Big 12 Realignment: Texas A&M in the Driver Seat
It's funny how $25 million can change things in such a short period of time.
With the recent breaking news from OrangeBloods.com that Texas will ignore the Pac-10's academic and research benefits to instead take a lucrative TV deal from the Big 12, this puts the Texas A&M Aggies in the driver's seat to save, or not save, the conference.
It would seem that if these rumors are true, then the rumors that have also claimed that the SEC is ready to welcome Texas A&M to the conference are making the rest of the Big 12 wait on pins and needles.
It was originally assumed that Texas A&M would follow Texas to keep the rivalry going if the Longhorns bolted for the Pac-10, along with OU, OSU, and Texas Tech. However, the notion that A&M could not survive without Texas seemed to rub A&M's brass the wrong way, and the board voted instead to join the SEC.
With this news, the Texas athletic director claimed they would end the 100-plus-year-old rivalry with A&M.
Give me a break.
I don't understand why people assume that Texas vs. Texas A&M would ever go away, especially in football, considering that both teams make an enormous amount of revenue from the yearly nationally-televised game, not to mention having one of college football's biggest rivalries.
Florida and FSU, Georgia Tech and Georgia make it work from different conferences—it would stay the same with Texas and Texas A&M.
Had the Aggies made the move with Texas and joined the Pac-10, it wouldn't have changed much of anything recruiting and scheduling wise, considering the entire Big 12 South would have been going with them (besides Baylor).
However, joining the SEC would not only bring back the old Arkansas rivalry, but joining the SEC West would create an LSU vs. A&M matchup every year, giving Aggie fans the option to take in Baton Rouge once every two years and experience that fantastic stadium.
From a recruiting standpoint, one would have to assume it would help the football program, considering the SEC usually sends the most talent to the NFL on a yearly basis.
Head Coach Mike Sherman could definitely use playing against the best talent in college football nearly every Saturday as an asset in recruiting.
You could make the argument that it would hurt A&M having to compete with Alabama, LSU, Florida, and Georgia for recruits, but changing conferences doesn't change who you compete with in terms of recruiting; everyone competes against everyone.
All this being said, it wouldn't really hurt the Aggies if they stayed put in the Big 12 as it currently stands. OrangeBloods.com reported that Big 12 commissioner Don Beebe has put together a TV deal that would give each remaining Big 12 team between $14-17 million, which is the main reason why Texas would stick around.
Not to mention they would actually get between $20-25 million from the TV deal.
Staying in the Big 12 would also keep together the three in-state rivalries that have developed for the past century. As much as joining a new conference offers many new opportunities, playing Tech, Baylor, and Texas every year is so much fun for both the fans and the players.
This also brings to light the long term effects of keeping the Big 12 together. Who wants to be in a conference with ten teams called the Big 12?
Down the road, could TCU, Houston, SMU, or any other college that makes sense on geographical and academic levels be brought in to make the conference whole again?
Make no mistake, the Big 12 will not just take anyone to make the conference whole again, but there are a few programs that could be considered if this idea was ever proposed.
For now, it seems like the whole country has eyes on Texas and Texas A&M. All we can do is sit back and watch.
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