Why the fascination with conference expansion?

It was amazing seeing yesterday’s fevered outburst of speculation and anticipation over the TAMU-to-the-SEC story.  And I have to confess that I don’t really get all the excitement.  It’s not like Stewart Mandel’s Montana buddies would ever identify Texas A&M as a member of college football’s royal class.  I can see why the westernmost members of the conference would welcome the Aggies’ entry, but I’m not sure why the rest of us should get particularly worked up about it.

And then there’s the matter of which other school gets asked to come in with A&M.  Other than Oklahoma, it’s an underwhelming bunch.

Somebody tell me what I’m missing here.

53 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, SEC Football

53 responses to “Why the fascination with conference expansion?

  1. Spike

    The only viable choice is either Florida State or Clemson. I will eat my bulldog hat if FSU leaves the ACC. But, I can’t get too excited about all this either. None of it is likely to happen. (Rolls over and goes back to sleep)

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    • Sanford222View

      FSU and Clemson are unlikely in my opinion. They are good geographic and cultural fits but they are not good financial fits which is the only reason why the SEC would expand. The SEC already has Florida and South Carolina as TV markets with the presence of the Gators and Gamecocks. Adding the Noles and Tigers would be redundant.

      Texas A&M gets the SEC the Texas TV market so the question is what other school could be added to balance the East? Or, what other school could be added to the West that has TV revenue value so you could move a current SEC West school to the East (Auburn?)? Va Tech jumps to mind for me with the Virginia and D.C. television markets but as mentioned below in another post Virginia state politics might be an issue there. I think that could be overcome though.

      As far as western options go Oklahoma might fit even though they don’t hail form a great TV market they have a ton of tradition and a national recognition that would bring eyeballs to games. Maybe Mizzou would fit with the St. Louis market but they are such a mediocre program I don’t think they add much value. I am not sure if the St. Louis TV market value is anything to be excited about either. I have no clue where it ranks.

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      • HVL Dawg

        TAMU and SMU. That would pretty much get all the eyeballs in Texas and every old school SEC team a reliable win. Perfect for everyone.

        Why would UGA want to play Oklahoma every other year when we can gain everything we wanted out of Tejas?

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        • SMU?

          Whatever you’re smoking, holy cow.

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          • Cojones

            Perhaps he is of the Methodist persuasion, sir. And perhaps he is on some kind of mind-debilitating weed. It’s as good as any of the other Pome de Rue floated out there.

            A&M is the cheapest entry into a very large Texas fan base where SEC teams would be shown week end and week out. Cheapest from the perspective of anti-UT Texans who absorb a lot of viewing ratings. The conference that gets A&M will have a recruiting and fan base that is the antithesis of the big bully on the block,-UT. What’s not good here from an encroachment into slightly fanatical kids ignorant of the Good Football Life standpoint to a good football-hungry fan base who will become vocal and paying champions of SEC Good Football Life Watching? It’s all good. There is a larger anti-U. of Texas fan base that cheers against them and for all the other teams in Texas(a considerable number) than there are UT fans. About 17 million to about 8 million at last Godawful guess. Why not, Senator?

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        • Sanford222View

          You only need one Texas team to get the TV market. Besides, SEC East teams most likely will only do home & home series with SEC West teams every 6 years with expansion. Oklahoma is a bigger National TV draw. It is a name brand in college football.

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          • Cojones

            But Oklahoma’s TV audience is much smaller due to the area they are shown in. They can’t go nationwide with that appeal because they are not ND nor would they have the following each week that conference addicts follow. Others would watch their own conference rather than switch to an Oklahoma game. However, if you have the anti-UT audience ready to see an A&M team vs an SEC team …..slam dunk. If over a period of time they become highly competitive in the SEC,….. slam, slam dunk. And Texas pride would make them competitive by fiat!

            I had a brother who lived in the Valley for over 20 yrs. I have an x-wife and her family that I visited and was around for beginning 45yrs ago. I have two grown and working children who live in San Antonio and Austin. I have 5 grandchildren between the ages of 16 to 9 who live in that state. Many friends do I count who live in that state. I hear and have heard a cacophony of voices, of sounds through the years and can tell you that they collectively take their football as a drug. Once they follow SEC football, it will be all over for the perceived football bully of Texas.

            Now, it’s Fri nite and I’m so fortunate to have a wife who bought a Newcastle’s 12-pack that slurps lovely with a little Tequila Tarantula mix of mine(my own name and concoction). I bid all Dawgs “adieu” and Happy Bulldog Dreams.

