Pac-10 Expansion: Who Could Replace the Texas A & M Aggies?
ESPN's Joe Schad announced Friday that sources within the Big 12 had told him that Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State were poised to announce intent to join the Pac-10 as early as Tuesday.
What about Texas A&M? Apparently, as has long been rumored, the Aggies are more interested in bolting for the SEC. Who can replace the Aggies as the 16th team in the Pac-10 and will the Texas schools allow the Aggies to break from the Pac (bad pun, I know)?
Part of the originally rumored Pac-10 expansion to 12 teams (the other school being Colorado), the Utes would actually fit in very well with the new Pac-16.
The first incentive would be allowing the Pac-10 to add the fast-growing Salt Lake City media market. The market, which ranks 31st in the country, would be a nice addition to the Denver market and the potential markets that Texas and Texas Tech would bring.
The Utes are also very competitive in men's basketball in addition to football, with a surprisingly strong tradition of excellence in basketball, believe it or not.
They make a bit more geographical sense, providing a closer geographical rival for Colorado and not being too far away from the Arizona schools in addition to providing a little more geographical balance to the rumored SW division of the expanded Pac-10.
Honestly I feel the Utes are a more attractive option than A&M, and if the Pac-10 could grab the Utes along with UT, TTU, OU, and OKSU, I'd say go for it.
While they lack a rich tradition of football, the Jayhawks are only a few years removed from winning the Orange Bowl.
The main ammunition the Jayhawks have is their juggernaut basketball program. The Pac-10 was a weak conference in basketball last year, but by the time that the expansion would officially take place, most of the teams who are historically good in the sport will have had a chance to bounce back and get ready for the incoming of Kansas and the other Big 12 schools.
Geographically, Kansas makes little sense, but I'd be willing to take them on for their basketball program alone.
While not a great fit due to their religious affiliation (the Pac-10 consists of secular schools only), the Bears might be able to find their way into the Pac-10 as a Texas school to replace A&M.
As soon as the original six team proposal (UT, A&M, TTU, OU, OKSU, CU) was rumored, Baylor began working to try and replace CU as the sixth team in. As it would turn out, CU was the first team in, but with A&M's interest in the SEC, the Bears could still find their way into the Pac-10.
I really don't give this one that much of a chance due to the school's religious affiliation. However, if A&M indeed leaves its Texas brethren for another conference, the Bears could make it in if the Pac-10 is left with no better options.
4. Notre Dame (WTF?!)
Just kidding. This has zero chance of happening, but could you imagine if it did?
The Pac-10 would extend their media footprint farther east than anyone would've expected. Not to mention how pissed off Jim Delaney would be for the Pac-10 beating him to another of the most prestigious programs in football history.
With traditional rivals in USC and Stanford, not to mention a few recent Bowl games against Oregon State, the Irish would have some history to begin the new conference with. But yeah, there is no way this would ever happen. Just a fun idea.
Ultimately, this article may all be a moot point, as I believe that if the four Big 12 south schools head to the Pac-10, the Aggies will follow.
I just can't imagine these rivalries being broken up, even though this expansion has already begun to end at least a few. If the Aggies do declare for the SEC before the the other schools head to the Pac-10, I doubt that Texas or Oklahoma would allow the Aggies to decide their fate.
If the Aggies decide to say no to the Pac-10, I'd say the best replacement option would be Utah, who are nearly a perfect match for the Pac-10, but I doubt that the Texas legislators will allow their three most prominent public universities to break ties with each other, and the Pac-16 will consist of the Pac-10 plus CU, UT, TTU, OU, OKSU, and A&M.