southern hemispheres?  Most likely not.  But the fact that Jesus and was a semite does not make him “brown-skinned,” especially not compared to those of sub-Saharan African ancestry.   Sorry, but those are the facts.

The “free health care” angle is also disingenuous.  Yes, Jesus cared for people; the New Testament has many wonderful accounts of Jesus healing the sick, helping the crippled walk and helping the blind see.  But He did those things:  he did not farm it out to somebody else, and did not take credit for what others did.  Those who advocate nationalized healthcare do so mostly on the grounds of “compassion,” but like other government programs in the name of such “compassion,” such advocates over look the obvious fact that it is very easy to be “compassionate” when you are doing so with other people’s money.  Jesus did not need other people’s money to administer his own free health care.  Rather, Christ’s very actions demonstrate the effectiveness of do-it-yourself conservatism.

Saving the best for last, it is about time somebody tackled this undue association of “socialism” with Our Lord and Savior.  Christ was a Jew, by his own admission.  As a practicing Jew, he was expected to abide by the Ten Commandments — they were handed down by His father, after all.  Commandment No. 8 could not be simpler:  Thou shalt not steal.  When a thief violates this commandment he (or she) is essentially redistributing wealth/income.  The only difference between what a thief does and what governments do in the name of wealth redistribution (which, hello, is what socialism — and liberalism —  is all about) is merely a matter of legality.  When Jesus suggested that the wealthy ought to sell their possessions and give the bulk of those proceeds to help the poor, he never mentioned a thing about the wealthy being forced to give up their wealth.  If they were/are to do so, they do so on their own accord, out of their own free will.  To force them by any means would be to violate our Heavenly Father’s rule of allowing people to exercise their free will, which in itself is a reminder that our status as freeborn citizens is a birthright given by our Lord.

The irony in all of this is that many people who advocate big government liberalism are already wealthy, and are well-aware that government will not tax their wealth, only their income (which, in many of their cases, is practically nil).  Taxing income is the biggest entry barrier towards other people attaining their own wealth.  In addition to this blatant phoniness, they enlist the help of liberals who are not wealthy by playing on their half-baked ideas of Christianity, while ignoring the faith’s true message.

The above sign might make for a clever sound bite, but it remains an obfuscation of the fact that Christianity and liberalism/socialism are two opposite things, and you cannot adhere to both at the same time, for doing so would be in violation of Commandment Number One.  Simply put, those who worship the small “g” (government) violate that commandment handed down by the big “G” (that would be God).

What is truly interesting is that the very same folks who try to hijack Jesus into their secularist ideology make up the very same factions who attempt to surpress Christianity in the public square at every opportunity.  This is yet another example of how the respective religion and ideology are, in the end, very much opposed to one-another as Doug Giles not-so-subtly points out.

While I’m at it, what mainstream conservative has been referring to B. Hussein Obama as a “brown-skinned, anti-war socialist” anyhow?  Do I detect yet another strawman argument from the left?  Note to libs:  that was a rhetorical question.

Relativity Theory no longer ‘settled science.’ September 23, 2011

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This day and age we’re living in

Gives cause for apprehension

With speed and new inventions,

And things like Third Dimensions.

Yet, we get a trifle weary

With Mr. Einstein’s theory….

Apparently, not anymore.  Albert Einstein’s famous Theory of Relativity, introduced to the world in 1905, caused us to rethink lots of things about physics.  Part of the contention within that theory is that nothing can go faster than the speed of light, or 186,282 miles per second.  Oh, and it was within that theory that Einstein gave us the famous equation E = mc(squared), or, Energy equals mass times the speed of light, squared.  Just thinking about that alone could make one a trifle weary, as Herman Hupfield so eloquently penned 80 years ago.

Basically, it has been a pillar of the very science of physics for over a hundred years that nothing can go faster than the speed of light — Einstein’s theory helped establish that very principle.  So, for a little over a century, that principle has essentially been treated as “settled science.”

All that has been turned on its proverbial head with a very recent announcement that scientists at CERN, or the European Organization for Nuclear Research (actually, it stands for “Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire,” in case you’re keeping score at home), clocked neutrinos — odd slivers of an atom — travelling a distance of 450 miles in a time 60 nanoseconds faster than light travelling that same span.  Needless to say, this announcement has turned more than a few heads in the scientific community, and has invited almost an many skeptics.

One thing that has invited scrutiny is the very nature of neutrinos themselves.  As sub-atomic particles, not everything is understood about them.  They have been baffling scientists for 80 years (read between those lines, and it’s downright amazing that scientists even knew about neutrinos in the early 1930s).  They are nearly mass-less, and the dear reader would be well-served to keep in mind that atoms themselves are mostly empty space.

