This morning, the Texas A&M Aggies officially gave notice that they plan to leave the Big 12 Conference. While their intended destination is not stated, everyone knows they’re heading to the SEC.
I have mixed emotions about this.
On the one hand, I’ll miss the history of the rivalry. It’s been a game I’ve both looked forward to and dreaded.
But make no mistake, Texas will not play A&M ever again in any sport (after this school year), unless it’s in post-season play. The thing Texas is most worried about in all this is opening up the State of Texas to recruiting by the SEC. We won’t give the Aggies a marquee game.
On the other hand, I’m tired of their blaming Texas for all their problems. I’m sure they’re try to continue blaming Texas, but they now get to stand or fall on their own.
So, what happens to the Big 12? (Er, the Big 12-2-1…)
I think the smart money is that the conference will disband. A&M brought a lot of TV sets, and they will be hard to replace from the perspective of the conference’s TV contract.
If that happens, we likely join the Pac 12, along with Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. These four teams form a western region with Arizona and Arizona State, and the Longhorn Network becomes some sort of regional network covering Texas and Texas Tech (maybe the Oklahoma teams as well).
Another option if the Big 12 collapses is that we go independent. I really hope this doesn’t happen, but the rumor just won’t go away.
We can see how Notre Dame has declined since they wen’t independent, and I can see Texas taking a similar trajectory. We do have the advantage of top recruiting in our home state, but it still makes me nervous.
Speaking of Notre Dame, another rumor that won’t go away is that Notre Dame joins the Big 12. While that would definitely save the Big 12 (especially if BYU were brought on as well), I don’t think it’s likely.
BYU joining the Big 12 seems very possible. They definitely bring a decent number of TV sets, but I’m not sure it’s enough to save the conference by itself.
TCU is another likely addition, but they would only join if they saw a real future in the conference. It’ll take something big for that to be the case. They don’t bring all that many TV sets, as the DFW area is definitely all about the pro sports, but they’re built a bit of a following after their last few years.
SMU has publicly expressed interest, and the rumor is that Houston would like to join the Big 12 as well. I don’t see either happening.
What is likely is that we add an annual game with Notre Dame. Probably on or around Thanksgiving, to replace the A&M game. Again, I’ll miss the history, but it’s hard not to call that an upgrade.