Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

07 Sep 2011

Texas A&M to Announce Move to SEC on Wednesday

According to a report, the SEC has voted to accept Texas A&M into the conference. The Aggies will officially announce the move tomorrow at Kyle Field.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 07 Sep 2011

24 comments, Last at 09 Sep 2011, 7:50am by Zac


by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 2:27am

It'd be funny to see the Longhorns go indy in football, after the Big 12 breaks apart because other schools can't stand being in a conference with the Longhorns.

by andrew :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 9:51am

After Texas goes Independent, all other Independent schools announce plans to form a conference of "Non-Texas Independents".

by Lance :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 2:48am

I am hoping that the four major southern Big XII schools move west. I would feel bad for the four northern schools (ISU, KU, KSU, and Mizzou)-- I grew up following the Big 8 and so all of those teams (plus Nebraska and Colorado) carry some cultural weight with me. But in the end, I think that this is the best move...

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 8:39am

I favor a playoff, and superconferences may bring that closer, so it isn't all bad, but 16 teams is really clunky, assuming a 12 game regular season and 3 nonconference games. Having conference opponents in the other division on the schedule once every three years kinda' makes the concept of a conference meaningless. I suppose a 13 game regular season and two nonconference games could be a way to get every conference team on the schedule every two years, but I doubt that would be pursued.

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 10:14am

I'm with you on playoffs and your take on super conferences. I think it is possible to be too big. It may never hit them the one place they care--their pocketbooks--but a handful of giant conferences as opposed to several regular ones isn't going to improve the game, imo. Sure, teams will renew old rivalries and create new ones, but you're seeing the end to a lot of rivalries dating back decades. MLB probably clings to its past a bit too strongly, but I think college football may be doing the opposite.

by Drunkmonkey :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 12:02pm

I don't like the idea of Super Conferences at all. Putting 16 teams in the fold just seems like way too big. I don't really see a problem with 14, with obviously 6 divisional games, plus alternating 3 and 4 intradivisional games a year, meaning you'd play everybody within a two year period, but doing 16 is obscene.

I do see the ability for super conferences to lead to a playoff, however, I don't see it being the reason that a playoff is brought along. I don't think just because there is now Super Conferences Galore! we're going to see a playoff.

by Lance :: Thu, 09/08/2011 - 12:12am

True. Teams play 12-13 games a season. If you have a 16-team conference divided into two 8-team divisions that's 7 games locked up, leaving only 4-5 for both the other division plus non-conference. It could be difficult to pull off-- assume that you're only getting 2 other-division games a season. That means that it would take four years to cycle through the whole thing. I guess that's not too bad, but not ideal.

But there's more to life than football, right? It makes Basketball quite interesting, and for someone who follows non-TV sports (I once did a fantasy NCAA XC tournament), I sort of like the idea.

But back to football, I do hope for some sort of play-off system. Here's an idea that's come up just as I type:

What about a system where you play one in-division rival every year (like UCLA-USC; OSU-OU, ASU-AU, etc.). Then you split the other 6 in-division teams so that you do 3 each year. That's 4 in-division teams each year. Say that you also alternate 4 teams from the other division each year. That's 8 conference games. Then you do your out-of-conference stuff.

THEN it gets interesting. Because before you do a conference championship game, you have a division play-off. Think about how cool that would be! The top two teams in each division (determined by whatever-- division record, and then overall conference record, and then whatever) play one week, and then those two advance to a conference championship.

The immediate draw-back is that you'd miss out on some regular rivalries (like Texas-OU), but perhaps they could just arrange to play on those off years and book them as non-conference games? It could get tricky, but I think it could work and make things quite interesting...

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 8:13am

Up next? Oklahoma.

by lionsbob :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 9:21am

Ugh, I will not bow down to my new super-conference overlords....

