Beyond the Boxscore
The Southeastern Conference likes to flex its might above almost everything else. It isn't dubbed the ultimate power conference for nothing.
You don't call the SEC. The SEC calls you. It's Ari Gold and you're a failed TV writer from the valley. No matter how great you're sure your institution is.
So is it really any surprise that this haughty league got together on Sunday and basically delivered a no thanks to Texas A&M's frantic, full-speed ahead, conference-jumping mission? Eleven of the 12 SEC presidents met in Atlanta and essentially decided they were in no rush to make the Aggies' dream of abandoning the University of Texas come true.
Not on the Aggies' timetable at least. No, this is the SEC. They'll be the ones who drive any expansion talk, thank you very much.
"The SEC Presidents and Chancellors met today and reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment," Bernie Machen, the University of Florida's president and the chair of the SEC presidents, said in a statement released Sunday afternoon, one day before the Texas A&M board of regents was scheduled to meet and expected to approve a jump to the SEC.
This isn't the NFL and Robert Irsay with the Baltimore Colts. The Aggies aren't going to be allowed to bolt the Big 12 in the middle of the night.
Instead, Machen delivered a not-so fast ... future partner?
Yes, Texas A&M could very well still be an SEC team by the 2012 football season. In fact, that's still the safest bet of any scenario. Machen made it clear in his statement that the league could still look at expansion in the near future.
"We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league," Machen said. "We discussed criteria and process associated with expansion. No action was taken with respect to any institution including Texas A&M."
In other words, the SEC overlords talked about making that super conference in their "secret meeting," but decided not to give any official go ahead at this moment. And why would they rush?
Texas A&M is locked into playing in the Big 12 this year and approving adding the Aggies to the SEC now would do little more than let the folks in College Station sneer at Texas over how its spectacularly-destructive Longhorn Network squashed the league it was originally supposed to save in no time flat. Approving Texas A&M now could have produced a whole busload of legal and political troubles as well.
The chairman of the Texas House Committee on Higher Education, Texas State Rep. Dan Branch, has already started pounding his fist on the table, intimating that the Aggies cannot make any move before a hearing he's called for on Tuesday that would put Big 12, SEC and Texas A&M officials in front of his committee.
This isn't the NFL and Robert Irsay with the Baltimore Colts. The Aggies aren't going to be allowed to bolt the Big 12 in the middle of the night. There will be plenty of questions to answer and politicians to assuage.
And then ... Texas A&M will probably still be in the SEC by the time the 2012 college football season kicks off. But first, everyone has to do a little dance.
Get out of the way
It would be ridiculous for any Texas politician caught up in the some absurdly, quaint and woefully outdated notion of the importance of the UT-A&M rivalry to try and hold the Aggies back from joining the best conference in college football. Imagine having Alabama, Florida and Auburn playing games less than a two-hour drive from Houston?
College Station would suddenly become a sports destination for the casual fan like it's never been before. And sorry UT honks, for those with no allegiance to the university, your games would be overshadowed many weekends. Oklahoma State in Austin or LSU in College Station?
Rick Perry-land wins!
Texas A&M to the SEC will still happen because it makes too much sense for it not to come to fruition. The Aggies need a new identity and the SEC could use some new markets if it wants to remain the bully that dictates college football's future on its own time.
Jumping through a few more hoops, pretending to wait anxiously like a properly humble SEC-wanna-be, is a small price to pay for that.