Texas A&M, long tired of sitting in the shadow of the University of Texas, has apparently begun the process of leaving the Big 12 conference to join the SEC. Rumors were at a fever pitch on Sunday, but have since cooled once the SEC made a statement of being satisfied with its current lineup of 12 members. The Big 12, having lost Colorado and Nebraska the previous summer, would be left scrambling to either find another team to take the Aggies’ place, or prevent other conference teams from looking for greener pastures. The SEC, should Texas A&M be accepted in the conference, is rumored to be looking at teams such as Florida State, Virginia Tech and Clemson from the ACC. If those moves are made, can a move to four superconferences be far off?
For Texas A&M, the primary motive is money. The Aggies see Texas as the giant in the league, with a new revenue stream in their Longhorn Network (in partnership with ESPN), and figures that the odds of competing with the Longhorns (and maintaining some semblance of financial balance) would shrink dramatically. Moving to the SEC, while significantly increasing the level of competition football-wise, would also seem to increase the financial windfall for the university, particularly if the SEC invokes a clause to reopen negotiations on a television deal.
Elsewhere, other conferences wait and see what options will be available to them if or when the Aggies make a move. What moves would a Texas A&M migration cause? Would the ACC worry that it could be raided just as they raided the Big East years ago? The Big East could become almost irrelevant in FBS if superconferences are formed. The Pac-12, which went after Texas hard last summer, might try to get them again if A&M leaves the Big 12. And since these moves are driven by football and television dollars, what becomes of the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team, one of the powers of the college game? Where do they go if their natural rivals leave for other conferences? For that matter, just imagine the chaos that would ensue if many of these moves come to pass in relation to college hoops?
Monday, A&M President R. Bowen Loftin was given the go ahead to see if leaving the Big 12 for the SEC is what is best for the university. It remains to be seen how the dominoes will fall if realignment becomes the order of the day once again.