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 10:22am

I found this bit funny yesterday: With the Pac-12 talking further expansion, Colorado (the same CU that's been in the Pac-12 for all of 10 minutes now) is upset. Seems they're dead set against any further expansion and their president said he's going to make a lot of noise about it. (Sounds like his biggest gripe is the possibility of being in a Pac-12 East division with some of the defecting Big 12 schools.) Ah, the irony. CU jumps to the Pac-12 for the added dollars they needed to bail out their financially strapped athletic department...but then want to bolt the door they second they're inside. And they actually believe the rest of the conference is going to care what they think about further expansion?

by Dennis :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 11:10pm

I saw that. CU's issue is that they joined the Pac-12 because they want the California exposure and if they end up in a division with a bunch of former Big 12 teams, they'll lose that. Of course there was never any guarantee over how the divisions and schedules would be set up with the current 12 teams, but with fewer teams, there are more games against the California schools.

by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 10:39am

Alright, so which Big Ten fans want us to make a play for Oklahoma and either Mizzou or Kansas? While we're carving up conference corpses, how about a swing at Rutgers and Boston College, and just start the massive realignment wholesale?

by JoeHova :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 11:52am

None. The Big 12 can keep Missouri.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 12:57pm

I don't think you can take OU without OSU ... same with KU and KSU. (That's assuming state legislatures will throw their weight around. It seems a bit more likely in states like Kansas and Oklahoma where there aren't a lot of DI schools.)

The AAU stuff doesn't seem to be as important as we thought it was, but FWIW, Missouri gets points for that.

BC has basically nothing in common with any of the existing Big Ten+2 schools; they would put a top-10 market in the footprint, but then the largest market in Nebraska is roughly the size of Toledo, so that's not necessarily important. Rutgers is at least a state school, but again doesn't really fit in that well.

Missouri is actually a pretty good fit: academics, athletics (41st in Directors Cup, right in line with the second half of the conference), geography, markets (St. Louis and Kansas City), and minor rivalries (Illinois).

Kansas and Kansas State have geography, but that's about it. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have athletics (and the old OU-UNL rivalry).

For giggles, they might pursue, say, West Virginia and Virginia Tech (although more chance of the latter than the former, I'd guess). Syracuse would be a nice expansion of the footprint (and would own a Big Ten lacrosse conference).

If expanding the footprint isn't an issue, then Iowa State and Pitt are candidates. There are other candidates as well, but I have a hard time seeing any SEC schools peeling away, and a harder time seeing someone outside that short list being seriously considered ... maybe another ACC school or two, but certainly no one farther west, and I think Texas isn't the sort of thing the Big Ten wants to work out now.

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 1:20pm

I've already seen it reported that OU-OSU would have to move as a pair.

If all you're talking is football, I can see your point regarding KU and K-State, but they're both strong in basketball with KU being probably one of the top 10 programs in the nation over the past 25 years. I'm wondering if they wouldn't be candidates for the Mountain West since Air Force and Colorado State are just as accessible as CU ever was.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 1:31pm

I was thinking more as a whole ... KU is strong in basketball and pretty weak everywhere else (one day I really will dump all the Directors Cup stuff into a database), and KSU is similar, but without the strength in basketball.

You're thinking along the same lines that I was: the Big Eight leftovers are likely headed to the Mountain West (whether or not that includes the Oklahoma schools, I don't know). They don't have to worry about "high-profile" teams in the same way that AQ conferences do, and honestly the Midwest schools are only a good fit for Great Lakes, Southwest, or Western conferences. ISU, KU, and KSU would work pretty well in the Mountain West, and the MWC would be more than happy to add former AQ schools, especially if the Big 12 does break up and no conference gets a second BCS spot. Travel to Idaho and Nevada is not really that different than travel to Pennsylvania ...

by Dean :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 11:22am

What I don't understand is why people act like conference re-allignment is somehow new, or different, or in any way unique. Teams change conferences all the time. Going more than a couple years without change is the exception, not the rule.

by Dean :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 11:29am

This is long so i gave it a separate post. Skimming it will illustrate the point...

