The Not-So-Changing NCAA Landscape

The other day, I, Michael Schwartz posted an article on what the possible move to the SEC would mean for Texas A&M, the Big XII and the NCAA. News has come out that the SEC is fine where it is, with just 12 teams, so Texas A&M will not be moving. My objective was to show the reader what it would mean for the teams, conferences and college football if Texas A&M were to move to the SEC. But the SEC commissioner has come out and said, thanks, but no thanks A&M. What happens now?

No realignment is what happens, thank goodness, and no giant power conference in the south. The Southeastern Conference wanted to gain Texas as part of their stomping grounds, but they stand content with 12 teams. University president’s said they did not believe A&M would receive enough votes to be added, so no invitation was extended. A&M would have been the thirteenth team, unbalanced, so adding a 14th would be difficult as well. Another sign that Florida State, Clemson and Missouri will not be on the move. In the future, Texas A&M will continue to flirt with the SEC, and the possibility of an offer is still out there.

We'll see how long the SEC drags them along

A&M has long wanted out of Texas’ shadow, and the money would have been right, if there was an offer, but nothing materialized. So they’re stuck. Good luck going back to the Big XII’s next meeting.

What does this mean for all involved?

TEXAS A&M: Back to the Big XII. They are still in the shadow of Texas and Oklahoma, and have angered them somewhat. UT coach Mack Brown said the conference would be fine without A&M, but now that the Aggies have come back with their tail between their legs, believe the big teams will want to lay a beat down on A&M. Despite the high rankings and hopes in College Station, they’re record hasn’t been great. But Mike Sherman finally has built the team he’s wanted. A&M has to walk the walk now. This is the second failure by A&M to move to the SEC, moving won’t get any easier. Thankfully for them the Big XII did want them to stay and showed a strong desire to make sure that happened. Hopefully A&M can benefit from the new Big XII conference network and earn some money, they have to find a way to compete consistently.

THE SEC: They have announced they are happy with 12 teams, they’ve been the dominant conference and who knows what the Aggies would bring. The conference remains stable, no shifting divisions around, or allocating more money. In the future they could always add more teams whenever they want, they are the SEC.They aren’t the biggest conference, but for the SEC it’s quality over quantity.

THE BIG XII: They remain at 10 programs, an even number, with no need to add another school to keep things balanced. A&M is their 2nd highest ranked team right now and the conference can only hope they succeed, bringing good press to the Big XII. It’s stability, after losing Colorado and Nebraska, a mini-victory to hold the strong conference together. The conference board wanted to retain A&M, and acknowledged their value to the conference. In the future they could add more teams and expand back to 12 (as they’re name suggests), or just fall apart as they almost have for the past two offseasons.

THE NCAA: No longer is there any real threat to a change in the college football picture. Radical conference changes could necessitate changes to the bowl system, the balance of top tier teams, and other collegiate sports.  It also is a sign of the Big XII’s strength, the conference once thought to be dissolving kept one of it’s best schools; they won’t be leaking programs for a while–unless Texas has a change of heart. Texas A&M was not offered a spot in the SEC, and the NCAA could use this example in the future in moderating the realignment of conferences.

So that big “if” for Texas A&M became a big no, marking another failed attempt to shift conferences. A&M has never ran with the Big XII pack, always overshadowed by the big dogs, and now they have to make peace again after some serious flirting with another conference. Texas A&M can only try to carry on its plans of internal growth and change in the Big XII, a conference with history and prestige of its own. College football isn’t ready for more realignment, and much to the pleasure of diehard fans, college football will only move at it’s own pace, further discussions pertaining only to the future (five to ten years from now).  Don’t be surprised if there is news in the future of A&M’s desire to leave the Big XII; be surprised if it actually happens.

Michael Schwartz is a staff writer for Home Field Advantage

The Ever-Changing Landscape of the NCAA

All signs point to Texas A&M leaving the Big XII for greener pastures. Last year conferences shifted as the Pac 10 grew to the Pac 12 (Colorado and Utah), the Big XII lost two (Colorado and Nebraska), the Big 10 gained one (Nebraska, making the Big 10 a twelve team conference–it had eleven before) and Texas A&M unsuccessfully tried to move. During the last offseason rumors floated that the Big XII would be swallowed by the Pac 10, but A&M wasn’t invited. That never happened, but now A&M is on the verge of moving to a more prestigious conference, the SEC.

The predicted crumbling of the Big XII is finally starting with the departure of the Aggies of Texas A&M. Texas is a blue blood in college football, however they went 5-7 in 2010. Mike Sherman is entering his third year at Texas A&M and has quietly built the best football team in Texas. The Longhorns have the prestige and flooded recruiting classes but on the field success has plummeted after QB Colt McCoy left for the NFL. Texas Tech gets press for their unorthodox ways and scandal, while SMU is a program reborn, looking to make the final push over the hump. Texas A&M finished 2010 ranked 19th in the AP poll, but lost  a close 24-21 battle royale with LSU. 2011 is almost a “contract” year for A&M as they begin the year ranked #9 in the nation, with a core group of established and talented athletes. Optimism and expectations are high in College Station, Texas; what does their move mean to the SEC and the NCAA?

