Believe it or not, it’s been five turf-pounding, penalty-yielding, ball-fumbling years since Texas A&M seceded from the Big 12 athletic conference, and shook hands with the Southeast Conference (SEC.)
That’s been a bummer for those who used to love the Aggie/Longhorn football rivalry.
In a new series “Texas Divided,” Dallas Morning News’ SportsDay DFW staff writer Ben Baby,claims that since the Aggies joined the SEC, college football in Texas – and the Big 12 overall – has suffered.
“On the grand scale, it has affected Texas football [by opening] the door for the SEC,” Baby says.
With Texas A&M as a part of the SEC, the conference gained access to the Dallas and Houston TV markets. The move also opened the door for Texas high school football players.
“Texas is such a fertile recruiting ground, and if you go and look at the numbers, ” Baby says. “The SEC has done a tremendous job of recruiting in Texas, more so than it had before A&M joined the conference.”
Baby says some question the stability of the Big 12, and that A&M’s defection to the SEC has made the problem worse.
“All these schools – your TCUs, your Baylors, your Texas’s and Techs – now all have to compete with the SEC and the brand that comes with that when they’re out recruiting kids,” Baby says.
And the SEC can be attractive for Texas recruits, Baby says, because the option of choosing an SEC school them more choices, even as they maintain a connection to home.
“Your family can still watch you on TV. You can play in a big conference, at some of the best venues in the country. And that’s a strong selling point for a lot of these schools,” he says.
Baby says that football fans who miss the annual game between Texas and Texas A&M may not be totally out of luck.
“The way both sides and administrators talk about it, I think it will happen at some point,” Baby says. He suggests such a renewal of the rivalry could take place at a neutral stadium, rather than in Austin or College Station. He says restarting the rivalry is in the best interest of the state of Texas, though it doesn’t necessarily make sense for Texas A&M just yet.
“Right now there is no benefit for A&M to play [Texas], because you either beat a team that’s struggled throughout the season, or you risk an upset at the hands of Texas, and lose a lot of ground in recruiting,” Baby says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.