1896 – Western Conference formed by U of Chicago, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Purdue, Lake Forest College.
1899 – Iowa and Indiana join Western Conference. Western Conference renamed BIG 9.
1907 – Missouri Valley Conference founded by Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Washington U (STL).
1908 – Drake, Iowa State join MVC.
Michigan leaves BIG 9.
1911 – Iowa leaves MVC for BIG 10.
1912 – Ohio State joins BIG 9.
1913 – Kansas State joins MVC.
1915 – Southwest Conference formed by Arkansas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma A&M (OKST), Rice, Southwestern, Texas, Texas A&M.
1916 – Pacific Coast Conference founded by Cal, Washington, Oregon, & Oregon State.
Southwestern leaves SWC.
Rice leaves SWC.
1917 – Washington State joins PCC
Michigan Rejoins BIG 9. Big 9 Renamed BIG 10.
1918 – Rice rejoins SWC.
Stanford joins PCC
SMU joins SWC.
1919 – Oklahoma leaves SWC for MVC.
Grinnel College joins MVC.
Nebraska leaves MVC.
1921 – Nebraska rejoins MVC.
1922 – USC, Idaho join PCC
1923 – TCU joins SCW.
1924 – Montana joins PCC
1925 – Oklahoma State leaves SWC for MVC.
1928 – UCLA joins PCC
BIG 6 split off from MVC to form new conference. Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska.
1932 – Thirteen schools split apart from the Southern Conference and form the Southeast Conference: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Miss St, Tenn, Vandy, U of the South, GA Tech, Tulane.
1940 – University of The South leaves SEC.
1945 – Colorado joins BIG 6 – unofficially renamed BIG 7.
1946 – Chicago leaves BIG 10 – renamed BIG 9.
1950 – Montana leaves PCC for Mountain States conference.
Michigan State joins BIG 9 – renamed BIG 10.
1953 – 7 schools leave Southern Conference and found Atlantic Coast Conference: Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, Wake Forest.
Virginia joins ACC.
1958 – Texas Tech joins SWC.
Oklahoma State leaves MVC for BIG 6. BIG 6 renamed BIG 8.
1959 – PCC disbands.
1959 – AAWU founded by Cal, Stanford, USC, UCLA, and Washington.
1962 – Washington State joins AAWU
Western Athletic Conference formed by Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, UNM, Utah, Wyoming.
1964 – Oregon, Oregon state join AAWU; AAWU renamed PAC 8
Georgia Tech leaves SEC.
1966 – Tulane leaves SEC.
1967 – UTEP, Colorado State join WAC
1971 – South Carolina leaves ACC
1976 – Houston joins SWC
1978 – Arizona, AZST leave WAC, join PAC 8, renamed PAC 10
Georgia Tech joins ACC.
1980 – Air Force joins WAC
1991 – Big East Conference expands to football: Syracuse, Boston College, Pitt.
Miami, Temple, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Rutgers join Big East (football)
Arkansas leaves SWC for SEC.
South Carolina joins SEC.
Penn State joins BIG 10.
Florida State joins ACC
1994 – SWC dissolves.
1995 – Metro Conference and Great Midwest Conference merge to form Conference USA: Alabama-Birmingham, Memphis, S. Miss, Tulane, Cincy, Louisville, S. Florida.
1996 – UNLV, TCU, Rice, SMU, Tulsa join WAC.
1996 – BIG 8 dissolves. BIG 12 Conference formed by all 8 members plus Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, and Texas A&M, all of whom left the former SWC.
Houston joins CUSA.
1997 – ECU joins CUSA.
1998 – Army joins CUSA.
1999 – Mountain West breaks away from WAC. Formed by Air Force, BYU, Colorado state, UNM, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah, Wyoming
2001 – Boise State joins WAC
TCU joins CUSA.
2004 – Army leaves CUSA.
Miami joins ACC.
Syracuse extended offer to join ACC. After lawsuits in Virginia, Syracuse’s offer is rescinded and extended to Virginia Tech.
2005 – Boston College, Virginia Tech join ACC.
Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida leave CUSA and join Big East (football)
UCF, Marshall leave MAC, join CUSA.
Rice, SMU, Tulsa leave WAC, join CUSA
TCU joins leaves CUSA, joins MWC.
2006 – UConn joins Big East (football)
2011 – Nebraska leaves BIG 12 for BIG 10
Colorado leaves BIG 12 for PAC 10
Utah leaves MWC for PAC 10
PAC 10 renamed PAC 12
2012 – Fresno State, Nevada, Hawaii to leave WAC and join MWC

