|Dying or just getting started?|
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?
*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.