The wild scramble begins: Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12

And the Aggies come marching into the SEC. Who'll join them? (AP photo)

And the Aggies come marching into the SEC. Who'll be joining them? (AP photo)

The mad shuffle has begun. Texas A&M has told the Big 12 not to leave the light on for any Aggies anymore, and if you’re counting you’ll note that the Big 12 has been reduced to a Puny 9. That’s the way of this zero-sum game: Your loss is somebody else’s gain.

Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said in a statement Wednesday: “We are seeking to generate greater visibility nationwide for Texas A&M and our championship-caliber student-athletes, as well as secure the necessary and stable financial resources to support our athletic and academic programs.” And if that doesn’t sound like, “Hellooooo, SEC!” … well, my name’s not Rockey Felker.

It’s all but certain the SEC will seek to balance the Aggies’ arrival by enfranchising a 14th team, but these endeavors can assume a momentum unforeseen. (Back in 2003, who’d have thought the ACC would wind up with Boston College and not Syracuse?) The SEC might decide to expand to 16, which brings us to the overarching point:

Any school the SEC adds must come from somewhere.

Geographically, the prime poaching ground would seem the ACC. It’s believed the SEC isn’t interested in adding teams in states where it already has outposts — meaning: no Georgia Tech, no Florida State, no Clemson — so that would, by process of elimination, leave Virginia Tech, North Carolina, N.C. State and Maryland as targets. But would the latter three choose to break an alliance of more than a half-century’s standing? Would Carolina, which is big on basketball, want to leave its old pal Duke?

The ACC must be on its guard. The league has forged a nice fat football contract with ESPN, but everyone realizes that, regarding the sport that pays the freight for most every athletic department, the SEC is the place where the biggest money flows and the brightest lights shine. If you’re serious about college football, the SEC is the place to be.

When it added Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College, the ACC sent the message that it was getting serious about the sport. Alas, that plan hasn’t found fruition. So what, knowing the SEC will surely seek to pounce, can the basketball league do?

Larry Williams, who covers Clemson for Tiger Illustrated, made an intriguing proposal a couple of weeks ago:

Everyone is wondering whether the ACC will be proactive to secure its place amid the anticipated conference realignment Armageddon, and we tend to frame it all in football terms. But what if the ACC’s audacious move consisted of raiding the Big East of some of its basketball jewels (Connecticut? Syracuse? Louisville? Pitt?) and supplanting the Big East as the nation’s premier basketball aggregation?

That would be one way to go. But the other BCS leagues will try to strengthen themselves in the months ahead, and it’s just as likely the Big East and the Big Ten will take a run at ACC schools. (And the Pac-12, having already scarfed up Colorado, might well try to pick the carcass of the Puny 9.)

This is, in sum, going to get messy. High-minded academic institutions will be scrambling to find the best fit — i.e., the most money — and conferences will be down on bended knee to try to lure/keep these high-minded institutions lest their league fall to the level of Conference USA, and pretty soon we’re going to end up with Southern Cal in the Atlantic Coast Conference. (Don’t laugh. Know who’s joining the Big East next season? Texas Christian.)

As bad as all this figures to be, it might also be good. College sports have become the place where cognitive dissonance runs riot. We wax poetic about the color and pageantry of these stirring tableaus, but when you cut through the color and pageantry you’ll find these games aren’t games at all. They’re performances staged by massive businesses. Shocking revelation: Businesses run on money.

As much as college sports attempt to tug at our heartstrings, it’s the purse strings that count. Texas A&M got miffed that Texas is making too much money with its Longhorn Network, and the Aggies want to go where they can get rich, too. And so it begins. When it ends, the map of college athletics will have been redrawn.

By Mark Bradley

259 comments Add your comment

NC Dawg

August 31st, 2011
2:00 pm

NC Dawg

August 31st, 2011
2:01 pm

Now I can read the article!

RxDawg

August 31st, 2011
2:04 pm

“Texas A&M got miffed that Texas is making too much money with its Longhorn Network, and the Aggies want to go where they can get rich, too.”

That’s over simplifying. That move was going to give Texas a huge advantage over any other Texas school in recruiting. Not too mention that it was very possible that A&M fans would have to SUBSCRIBE to the Longhorn network just to watch their own team play. I like things they way they are, but I can respect A&M that they enough gumption to give Texas the finger and come play big boy football.

RxDawg

August 31st, 2011
2:04 pm

first to read the article and comment?

