Texas A&M Head Coach Mike Sherman
Conference expansion has been dominating headlines of College Football the past year or so. The latest story is Texas A&M’s desire to leave the Big 12 and join the SEC. A lot of people have made the case that this is a great move for not only A&M but also the SEC.
However, when one takes a step back and considers the big picture there are many concerns that arise from A&M coming to the SEC.
The first argument that is being made is this move will increase exposure of the SEC and allow it to recruit Texas easier. I find that notion to be ridiculous the SEC plays at least three games on national TV every Saturday on CBS as well as games on ESPN and ESPN2.
The past five national champions are from the SEC. The SEC brand does not need any help gaining exposure. The reasoning that some kid from Lufkin is going to suddenly want to go to an SEC school because he catches a random ESPN2 game between A&M and Auburn is ridiculous in my opinion.
Second argument being made for A&M is it will bring in more media markets and allow the league to make more money. I also don’t think this is all it is cracked up to be.
While it’s true College Station is near some of the biggest media markets in the country the SEC already has the most lucrative TV deal in College Football. For example, Vanderbilt getting it’s one-12th cut of the SEC’s deal made more money from TV revenue last year than Notre Dame who has an exclusive deal with NBC.
If A&M joins the league it will be years before the league can renegotiate a new contract in the meantime the TV and bowl money the league generates will go from being split 12 ways to 13 ways.
Also, the league will certainly ad a 14th team to keep the league balanced meaning revenue will be split even more. With the state of the future economy in doubt, what guarantees are there that the giant, even more, lucrative TV contract will be out there waiting for the league.
Third, the SEC conference schedule is already brutal. Think about this, since taking over at LSU Les Miles is 63-17 only one of those losses was to a non-conference opponent, a Citrus Bowl loss to Penn State played in the rain and with terrible field conditions.
The top SEC teams are clearly the best in the country every year they just beat up on each other. The last thing SEC teams need is another hostile environment to have to go play in. That isn’t to say A&M will be successful in the SEC if anything they will probably dilute the brand.
While A&M may be highly ranked this year for the most part they have been a middle of the pack Big 12 team that is 0-6 against the SEC since 2000 most of the loses being very non-competitive especially two humiliating Cotton Bowl defeats at the hands of Tennessee and LSU. A&M will be another Ole Miss, good teams every now and then, but mostly a punching bag for Alabama and the other titans of the conference.
Fourth nobody has considered how conference expansion will throw scheduling out of whack. Will Tennessee no longer be able to play Alabama at the end of October? What if heaven forbid, some sort of arbitrary schedule rotation keeps Bama and the Vols or Georgia and Auburn from even playing each other every year?
Will LSU and Arkansas no longer square off on Thanksgiving weekend? Does anybody want to live in a world where the Iron Bowl is played in September, because I certainly don’t. Not to mention all of Texas A&M rivalries will be out the window. All of the jaded Big 12 teams will almost certainly refuse to play them, maybe they rekindle something with Arkansas from their Southwest Conference days but that is quite a stretch, any incoming college student won’t have even been alive back then.
Fifth, conference expansion will ruin what it means to be an SEC school. College football has since forever been ingrained in the culture of the southeast, from what other conference do you hear teams chanting about their conference rather than their school after a big bowl win?
There is an old saying in the south, football isn’t like religion, it’s bigger than that. While Texas A&M might have a great, passionate fan base and whoever else is rumored to be coming to the conference may have a fine program they will never truly belong in great tradition and lineage of SEC football.
The thought of Missouri chanting S-E-C after a 17-13 Independence Bowl victory should make any diehard SEC fan cringe.