Phillip Schewe, communications director at the Joint Quantum Institute in Maryland, offered some perspective on these enigmatic particles, saying that the neutrino has almost no mass, comes in three different “flavors,” may have its own antiparticle and has been seen shifting from one flavor to another while shooting out from our sun.

To complicate things further, to say nothing about the validity of these potentially ground-shifting findings, is that different levels of energy, according to some schools of thought, can affect the speed at which neutrinos can travel.  Naturally, just mentioning the term “neutrino” can cause the average reader to blink more than once, so to help create understanding about the context of these potentially game-changing scientific measurements, one can resort to Howstuffworks.com to give a rather brief explanation about neutrinos that the non-scientifically inclined can understand.  Another explanation on neutrinos on the same website can be found here.

The reason I keep labeling these as “findings” and not an outright discovery is because the very scientists who took the readings are reticent to use that term.  Like good, objectively-minded scientists, they actually invite the scrutiny, inviting other scientists to independently verify the data before using the vaunted ‘d’ word.  Scientists at the competing Fermilab in Chicago already have announced their intention to run tests to see if the readings can be duplicated.

So have the rules of the game of physics changed?  Chances are, there are about to.  But seeing things in a broader context, if the idea that nothing can exceed light speed as “settled science” is on the verge of being invalidated, what else could be rendered out of date as a theory in the years to come?  Former Vice President Algore has been — very un-scientifically — claiming that “global warming” has been “settled science” practically since he left the Blair House.  What’s more, he has denounced anybody who denies that which he claims as tantamount to racists.  Seriously.  Yet the overall lesson to be learned is, if even Mr. Einstein’s theory is no longer settled science, theoretically, nothing could be.  After all, as I myself noted in another recent post, nothing is static, as the science of physics has taught us time and again.

And that is fine.  Unbiased science requires constant questioning, not necessarily of obvious, plain-as-day fundamentals (why waste the mental energy and everyone’s time?), but certain long-standing theories could always stand some questioning.  If the theories are sufficiently valid, they shall always stand up to scrutiny.  If not, they shall go the way of phrenology and alchemy.  Plus, on an even brighter note, we could be that much closer to discovering the hidden key to warp speed!

As an aside, the opening poetic stanza is from the ever-famous, ever-timeless song “As Time Goes By,” written by Herman Hupfield in 1931.  Rudy Vallee recorded a version of that standard that same year, and to me, it remains one of the best of the countless versions rendered by countless artists over the past eight decades.  The only other version that stands above the rest is Dooley Wilson’s famous rendition from “Casablanca” in 1942.  That said, Billie Holiday’s 1944 version is not too shabby, either.

Buddy Holly still timeless at 75 September 13, 2011

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Last week (September 7, to be exact), marked the would-be 75th anniversary of Buddy Holly’s birth.  In case you have been under a rock, though, for the past 52 years, Buddy Holly has been dead for that long, having died in a plane crash in the wee morning hours in a frozen Iowa cornfield.  It is not uncommon for rock stars to burn briefly but very brightly.  But the degree of brightness to which Buddy Holly shone as a star eclipsed most others in his day, and influenced countless others in the years that followed.

Buddy Holly is rightfully recognized as one of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s “Founding Fathers.”  The most notable of our nation’s Founding Fathers each made their own unique contribution as our nation was born.  Washington, for example, was the most gifted leader and capable administrator.  Adams was one of the leading advocates in Congress for independence.  Jefferson was the philosopher-statesman who was able to articulate the American experience and the rights of all men.  Hamilton was the sharpest financial mind, Madison was the most detail-oriented, and Franklin was the most pragmatic, hence the most practical of an already-practical bunch.

When it comes to the founding generation of rock music, the unique contributions in that field manifest themselves as well.  Some examples would include Bill Haley, who inaugurated the era; Chuck Berry, who combined blues music and folk themes for his own inimitable style; Little Richard, who found the holy grail of rock with his freight train-style tempo; Jerry Lee Lewis, who changed our paradigm of what a piano was meant to do; Carl Perkins, who owned the Rockabilly sub-genre; Elvis, who sang our kind of songs the way we wanted them to be sung; then there’s Buddy Holly, arguably the most timeless artist of a bunch who recorded music that remains timeless after more than five decades, and the most pioneering in a rare group of accomplished pioneers.