Liberalefty

August 31st, 2011
2:04 pm

NC Dawg

August 31st, 2011
2:05 pm

Nice article and I wonder if the SEC would look at adding NC, N.C. State, AND Duke? What about East Carolina? Move Vandy to the SEC West.

Mark Bradley

August 31st, 2011
2:06 pm

Kudos, NC Dawg. But I wouldn’t bother reading, were I you.

Mark Bradley

August 31st, 2011
2:06 pm

I believe so, RxDawg. Kudos for that.

Liberalefty

August 31st, 2011
2:07 pm

A& M is a mediocre team from the 3rd best conference. please tell me why the SEC wants or needs them. we have the best conference in the country, so we dont really need to expand into TEXAS.

Liberalefty

August 31st, 2011
2:08 pm

hey MARK i know this is off topic but please tell the readers about the best basketball tournament in the world; THE SWEET 16 BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT IN KENTUCKY. one true champion not 5 or 6 like in other states

Mark Bradley

August 31st, 2011
2:09 pm

Best basketball tournament in the world: Sweet 16 in Kentucky. Y’all need to go. Seriously.

how2fish

August 31st, 2011
2:09 pm

RxDawg

August 31st, 2011
2:11 pm

Liberalefty, one reason is that the SEC will automaticly increase it’s population (by state) by ~ 35%. That means more SEC homes. That means more SEC TV’s. That means renegotiate your SEC TV contracts. That means more $EC.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Liberalefty

August 31st, 2011
2:12 pm

thanks MARK . by the way my high school the CHRISTIAN COUNTY COLONELS finally got over the hump and won this year.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

how2fish

August 31st, 2011
2:12 pm

Heck I read the article and then discussed it with a coworker, then posted…dang it I’m never going to get this “first” thing down ….as Mark said there is going to be a fire storm coming.

Benjamin [Atlanta, Ga]

August 31st, 2011
2:13 pm

Meanwhile, Texas A & M kids can’t accept shoes or meal money from boosters. Yeah, the NCAA isn’t a hypocritical organization…

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Liberalefty

August 31st, 2011
2:14 pm

rxdawg

i just like the geographical footprint that the SEC has. its not far flung like the ACC or PAC12 is. But you’re right, expansion is inevitable

Bob in Buford

August 31st, 2011
2:15 pm

Virginia Tech can leave without Virginia I believe due to a state politics. There might even be a state statute on the subject. Oklahoma will not leave without Oklahoma State. I think those two teams with Missouri makes the most sense geographically and obtaining new “footprints.” I know OU isn’t the biggest tv market but the name alone would be worth it.

NC Dawg

August 31st, 2011
2:15 pm

I should have simply said “First!”. Now, I’ve opened up a new level of firsts…to read or not to read.

Get Real

August 31st, 2011
2:15 pm

I wish the SEC would add A&M and Oklahoma. Shift Alabama and Auburn to the SEC East for “balance, which makes for more natural rivalries anyway.

sidewalk 74

August 31st, 2011
2:15 pm

This is going to be interesting to watch. I would love for the ACC to go after WVU, Pitt, Syracuse and UConn. This would add the football season as well as the hoops season and keep the Pitt. vs. WVU rivalry intact.

gold dust,

August 31st, 2011
2:16 pm

As an ACC guy, I do not want an ACC teams to leave. I believe in our conference, our rivalries and definitely in our basketball (technically revenue generating, right?). A say go get Pitt, WVU, Louisville and a another team. (UConn? UCF or USF? Notre Dame?!) Let’s be a super conference with northern and southern divisions, our old rivalries intact, and win the NCAA championship in basketball every year after the most exciting conference tournament anyone has ever conceived. Become the first superconference, get that first-mover advantage, and challenge the SEC with outrageous TV demands and total eastern seaboard domination.

S.W.A.G.

August 31st, 2011
2:17 pm

Random guess …

In time, you’ll have 4 – 16 team conferences and everyone else …

SEC – Current 12 plus aTm, Oklahoma, Missouri and Virginia Tech
PAC-16 – Current 12 plus Boise State, Texas, Texas Tech and BYU
Big 10/11/12/16 – Current 12 plus Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Louisville, Texas Tech
Some hybrid ACC/Big East monster – BC, Clemson, Ga Tech, Duke, FSU, Maryland, Miami, Virginia, UNC, NC State, Wake, Cincinnati, Pitt, South Florida, West Virginia, Syracuse

sidslid

August 31st, 2011
2:18 pm

West Virginia and Pitt to the ACC. Let the Big East fall back to a basketball conference. The b’ball money from NY market ensures it never becomes a Conference USA. ACC picks up two schools serious about basketball and decent football programs. Va Tech and Clemson to SEC. SC a small state, so no biggie on the two teams in the state issue when it comes to cannibalizing TV revenue.

