Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

31 Aug 2011

Texas A&M Plans to Leave Big 12 by Next June

Texas A&M has officially informed the Big 12 that it plans to pursue a membership with the SEC. Should the SEC vote to accept the Aggies, they plan to leave the Big 12 by June 30, 2012.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 31 Aug 2011

42 comments, Last at 03 Sep 2011, 4:43pm by justanothersteve


by Scott P. (not verified) :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 12:05pm

The school spokesman has denied that such a letter has been sent.

by Tom Gower :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 12:14pm

That was not today. Today, it's on the school website.

by jklps :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 12:07pm

Personally I hope the SEC replies "Thanks but no thanks"

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 12:29pm

I am rather surprised they'd announce they were leaving without having the SEC deal fully worked out. When Nebraska and Colorado announced the were leaving the Big 12 it was a done deal with their new conferences.

by Drunkmonkey :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 12:39pm

I originally heard that the SEC was going to bring in T A&M, and then look at schools like Clemson, Florida State, and another school (I can't remember off the top of my head, but I'm pretty certain it wasn't another ACC school), to go along with it. That makes me wonder if they aren't trying to expand, which just seems outrageous, seeing as they already have 12 teams, and the conference seems fine with me.

Then today after the announcement on ESPN, some of the college analysts were mentioning the possibility that Arkansas leaves the SEC to go to the Big 12. Why are teams just swapping conferences?

And why is Texas A&M looking to leave the Big 12? What's wrong with the conference?

by dbostedo :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 12:52pm

If teams are changing, it's almost always about getting more money. That's why conference sizes are expanding as well. The rumors I heard (totally unconfirmed gossip of course) earlier this summer were pretty much :

SEC : Adds Missouri, Texas A&M, Clemson, Florida State
Big 12 : Adds BYU, TCU (loses TA&M, Missouri)
ACC : Adds WVU, UCONN (loses FSU, Clemson)
Big East : ??

There was a lot of variation and speculation going on, and the Texas A&M move was the only one that seemed real at the time (and has been proven out I guess). The idea was the SEC wanted to be a 16 team conference and start up a TV network, etc. It's all entirely money driven.

The Big 12 is less attractive right now because they can't have a championship game - a conference has to have at least 12 members to hold one, per NCAA regulations. (So the Big Ten CAN have one now.) Plus it lost one of it's marquee teams in Nebraska.

Personally, I just hope in all of this the Big Ten decides to change its name to something without "Ten" in it.

by Drunkmonkey :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 1:09pm

I thought BYU was excited to be an independent? If they were just going to join a bigger conference later, why did they leave their's to begin with?

I'm thinking the Big 12 might be breaking up, unless they start adding teams like crazy, such as TCU, BYU, Colorado State, and maybe Boise State. I don't see how they can be a regular conference of any significance, even with Texas and Oklahoma, if they only have 9 schools, while the rest of the big time conferences have minimum 12.

At this point, the Mountain West should start making overtures to all the Big 12 schools it can, and take their BCS berth.

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 6:34pm

The BYU thing has been strange from the beginning. They certainly have a loyal following, but they're not Notre Dame. And I think you'd need to be Notre Dame to make the independent route work.

The Big 12 is in serious trouble. They likely would have folded if they hadn't been able to hold onto Texas. But what it took to keep them is eventually going to kill them because the other 11 schools now feel like stepchildren to the Longhorns.

by Lance :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 10:13pm

My understanding is that the BYU thing was a choice based on its ministry. In particular, it felt like it could reach more people if it weren't locked into playing more or less the same slate of schools all the time. Thus, it is willing to forego some of the money and security of playing in a conference for that ability.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 09/01/2011 - 12:31pm

Not sure I really get that, given even independents essentially get locked into playing the same schools all the time. Check out how little Notre Dame's schedule changes, for example. Granted, ND keeps most of those because they are long-time rivalries, but BYU will quickly discover the pool of teams looking for dangerous non-conference opponents is pretty small. And many bowl games have conference ties, which will limit BYU even on that front.

by Matt H. (not verified) :: Thu, 09/01/2011 - 3:27pm

" Thus, it is willing to forego some of the money and security of playing in a conference for that ability."

They are on record as saying they'll make more money having their own network than they did in the Mountain West. It was about the almighty dollar, not telling people about the Almighty.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 4:53pm

I don't get most of those rumors. A&M obviously, Clemson and FSU maybe ... but I agree that it makes no sense for BYU to join the Big 12 (especially given their scheduling requirements).

