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Sunday, August 14, 2011

SECession

(I'm posting from my phone as my wife drives through southern VA. Given the medium, this won't be nearly as fleshed out as I'd like.)

This weekend,the internet has once again been abuzz with Texas A&M to the SEC rumors. There was some such buzz last summer as the fate of the Big XII laid in the balance amidst the departure of Colorado and Nebraska to the Pac-12 and Big Ten, respectively, and now it seems that many things, not the least of which is the Longhorn Network, have Texas playing "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" to A&M's Jan. While it seems the SEC move may not happen in internet time (read: yesterday) there's been no closed door to tell us it may not be close on the horizon.

Should this move take place, I don't see the SEC standing pat at 13. One more school will move, and my money is on Missouri. Sexy choices like Florida State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech from the ACC have been batted around, but save for VT, these schools don't add media markets; Florida and South Carolina, already in the SEC, bring eyeballs in their respective states. VT could have other issues, finding themselves legislatively beholden to UVA for the wheeling and dealing that got Tech into the ACC in the first place. In contrast, Mizzou brings TV sets in St. Louis and Kansas City, and their jookeying for position back during Big Ten expansion has already made the statement that their loyalty lies with the highest bidder.

While such moves would take the Big XII-now-X down to VIII, surprisingly enough, I don't see it as a death knell for them. Conventional wisdom is that Texas is well-equipped to go it alone, and while that may be true, there is a certain comfort to conference scheduling, especially in non-football sports, and unless it's been in he plans already anyway, I don't see the Horns allowing the Aggies to dictate the terms of their independence in quite this manner. Rather, I see the Big XII re-expanding to a conference that, while not nearly as powerful as the pre-2011 edition, is still viable. Returning to ten would be as easy as calling a recently soaring Houston and a back-from-the-death-penalty SMU to the ranks (don't worry, Conference USA. You can always raid the Sun Belt or wait around for recent startups like South Alabama, UTSA, or Charlotte.) If a return to 12 is desired, throw in old Southwest Conference buddy Rice to an all-Lone-Star south division, and give BYU (let them keep their TV deal, Texas has one) or Boise State a call to round out the north. New alignments with minimal deck chair shuffling, at least in the AQ conferences.

Meanwhile, in the new look SEC, consider this: before correcting for any division realignment, consider that the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band joins the likes of the Million Dollar Band, the Razorback Band, the Auburn University Marching Band, and the Golden Band from Tiger Land in a Sudler Trophy-laced division that seeks to rival anything any Leaders or Legends can cook up.

Finally it's worth noting that after A&M and TCU move, Texas would be the second state with representation in three AQ conferences, with the other being similarly talent-rich Florida. Coincidence? Of course not.
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