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            • Sanford222View

              Not sure what you are saying but I may not have been clear either. I agree that adding A&M would be get the Texas TV market. I was disagreeing with SMU. I think OU has way more value than SMU. My point was you don’t need SMU if you already have Texas A&M.

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  2. heyberto

    I haven’t seen this question asked, but that doesn’t mean it’s not out there.. will adding teams to the SEC increase the money deal between members? Why would members want to add schools and take less money? Particularly if they don’t gain some powerhouse, winning programs that increase the notoriety of the slate?

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  3. The other Doug

    The part I can’t figure out is why does every pundit rank TV markets over the quality of the team and fan base? I know about the TV deal, but he SEC wasn’t built on large TV markets. ESPN is paying for the product and the fans.

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    • AlphaDawg

      TVs matter because of the $$$ involved.

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      • Daniel Simpson Day

        You are correct – the money drives this. However, the current member schools have a say in this and from what I am told, we don’t want Tech, the Gamecocks don’t want Clemson and the Gators don’t want FSU. Slive isn’t going to run over a conference school – it will have to come from outside the market for both reasons. As the Senator said, it’s a bit underwhelming but it is what it is. I think the AD’s have the same underwhelming feeling when you factor out the vetoed teams.

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    • 80Dawg

      Not Built On IT But ABSOLUTELY NOW TOTALLY dependant on it!!

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    • Go Dawgs!

      The TV markets matter because they add money to the pot. Why add Tech, Clemson, or FSU when they don’t add anything to the money pot? All that does is add more seats to the table to divide the money the conference is already bringing in.

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  4. TennesseeDawg

    Texas A&M is underwhelming unless Oklahoma comes with them. The only other viable options would be VT or FSU.

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  5. Hogbody Spradlin

    Unless I’m missing a story, nobody from the SEC has admitted any interest in A&M. This is all from one side.

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    • Hogbody Spradlin

      Oh, missed one. There’s a quote from ‘a person connected to the SEC.’ That could be any Tom, Dick, or Harry south of Indiana.

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    • My immediate take is that if Mike Slive were to sit down and write a ranked list of everything he cares about in the world, Texas A&M’s desire to join the SEC wouldn’t show up until about page 3,096 or so. I mean, if it looks like another big wave of conference expansion is about to break, he’s definitely smart (and devious) enough to make sure the SEC is on top of it, but we’ve just had one of those and he didn’t see the need to do anything (even with any number of B12 teams arguably ripe for the taking). Slive knows the SEC is still the most powerful (and profitable) league in college football, and there’s no need to fiddle with the membership until outside forces present a damn good reason. So far, there isn’t one.

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  6. Bob

    I am not for expansion, but believe it is going to come whether we like it or not. Florida and Georgia are not going to support FSU, Miami or Tech so I think we can count them out. Clemson is SEC in mentality and fan base but to the revenue folks, they don’t bring any additional TV sets. Va Tech might seem like a good fit, but the Virginia legislature will put that to bed in a heart beat. They pounded UVA to push for the Hokies to get into the ACC and that was successful when Syracuse was dropped. No way will UVA and the legislature allow the Hokies to leave and even if the SEC wanted UVA, those boys will never join the “academically challenged” SEC.

    As for the Aggies, there is plenty of reason. The do have a very good CFB tradition, although they have been down for a decade…but showing signs of resurgence. They have great traditions and fans and have long standing rivalries with LSU and Arkansas. Hell, they have played LSU far more times than anyone in the east less Florida. They travel well. Academically they would be #4 just behind UF and UGA. It would be better if they brought OU with them, but if we are going to expand I could live with A&M and OU in the West and Clemson and maybe WVU in the east. WVU might be a stretch, but it is a new market with a good program and solid fan base.

    Again, my preference is that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But my guess is it is coming sooner than later.

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  7. AlphaDawg

    A friend and I were discussing expansion the other day, 16 teams is to many since it could screw with out of confernce rivals, So we figured 14 was doable. We also considered other sports and what would benefit the entire athletic department, not just Footbll. And in a perfect world I think Slive would persue Texas (or close 2nd the Aggies) and UNC. We add 2 new TV markets, its a win/win for Football, Baseball and Basketball for all schools. You can make a good argument that the SEC has become a better Basketball conference than the ACC the last 10 years. UNC could use the SEC to recruit better football players and coachs. The SEC adds 2 rabid fan bases. Imagin the negotiations for the TV rights deal. The league would still be small enough for UNC to play its tobacco road rivals in BB season. We would essentially make a 14 team super conference in the 3 major mens college sports.