TCU makes about as much sense, odd as it may seem ... obviously the location is great, but they just moved up to a BCS conference that they can theoretically dominate, one that includes a championship game. Why leave that for a conference without a championship that is still reasonably strong in football? (Unless UT decides to collapse.)

I guess West Virginia and Connecticut would be taking a step up, but the Big East seems fine right now. Maybe they're tired of being in a 50-team basketball conference?

Missouri to the SEC doesn't really make sense at all, especially given that A&M isn't making them part of a package deal. The SEC would have more pull than any other conference listed above, and there are probably other schools that would be a better fit for what they seem to want than Missouri. (Louisville, for example.)

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 6:49pm

Lots of these moves--both the ones that have happened and those being proposed--are questionable, imo. It's hard to imagine TCU being in The Big East long-term--who are their fans going to embrace as rivals? Mizzou makes little sense geographically with the SEC. Colorado is really out-of-the-way compared to most of the rest of the Pac-12.

And while I know it's all about the money, from a competitive perspective, a lot of these schools are going to struggle for the foreseeable future. Colorado was a doormat in the weak Big 12 North. They're going to be toast in the Pac 12. Mizzou is going to struggle mightily in the SEC. A&M is going to struggle there, as well, and loses a host of in-state rivals.

by Aaron Brook's Good Twin (not verified) :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 10:28pm

Colorado makes as much sense in the new Pac-12 as they did in the Big 12. Colorado is a poor geographic fit in any conference that has schools its size. Even in the Big 12, their nearest rival was an 8 hour drive away.

by Bryan and Vinny Show (not verified) :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 10:40pm

Agree with this. Also, the state of Colorado has a large number of transplants from California, the Pacific Northwest and, at least for myself, Arizona. There is much more appeal to a Pac-10 schedule of schools to a lot of people here than in the Big 12. The Pac-10 was also very aggressive in recruiting both CU and Utah to the conference, as they wanted to expand for TV/Championship game reasons. I also think that this can help CU in recruiting in states like California.
But, in the end, it's of course all about money. I don't know if they'll be any more of a doormat in the Pac than they'd become in the Big 12; Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and random successful school number four stack up pretty well against a conference which USC and Oregon have pretty much dominated for a decade.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 09/01/2011 - 12:36pm

Their athletic department was millions in the red and the added money was huge to them. They were driving distance to the KU and K-State and Nebraska (though Nebraska was going to the Big 10). In the Pac 12, their fans will have to fly to virtually every road opponent. That said, CU never travels well, so that probably wasn't a major consideration for them. They also frequently don't sell out home games, which helps explain the budget deficit.

by Bryan and Vinny Show (not verified) :: Thu, 09/01/2011 - 2:27pm

All true.

by Matt H. (not verified) :: Thu, 09/01/2011 - 3:48pm

For a team with a modern era national championship to its credit, Colorado is pretty pathetic in terms of fan support. A couple years ago they actually went public, begging their season ticket holders not to sell their seats to opposing fans. Ouch.

As for the comment further up about them not having any rival schools nearby, the reality is they went decades actively avoiding creating rivalries with nearby schools. They let the rivalry with Colorado State lapse from from the 50s until the 80s. Bizarre. Air Force would love to play them, but they always refuse. They don't play Wyoming. Kansas State has been a good rival on the field for the entire Bill Snyder era and they're easy driving distance, yet home games in Boulder have so much purple you get confused and think the game is in Manhattan.

My guess is the big opponents like Oregon and USC will sell out in Boulder this year because of the novelty, but then there'll be plenty of empty seats again.

by Illuminatus! (not verified) :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 5:14pm

Colorado did allow local rivalries to lapse, but Colorado has for quite some time now been aggressive in OOC scheduling to get marquee matchups (in the 1990 season they played 4 ranked teams before they even started in to the Big 8). They got away from that in the Hawkins era, but I'd guess that was just a result of the scandal making it difficult to attract home-and-homes a few years down the road. Air Force and Wyoming make sense regionally but not financially.

Really, the issue with Colorado's fan support is that the school draws a ton of students from out of state (33%) and the metro area has only in the last few decades exploded in size with transplants. So a significant chunk of the alumni leave town and a significant chunk of the locals didn't grow up with the team. Couple that with a widely publicized scandal and 4 years of putrid coaching and here we are.

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 12:57pm

Arkansas is not going to join the Big 12. When the old SWC was broken up, one reason Arkansas joined the SEC was to get away from Texas. Don't have the reasons, but when I read them on the local (St Louis) pages it was enough to convince me it ain't happening. If I find them I'll post them, but it will have to wait until this evening when I get off work.

