The Aggies to the SEC? September 5, 2011Posted by intellectualgridiron in Sports.
Tags: Big 12 conference, Big XII, football, Longhorn Network, media market, SEC, Southeastern, Texas A&M
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.