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August 12, 2011

Will the Aggies move to the SEC?

Dying or just getting started?
It seems like a good move.  Texas A&M and the rest of the 8 leftovers in the Texas Longhorn conference, are getting a complete rodgering less than advantageous deal.  Don Beebe might have saved the Big 12, but due to the concessions given the Longhorns, it is only a matter of time that several of the other schools will look for a change.

So we are working on the assumption that the change would be a power play by the SEC to get TAMU and another top tier team or three, in all likelihood from either from the Big 12 or the ACC.  Oklahoma or Oklahoma State come to mind.  Georgia Tech, Clemson, FSU, Virginia Tech and Miami do, too.  For what it is worth, TCU makes some sense. But is SEC expansion the only thing that makes sense?  As Blutarski put it, I'd be more impressed if Mike Slive were talking about A&M moving to the SEC.  If the SEC does this, it won't be out of charity to TAMU or another team.  It'll be because Slive and the Presidents think it'll be a long term net money win.

Does adding TAMU help expand the TV footprint significantly enough?  I don't know.  The SEC is already on two national networks each week, with nearly every game broadcast regionally. Yes, it gets the SEC into the Texas market.  It would be good for SEC fans in Texas to be able to see the SEC regional games, but what does that do for the conference? Would adding TAMUs football and basketball revenue be a strong enough argument, when added to the expanded TV footprint, to make the move without knowing what other team would be used to balance the conference?

Is it more plausible that the Little 9 of the Big 12 look to balance their conference.  I can see a scenario that they make moves to encourage Texas to go independent, either by figuring out how to get them out of the Big 12 or otherwise.*  Otherwise isn't as good a deal, as any newly formed conference would not be a BCS conference, although it would likely quickly qualify, especially if Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Texas Tech and Texas A&M are in play.  What if you add TCU to that mix?

The best argument against this happening is that the Big 12 needs Texas more than Texas needs the Big 12. Is that still the case? Texas has made it such that those programs are subservient to the Longhorns.  Is a Big 12 without Texas better off long term for the majority of those schools than with a Texas dominated Big 12?  That might be the question of the day and the source of the TAMU to SEC talk.

If the next best argument for Texas to stay in the Big 12 is that Texas A&M and Oklahoma wouldn't want to give up playing Texas every year, the simple counter to that is that Texas doesn't want to stop playing them, either. The Red River Shootout and the Texas-Texas A&M games are two of the top 10 or 15 rivalry games nationally.  An independent Texas can't afford to give up those games. The Texas legislature probably wouldn't let the Longhorns give up TAMU or Texas Tech (or probably Baylor), anyway.   I'm not sure what the arrangement would be, but I feel pretty good about the leverage those teams might have if Texas chose, or were forced, to leave to be independent.  Furthermore, Texas probably doesn't have the leverage that Notre Dame does, so they might be outside the BCS looking in for a while.  Is it worth being equated with BYU, Army and Navy at BCS time?

Finally, the Longhorn network complicates any move of Texas to another conference. Again, I'm not sure of logistics and finances, but somebody, somewhere will have to convince Texas a move to their conference is a win for them.  No other conference is going to sell out to get Texas the way the Big 12 did to keep them.  What does giving up some of that Longhorn network money, or more fairly sharing conference money, and with more forks in the pie, do to Texas' decision making? 

From a fan's perspective, we seem to love this (FWIW, I'm ambivalent about a 14 or 16 team SEC).  From a business standpoint, if this is a move foreshadowing the true super conferences, it might make sense. If this is just a grab for A&M because we can, does it make sense?  For whatever reason, something isn't adding up with A&M just up and moving.

Am I way off base here?

TD

*I looked at the current Big 12 bylaws.  By my view, a vote of 75% of the board of directors of the conference, by amending the bylaws, vote Texas out of the conference.  I'll grant this is a very quick reading and interpretation of the bylaws.  If anyone knows for certain this is or isn't the case, please let me know in the comments.

8 comments:

j.leonardjr said...

I posted this at GTP as well but think it is interesting to discuss...

One thing that doesn’t seem to get talked about much is how scheduling for football will be impacted if the SEC does expand to fourteen or sixteen teams. I would hate to lose Auburn as a yearly opponent if they stayed in the West for example. If there are seven or eight teams per division that doesn’t leave much room to play teams from the other division.

We all ready have to wait four years in between match ups with the West teams outside of Auburn. Adding one or two more will only space that out even further not to mention you have to factor in playing one or two more teams in the East every year if you are in the East like UGA. Does expansion mean East teams only play one or two West teams each season? I don’t know about everyone else but I don’t get too excited about trading games with LSU, Bama, and Auburn, on a somewhat regular basis to play Va Tech and Team X every year in the East.