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 8:55pm

Update on my previous. Arkansas won't join in large part because they get more money by staying in the SEC. They also don't trust Texas - for good reason. Finally, why would a team leave the SEC or any other major conference for the instability of the Big 12/10/9? I read a few blogs and local (Fayetteville) articles, and it also sounds the Arkansas athletic director would be quickly looking for a new job if he even suggested it.

by jrbdmb :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 2:57pm

Arkansas wouldn't leave the SEC for the Big 12 because they would be losing money to do so.

The Big 12 lost a lot of TV money when they lost Nebraska and Colorado and as a result the championship football game. They could add small schools but it would hurt the reputation of the conference.

Also, Big 12 money isn't split up equally, Texas gets an oversized portion of the money. Schools like K-State and Iowa State have no choice but to put up with it, but TAMU does have choices and sees more $$$ in the SEC. I suspect eventually Texas and OU will leave as well, leaving the rest of the Big 12 to become a mid-major conference.

by Lance :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 10:19pm

OU isn't going anywhere without OSU. I suspect that they, along with Texas and, likely, TTech, will land on their feet. The real question is what happens to the Big XII North and Baylor. The only reason the latter made it into the BIG XII to begin with was politics and that support doesn't exist anymore (the current governor has no Baylor ties, to be sure). Of the North schools, Kansas has some cache because of its basketball, and Mizzou has some, too. But KSU and ISU have little and can only hope that the Big XII holds together and adds enough schools to make it a 12-team conference again (SMU? TU?).

by Bryan and Vinny Show (not verified) :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 10:45pm

Yes, I can see a couple of those schools ending up in something like the Mountain West. Missouri..Big 10, maybe? It would seem that Kansas has far too much success, and money-making abilities, in it's basketball program that they would be able to find an opening somewhere. I know originally there was a proposal to bring Oklahoma into the Pac 10, which I always thought was ridiculous geographically, but this may all splinter in the end. Nobody in the Big 12 likes playing second fiddle to Texas but, despite OU's enormous football success, they still do.

by TomKelso :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 4:27pm

As Clemson, Florida State and Miami would bring nothing to the SEC that it doesn't already have -- and the 4 North Carolina schools are not going to do anything if not as a unit -- it seems more likely that the SEC would go to Virginia Tech for a 14th member.

If Missouri still isn't interested, Oklahoma and Maryland would also be possible choices to get up to 16 members.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 4:56pm

You misspelled Oklahoma State. OU will have to take OSU as a dance partner. (I can't see why Maryland would make the jump ... leaving the history they have in the ACC to get slaughtered in the SEC.)

Clemson and Florida State bring rivalries to the SEC. That being said, the last round of expansion had virtually nothing to do with rivalries: expansion was outside existing footprints rather than inside it, so I'd agree that while those schools might fit well, they're not as likely to receive offers to join if the SEC has the same intent as the other conferences did/do.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 10:33pm

Texas A&M brings an SEC rivalry in with Arkansas, but also with the Cotton Bowl tradition.

GT, Clemson, and FSU all bring in rivalries, too. GT is a poor fit, though. The SEC doesn't favor teams whose players can read.

by TomKelso :: Thu, 09/01/2011 - 10:24am

Outside of possible state politics - as when Texas and A&M were forced to bring Tech and Baylor with them to gain legislative approval for busting up the SWC -- why would OU HAVE to bring OK State? The SEC would certainly want someone with a bigger footprint than a place that makes Starkville, MS look cosmopolitan.

Your point about the last round of expansion is exactly why this round of expansion will also go with increasing footprint (Virginia, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Maryland) over consolidating areas where there already is a major presence (South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky). The money is in EXPANSION, not consolidation. Clemson-SC, Georgia-Ga Tech and Louisville-Kentucky are already major rivalries without all being in the same conference. Bedlam will be bedlam whether or not the Cowboys and Sooners are in the same conference.

