Posted on: August 25, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 5:56 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Texas A&M released a statement on Thursday saying that it had informed the Big 12 that it intends to explore the possibilities of a new conference.
“As I have indicated previously, we are working very deliberately to act in the best long-term interests of both Texas A&M and the State of Texas. This truly is a 100-year decision,” said Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin in the statement.
“While we understand the desire of all parties to quickly reach a resolution, these are extremely complex issues that we are addressing methodically. Ultimately, we are seeking to generate greater visibility nationwide for Texas A&M and our championship-caliber student-athletes, as well as secure the necessary and stable financial resources to support our athletic and academic programs,” Loftin added. “As a public university, Texas A&M owes it to the state’s taxpayers to maximize our assets and generate additional revenues both now and well into the future.”
"I support President Loftin and our governing board’s desire to explore all options regarding the future of Texas A&M University," Texas A&M Director of Athletics Bill Byrne added. "We all want what is best for the Aggies. I’ve met with all of our head coaches to keep them informed and we all remain excited and optimistic about the future of Texas A&M Athletics.”
Now, this does not mean that the Aggies have left the Big 12 just yet, just that they're officially letting the Big 12 know that they're looking to.
It's the "I think we should see other people" of the college football world.
As we're all well aware, Texas A&M hopes to join the SEC, and the next logical step will be for the school to apply to the conference as its thirteenth member. While the SEC has made no formal invite to Texas A&M and has gone out of its way to make that point that the SEC didn't court the Aggies, you have to think that Texas A&M has a pretty good idea of what the SEC's response will be for the school to let the Big 12 know if its plans.
When the SEC will make a public decision on whether or not it will accept Texas A&M as it's thirteenth school, we can't be sure. It could be next week or a month from now, all we really know is that today's move by Texas A&M made it a lot more likely that the announcement will come at some point.
Posted on: August 17, 2011 11:15 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
If Texas A&M is making to make a move to the SEC, they might have to do so sooner rather than later.
On Monday, the university's regents authorized president R. Bowen Loftin to explore realignment and he cautioned that the school would explore all options and there would be no timetable for any move. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has not been a happy camper about the whole situation and told The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that an ultimatlum could be coming for the Aggies to make up their mind about staying or going.
“We can’t operate with an institution waiting to decide if it wants to remain in the conference. There has to be a very short time for an institution to commit,” Beebe said.
Beebe also told the Morning News that any school leaving the conference could face additional penalties on top of the current rules regarding withdrawal penalties. Following the departure of Nebraska and Colorado during last summer's realignment craze, Big 12 schools made a 10-year pledge to stay committed to the conference but according to the commissioner, it isn't binding enough to keep a team from leaving.
Specifically one team.
“What we do, if anything, will be in the best interest of Texas A&M and the state of Texas,” Loftin said. “We’re also very concerned about the members of the Big 12. We don’t want the Big 12 to go away. We have no intention of doing anything that might precipitate that.”
The commissioner could approach the Big 12's board of directors to set a date and force the school into making a decision but has not done so yet. If his current strategy of begging the Aggies not to go doesn't work, it's possible we could see the realignment timetable moved up however.
“Ultimately, our strong main desire is to keep A&M and address whatever needs to be done to keep them as happy, fulfilled members of the conference,” Beebe said.
Posted on: August 15, 2011 5:28 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 11:49 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Monday was an eventful day for developments on Texas A&M's conference affiliation. The Aggies appear to be at least one step closer to joining the SEC, but Texas A&M's president didn't set a timetable on change, nor even confirmed that Texas A&M would be leaving the Big 12.
-- The Texas State House Committee on Higher Education canceled a hearing scheduled for Tuesday that would have involved officials from Texas A&M, the SEC, and the Big 12.
Committee chair Dan Branch had said that making any conference moves without meeting with his committee first would be "inappropriate," but according to Kirk Bohls, Branch postponed the meeting because Texas A&M had yet to "complete anything." Branch added that the hearing may re-convene at a later date.
