Texas A&M SEC Expansion: The Implications for the Conference If the Aggies Join
There has been a lot of talk surrounding a possible switch from the Big 12 to the SEC for the Texas A&M Aggies, but what would it really mean if it went down?
As with most pieces of major news, there were early reports that indicated the deal had been made for 2012, but now those same outlets are backing off.
My experience with these things is that the deal is indeed far along and will get done for either 2012 or 2013.
That's why it's important for SEC fans to know what this addition would mean, both good and bad, for their favorite team.
The Birth of a National Powerhouse
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Texas A&M fans should be glad to hear that I believe a move to the SEC would make Texas A&M a national power in the near future.
The Aggies would be able to attract more in-state recruits to their campus by selling the fact that they would be able to play in the SEC, the nation's best conference, while also staying close to their homes and families.
Texas is arguably the most prolific high school football state in the country, and Texas A&M would be the only school in the country that could boast this combination of proximity to home and great competition.
The only comparison is that of the Florida Gators, who also play in a high school football rich state as well as the SEC. There is no doubt that they are a national power.
A&M would be right there with them in a few years.
Growth in Conference National Exposure Via Houston
The SEC hits many of the major college football television markets in the country including Birmingham, Atlanta and Orlando, but the conference lacks one giant-sized market.
Houston, a city that is strongly in favor of the Texas A&M Aggies, is the fourth largest city in the country with more than two million people, according to the 2010 census. Besides the huge amount of people, it is home to a professional baseball, basketball and football team.
What that means is that there is a large population of sport-savvy fans that would open up many other cities like Austin and Dallas to weekly SEC football games. When you include those two cities, we're talking about more than four million people.
Adding the state of Texas to the SEC media market would be a dream come true for the conference. More viewers means more fans and more fans means more money.
And despite what you hear from many philosophers, it is indeed all about the money.
Increased Recruiting Battles
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Recruiting is an integral part of the way of life in the SEC.
Where players visit, what family member they take with them and whether or not they smiled and had a good time while on campus is analyzed to the nth degree.
Adding Texas A&M would mean an uptick in the already hot recruiting battles in the conference. Texas is somewhat blocked off from the SEC due to the University of Texas' influence on the local recruits.
As already discussed, A&M would be able to differentiate itself from its big brother and therefore open the gold mine up to the rest of the SEC.
Nick Saban could easily sell to a Houston native that he would get to play in his home state twice in four years and in nearby Louisiana and Arkansas for two years each. As if Alabama needed another selling point...
So while Texas A&M would see an improvement in their own recruiting, the entire conference would see a lift in the level of its talent because of the open door to Texas via Houston.
Need for More Teams to Add to the SEC
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One of the most intriguing implications of the possible (and likely, in my opinion) addition of Texas A&M to the SEC would be the resulting need for more teams to likewise join the conference.
The SEC currently has 12 teams, the minimum needed for a championship game according to NCAA rules. There are six teams each in the East and West division, allowing for each school to play all the other teams in their division and one permanent opposite-division opponent annually.
For instance, Tennessee plays Vanderbilt, Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida each year within its division and Alabama is the Volunteers' annual opposite-division opponent.
In order to keep this kind of balance, at least one team must be added on the east coast to get a seven-team balance in the divisions.
Clemson and Florida State are being heavily rumored to be on the SEC's short list as East Division newcomers. Also on the table is the possibility to add three more teams with Texas A&M, rounding the division out at 16 teams.
The other West Division school would be Missouri or in a perfect world, Oklahoma.
As you can see, the addition of Texas A&M would only begin a chain reaction of conference switching.
BCS National Title Dominance
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The SEC has won the past five BCS National Championship games. Adding a Top 10 program in Texas A&M would only serve to prolong that impressive streak.
If Oklahoma and Florida State follow suit in the future, the SEC could conceivably win the BCS National Championship for the next five to seven years. That would be a really easy argument.
As a fan of an SEC school, this is certainly an exciting time and an exciting notion. But is it really healthy for the long-term competitiveness of the SEC and college football as a whole?
The answer to that question is not as easy.