S.W.A.G.

August 31st, 2011
2:19 pm

For Get Real – if the SEC added two to the West, only one team would then shift to the East. In your scenario, the West would add 2, making it 8 vs. 6 – so one team (likely) Auburn would move to make a 7 vs. 7 balance. For both AU and UA to move, the SEC would have to add 4 teams to the West and shift two over.

If they are intent on...

August 31st, 2011
2:19 pm

…”no new schools from an existing state” then that leaves out Louisville (UK already here) – so, in keeping with the name of SOUTHEASTERN Conference (and with TA&M added that is not toooooo much of a stretch since they are just a little west of LSU) then you can go ahead and book ECU for the 14th team, and if they go to 16 teams then you can book UVA (to balance out Vandy in the academics) and Va Tech…

But, if the SEC does not care to keep its roots in the SOUTHEAST, then the Oklahoma question clearly becomes a viable option (with T A&M) in the 14 team scenario, with the 16 team product still including the two aforementioned VA schools with T A&M and OK…

Bobby Dodd did this to GT

August 31st, 2011
2:20 pm

GT and Dodd fled the SEC in 66. THey feared Dooley and The Bear, and SHug The Yug and Chalie Mac down at LSU and Johnny Vaught over at Ole Miss and an emerging U of FLorida, where Dodd’s own sone played.

No, Bobby Dodd badly damaged GT when the had a vision of being an Independent like Notre Dame, according to Pepper Rodgers, who claimed that ND was GT’s natural rival on a national level.

No, GT and their administrators have stumbled and bumbled for 45+ years and the SEC does not want a lil college program like GT has become. I mean, when was the last time that GT went to two major bowls in back to back years?? That would be around 1955-56. Sad, how that once fairly decent program has been rendered into the level of College of Charleston or Elon College. Sad.

Look at the money that Gt will be losing out on when that ESPN contract with the ACC is cancelled. Wow!!

Okeefenokee

August 31st, 2011
2:20 pm

Just finished reading Chip Towers interview with Crowell.

First: Towers is one serious jock-sniffer.

Second: That Crowell kid’s got “Special Education” written all over him.

Third: The Principal at Carver-Colubus High School will not…REPEAT…WILL NOT
be available to answer ANY questions about Crowell’s education.

What a firggin jooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooke !!!!!!!!

Mark Bradley

August 31st, 2011
2:20 pm

My advice to all: Don’t read anything I write. I never do.

Charles

August 31st, 2011
2:22 pm

North Carolina will be target 1A. They won’t leave the ACC. Maryland should and likely will be the second call. I suspect they will be inclined to listen. Good academics and good television market, while not diluting the top-tier of the eastern division.

Methinks it’ll be Maryland when all is said and done. They’ll leave the ACC, no doubt in my mind.

Mr. Negative

August 31st, 2011
2:23 pm

If you think the Big 10 isn’t going to look to the south and try to get a footprint in the Sunbelt, you are mistaken. GT, Vandy even Florida is fair game for them.

Okeefenokee

August 31st, 2011
2:28 pm

BTW, TxA&M currently gets paid $20+ Million/Year in the Big 12
which is more than the $13+ Million/Year paid to any current SEC member.

NC Dawg

August 31st, 2011
2:31 pm

Do not invite Maryland.

knoxdawgtn

August 31st, 2011
2:32 pm

To heck w/ expansion talk. It will happen when it happens. It is time now to play some FOOTBALL. Gonna be another fun year to watch.

Just Old Yeller

August 31st, 2011
2:36 pm

That’s is an interesting thought for the ACC, going for more basketball teams.

KB

August 31st, 2011
2:37 pm

NC Dawg – Move Vandy to the SEC West? Boy oh boy…don’t be idiotic. Vandy’s not going anywhere (nor should they).
The real question is who jumps into the SEC east assuming that A&M will be in the SEC west. I believe the most viable candidates would be Clemson, FSU, and Va Tech. Florida doesn’t want FSU, but they have only one vote. Same for the Cocks. Va Tech makes sense, however, does anyone believe that they want to give up their yearly trip to a BCS game by being “king of the mountain” in the weaker ACC? I think not. This is going to be interesting, to say the least.