by Zac :: Fri, 09/09/2011 - 7:50am

If I am reading your list correctly, the list of teams who left one conference and joined another conference since from 1960 to 2010 was:
Arkansas, TCU.
Usually conference changes were (1) independent school joins conference (2) school leaves conference to become independent (3) conference goes away / new conference formed. The thing that is new and unusual is major conferences poaching teams from other major conferences.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 1:23pm

Also of note: superconferences have been around before. As you show, the Southern Conference was bigger than anything we're likely to see, even after another wave of expansion. (That doesn't mean it was a good idea, just that we've covered similar ground in the past.)

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 1:37pm

Interesting timeline. But the major football conferences haven't historically changed that often, which is why people see this as a big deal. The Big 8 was largely unchanged for 30 years until it became the Big 12, which went about 15 more years before another change. Prior to Penn State joining the Big 10 in the '90s, their membership had been unchanged since Michigan State came aboard in the early '50s. The Pac-10 was locked in for decades. Even the SEC has had the same membership since 1991...and most of its members have been in the conference since 1932.

Yes, there has been a lot of minor and mid-major conferences created, but that's not going to create the buzz of a Big 12 potentially dissolving or the Pac 10 becoming the Pac-16 with teams in Texas.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 4:54pm

I think a better way to describe it is that there are typically periods of relatively quick change followed by periods of stability. What's now the Big Ten had 6 "changes" in 22 years (counting its inception), then almost 30 years of nothing, the Chicago/MSU thing, 40 years of nothing, then PSU and later Nebraska.

Same with what's now the Pac-12: quick changes from 1916 through 1928, nothing for 20 years, occasional changes for 15, then 14 years until the Arizona/ASU expansion, then more than 30 before this one.

It just seems different to us because, for the most part, the AQ conferences have been relatively stable during most of our lifetimes ... but if you look back to the teens and '20s, there were all kinds of changes among both surviving major conferences and major-at-the-time conferences. Things settled down for a bit, then more money was available, and the landscape shifted.

I think we're still seeing changes now because the financial "pressure" hasn't been relieved yet. It'll be a big change for a while (odds on EA getting the next NCAA game implemented correctly?), and then things will settle down again.

What's interesting to note about expansion from 100 years ago is that first there were a few massive conferences, like the MVC and the Southern Conference, but eventually they broke up into smaller conferences. I'm not convinced that a 16-team conference will be any more stable now than those conferences or the more recent WAC incarnation ... I guess we'll find out in a decade or two.

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 6:23pm

I don't know when the financial pressures will be fully relieved. Colleges are hurting for money these days and these big conference deals bring incredible riches for those lucky enough to be included. Colorado's athletic dept. was millions in the red prior to the Pac-12 deal, as an example, and all that debt is now going to be wiped away. Only problem is, times are going to remain tight for universities as a whole for the foreseeable future. And there will be huge pressures in these super conferences to keep up with the Joneses to remain competitive. Unless schools like Colorado are careful, they'll eventually overspend themselves into the same spots they were in before.

And greed being what it is, it's easy to imagine some of the premier teams eventually demanding a larger slice of the pie. You've already got precedent with Texas getting all kinds of special treatment by the Big 12. Will the day come when the Pac-12 finds itself under pressure to give a larger slice of the pie to the USCs and Texases at the expense of the more marginal members? Will Washington State someday get a call telling them they haven't been pulling their weight, so they're going to be replaced by a school who the TV networks have decided would make the conference more marketable? Maybe nothing that extreme comes to pass, but when money becomes the primary motivation, things can change very dramatically.

by Bryan and Vinny Show (not verified) :: Wed, 09/07/2011 - 9:03pm

Agree with a lot of this. I think one thing that CU could do to rein in expenses is stopping having to pay fired football coaches. How many more years are Barnett and Hawkins on the books?