Bad Idea: Texas A&M Leaving Big 12 for SEC
By Michael Felder
The Texas A&M to the SEC chatter has gotten increasingly, and annoyingly, loud over the last few days as the Aggies seem to be attempting to force their way into a league that really wasn't looking to expand from what we know. The goal being to get out of the dark shadow the Longhorns are casting across the Big Twelve from their mountaintop in Austin. Logic behind this being, if we go to another conference like the SEC we won't be in the shadow of the 'Horns, the Longhorn Network and everything that is burnt orange.
I think we all understand that. Most of us can even understand that element of resentment for Texas holding the Big XII together as their personal playground and then unleashing the Longhorn network as another revenue stream. The folks in Austin will be printing money and when you're the "little brother" in that state it stinks to look over and see them doing something that you can't do.
However, can we stop this ultimate reactionary mode of thinking? The sky isn't falling, they're in no worse a position right now than you were a year ago when you agreed to stick in the league. Yes Texas got the Longhorn Network but that has nothing to do with A&M and their possible revenue streams. That's not an avenue that is open to the Aggies. Or the Sooners. Or the Cyclones, Tigers, Red Raiders, Bears, Jayhawks, Wildcats, or Cowboys.
Only the Horns have the brand power to command and support a network on their own.
Now if you've got issue with them showing high school games, fight it. If you want the revenue split up for them possibly showing Big XII games on the network, fight it. Hell, if you don't think they should be showing any Big XII football games on their own network then run with that and support it. Any issue you have with content on the network should definitely be taken to the league and discussed, put to a vote and negotiated over.
Go for it. Have at it. C'mon, storm the grounds and cause a ruckus.
But seriously, the continuous talk of leaving and posturing is becoming tiresome. We all understand that your feelings are hurt. Oklahoma, feels the same way. So does everyone else in the league. But they're not throwing hissy fits and pouting, swearing they'll call their lawyer dad and he'll sue them. Trying to take their ball and go sit under the tree.
Honestly, let's look at the real facts; a year ago "The Big XII Was SAVED!!" A&M along with Oklahoma and Texas got the buyout money from the now departed Nebraska and Colorado, the league re-structured the revenue sharing deal to go up to 76% of the cash being equal share. Basically a 20% jump in the amount of money the Aggies would be seeing. Then Dan Beebe went out and got a shiny new TV deal with ESPN and Fox that will pull in $150 million a year, starting in 2012.
Do your math now. With a 76% equal share that's $11.4 million guaranteed for the 10 schools and another $36 million in cash to be doled out based upon appearances. Everyone isn't going to get the same amount of that $36 million, most certainly no one was going to get more than Texas most years. But, damn if Texas A&M, with their large fanbase, improving football, quality draw on television self wasn't going to be in the top third of that with Oklahoma in most seasons.
That puts you close to an SEC type number. Could be above the $17 million if the TV crowd is in love with the Aggies during a good season.
But, instead of getting to the new deal, playing a season in the new league, letting the buyout cash from Colorado and Nebraska get cold in the bank and working to contain the Longhorn Network's push the Aggies decide to go into Psycho Billy Freak Out mode.
I mean seriously Texas A&M, is moving to the SEC really what you want?
First and foremost the SEC signed their deal in 2009, it is still fresh and by just importing you into the league you're looking at cutting their revenue from the $17 million a school they're seeing now to $15.7 if you come alone. Less, if you bring someone else with you to get to 14 or 16 teams.
Although perhaps there is a renegotiation, maybe ESPN or CBS or NBC or Fox or some combination of the networks squeezes more cash out of their machine. They add money needed to get to $20 million a team per year; or in real terms the addition of some $65 million to the deal per year for 13 teams, $84 million to the deal per year for 14 teams and $128 million to the deal per year for 16 teams.
Still not more money than Texas.
We've only talked revenue to this point but what about on the field. Right now Texas A&M has two teams that the are consistently behind in harvesting talent; Oklahoma and Texas. LSU and Arkansas routinely dip into the Lonestar State to grab a handful of kids each year but the SEC does not have a foothold on Texas recruiting. That's Big XII country baby.
I understand completely that it stinks to sit quagmired behind Texas and Oklahoma in recruiting on a yearly basis. I absolutely do Aggies. But, this move to the SEC isn't going to change that. Basically this is taking your two daddies and multiplying them. Leaving the Big XII isn't going to stop Oklahoma and Texas from out recruiting Texas A&M. That is not going to change, what is going to change is the access the SEC has to Texas. Instead of potshots into the Houston area and Texarkana you're opening up the entire Eastern portion of the state to the SEC, West Division especially.
All you're doing is giving Gene Chizik, Bobby Petrino, Les Miles and Nick Saban the ability to promise kids they will play games in his homestate two, maybe even three times during his four or five year career at their school. Their school that has had a lot more success than Texas A&M recently. Your taking the SEC West; their 3 different teams with BCS Championships (LSU with 2 Crystal Balls), myriad of BCS Bowl Bids and truckloads of first round draft picks, and inviting them into your backyard for a yearly affair.
Is that really what A&M wants?
Texas A&M is a great school, a tremendously prideful football tradition and they are on their way up in recent years. Mike Sherman has the ship sailing in the right direction and it would appear the Aggies are poised to have a great year. There's not much need to dwell on the 0-5 in the last 5 games against the SEC or the being outscored 194 to 87.
That doesn't matter nearly as bad as the fact that the with a move like this the ground the Aggies are gaining is all that they stand to lose and then some.
Get more great college football analysis over at In The Bleachers.