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  8. First AlphaDawg, UNC ain’t leaving Duke in BB, no way no how. And to the others that think A&M doesn’t bring anything to the table, you might want to check into the TV market that is Texas. And we all know this is all about money. It also opens up the Texas recruiting market which is top 3 in the country. Slive knows that if A&M comes, that is just the beginning of super conferences, so I can assure you it is on the 1st page of his,”everything I care about in the world” list. OU could be next and then Texas will go to the PAC10 and the rest will fill in to other conferences. Fourteen to sixteen team super conferences could be huge in the grand scheme of things for us that want some type of playoff.

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    • AlphaDawg

      UNC and Duke would still play each other twice a year and they would still hate each other. Nothing would diminish that rivalry. I know UNC would listen simply because of the $$$ involved. Not sayin it would happen, but if were going to expand we might as well shoot for the Moon.

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  9. wnc dawg

    I don’t think you are missing anything, but that doesn’t mean it’s not something to get worked up about. I am not excited about it, but it would be the biggest story for our conference in 20 years. Slive stated repeatedly during the madness last summer that the SEC would be “thoughtful and strategic” in expansion. The Big 12(-2) is hanging by a thread and conferences don’t fall apart every day. Sometimes exterior forces dictate your timelines/opportunities. There is just too much reporting about the negotiations from reputable sources to not keep at least an eye and a half on the developments. It may not happen, but it is most certainly on the table. There are plenty of things I didn’t want to happen that I paid attention to as the story developed.

    As for the teams involved, I’d agree 100%. I’m not thrilled about them, but 20 years ago where you really excited about Arkansas or USCe? That’s why I think your framing of the story misses the point. The fact that someone else could be in the fold is monumental.

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  10. Mike

    I think the interest in A&M revolve around the concept that while the SEC is doing well now in the current conference alignments, those associations will not be around forever. If there is a shake up, should the SEC stand pat? Probably not, if there is the opportunity to expand geographic coverage. A&M gives the SEC entrance into the Texas market. Oklahoma expands to the rest of the mid-west.

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  11. Sanford222View

    One thing that doesn’t seem to get talked about much is how scheduling for football will be impacted if the SEC does expand to fourteen or sixteen teams. I would hate to lose Auburn as a yearly opponent if they stayed in the West for example. If there are seven or eight teams per division that doesn’t leave much room to play teams from the other division.

    We all ready have to wait four years in between match ups with the West teams outside of Auburn. Adding one or two more will only space that out even further not to mention you have to factor in playing one or two more teams in the East every year if you are in the East like UGA. Does expansion mean East teams only play one or two West teams each season? I don’t know about everyone else but I don’t get too excited about trading games with LSU, Bama, and Auburn, on a somewhat regular basis to play Va Tech and Team X every year in the East.

    If the SEC goes to fourteen teams and keeps the eight game conference schedule model that would mean only two games against West opponents each year. If that is the case you either have to rotate one West team on/off your schedule and keep your current yearly West “constant” opponent or drop having a West “constant” opponent and rotate both slots. So UGA either doesn’t play its oldest rival every year anymore or it doesn’t see teams like Bama and LSU, for what, six years unless we play them in the SECCG? I don’t like the sound of that. If the SEC does expand I would hope the conference would shift to a nine game conference schedule to allow for more frequent match ups between divisions. Especially if the expansion grew the conference to sixteen teams.

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    • Cojones

      Computers will take care to have no scheduling problems. Unless you just wanted to fret and worry on purpose. Then I apologize.

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      • Sanford222View

        My concern isn’t that a person can’t figure out the schedules. My concern is not playing Bama, LSU, Auburn, etc. but twice every 6 or 7 years while adding Va Tech and NC St. to the schedule every year for example. Figuring out the schedule is easy. Losing traditional rivals and not playing the marquee teams from the West very often sucks from a fan’s perspective however.

        I think you might be thinking with your alcohol enlarged gonads too much tonight.

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        • Cojones

          Your last shot was a terrible thing to disrespect me with, but of course it was true. And alcohol over time doesn’t enlarge them, it just weakens the sac they hang in such that they race each other toward your knees.

