Texas A&M to the SEC? What does it mean to the Pac-12?

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One year ago at this time, all we were talking about was a Pac-16 super-conference and the ripple effects that would occur all across conference football (and to a lesser extent, basketball). At that time, the Texas Longhorns were the lynchpin that controlled the action. When they decided against joining the Pac-16, the Pac-10 then “settled” for Colorado and Utah, the Big Ten took Nebraska, and a bunch of WAC teams went to the Mountain West and things seemed to settle down once again.

But, what a difference a year makes. The Big 12 has 10 teams and most of its money goes to Austin. But, that isn’t even enough, as Texas is now launching its own Longhorn Network. The Pac-12 signed a mega-deal that even superceded that of the vaunted SEC. Jealousy arose…

Texas A&M is sick of being under the shadow its rival Texas. Heck, Texas is more focused on Oklahoma than College Station, and as I mentioned in my series on the conference expansion topic earlier this summer, Texas A&M fits in much better culturally in the Deep South of the SEC than the Great Plains or Pacific Coast. So, why wouldn’t they look east?

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But, there is another factor at play here. When the SEC was making more money, winning more college football championships, and had more fans in its seats and watching on TV, they really had no interest in expansion. Then something interesting happened…Larry Scott negotiated a rediculous mega-deal for the Pac-12. The SEC, feeling that they should be at the top of the heap, starting thinking it was time for them to act. And, who would be the most obvious fit than the 7th largest university in the United States, located within the media market of the 4th largest city in America.

So, as I mentioned previously, this marriage of the SEC and Texas A&M seemed destined. Now, the big questions are;

1) Who will the SEC pick up as its 14th (and possibly 15th and 16th teams)?

2) How will this affect the Big Ten, ACC, and Big East in the domino effect?

3) What will Texas do?

4) And most importantly to us, how will this affect the Pac-12?

Here is my take:

Texas will not come to the Pac-12 because of this. They considered it before because they were running the show. They knew their actions would bring other teams with them. They will not be reactionary, however, because they think too highly of themselves to follow A&M’s lead. Instead, Texas will go independent. They will get their Longhorn network and be on their own. However, I say this with one big caveat.

Texas needs to be careful of one thing here…Playoffs. If they sniff that every conference is expanding to 16 teams and a playoff system will form based solely on the conference champions and they could be locked out of it, they will find a place to play. I’ve always believed that is the only way Notre Dame joins the Big Ten as well.

I do not believe the Pac-12 will expand without Texas. If Texas goes indepedent, or joins another conference (Big Ten would seem most likely to me), the Pac-12 will stay put. There would be no reason to expand, since they already have their great contract and there really isn’t anyone else that is very appealing.

As for the SEC/ACC/Big East/Big Ten mega-scrum that is to begin? I think almost anything could happen. I do see the Big Ten expanding to 14 or 16 (Missouri anyone?), the ACC holding firm at 12 (by finding a replacement for Clemson and/or Maryland perhaps), and the Big East being eaten up the most in this (other than the obvious collapse of the Big 12). The Big East may either shrink to a more managable size or consume former Big 12 or Conference USA members. Heck, the WAC and MWC may even benefit by absorbing left overs like Iowa State, Kansas State, and Baylor. I went over some of these scenarios previously and there are just too many possibilities to list here.

But, in the end, I believe the most likely scenario is that the Pac-12 will stay put at 12. Only with Texas onboard would it make sense to add another team or three. If Texas wants to come west, then I could see Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech or maybe even a previously unmentioned 4th team (New Mexico, Hawaii, or Kansas?) But, honestly you never know! Once these dominos start to fall, commissioners begin to panic, and the college presidents start counting their $$$, anything can happen.

So, what do you think? Would Texas A&M going to the SEC result in Pac-12 expansion? Add your comments below…

Also, if you are interested in reviewing the series I wrote on this very topic earlier this summer, check out the links below:

Will the Pac-12 Expand Again?

If the Pac-12 Expands Again, Who Would You Choose – Part I

So, How Do The Academics Stack Up Anyways?

If the Pac-12 Expands Again, Who Would You Choose – Part III