The music speaks for itself.  “That’ll Be the Day” — the first record this author ever recalls hearing in his life — was his only Number One hit State-side, but he and his group The Crickets recorded a slew of other songs that helped define the era as well.  In just 18 months, Buddy Holly and the Crickets had 27 Top 40 hits.

Just try to avoid tapping your feet to “Oh Boy,” or joining The Crickets in call-and-response fashion to the lyrics that make up the title.  Same thing goes for “Rock Around with Ollie Vee“, “I’m Looking for Someone to Love” (the flip-side to “That’ll Be the Day,” fyi), with a guitar solo that would even make Ted Nugent proud.

Same thing goes for “Rave On.”  Speaking of which, “Rave On” personifies the “hiccup” vocal style the Holly pioneered (that is, he introduced it to Rock, as it was already long-standing in Country-Western singing).  But that just scratches the surface of Holly’s firsts.  A full decade before Jimi Hendrix made a name for himself playing his Fender Stratocaster, Holly had already given the Fender Strat guitar a mystique all its own.  Compared to the warm tones of most Gibson hollow-bodies, Holly’s Fender Strat had a distinctly piercing tone, which one can readily recognize in Ollie Vee or, better yet, “Blue Days, Black Nights”, both of which were recorded during a session for the Decca label in Nashville in 1956.

As an aside, there is often confusion on the part of many with regard to Buddy Holly vs. “The Crickets.”  “What’s the difference?”, or some variation thereof, is the top FAQ.  The historical evidence on hand does nothing to alleviate that confusion, as the group recorded on two different labels — both Decca subsidiaries at the time — and due to contractual quirks had to essentially split their name in two. Examples are shown below.

Source: author’s personal collection

Despite the separation of names, it was all illusory:  on both labels, the complete group of Buddy Holly & The Crickets were performing the songs.  Speaking of which, it is on that note that Holly’s pioneering is most pronounced.  Putting things into context is the key to understanding this important point, for this was a time when solo artists and groups alike sang songs written and produced by others.  Not Buddy Holly and the boys, though.  They were the most notable first four-piece band (two guitars, a bass and drums) who wrote their own songs, then performed them their own way.  In so doing, they created a template that rock bands of all sub-genres have followed for more than fifty years.

Holly was also one of the most influential artists of all time.  The Beatles not only drew inspiration from Holly and his group, they even drew inspiration from The Crickets’ group name — wanting to follow along the insect-themed name in tribute to their own favorite group.  The band that defined the genre in the 1960s, that ushered in the “British Invasion”, cut their teeth covering Holly’s hits.  Indeed, as one article in particular points out, it was Holly who led an “American Invasion” into Britain in the 1950s.

But that does not even scratch the surface of Holly’s lasting influence.  An excellent LA Times piece puts it in nearly-poetic words:

“Listen to Me” opens with Stevie Nicks happily rocking atop the Bo Diddley beat of “Not Fade Away” and includes the Fray handling “Take Your Time,” Ringo Starr shuffling through “Think It Over,” Chris Isaak crooning “Crying Waiting Hoping” and Cobra Starship reimagining “Peggy Sue.” Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson, who said “Buddy Holly’s sweet voice and his trademark hiccup always intrigued me,” layers his signature harmonies into the title track.

Zooey Deschanel sweetly follows in Linda Ronstadt’s footsteps on “It’s So Easy.” That’s one of three Holly songs Ronstadt — with Asher producing — brought back to the radio airwaves in the mid-’70s, a time when it wasn’t universally hip to revisit the ’50s rock canon.”

Keep in mind that Holly accomplished all of this before he died tragically at age twenty-two.  As long as the issue of youth has been mentioned, it is to that very end that notable artists are serious about keeping Holly’s music relevant in the minds of the young people of today.  Such is the reason why this anniversary coincides with a recently-released tribute album to Holly.  Other tributes have coincided with the birthday in question.  Sept. 7 was declared “Buddy Holly Day” in Los Angeles, where he was posthumously given a star on the Walk of Fame.


Buddy Holly’s star of fame on a sidewalk in Hollywood is, interestingly, right next to the famous Capitol Records studio building. Photo by author, Jan., 2015.

His widow Maria Elena was there to witness the unveiling, along with Don and Phil Everly (a.k.a., the Everly Brothers, who were friends of Holly, as well as fellow performers), and, appropriately, Gary Busey, who was nominated for an Academy Award for portraying him in The Buddy Holly Story (1978).

Evidence of the timelessness of Buddy Holly’s music is everywhere, not just in recordings such as “Listen to Me” or “Words of Love,” but others as well.  AT&T even used “Every Day” (the flip-side to “Peggy Sue”) in one of their recent commercials.