          Why is not playing them as often as in the past equated with losing them from our schedule? Heck, it won’t even be noticed for 5- years that any rotation has been affected. Then it only sets back one year if we happen to have them(A&M) in our rotation. Don’t get the math you propose, but don’t come back on here and go after my gonads again. Just because I’m old doesn’t mean I’ve lost my sexual prowess sensitivity, wherever the hell it is.

          Hint: you can never take my words too seriously and I’m on here for fun, not great football seriousness because I consider that I’m ignorant in many categories. In return for putting up with me , I try not to lie or stretch the hyperbole beyond belief. And I try to sober some voices that are leading their owners to having an unenjoyable Dawg season. Please forgive me. Otherwise, eff off!

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          • Cojones

            Oops! “My knees”, not “Your knees”.

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            • Mayor of Dawgtown

              If the SEC added 2 teams both from, say the State of Texas, then the SEC could move Auburn to the East and UGA would still play them every year. If the SEC added 4 teams, all from west of the Mississippi river, the SEC could move both Auburn and Bama to the East. Agreed, we wouldn’t get to play LSU often (we don’t really get them all that often now, anyway) but it’s not like they are a traditional rival and we still would get them occasionally in the SEC Championship game. We would get Bama every year, though. Bama is more of a rival for UGA than LSU IMHO.

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  12. Jordan

    TAMU is a good fit. They bring up overall academics, they have great tradition, great fans, good market reach, and a very good overall athletics program. When Carolina was added, they weren’t a power house athletics institution and had relatively (to A&M) poor academics. USC was a worse fit than A&M is now but it has worked out just fine.

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    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Who says it has worked out just fine? For them maybe. I question that it has worked out fine for UGA or the rest of the SEC. USCe got a whole lot more out of joining the SEC than the rest of the SEC got out of them joining.

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  13. Macallanlover

    I like Texas A&M, their fans and their traditions. I would welcome them into the SEC when expansion comes about, but I think they will only come with the 16 team, four Super Confernce idea. That concept I could support because it truly divides the haves from the have-nots which would not only allow custom-made guidlines to better fit the needs of CFB programs, but would also bring about the first, true National Champion in D1 football.

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    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      +1.

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    • Cojones

      Count the anti-UT fans in Texas. Twice more fans than like UT, the bully in that state. BIG MARKET for SEC games to be shown in. It would be like dividing college football fans into two groups in California. Those who like and love USC and those who wouldn’t piss on’em if they were on fire. Which group do you think will be watching SEC games?

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      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        +1. The fans of all the other teams in Texas (A&M, Baylor, Houston, SMU, Rice, TCU, Texas Tech, Texas El Paso, etc.) ALL hate the University of Texas.

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  14. Jordan

    I think everyone completely underestimates the role academics will play in all this. The college presidents do not want to associate with any more lower tier schools than what’s already here (looking at you Ole Miss and State). Yes, you want to “add eyeballs” but that can happen in a “number” of ways.

    By that, I mean, adding two teams and one conference game to the SEC slate increases the total number of SEC games per-season that ESPN can choose from. We aren’t adding days to the year any time soon nor will we add hours to a day – there are only so many time slots for games to be played in.

    An expanded SEC presents a more compelling product because there are more choices. The football programs we add will change in quality from season to season (and will benefit from being in the conference) but the quality of the school will not.

    If you think I’m crazy, consider the money UGA is throwing around at the athletic association (roughly $70-80M budget) then compare it to the school at large (roughly $1B budget). Academic reputation will matter in expansion.

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    • Bob

      I agree Jordan. But it works two ways. Texas would never lower themselves to join the SEC….because of academics and their arrogant superior complex. Of course they would only be #2 in the conference in that arena and not very far ahead of either UF or UGA. A&M also has a good academic standing and would slot in right behind Georgia. I do think Academics will play a role.

      The Texas reason is the same in my mind for UNC and UVA, especially the latter. And I still cannot imagine VT being allowed by the State Legislature to join the SEC after all they and UVA went through to get them in the SEC. UVA looks down their nose at everyone else in the ACC and would never feel comfortable joining the SEC…so I think the Hokies have no where to go.

      And UNC is in a similar boat. The Heels were one of the schools that voted against ACC expansion. They care about Basketball first and foremost. I know they would get more money, but roundball is their legacy and they are linked to Dook and State and Wake with a long tradition of great college basketball. I see no serious interest on their part either.

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    • Cojones

      Cheez, Jordan! Are you an academic snob in a football conference?

      You should have stopped with the first 5 words of your last paragraph.

