Conference realignment: A&M fans campaign for SEC
Texas A&M alumni are campaigning like crazy for the Southeastern Conference. A circulating email offers a 20-point presentation on how A&M to the SEC would work.
1. Texas A&M, Missouri, and Kansas move from the Big 12 to the SEC. Further, that North Carolina move from the ACC to the SEC.
2. The majority of these teams, to the benefit of their programs and the SEC, have a historical, passionate, non-conference arch rival. These schools would continue to maintain these historical rivalries in all men and women sports throughout the year, including as the last game of the regular college football season: North Carolina v. North Carolina State, South Carolina v. Clemson, Kansas v. Kansas State, Kentucky v. Louisville, Florida v. Florida State, Georgia v. Georgia Tech, Texas v. Texas A&M, Missouri v. Illinois.
3. The PAC-16 would end up with a 16 team, two division alignment.
4. Each team in a 16 team conference should play the other 7 teams in their division each year, plus two teams in the other conference’s division (one home, one away). That way a team plays all teams in its conference in the regular season within 4 years. This also means that each team will have 9 conference games a year, as currently is the case in the Big Ten/11. (Tramel note: Not true. The Big Ten plays an eight-game conference schedule).
4. A&M’s game against Arkansas should remain at the neutral site each year of Dallas Cowboy Stadium.
5. The Battle for the Bayou Border game with LSU should return to its traditional place of Texas A&M’s first game of the year, making it the top national game of the weekend to kick off the season. Further, the A&M-LSU game should alternate each year (only) between Houston Reliant Stadium and the New Orleans Superdome. Since this will usually be Labor Day Weekend, it will allow for great traveling crowds for the visiting team. Further, it will improve the game appeal for TV, recruiting for both teams in the other state, be more exciting for plays, and a perfect showcase for recruits considering attending either school.
7. Texas A&M should form 3 non-conference all-sport rivalries: Air Force, Baylor and UT.
8. The Air Force rivalry would be our ”armed forces rivalry” similar to Army v. Navy. For football, this could be marketed as the “Armed Forces Shootout”. For football, it could have the following 4 year game site rotation: Kyle Field, Air Force Academy, Kyle Field and Alamodome in San Antonio. This would mean that three out of every four games would be in the state of Texas, which would improve our recruiting both in San Antonio (at the expense of UT), and Colorado (at the expense of CU). Regarding baseball, unlike with Colorado University, is that Air Force does play baseball but desperately needs southern games in the spring. Therefore, I proposed the annual “Armed Forces Baseball Classic” at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi each spring break. This could become a huge annual Aggie student tradition to go to Corpus Christi each spring break, improve A&M visibility and recruiting in Corpus Christi (at the expense of UT), be a great day time package to ESPN, and also provide a platform to student athletes at military academies wanting a venue to showcase their skills. Of course, it also re-enforces the military angle of Texas A&M.
9. The “Battle of the Brazos Rivalry” between Texas A&M and Baylor should be maintained for all sports. This would also be the perfect Thursday night football game ESPN should like. It is the only possible Thursday night game that basically has no travel costs or “travel wear & tear” on the players for both teams.
10. The “Lone Star Showdown” rivalry has been the best in college sports for the past 100 years. With Texas A&M in the SEC and UT in the PAC-16, this will only get better. Of course, this should maintain the national tradition of being the only game on Thanksgiving Evening. Further, we should maintain this rivalry in all sports just as if we were in the same conference. The Lone Star Showdown Trophy competition would remain in place and set an example for all other rivalries.We don’t care about being the in same conference! We want to be in a better conference than UT while maintaining the rivalry!
11. All SEC schools would have a bye week at the same time to coincide with fall mid-terms. This would directly counter the message by other schools not in the SEC regarding academics and athletics. This would also neatly divide the season into a first half and second half, allow all schools a level playing field by taking the bye week all at the same time.
12. Thus, our football regular season schedule would have basically 12 meaningful, marketable, exciting games in the regular season, while UT would have about half that amount. Another advantage in recruiting. I count nine-plus games worthy of national television and 12 games worthy of Fox Sports state-wide television. Here is approximately how the schedule would look: LSU – Houston or Dallas; Baylor – ESPN Thursday night game; Alabama; Air Force; Arkansas in Arlington; SEC East Opponent – home; SEC Bye Week – all 16 schools off for mid terms; SEC East Opponent – away; Auburn; Mississippi; Missouri; Mississippi State; Texas – Thanksgiving.
13. Since there will be 16 teams in a conference and the need for a national playoffs in football, I propose that Conference Championship week in December become Round One of the playoffs with this structure: Thursday Night – SEC Bronze Cup between SEC East #3 v. SEC West #3 (location A); Friday Night – SEC Silver Cup between SEC East #2 v. SEC West #2 (location B); Saturday Night – SEC Gold Cup between SEC East #1 v. SEC West #1 to pick SEC Champion (location C). This means that 6 of the 16 teams make an SEC playoff game. More exposure for players, fans, brands, and middle of the pack schools. Regarding locations, these games could be played in a rotation involving the pro football stadiums in Atlanta, New Orleans, Nashville, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.
