Texas A&M Makes the First Move

The Aggies may or may not go to the SEC, but they have taken the first step to possibly leaving the Big 12 Conference.

Over the summer, and especially over the last few weeks as controversy over the Longhorn Network continued to brew, there has been talk that the Texas A&M Aggies may be departing the Big 12 for what they perceive as the greener pastures of the SEC. On Thursday, they took the first step to actually doing so.

Texas A&M could not go anywhere without first declaring their interest in leaving to conference officials, something which they did on Thursday. However, they were quick to caution that there interest in looking into the possibility of switching conferences does not mean the university has decided to do so already.

“As I have indicated previously, we are working very deliberately to act in the best long-term interests of both Texas A&M and the State of Texas,” Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin  said in a statement released by the university. “This truly is a 100-year decision. While we understand the desire of all parties to quickly reach a resolution, these are extremely complex issues that we are addressing methodically.”

Should the Aggies decide to leave for the SEC or another conference, Big 12 officials think the conference will be just fine. Commissioner Dan Beebee says that the conference plans on taking some aggressive steps to ensure its continued existence.

One or more of those steps will likely be the addition of a new team (or two). One team has already thrown its hat in the ring—the SMU Mustangs. Under the leadership of June Jones, the Mustangs appear poised to finally shake away the demons of the death penalty the team incurred back in the mid-80s.

"Regional rivalries are really what sets college athletics apart," he said. "It's the fans that make the rivalries. In Dallas we have alumni from all over the region as far as institutions -- Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma -- and these people work together side by side ... how great would it be to rekindle the regional rivalries around that water cooler? That would make the (automatic qualifying) conference in our region, currently the Big 12, very attractive to us to reach our goal."

Just because all the talk has the Aggies going to the SEC does not mean that is where they will end up.  Officials from the SEC stated earlier in the month that they were not looking to expand at this time. One official mentioned that the conference has no desire to have an odd number of teams, and that if it did expand they would be looking to add two teams to keep the divisions even.  

Maybe part of Texas A&M’s ‘exploring of all the options’ is going to include locating that 14th team to join the SEC with them? Should A&M stay in the Big 12 that would not preclude the Mustangs from joining the conference.

"We want the best regional conference we can get in this part of the country," Orsini said. "Strength is in expansion, not minimalism, like having 10 members in the Big 12, when four of the BCS conferences have 12 members. Let's add to it."

It looks like the action may be off the gridiron this season as well as on it.
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