On Sunday, the presidents and chancellors of the SEC met and announced that the conference was happy with its 12-team alignment for right now, and "took no action" in regards to unhappy Big 12 member Texas A&M. The underlying message from the SEC was clear: the ball is in your court, Texas A&M, not ours.
To that end, the Texas A&M Board of Regents met on Monday, and as expected whent the agenda was released, has authorized Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin to leave the Big 12 or do whatever else he sees fit with the school's athletic conference alignment. Loftin is now expected to make an entreaty to the SEC.
Loftin told reporters after the meeting that the SEC has yet to invite Texas A&M, however, and when asked if there was a timetable, replied "Not for me." He also said that staying in the Big 12 still remained an option, and that any move to the SEC would be a "lengthy" process.
-- According to CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd, NCAA president Mark Emmert contacted various conference CEO's to discuss the realignment situation.
Here's the statement issued by the office of Mark Emmert to CBSSports.com:
The NCAA did not elaborate on the discussions had between Emmert and the CEOs, nor did it specify which ones were contacted (though it's probably not hard to guess). The New York Times had a report about that call, however, in which Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said, "I think people have asked him to make some phone calls. He’s doing exactly what he should be doing.”
Posted on: August 14, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:44 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The SEC has just finished its scheduled meeting of its presidents and chancellors, and unfortunately for secession-minded Texas A&M fans, the conference is staying put at 12 teams -- for now. Here's the full statement released by presidents and chancellors chair (and Florida president) Bernie Machen:
What Machen didn't say is that Texas A&M won't be invited to the SEC; if the chancellors and presidents didn't want the Aggies to come, the statement would likely have been worded with a bit more finality. As it stands, the conference is clearly leaving the door open to expansion.
RapidReporter Brent Zwenerman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Posted on: August 13, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2011 12:22 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
If you've spent any time on Twitter or message boards lately, then you've probably heard the news that the SEC has expanded to a 64-team league at this point, as schools from all over the country have been rumored to be joining the league. Realistically, though, it appears that there is only one team that is serious about joining the league, and that would be Texas A&M.
Of course, just because a team is interested in the SEC that doesn't always mean the SEC's interest is mutual, but according to a report in the New York Times, the SEC will meet in a secret location on Sunday to discuss the possibility of bringing Texas A&M into the conference.
Pete Thamel reports that a high-ranking SEC official has told him that the league presidents will meet at a secret location on Sunday to discuss the move, and that there's a "30 to 40 percent chance" that the SEC presidents will decide against A&M joining the fold. The reason for that is because the SEC has no plans to expand to just 13 teams, and it would need another school to complete any expansion.
“We realize if we do this, we have to have the 14th,” the SEC official told the paper. “No name has been thrown out. This thing is much slower out of the shoot than the media and blogs have made it.”
In other words, that report you heard on Saturday morning about Texas A&M, Clemson, Florida State and Missouri all joining the SEC to form the first super conference is a bit premature. Missouri AD Mike Alden told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that there was "nothing" to the report and that Missouri isn't talking to anybody.
The Big 12 athletic directors are scheduled to have a conference call with commissioner Dan Beebe on Saturday afternoon with every AD except Texas A&M's Bill Byrne expected to be on the call. However, before you read too far into that, remember that Byrne is currently in Europe at the moment.
Posted on: August 12, 2011 4:53 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
In what's likely the most ominous sign for Texas A&M's future with the Big 12, a Texas A&M Regents meeting originally scheduled for August 22 has been rescheduled -- to next Monday, the next possible business day.
Here's the link to the official meeting notice. There are 15 items, and the first 14 aren't related to athletics. Oh, but Item 15:
That is not a discussion. That is not a consideration. That is allowing school president R. Bowen Loftin to send A&M to the SEC, something that wouldn't be authorized for the heck of it.
