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What might Texas and OU joining the SEC mean for Texas A&M

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The good, the bad, and the undoing of a decade’s worth of posturing

Oklahoma v Texas Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Houston Chronicle’s Brent Zwerneman dropped a proverbial bomb on the college football world on Wednesday afternoon when he published a report that the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners have reached out the the SEC about joining the conference.

As we all learned around this time a decade ago, just because conversations occur doesn’t mean that movement is going to happen. Lots of scenarios got tossed around before Texas A&M eventually made the move to the SEC in 2012, and similarly this could be a change that never materializes at all, looks very different in it’s final form, or takes years to execute. But let’s assume for a moment that this did happen. That suddenly Texas and Oklahoma joined the SEC to form college football’ super conference. Whether you want it to happen or not, what would that look like, and most importantly, how would that affect Texas A&M?

THE BAD

Recruiting

It would be difficult to find anyone who doesn’t think that A&M being the only Texas school in the SEC hasn’t provided huge benefits on the recruiting trail. The SEC gets the most teams into the College Football Playoff and puts the most players into the NFL, and being able to stay close to home while still playing in the nation’s premiere conference is a talking point the Aggies have hammered home time and time again with Texas high school athletes. Giving the Longhorns (as well as the Sooners) that same recruiting pitch doesn’t mean A&M will stop recruiting well, but it does mean they lose one of their biggest differentiators. Texas and OU undoubtedly have the better winning history, so A&M would need to continue to outpace the Longhorns on the field in order to maintain any edge they may currently have.

A perhaps-too-big conference gets even bigger

The SEC kind of already seems too big. A&M has yet to travel to Kentucky and Georgia has yet to make the trip to College Station, and for the most part, it often doesn’t “feel” like you’re truly in a conference with teams you only play once every six years or so. Adding two more teams does nothing to remedy this issue. Now a 16-team conference may mean we see ditch the divisions and adopt a “pod scheduling” format, which shrinks the number of teams you play every single year in order to play the other teams more frequently. But the pod scheduling or the addition of a ninth conference game are solutions that are already on the table with a 14-team league. Either way, going from 14 to 16 teams makes familiarity with the other conference schools that much less attainable.

The undoing of a decade of posturing (on both sides)

Texas A&M fans have spent years belittling the accomplishments of the Longhorns and Sooners because they play in a significantly easier conference. Texas and Oklahoma fans have likewise poked fun at A&M for riding the SEC’s coattails when the Aggies have come up short of winning championships on their own. If the schools are suddenly thrown back into the mix together, at least one side (or perhaps both), will have to change their tune, or at least be willing to be proven wrong in a major way. The very fact that the Longhorns and Sooners are so interested in joining the SEC does a lot to verify what Aggies have said for years about the immense benefits that come with being a member, and suddenly these other fans will be faced with also championing these same talking points. And if Texas or Oklahoma (let’s be honest, most likely Oklahoma), comes in and is immediately a contender, it may also simultaneously dispell the notion that the Sooners’ success in recent seasons was primarily due to an easy regular season path. Either way, we’d all be forced to once again find a common ground after spending years on opposite sides of the conference superiority argument.

THE GOOD

The best conference gets even better

We often champion that the reason we love being in the SEC is because it’s the premiere conference, and if you can win here, you can win anywhere. Adding two historically great programs like Texas and Oklahoma only further solidifies the SEC’s status. And if 16-team super conferences are an inevitability, isn’t it better to be the conference making the first move? Even if you aren’t personally a fan of bringing these two teams back into the fold, it’s better than being left holding the bag while other conferences closer the gap on the SEC.

Schedule...relief?

Sure, playing a national power in Oklahoma and a team that always has the potential to be good in Texas is a hard sell as far as making a schedule easier at first glance. But if this means that it gets teams like Alabama, LSU, Auburn, etc. of A&M’s every-year schedule, it might do just that. Staying in the SEC without having Bama as the inevitable roadblock to winning the West might ultimately create an easier path to the title game for the Aggies.

Rivalries renewed

This one is without a doubt the most hot-button of topics, but once it’s all said and done, I think from a fan’s perspective, playing the Longhorns and Sooners again would be insanely fun. If you ended up with a four-team pod of A&M, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, you’d essentially have taken the best of the Southwest Conference and made it a part of the SEC. If you’re a college football traditionalist who misses the time when college football was a more regional sport, it’s hard not to like this idea. And regardless of whether Texas “needs it more,” I also think A&M football would be more fun if you inject the hatred that games against the Longhorns and Sooners will bring. Joining the SEC has been unquestionably successful for A&M, but we simply don’t have the history with these other fanbases, and I think adding that vitriol back into the mix, would ultimately be something that fans on both sides would get excited about.

A chance to overtake the Horns indefinitely

Let me be clear that I don’t WANT Texas and Oklahoma to join the SEC. But I do think that while it runs the risk of putting A&M back “in UT’s shadow,” it also presents an opportunity to firmly plant our flag as the top program in this state. And that would all come down to what happens on the field. Right now our differentiator is “we’re the SEC program in Texas.” But if you win your game versus Texas most years (and win a lot of other games too), you don’t need that sales pitch, because the new sales pitch is “we’re just better.” A decade ago that might have seemed laughable, but with regard to facilities and talent, and coaching staff, there’s no reason to think A&M can’t be better than Texas and just as good as Oklahoma going forward. This would just make the evidence of that even more obvious.

Poll

Would you be in favor of Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    No
    (191 votes)
  • 63%
    HELL NO!
    (1420 votes)
  • 28%
    I mean I could maybe see how...never mind. No.
    (642 votes)
2253 votes total Vote Now