Last summer, expansion talk was rampant in college football. The Pac-12 added Colorado and Utah to get to 12 teams, split up into two divisions and will play their inaugural Pac-12 championship game in December. The Big Ten also expanded, poaching Nebraska from the Big XII, and also split up into two divisions, and will host their inaugural Big Ten Championship game in December as well.
Both of those conferences flirted with further expansion, but they ultimately settled on just twelve teams for the time being. But, we all saw a potential shift in the college football landscape coming. The expansion talk cooled for the time being, but we all knew it would be back at some point.
But, I never expected it would come back this quickly. If Texas A&M does join the SEC to get out of Texas’ shadow, then utter chaos may ensue all over the nation. The SEC won’t take the Aggies unless they get a 14th team to agree to join as well to keep the divisions even.
That means they would be poaching a team from another BCS conference, most likely the ACC with the talks of Clemson and Florida State both possibly joining the SEC. It wouldn’t likely be content with just 14 teams, and the conference would likely add a couple of more teams, one from the West (Missouri), and one from the East (Clemson or Florida State, whichever hasn’t already joined).
If those four teams join the SEC like it was “reported” early this morning by ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb, then that would leave the Big 12 with a not-so-big eight, and the ACC would be down to ten teams.
The Pac-12 and Big Ten wouldn’t be far behind with further expansion, looking to not be outdone by the Southeastern Conference. Those two
power conferences would also be looking to get up to 16 teams to keep pace, and that would mean further poaching of conferences like the Big XII, ACC, Big East, and some non-AQ’s.
The exodus of Texas A&M and Missouri would pretty much mean the end of the Big XII as a conference. Missouri wasn’t even on anybody’s radar as a possible mover, and it’s more than likely that if Texas Tech was given an offer by the Pac-12, they would jump from the sinking ship that is the Big XII.
Obviously, Texas would like to remain in the Big XII with their stranglehold over the conference, but they could also end up in the Pac-12 if the Big XII is completely disbanded. The Pac-12 makes the most sense for the Longhorns outside of the Big XII, and if we are truly headed to Super Conferences, then they would be smart to make the move, instead of the Big XII looking to stay alive by adding a couple of teams out of non-BCS conferences.
The idea of this big of a change for college football seemed much further away after last season, but a shift in the landscape could be upcoming and it could all be started by a school in College Station that is looking to get out of the shadow of their rival in Austin.
Texas’ multimillion dollar Longhorn Network wasn’t the only thing that made Texas A&M want to leave the Big XII, but it seems to be the final straw for the Aggies.
I think the most telling thing in all of this was that after it was rumored that A&M was all but gone, that the Texas coaching staff was mulling replacements. That shows who really runs the Big XII, and shows why Texas A&M is ready to jump ship.
The talk of “done deals” by Texas A&M’s rivals site and ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb is way premature, but there is obviously something brewing.
None of us know what is going on or what has gone on behind closed doors and saying otherwise is ignorant.
Obviously, the SEC saw what went on last summer with the Pac-12 and Big Ten’s flirtation with further expansion, and Mike Slive isn’t going to let the conference get left behind. He wants to make the first move, and it looks like he is going to.
But, the Texas A&M move to the SEC could be vetoed by other SEC presidents if there is no viable 14th team in place from the East. None of the teams in the West want to move over into the East and mess up longstanding rivalries, so an East team will have to agree to join before Texas A&M is ever given an official offer.
It shows how frustrated the Aggies are with playing second fiddle to Texas that they would be willing to move into a conference that they would be less successful in. Instead of playing the likes of Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State, they would have yearly games against Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and two or three games a year against Eastern Division teams.
But the Aggies seem so hell-bent on getting away from the Longhorns that they would rather take their chances in a tougher conference.
For the SEC, the addition of Texas A&M makes a lot of sense business-wise. It would open up the Texas TV market for the SEC, and open the recruiting pipeline in the fertile recruiting grounds of the Lone Star state even more for the conference powers.
ESPN jumped the gun this morning with the report of four teams joining the SEC, but it could all happen at some point. I wouldn’t bet on anything definitive happening at this point, and color me skeptical about all of this until Commissioner Mike Slive comes out and announces that it is in fact a done deal.
But, if this does go down, and Texas A&M does officially get an invite into the SEC, then they would be just the first domino to fall in conference expansion that would completely change the landscape of college football as we’ve known it for a long time.