So why exactly did Texas A&M Aggies risk the abandonment of a century's worth of rivalries with Texas, desert another half-dozen ancient Southwest Conference series, crank up their travel costs and generally overturn decades of tradition to flee the Big 12 for the SEC?
Well, the Longhorn Network, for one thing. But the kind of ticket sales announced by the Aggie's 12th Man Foundation this week makes for a nice runner-up.
The foundation revealed that for the first time since Kyle Field was expanded in the late 1990s, the school has sold out its allotment of season tickets. Though further tickets could become available if 2011 season ticket holders decline to renew, a Monday sales window -- one that closed within an hour, according to the College Station Eagle -- represented the exhaustion of the school's current supply. Aggie fans looking for tickets will be forced to either join a waiting list in the hopes of snagging a non-renewal or hit up the secondary market.
Aggie officials speaking to the Eagle attributed the surge in sales to -- you guessed it -- the leap to the SEC. And their new conference hosts didn't skimp on mouth-watering new conference games for A&M to enjoy at Kyle Field; Florida visits College Station for the program's SEC debut in Week 2, with old Aggie rivals Arkansas and LSU both stopping by in midseason, and fellow Big 12 exile Missouri wrapping up the home slate in November.
As the Eagle writes, the sellout those types of matchups have sparked has been far from the norm for A&M's ticket sales:
Prior to [joining the SEC], the Aggies struggled to consistently fill the stadium. The school averaged about 15,000 to 18,000 in unsold season tickets each year before 2011. The remaining tickets were made available for single-game sales, often at a discount. Nonconference games frequently featured empty seats in the top corners of the 83,002-capacity stadium.
Now, giddy over the program's 2011 record attendance and 2012 sales, school official Jason Cook says A&M is considering expanding Kyle Field for future seasons. We might advise them to hold off to see if the novelty can be maintained through what might be a rocky transitional process on the field -- many current SEC teams would struggle to sell out an 83,000-seat stadium on an annual basis -- but that the option is being pushed onto the table shows how much enthusiasm both the school and the Aggie fanbase currently has for their new conference digs.Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.
Get CBSSports.com College Football updates on Facebook