Oh, and as far as Georgia Tech goes -- they used to be in the SEC -- but left, with a lot of resulting bad feelings. Seems Tech had issues with some of the ways its SEC brethren addressed academics, and the SEC thought Tech was more than a little full of itself. Memories are long down South -- don't expect to see the Rambling Wreck leaving the ACC for the SEC ever -- but it would make for one heck of a rivalry package to sell to ESPN, with Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and maybe Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia straddling conferences.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 9:07pm

UNC/Duke aren't going anywhere without the other, but I could see NC State trying to make the recognition jump by going to the SEC alone.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 10:34pm

NC State leaving would shock me. No SEC rivals, and they're on the same interstate exit as Duke. It's too much of a proximity to leave.

by navin :: Thu, 09/01/2011 - 5:19pm

NC State is ~25 miles away from Duke. It would actually make sense for them to jump ship. They can't compete in basketball and they currently lose recruiting battles in football to UNC. In the SEC their basketball would face weaker competition and they'd start winning NC football recruits.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 10:31pm

VT won't leave without UVa. UVa won't leave the ACC and its Tobacco Road rivalries.

(UVa pulled strings to get VT in the ACC in the first place, and neither school has any SEC rivalries. If WVU replaced the departing ACC team, even moreso.)

by @nonymous (not verified) :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 3:02am

WVU has rivalries with Maryland and VT

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 9:04pm

If the SEC wants to go to 16 teams, they could raid the Big 12 for Oklahoma and Ok State, then grab a school at random. Clemson, Va Tech, Florida State, or even a long shot like Missouri, Houston, TCU, or Memphis. (Or a real long shot like Notre Dame.) In any case, the Big 12 is toast. They could still go back to 12 teams, but it's gonna be teams like SMU, Colorado State, and Northern Iowa.

by lionsbob :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 11:47pm

Supposedly-there is an agreement that the SEC won't go after schools that already have a team in that state. So no Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, or even Louisville. Not sure if that is true or not (who knows)....but a team I have been hearing about is.....West Virginia.

by t.d. :: Thu, 09/01/2011 - 8:58am

aTm sucks!

by slacksterest :: Thu, 09/01/2011 - 11:56am

I have the extra team for the SEC, Tulane. That way every other SEC team gets a one game boost toward bowl eligibility. The SEC gets back an original member. The other SEC teams would get an occasional trip to the Super Dome for an away game before a home crowd. What's not to love?

by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Thu, 09/01/2011 - 12:07pm

I was thinking about this a few weeks ago.

Let's say that four major conferences develop: the Big Ten, the SEC, the Pac-10, and the Leftovers. Each conference has 16 teams, with no teams leaving their current conference. This is for football only; basketball doesn't matter.

The Big Ten would add Notre Dame, Pitt, Boston College, and Syracuse.

The SEC would add Texas A&M, FSU, VT, and West Virginia.

The Pac-10 would add BYU, Boise St., Air Force, and New Mexico.

Finally, the Leftovers conference is comprised of the Big 12 plus the ACC and Big East. Texas, Oklahoma, UVA, TCU, Mizzou, Georgia Tech, NC St., Miami, Houston, UCF, North Carolina, Rutgers, Clemson, Ok St. USF, and Louisville.

Now tell me that wouldn't be an awesome thing to watch every season?

by Kal :: Thu, 09/01/2011 - 12:38pm

It's a lot more likely that the Pac-12 becomes the Pac-16 and gets Texas, TTech, Oklahoma and OSU. Easy rivalries, good geography, big markets, and in general fairly good as far as an identity. A 16-team conference is where it gets really interesting; you can have a 4-team playoff at the end and get 3 extra games if you plan it, plus the conference games are very compelling. Oklahoma wants desperately to recruit more in Cali, TTech and OSU would get a lot more TV revenue, and Texas would be another big team in a big pond. Texas is the tough sell, but I don't think they want to be "texas and 9 other schlubs).

Also, the Pac-12 won't be adding Boise State, New Mexico or BYU any time soon. they don't fit at all in the conference culturally, and Boise State is just a dead zone as far as markets.

by Floyd (not verified) :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 1:36pm

It makes great sense geographically and historically. The TX/OK schools plus Utah, Colorado and Arizona/AZ State in one division and the original Pac-8 schools in the other.

No need to add anything other than a championship game.

Makes the Big 10's Legends/Leaders alignment look like the joke that it is.

On the other hand it makes too much sense to ever happen.

by Alternator :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 4:30pm

It is the most logical, and therefore unlikely, realignment possible. The academics are mostly there, there's plenty of money, the alignments fit, the history, the money, travel budgets, incredible recruiting footprint, and the money's good enough to mention a third time.

Texas would, of course, never go along with it.

by justanothersteve :: Sat, 09/03/2011 - 4:43pm

Oklahoma is now talking about leaving the Big 12 with a decision expected in three weeks. http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/6923495/oklahoma-sooners-pr... and several other sources