This doesn't appear to be a major concern to Dan Beebe or the rest of the Big 12 anymore, however. Texas A&M RapidReporter Brent Zwerneman posted that the conference is ready to move on without the Aggies:
In other words, the split is basically done, and neither side is interested in stopping it. Now the only question is who else the SEC takes -- and whether any any other Big 12 teams are on the way out as well. According to RedRaiderSports.com's Chris Level, a "high ranking Texas Tech official" (and for the record, TTU athletic director Kirby Hocutt was previously Miami's AD) says the SEC is "in talks with Texas A&M and an ACC school," but once the SEC acquisitions begin, what's to stop SEC head honcho Mike Slive from going past 14 teams?
Posted on: August 12, 2011 3:21 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
It seems that if Texas A&M really is set on leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC, the Aggies better hope that the SEC's interest in them is mutual. According to our Texas A&M Rapid Reporter Brent Zwerneman, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has told Texas A&M that the Big 12 will survive without it. Which doesn't exactly sound like the words of a man who is trying to do everything he can to keep A&M in the Big 12.
Beebe also told Texas A&M that Texas is the school that holds the key to the Big 12's future, and that as long as the Longhorns don't leave, the Big 12 would survive. In fact, should Texas A&M leave then the Big 12 may just replace them with Houston.
Of course, that's if Texas doesn't decide to leave the conference as well. Something that isn't exactly set in stone according to The Oklahoman. In a story about Oklahoma believing that Texas A&M is going to leave, there's also this tidbit about what the future of Texas may hold.
[Texas athletic director DeLoss] Dodds said his preference is for the Big 12 to bring in another school to replace A&M, should the Aggies leave. He also mentioned Texas and Notre Dame joining forces to create a new conference, should the Big 12 disintegrate.In other words, Texas doesn't really care if its in-state rival leaves the conference, but it just wants to make sure that the Big 12 remains a 10-school league, or the Longhorns will continue to cut their own path.
So if it wasn't apparent to you before, it should be now that the Aggies are merely just the first domino of what could be many to fall.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 12:04 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 8:30 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
There's no place in the country like Texas A&M.
If you haven't had a chance to go to Midnight Yell or be in the stands at Kyle Field when they sway back and forth when the War Hymn is played, you should quickly add it to your bucket list.
The Aggies, excuse me, the Fightin' Texas Aggies, are a different kind of fan too. Really a different kind of person. Tradition is about more than dunking your ring upon graduation or saying 'Howdy,' it's part of the fabric of A&M fans' everyday lives.
Growing up in Dallas, I went to plenty of A&M, Texas and Oklahoma games. As much as the fans of the other two teams liked their schools, they never loved their team like the Aggies. Through thick and thin they were still the Fighting Farmers.
The demographics and culture in College Station have shifted over the past few years. Fewer kids from the country and more from the cities. Less of a focus on the agricultural and mechanical and more of a focus on the business school. But no matter what, they all believe in the school the same.
Now Texas A&M fans are unsure of the future and they're upset. They're mad at Texas. They're mad at commissioner Dan Beebe. They're mad at the Big 12. Frankly, they're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.
The uneasy truce that was drawn up last summer after Larry Scott came looking to build his superconference is in shambles. The Longhorn Network is the straw that broke the camel's back but really it was the lack of stability in the Big 12 that is the driving force. Even if the NCAA denied the network of their ability to televise high school games, that wouldn't calm the uneasiness A&M has about Texas being in bed with ESPN and in a prime position to join the ranks of the independent.
The hard reality though, is that the University of Texas is the university of Texas. Texas A&M's entire athletic department budget in 2010 was $66.8 million. Texas' PROFIT from football alone was $68 million last year. The Aggies lost money in 2008 and 2009. The rumors of going to the SEC is not about high school games or money, it's about the gap between the two schools widening even further.
In the state of Texas - and in the eyes of most nationally - the Aggies are, and almost always have been, second class citizens in the state they love so dear. The move to the best conference in college football is their trump card. Their chance to shine and - at least in their minds - become peers and not Texas' little brother.
