Dennis Dodd offers up a little insight into what happened (CBSSports.com):
Note to Aggies everywhere: Before you borrow daddy’s Caddy and rent a tux, make sure you have a prom date.
It always seemed strange that A&M was fast-tracking this thing. In the end, SEC presidents didn’t want to be rushed. Why should they? With or without the Aggies, the SEC is still making $3 billion in a 20-year media rights deal finalized a couple of years ago.
The SEC is basically telling A&M: Get your house in order and then we’ll talk. There is an A&M regents conference call on Monday. A Texas state representative wants to hear testimony to a Higher Education committee on Tuesday.
In the end, those SEC presidents couldn’t find a 14th school to go along with A&M or didn’t want to risk a legal challenge from the Big 12 (by potentially breaking up the league). Possibly both.
Our Brett McMurphy reported that SEC presidents have a “gentleman’s agreement” not to expand within the league’s footprint. That would eliminate Clemson and Florida State.
ESPN probably has a lot to do with it too. The key to the deal is how the Worldwide Leader can maximize A&M, Oklahoma and Texas with conference realignment looming. A&M must extricate itself from the Big 12 so it doesn’t look like the SEC is interfering. OU must decide between the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC. Texas has to be in a place where its increasingly burdensome and controversial network is the most profitable.
Well, all this discussion the past few days, while fun, has proved to be moot (at least for now). Most of the major news outlets are reporting that the SEC presidents voted against expanding right now, or at least against adding Texas A&M:
Statement from Dr. Bernie Machen, Chair, Southeastern Conference Presidents and Chancellors:
“The SEC Presidents and Chancellors met today and reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment. We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league. We discussed criteria and process associated with expansion. No action was taken with respect to any institution including Texas A&M.”
However, it looks like the SEC hasn’t closed the door on either future expansion or Texas A&M (ESPN.com):
“We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league,” Machen said. “We discussed criteria and process associated with expansion. No action was taken with respect to any institution including Texas A&M.”
We know that Texas A&M initiated this, not the SEC, which seemed content remaining at 12 (at least for now). It seems plausible that Texas A&M has decided to secede, and offered the SEC first right of refusal; in all fairness, the SEC had to at least consider it. However, what Texas A&M might have done in the process is severely misplay its hand.
Most of us will be suprised if this is the end of it, and it’ll be interesting to see if there were other factors at play. Maybe this wasn’t in the timeframe the SEC preferred, or maybe the SEC wants to secure a 14th member before admitting Texas A&M. Perhaps, from a TV revenue standpoint, it would’ve taken Texas A&M with Missouri, but that after Missouri committed to the Big XII, then Texas A&M with Florida State and/or Clemson couldn’t get it done. Could Texas A&M and, say, NC State (adding two new markets), get it done?
Simply: who knows? We’ll learn more about this over the coming days, so stay tuned.
Start your morning with 1.21 Jigawatts’ “Sunday Samplings.”
Nothing much new expansion-wise Sunday morning morning, just speculation. Texas A&M is still expected to join the SEC, possibly as early as tomorrow (Houston Chronicle). However, at least one source suggests they may not get enough votes from the SEC presidents to do so (ESPN.com):
All but one of the SEC’s school presidents will meet Sunday to discuss A&M’s admission to the league, The New York Times has reported, citing a high-ranking conference official with first-hand knowledge of the talks.
The SEC official said there was still a 30 percent to 40 percent chance the Aggies would not get enough votes for an invitation to the league, The Times reported. And the issue of needing to add a 14th team along with A&M remained, the newspaper reported.
“We realize if we do this, we have to have the 14th,” the SEC official said. “No name has been thrown out. This thing is much slower out of the chute than the media and blogs have made it.”
There is speculation that the Big XII is already working on a contingency plan to keep the conference solvent after Texas A&M leaves. Missouri has said it’s committed to the Big XII, and it seems the Big XII may look to remain a 10-team league, at least in the immediate future. Possible replacements for Texas A&M appear to be Air Force, Houston, Louisville, or maybe even TCU.
Now, here are a couple comments that concisely explain why this is happening.
Associated Press (WRAL.com):
The SEC is interested in A&M because the move “brings us into the Texas market,” another person familiar with the situation told the AP on Saturday. But the person added that “it’s not about us wanting or needing 14 teams, Texas A&M came to us.”
The person said the conference could not ignore the Aggies.
“If A&M is dead set on getting away from Texas, whether it be because of the Longhorn Network or if they have had enough for whatever reason, you have to listen,” the person said. “If you don’t, someone else will.”
“It’s a business decision.”
Pat Forde (ESPN.com):
But as we wait for all this to play out (or not play out), the bigger picture of where college athletics stands has been shaken into focus.
Presidents can talk all they want about academic initiatives and student-athlete welfare, but it’s proving to be a sideshow conducted while the real business is done in back rooms. Television dollars and rampant egos are running the show in college sports, no matter how much the academic side of campus aspires to exert control.
As you discuss this, keep in mind that expansion isn’t related in any way to basketball prowess or “best fit.” College basketball revenue pales in comparison, and that’s not going to change; all that matters is college football TV revenues — simply, it’s a business decision.
With this in mind, be pragmatic: if the ACC really wants to enhance it TV footprint, it shouldn’t look solely to raid the Big East again. Instead, it should start by looking west to Oklahoma and TCU (before they officially make the move to the Big East in 2012). Everyone else wants that Texas footprint (which each of those delivers), so go get it. Geography, cultures and traditions don’t matter anymore, only TV, so make the right moves to have a seat at the college football decision-makers table. Syracuse and West Virginia don’t get that done (not for the ACC, anyway).
But that’s just my opinion. Go on over to the SFN Forums and join the discussion and make your opinion known.
If you’re trying to catch up, make sure you peruse the SFN main page here, here and here; if you’re one of the younger among us, you may not know that expansion isn’t a recent idea, and you can read a little about it here.