Holly, along with Richie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, left this world on Feb. 3, 1959, in what became known as “The Day the Music Died” (even his death inspired a number-one hit song – who can forget Don McLean’s “Miss American Pie“?*).  But given Holly’s lasting influence and timelessness, perhaps the name of that fateful date should be seriously called into question.

*For the sake of clarity, “Miss American Pie” was the name of the plane that crashed in 1959, taking the lives of Holly, Valens and Richardson.

Whither the conferences in major college football? September 8, 2011

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When I teach my course in American government at my community college in Louisville, one thing I have taken to doing early in the course’s term is to hand out a sheet to each student with a list of important rules in physics/economics.  My rationale for this is to get the students thinking about the potential consequences of  certain actions on the part of government.  One such rule I lay out for them is thus:  “Nothing is static.”  Just try to disprove that rule.  After all, nothing is static in the economy, nothing is static in our own interpersonal relationships, the climate is certainly not static — regardless of what the enviro-socialists want us to think — and indeed, nothing is static in the Solar system, not with variations in solar radiation output that have implications for the temperatures on this planet as well as for Mars and the Gallilean satellites around Jupiter.

The recent announcement that Texas A&M will depart the Big XII Conference for the Southeastern Conference come June of next year has reminded me of this rule once again.  Though this is not the first move of a D-1A (pardon me, Football Bowl Subdivision) school to shake things up a bit regarding conference affilition, this one move could open the floodgates for radical conference realignment, the likes of which none of us have seen in our lifetime.

Most moves up to this point seemed fairly self-contained.  When the Southwest Conference folded after 1995, the top four teams in that conference joined the Big 8, thus giving birth to the Big XII.  The other four teams disbersed, many initially ending up in Conference USA, which banded together lots of erstwhile mid-majors and independents.  The arrangement within the Big XII was one that on paper made geographic sense, at least longitudinally (much like the erstwhile Pac-10), with Nebraska the anchoring power in the north, and Texas the anchoring power in the south.  Furthermore, should Texas have a down year, Oklahoma was eventually strong enough to fill that power gap on the southern end.

The switch-ups we witnessed earlier last decade did not seem to portend major realignment, either.  The only thing that Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College bolting from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference amounted to was to question whether or not the former still deserved to have a berth in the BCS bowl games.

All that was put in jeopardy with Nebraska bolting for the Big Ten after last season.  Less consequential was Colorado moving to join the Pac-10, now the Pac-12.  As things currently stand, the Big Ten now has 12 teams, and the Big XII has been reduced to nine, or at least will be with the Aggies’ imminent departure.  This current state of affairs raises two simultaneous possibilities.  For one, many thought that even though the Cornhuskers left for the Big Ten, the Big XII could still limp on, possibly even bring in new up-and-coming teams to fill the void left by the Huskers and the Buffaloes.  With A&M soon to leave, the death knell for the Big XII has been all but sounded.  Even though, at this moment, Oklahoma and Texas both remain, and Oklahoma State would add increasing credibility, given their up-and-coming status (thank you, T. Boone Pickens), the gradual disintegration of the conference, first at the northern end and now at the southern end leaves many to conclude that more dominos shall inevitably fall.

One such departure has already pushed Southeastern Conference membership to a future number of 13.  Further speculation has been fueled as to whom else the SEC might court.  Already, conferences such as the Pac-12 have been making major overtures for the Sooners and the Cowboys to join them.  The Longhorns are an even more juicy target for conferences as well, though UT, what with its special brand and its own sports channel in the newly-created Longhorn Network, has the prestige, winning tradition, not to mention geographic advantages to be successful as an independent.  Indeed, what we may be witnessing is Texas becoming the Notre Dame of the 21st Century in terms of athletic prestige, winning tradition, privileged status, and ability to attract top recruits.

But, in returning to the point of the SEC’s burgeoning membership, 13 could be a magic number, magic in the sense that it creates the possibly for that number to grow further, not just for the southeastern juggernaut power, but for conferences elsewhere.  As mentioned earlier, the possibility persists that Oklahoma and Oklahoma State could end up in the Pac-12, bumping their lucky number up to fourteen.  Moreover, it is not inconceivable that Texas could join that new mega-conference as well.  USC plus the Sooners plus the Longhorns equals one formidable conference indeed.  Iowa State could end up following suit in a different sense by joining the Big Ten (Nebraska is already there, and in-state rival Iowa has been a long-time member).  Geographically, that theoretical move is quite logical.  Where Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Missouri and Texas Tech might end up — again, should the dominoes continue to fall — is anybody’s guess, though the Mizzou Tigers might end up joining the Big Ten as well.  That possibility has been broached several times before, in fact.  My only reservation against that is, can one conference abide three different teams whose colors are (officially) Old Gold & Black?