They better learn that they'll have to take their lumps with a move though. Prior to last season, the Aggies best record in the previous 11 years was 9-4. They were embarrassed by Oklahoma to the tune of 77-0 in 2003. Texas A&M has only won one bowl game since joining the Big 12 and has only one league title to their name.
Now they want tougher competition. By moving East they'll face conference opponents that have won 81 percent of their non-conference games of their games the past five years and, oh yeah, five straight national titles.
One fan tweeted me on Wednesday, "If you do understand than you would know this move is not for athletic success. Its bout the cash and the EQUALITY of the SEC."
First of all, if A&M goes to the SEC, they'll have to pay an exit fee of a good chunk of their television revenue in 2011 AND be phased into a full revenue share in their future league. Remember, this is an athletic department that was struggling to pay the bills (the school's endowment has plenty in the bank however). Second, you would not be equals in the mighty Southeastern Conference. You are the new kid on the block and you're closer to Ole Miss and Arkansas than Alabama and Florida. All conferences are not created equal.
Many will point to the fact that the program can get better recruits by selling the fact that they'll be able to play in the best conference. That will win over some.
"The conference really put them over the top," Van (Texas) linebacker Dalton Santos told Volquest.com as to why he picked Tennessee over Texas A&M. "Being able to do things in the SEC will show I can play anywhere."
What some fail to keep in mind however, is that the Longhorns will almost always have the pick of the litter in-state. Sure you can win over one or two elite players. Talent development is always been a strength in College Station and better players certainly never hurt but it's not going to shift the balance of power in the recruiting game as much as many think (or hope).
There is also the notion that grabbing Texas A&M is appealing to the SEC because it opens Texas to the league. That is obscuring the obvious: it's already open. Remember Alabama won a national championship with a quarterback from the Dallas area. When they failed to land the top in-state signal-caller Jameis Winston, they picked up a commitment from a Dallas area quarterback less than 48 hours later. If a head coach of an SEC school wants a player in Texas, they typically don't have many doors closed on them, if any.
It remains to be seen how it all will work but at the moment but it's clear there is mutual interest in making the move, should there be a shift in the college landscape. Beebe said he was taking the threat of the school leaving very seriously and Texas governor Rick Perry, an Aggie alum, confirmed to the Dallas Morning News that 'conversations are being had' on making the move.
“I’ll put it this way, I’m taking it very seriously," Beebe told The Austin-American Statesman. "I’ve been talking to a number of people. Obviously, there are a significant number of Aggie supporters who are interested in going in that (SEC) direction."
Sources told the Statesman and the Morning News that the Big 12 would continue to operate as a nine-team league if Texas A&M left. The school's offer to join the SEC has not been formally made however. As Mike Slive said at SEC Media Days a few weeks ago, he could expand the league to 16 teams "in 15 minutes." but it remains to be seen if he's willing to move on expansion at the moment. The league will add a member only if and when Slive and the SEC presidents want, the timetable is not up to the Aggies.
A source at Texas A&M said the school won't tap the breaks on the rumors until all options have been explored. The school is still mulling creating or partnering on their own network and it just so happens that the head of Fox Sports Southwest is an Aggie alum and booster. Yet many in the administration feel the stability the SEC offers is the biggest reason why the school is ultimately "forced" east.
Let's face it, it looks more likely to happen than not at this point. Culture-wise, they probably fit in well when you consider their other programs, such as baseball, and passionate fan base for all things Aggie.
When I called my father last night, an A&M alum himself, he was mostly upset over the Longhorn Network's unfair advantage. My mother, having lived through the Southwest Conference until the end, thought the whole move was a crazy reaction however.
"They're cutting off their nose to spite their face," she said.
Just like any motherly advice, she was right.
A&M thinks they've got a trump card for their rival. They better be careful what they're wishing for or the Aggies might be the ones being trumped.