For the past six seasons, a national champion of college football was crowned, and all six of them SEC programs. The Southeastern Conference is the toughest conference right now, with diverse style’s of play and exciting football. A move like this will bring wonderful results to the Aggies and the SEC, while potentially crushing the Big XII.

PROS FOR A&M: This is the SEC. No conference has been able to compete with the SEC on a consistent basis in quality of play. The schedule may be difficult, but A&M is ready for the challenge. Quality in the Big XII has fluctuated, something that is certain not to happen in the SEC. Recruiting could see a meteoric rise in interest from top prospects; A&M has always competed with its in-state rivals for commits. But now there is a new draw for high school athletes: come compete for a Texas school, against top programs in the SEC. The grandeur and luster of the SEC has provided the existing schools top talent for years; Texas A&M plays in one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the world. The potential results for A&M and this move are astronomical, brand new opportunities for this strong program lean toward future fortunes in College Station.

CONS FOR A&M: Tough, tough, tough SEC schedule, different style of play from the spread offenses of the Big XII. If they can’t stay afloat, losses will be a regular happening for the Aggies. Also they would be competing not only with Texas schools for recruits, but now SEC schools. In 2010 period of realignment had rumors that Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State leaving for the Pac 10 while Texas A&M flirted with the SEC. That never happened then, but word was that the Texas schools would excommunicate A&M for leaving them and breaking rivalries, something that would hurt scheduling in the future.

PROS FOR THE SEC: Expansion in to Texas is huge. Texas, as mentioned before, is probably one of the best recruiting hotbeds next to Florida and California. The SEC has Florida, and soon Texas will be in the loop. A&M gives off an SEC-type vibe, pro-style offense with some wrinkles in it, powerful defense and athletes all around. A&M is currently ranked top 10; if they keep it up through next year, just one more top ranked program for the already dominant conference. Diversity in cultures, schools and stadiums grow, along with added power in the BCS. Rivalries are also reborn such as A&M-LSU and A&M-Arkansas, creating more competition. Plus, A&M’s baseball team is pretty good.

CONS FOR THE SEC: If A&M stumbles and falls off as they did in the early 2000s, this could be a bust move. There’s also the possibility that A&M couldn’t compete in the SEC, and sits in the cellar with Vanderbilt. But Texas is still added as a recruiting spot, so not much harm to be had.

PROS FOR THE BIG XII: Not many, as they lose one of their better teams. A little less in-conference recruiting competition at best, and more justification for the individual school’s new broadcast networks, like Texas’.

CONS FOR THE BIG XII: Losing one of the better teams hurts. Rivalries are also lost, including Texas A&M versus: Texas, Baylor and Texas Tech. The Big XII drops to an uneven nine teams, their conference name becomes an even bigger misnomer and money is lost.

PROS FOR THE NCAA: The NCAA’s power conference becomes even stronger, with more teams, more money, and more wins. A&M brings class to a shady conference (some say the SEC stands for Somebody Else is Cheating), as they are not under investigation and they have a strong military program, with great presence at football games. The SEC network brings in more money, more money for the NCAA and greater competition and quality in the the NCAA’s top conference. And finally, with updated conferences, it could be a step away from the BCS system, a possible change towards a playoff.

CONS FOR THE NCAA: Conferences as we know it may be crumbling, as the Big XII is falling apart, and reports say the SEC is about to swallow Missouri and some of the ACC, schools like Florida State and Clemson. If that happens, the SEC will have a monopoly on college football, and other top teams are left in decimated conferences. The Pac 12 has solidified itself, and the Big 10 was never touched, but the ACC is dying as well as the Big XII. Schools like Texas, Oklahoma, Miami and Virginia Tech are in rather unknown territory. If the realignment happens, it will be twice in two years conferences have shifted, changing the BCS, the competition and the entire landscape of the NCAA. Who’s to say they’re done? Next year could bring even more change.

Over time, changes do happen. Schools move up and down, conferences have evolved over time and every year, each school has a shot at a national championship (just don’t schedule the SEC). And with most change, evaluation can only be done properly after everything has been put into effect and analyzed down the road. Initially, this is great for Texas A&M and the SEC, not so good for the Big XII, and it’s up in the air for the NCAA. The move is almost imminent, but is still in the works at this point. If the move happens, look for a scrambling of other conferences to make up by adding more teams. The true evidence of the fallout will be seen in its entirety in 2014 most likely. Realignment is a tricky thing as moving forward, college football is forever changed in some way. As for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, best of luck to everyone. SEC school, see you in the title game. Now we play the waiting game, will the move be finalized, or will it fall through, leaving a very angry Texas A&M squad?

Michael Schwartz is a staff writer for Home Field Advantage