While there could be a scramble for a would-be disintegrated Big XII’s table scraps, the Southeastern Conference might try to bring in other powers to join their juggernaut league (Florida State and Virginia Tech have been listed as possibilities).  Might such a conference cannibalization prompt the ACC and the Big East to join forces?  Given that Texas A&M has turned its back on its long-time rivals and all-too willingly allowed itself to be used by the SEC, perhaps all of us ought to rethink what is possible.

The bottom line in all of these prognostications is that we could be witnessing a radical realignment of teams into mega-conferences, which in turn will have major implications for bowl game affiliations, and even coveted BCS eligibility.  If the Sooners and Cowboys end up joining the Pac-12 and that move makes no sense to many on a geographic level, just keep in mind that Texas Christian University — the recent Rose Bowl champs — are about to join the Big East.  The new paradigm is that geography is hardly a constraint anymore when it comes to conference affiliation, and it’s all part of the brave new world of NCAA football realignment about to happen before our eyes.  What we fans and observers of big-time college football thought were secure affiliations over the past 15 years have turned out to be anything but.  Once again, the firm rule about nothing being static has held.

The Aggies to the SEC? September 5, 2011

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After much speculation and rumor, it is official.  Texas A&M is about to leave the Big XII (minus 2) for the SEC.  My overall assessment is the A&M is getting used, and seems to be alright with such an arrangement.  Indeed, the overall reason for the Aggies’ seemingly hasty move to the Southeastern Conference is one that remains a mystery, including the fairly humorous and insightful sports columnist Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle.  Perhaps the haste in arranging this new affiliation can be attributed in large part to the Aggies’ pique at the perception that rival UT got a sweetheart deal by being allowed to establish their own television sports network.   In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, the new, exclusive channel in question is the Longhorn Network .

To me, the SEC has more to gain from this arrangement than A&M has to gain in return.  The Southeastern Conference is acting as though Texas A&M is the most wonderful of additions, and from their standpoint, why not?  This move benefits the incumbent schools in the conference in that it gives those programs a much wider in-road to recruit Texas, the greatest football state in the country (indeed, on so many levels, it is the greatest state, period).  On that plane of thinking, this move makes a lot of sense.  Why shouldn’t one of the flagship schools of the greatest football state in the land be a part of the greatest college football conference?  Furthermore, by bringing in A&M to the SEC, the conference has the golden opportunity to open up new media markets, particularly the oh-so-juicy Dallas and Houston markets.  The Atlanta market is all well and good, but beyond that, the Jacksonville, Tampa-St. Pete, Birmingham and Nashville markets will only take you so far.  With Dallas and Houston,  the number of eyeballs you can attract to watch the games on TV — not to mention your potential advertising revenue — has been taken to a whole new level.  Oh, and did I mention that more SEC teams can now recruit Texas more heavily?

All these previously noted things are great for the conference itself, but what about the newcomer?  The sad state of things is that Texas A&M might very well be getting the short end of the stick.  Sure, the SEC acts like they love A&M like the Aggies have never been loved before, and are being welcomed into said conference with open arms.  But once the Aggies become a full-fledged member, they shall instantly take a back seat to the majority of teams.  As things currently stand, A&M has the potential to compete in the upper echelon of the Big XII (again, minus two) with Texas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.  They might even win one of those games, maybe more.  But once in the SEC, their level of talent will be below that of Arkansas, and Mississippi State is no gimme, not anymore, at least (not with Dan Mullen doing such a great job in strengthening the program).  From there, the rest of the competition only gets more intense.  In so many words, for the foreseeable future, A&M shall be relegated to the lower half of their new conference home.

Then there’s recruiting.  Already A&M has been losing out on the most prestigious recruits to the Longhorns and the Sooners.  Now they must compete for recruits with half of the SEC, possibly more.  Fighting Oklahoma State, Texas, and Oklahoma for recruits is difficult enough, but this latest move has opened the floodgates for Alabama, LSU, Georgia, and a host of others to come knocking at those same recruits’ doors.  Congrats, A&M:  you have just made recruiting your in-state talent all the more difficult.

Given that the SEC will gain more than A&M from this arrangement when all is said and done, it looks as though the Aggies are letting themselves be used.  But given how hastily A&M rushed into this conference switcheroo, it seems as though they were only too willing to allow for that.  Hence the confusion on the part of many in the media.