14. The argument that the SEC is not academically good enough for Texas A&M is rubbish. College sports, especially football, have become minor leagues for professional sports. No employer is going to ask “in what sport conference did your school teams and student/athletes participate?” No, instead employers are going to ask “Where did you go to school, what did you study, what were your grades, in what were your related activities?” Still, the unified SEC Bye Week will help counter this recruiting dig by other non-SEC schools.
15. For baseball, the SEC would become the true super conference. For the Aggies, the “Minute Maid College Classic” would now include these teams: Texas A&M, LSU, Arkansas and Missouri from the SEC. Then the four other teams could be UH, Rice, plus two other teams from the Big Ten/11.
16. Joining the SEC will be a substantial boast for Texas A&M in the areas of brand exposure, brand elevation in the State of Texas, revenue, number of prime time games, number of meaningful games, level of alumni pride and excitement.
17. For the third year in the last four years, Texas A&M is on track to average worse than a Top 25 class in football recruiting. The University of Texas is approximately the number 1-3 over the past ten years years in attendance, revenue, TV exposure, and recruiting. Joining the SEC is a game changer for Texas A&M in all these areas: (a) our games will truly be sold out, we will be able to expand Kyle Field and Olsen Field; (b) our revenue as the sole SEC team in Texas means we won’t have to split the Texas TV revenue with anyone else and the SEC already makes the most money of all conferences; (c) our brand value will increase with far appearance on TV in national and regional games; (d) our recruiting will skyrocket! This is why UT is desperate for A&M to be dragged against our will and best interests to a Longhorns-dominated PAC-16 East Division!
18. Regarding recruiting, here is a comparison of the sales pitches by Texas A&M v. UT:
Texas A&M plays in the SEC, the largest, most competitive, most popular, highest revenue, most televised conference in the USA. UT plays in the Pac-16, basically a West Coast conference. A&M parents will be able to drive to 85% of your games. UT parents will basically be able to drive to the home games.
Texas A&M and all the SEC schools play on grass, so there is less risk of injury. UT, Texas Tech, Colorado, Oklahoma State and possibly Arizona/ASU all play on turf; higher rate of injury, less traditional surface.
In four years of regular season play, Texas A&M players will go up against Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, LSU, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, MSU, Baylor, Air Force … and Texas! In four years, UT players will go up against OU, OSU, CU, Texas Tech, USC, UCLA, and Texas A&M. The rest aren’t worth mentioning.
In four years of regular season play, football players will be able to play at Kyle Field, Houston Reliant Stadium, the New Orleans Superdome, Dallas Cowboy Stadium, the Alamodome in San Antonio, plus all the historic fields associated with our opponents. UT players during four regular seasons of play will be at Dallas Cowboy Stadium and the dome in Phoenix maybe, plus the stadiums associated with the schools. That’s it.
If A&M is in the top 3 of the SEC West, it also means players will have a change to play in the pro football stadiums hosting the SEC Gold, Silver, and Bronze Cup conference championship games.
19. Regarding the Big Ten/11, I believe the Big Ten/11 will rename themselves the Northeastern Conference … the NEC. Then, I believe they will add Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and another school. Thus, the NEC and SEC will become the two most powerful conferences, leaving the ACC and PAC-16 in the dust.
20. In summary, we will maintain our traditions, values, and connection with our part of the country. We will improve in every area including branding, marketing, TV exposure, conference affiliation, recruiting, alumni excitement, fan attendance at home, fan traveling to closer games, and general buzz. And we will kick UT’s butt on the field in games due to all these “game changing” advantages which UT is desperate to deny us.
OK. It’s back to me. You’ve got to give it to the Aggies. They are quite dramatic in their kookiness.
It’s impossible to go over every point here, but talk about chutzpah. The Ags claim Texas is trying to run things, but here A&M is telling the SEC who to admit to its conference, what non-conference games it should play, when it should schedule its bye weeks, how the SEC should play some kind of Bronze Cup game (in clear violation of NCAA rules), how the Big Ten should change it name, how A&M games against Baylor, Missouri and Mississippi State would be great matchups, but Texas games against Arizona State, California and Oregon “aren’t worth mentioning.”
Here’s the truth. You can make a decent argument that A&M (and UT, and OU) would be better off in the SEC. You can make a decent argument the other way, too.
But this isn’t a decent argument. This is the ramblings of an insane fan base. This is the ramblings of a fan base that has no idea where it ranks on the food chain, which is pretty dang low.
By the way, A&M athletic director Bill Byrne, who I think is pretty rational for being king of such kooky band, responded this way: “I want to thank all of you for your comments and for your obvious passion for our beloved university. Please let us continue to go through a thorough and thoughtful process. Like you, we understand that this decision will impact us for decades. Let’s not rush. Having said that, it is still our choice to keep the remaining ten Big-12 schools together if we can. If we cannot do that, then we will do our best to do the right thing. “
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