      Alums are very proud of our academic achievements and I have contributed proudly to those achievements, but that in no way causes me to take on and slight any other University in our conference on academic grounds. You had better read a few books by authors from that state that have contributed to the World’s literature in a big way. You would do even better if you read about each University and understand that your ignorant pronouncements don’t hold you in good stead on this blog. We respect our neighbors as we respect ourselves.

      Sometimes we write words that castrate the relevance of all our words. You have just done that.

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  15. Chip

    I read this site pretty regularly even though i’m a clemson fan/alum. As much as I’d like us to be invited to the dance, I don’t see it happening due to USC’s lack of enthusiasm and our lack of TV dollars. It seems to me that the best fit (and the most likely to jump ship) would be NC State. They’re a big school with a lot of fan support for football, basketball, and baseball. Additionally, I’d think they’d be the most likely to be willing to jump from the ACC to get out of the UNC/Dook shadow. Thoughts?

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    • While I think other schools might be higher on the draft board (OU, UNC, VT, FSU), I think NC State makes a lot of sense as far as possibility and probability.

      The SEC does not need to expand, so if it does, you have to get the best long-term mileage out of it. The addition of TAMU adds television markets, recruiting, academics, and money to the pie well in excess to the costs of their addition. The other thing is willingness to join, which I think TAMU has in droves.

      With a home run financial decision like that, the SEC can make a little bit more of a “investment” decision on the other school. At the same time, while OU, VT, FSU, UNC would be excellent pickups for the conference, they have to consider if a move to the SEC would be good for them. With no other no-brainer school to the west (Mizzou isn’t bad, but throws East-West divisions into question), the “investment” invite comes to the East.

      NC State puts the SEC into North Carolina’s television markets and solidifies a recruiting pipeline into a still growing state with two large metro areas. The school’s academics are comparable, and – importantly – the school may be interested in distinguishing itself from the 3 other Tobbacco Road Colleges nearby. That could be a game-changer for the school and a long term investment for the conference.

      While I know better than to predict this is how things are going to happen, an SEC invite to NC State would not be surprising.

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      • AlphaDawg

        Great point about NCST, but I think Slive would approach UNC 1st. With NCST being 1st alternate.

        What about going all out and creating a 24 team league, with 4 divisions and 2 round playoff for conference champ. I bet that would make the BCS exec’s spincter tighten?

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        • Sanford222View

          The BCS exec’s are basically the college presidents. They like the BCS system.

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        • Any conference with more football members than 14 could rightfully be called either a “super conference” or “unwieldy.” Whenever the former happens with big programs, it would likely take place with all programs (a la Andy Staples’ 64 team model of 4 super conferences with 16 teams each whose champions meeting in a playoff, etc. etc.). The latter has probably already happened with smaller conferences one doesn’t hear of often.

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        • Cojones

          Not unless you have legions of folks walking up out of the ocean at the Barrier islands. Count the noses, folks. That’s where decisions are made in mass communications. Count thew noses. Pick any school at random and salivate. Don’t use the cutsy,”Their and our academics are what I say they are” routine.

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  16. Mayor of Dawgtown

    If there is to be conference expansion, Go West SEC, Go West. Add Texas A&M and Oklahoma plus two other Texas teams. Texas is one of the biggest media markets in the nation. This would be a way to really sew up TV in that state. Also, such a merger of Texas schools would really open up the State of Texas to SEC schools for recruiting purposes. Texas has long been a hotbed for HS football and annually produces the most and best recruits in the nation, except for California. The SEC would have a huge presence (if not an outright lock) in 4 out of the top 5 recruiting states in the nation: Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Georgia, the other being California. Which Texas schools, other than A&M, should the SEC be interested in? That sounds like the subject for an entirely new thread.

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  17. Simon

    The drive to leave the Big 12 is purely on the back of Texas. A&M is leaving because the Horns want to have their own network show high school games and show Big 12 games on their own network. ESPN dropped $300 million into the idea, and in my opinion crossed the line from journalism to trying to make the news.. It is totally unfair if they are allowed to to do it. Colorado and Missouri wanted out. CU went to the Pac 12. Tom Osborne from Nebraska saw it coming and bolted when the Big 10 offered.

    Plus, Texas moved all the offices and championship games to Dallas which didn’t sit well with any of the north schools. The officiating is very pro Texas. The North schools really have no where to go. OU wants to stay and play one tough game a year verse Texas. They don’t want to leave! The expansion is important because it leads to 16 team super conferences…and then the dreaded playoff.

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