Last week, for the second time in 14 months, Texas A&M found itself very close to bailing on the Big 12, its home for the last 15 years. And for the second time, a potentially cataclysmic shift in college athletics was postponed. But for how long? On Sunday, SEC school presidents reaffirmed their "satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment." They also added this caveat: "We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league."
This is an article from the Aug. 22, 2011 issue
Heck, yeah, the SEC wants the Aggies, who would give the conference a foothold in a state with 25 million people—a lever it could then use to great advantage in renegotiating its TV contract with CBS and ESPN. For its part, A&M has grown weary of its role as redheaded stepchild in a state, and conference, dominated by the University of Texas.
But events were unfolding too quickly for the comfort of the SEC presidents, who applied the brakes over the weekend. A&M won't be seceding this week. Still, chances are very good that within the next year or two the school will find itself the westernmost member of the SEC West. For the sake of symmetry in its divisions, the SEC would then need to poach one—and possibly three—more teams. The sexier names being bandied about: Florida State, Clemson and Missouri. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has been talking lately about the inevitability of "market forces" driving "consolidation" in college athletics, and he hasn't been wrong about much since taking that job two years ago.
The SEC isn't expanding. This week. But athletic directors of Division I football schools would be wise to check on their (figurative) earthquake preparedness kits. The Age of the Superconference will soon be upon us.