Get Rid of The Pig

August 31st, 2011
2:39 pm

Let Arky go back to whatever is left of the Big Twelve and take in TAMU. Problem solved.

KB

August 31st, 2011
2:43 pm

It’s also silly to even suggest UNC. They will never leave the ACC (or Duke). NC State…that’s a different story.

JP

August 31st, 2011
2:44 pm

DO NOT invite the mess in Texas(A&M)into the SEC.

WIN WITH RICHT

August 31st, 2011
2:45 pm

How about Notre Dame? Ohio State is not an option. Their record against SEC competition is below Vandy’s. Besides they are too scandalous!!!

Charles

August 31st, 2011
2:50 pm

KB – Clemson and FSU would be voted out quickly – no chance on either one of those, imo. Georgia, among others, would not take kindly to either one. Plus, neither adds a market. This is all about money, not name recognition. VT is in the ACC because Virginia took a stand for them during the ACC expansion. VT, for political reasons, likely won’t leave the ACC.

Maryland will be a real candidate. NC State might, but they don’t bring much. There are some smaller schools that will also be moderately attractive because of their markets and large alumni bases (like an East Carolina), but you need to have at least some name recognition.

I still think it will end up being Maryland.

sogadog

August 31st, 2011
2:53 pm

I am glad this week has finally arrived so we can all put aside NCAA investigations, player suspensions, sanctions, out of control boosters, players in trouble, recruiting, coaches on hot seats, and conference realignment and simply watch some great college football games.

KB

August 31st, 2011
2:55 pm

If ND ever joined any conference, it would be the Big Ten, (or possibly the Big East, since they’re already playing basketball in that conference). Plus, they’re not in the south. And they have their own TV deal with NBC. Why would they ever want to give that up. Not an option for either. One sleeper to look out for is West Virginia if Va Tech doesn’t take the bait. (And before you Doggie fans get on a roll bashing Vandy, let’s remember that they have very good basketball programs, an excellent baseball program, also great golf & tennis programs. They also make the SEC somewhat credible in academics by greatly improving the graduation rate of student athletes. Plus they’re charter members of the league…the SEC would never let Vandy go).

bakerman

August 31st, 2011
2:55 pm

Sec should look west. Recruit Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech or Baylor in addition to A&M, move Alabama and Auburn to the east and you would have two strong 8 member divisions.

East: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
West: Arkansas, Baylor, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.

James

August 31st, 2011
2:56 pm

Let me give you some facts that show BYU is the only option as a replacement:

Academics:
Academically BYU is ranked above all Big 12 schools except Texas, and they are not far behind them.

Football:
BYU has a national championship, only 2 other Big 12 schools do, Texas and OU.

Enrollment:
BYU would be the second largest school in the Big 12, behind Texas only, with an enrollment of ~35,000

Stadium Size:
BYU’s Football Stadium would be the fourth largest in the conference behind Texas, OU, and Missouri.

Arena Size:
BYU would have the largest arena in the Big 12 by 6,000 seats!

Endowment:
BYU does not have to disclose publicly its endowment but estimates range from 610 million to about 1 billion
At 610 mil, their endowment would be greater than KSU, OSU and TTech. At 1 billion, they would be behind Texas only and about equal to Kansas. This 1 billion figure is most likely due to the fact that the LDS church utilizes a substantial amount of tithing funds for the school. Again, these numbers do not have to be disclosed.

Support:
It would be easy to argue that BYU’s fan base is larger than all Big 12 schools except maybe Texas. There are 7 million Mormons spread throughout the country and even though not all are BYU fans, many are. Plus many, like myself, are not Mormons but are and have been fans of their style of play since the late 70’s and the superb coaching of the legend, LaVell Edwards. Want proof? They just signed an 8 million dollar contract with ESPN as an independent. Who else can go independent unless you have a substantial following?!

Big 12 commissioner, you are an idiot if you do not jump at this chance.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

JoeFan

August 31st, 2011
2:58 pm

Strictly from a fan standpoint there is little to no interest in having Texas A&M in the SEC. Texas A&M is so far from most SEC schools that there are basically no real rivalries except for LSU and maybe Arkansas. Certainly if the SEC wants it can find equal or better situations in the southeast. Will be interesting to see how the TV contracts impact this transition and what lawsuits evolve.