If the SEC goes to fourteen teams and keeps the eight game conference schedule model that would mean only two games against West opponents each year. If that is the case you either have to rotate one West team on/off your schedule and keep your current yearly West “constant” opponent or drop having a West “constant” opponent and rotate both slots. So UGA either doesn’t play its oldest rival every year anymore or it doesn’t see teams like Bama and LSU, for what, six years unless we play them in the SECCG? I don’t like the sound of that. If the SEC does expand I would hope the conference would shift to a nine game conference schedule to allow for more frequent match ups between divisions. Especially if the expansion grew the conference to sixteen teams.

Tyler Dawgden said...

JL,

You bring up great points on the logistics of it. I am not sold on the value of the addition for the fans. Even with a 9 game conf schedule, that means losing any other decent OOC game besides Tech (unless, of course, Tech is added). Unless that east team is Clemson, no other team really excites me. I've been to College Station, Stillwater, Blacksburg, Miami and Tallahassee. I suspect Norman is Stillwater, but closer to an airport. I'd go, but...meh.

Regretfully, the individual team's fans will be an afterthought in this process.

j.leonardjr said...

I agree totally with you that the individual team's fans get screwed in this and will be an afterthought. it is all about dollars.

Tyler Dawgden said...

Which is why I still have to question if it is ultimately worth it. I know there are smarter guys than me working this problem, but there does come a point that adding schools doesn't equal bigger pie, at least at a per school basis.

Anonymous said...

Does the SEC want TV revenue? If no, then the status quo makes sense.

If yes, the expansion to include TAMU is a no-brainer.

The central TV market fact of life is that TV advertisers pay more money, much, much, much more money, for viewers in bigger TV markets.

To put it another way, half the viewers in the LA TV market is much more valuable to advertisers than a million viewers in the Birmingham, Alabama, TV market.

That applies whether those viewers are watching local stations or ESPN. It does not matter. Big Market viewers are perceived by advertisers as wealthier, more hip, and more likely to purchase their products than the viewers in the sticks. Even Budweiser thinks that way.

So, if the SEC has dreams of matching, or even keeping up with. the PAC-12 Three Billion Dollar TV deal, we must be prepared to expand.

The SEC has ONE (1) Top-10 TV markets. Texas alone has two.

Those pooh-poohing SEC expansion now can blame only themselves when the PAC-12 snarfs Texas A & M instead of us and they renegotiate their Three Billion Dollar deal for a Four Billion Dollar deal and ESPN says who cares the SEC's No. One in Birmingham.

Paul Westerdawg said...

Alabama and Auburn would join the East unless the 2 teams are TAMU and VT.

Anonymous said...

Why not accept Texas A&M and Oklahoma as opposed to FSU. Then move Auburn or Bama over into the SEC East. They could still play each other every year and even have the potential for an SEC Championship game like UGA and Auburn do now.

Tyler Dawgden said...

I think that is the simple answer, but if the argument is for TV markets, why not talk to VT (DC-Top 10), Miami (Top20), TCU (Dallas-Ft.Worth-Top5), Clemson (Charlotte-Top25) and South Florida (Tampa-Top15)?

This is as much about putting the conference in the best position money wise while balancing competitive interests. SEC football is great because of the competitive nature of the league. People in LA tune into SEC football at the same or higher rate they do to random Pac12 games.

Six of the top 10 most watched regular season games in 2010 were the CBS national games (including the SECCG). There was one Pac10 match up (Zona vs Oregon, the defacto Pac10 championship game). The regional ABC pairing with OU vs. OkSt/ND vs USC was also on the list. Boise State-VaTech and the Big 12 Championship (OU-Nebraska) round that list out. The CBS match ups drew 1.5million more per week than the ABC match ups, match ups that often featured big TV market teams such as Notre Dame, USC, Texas, and Pitt.

College football fans love SEC football because it is compelling, interesting and very good football. Plus, there are always good story lines, good and bad. TV networks love markets with college football fans. The conference won't do anything that changes the quality of the football product and the ability of the top football teams to be nationally relevant and competitive.

Maybe adding TAMU and VT does that, maybe it doesn't. I'm certain adding Miami, USF, or Maryland don't do that. I still think there is another way this could go that doesn't involve anyone going anywhere.

It looks like I am wrong, but after last summer, there is no way to be sure until announcements are made.

 
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