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What Texas A&M to the SEC means for the Big Ten

Some of you may be thinking "what the hell are you writing about this for? The SEC passed on taking Texas A&M! They embarrassed themselves! They're not going!" Not true at all, actually. As Andy Staples of says, the SEC didn't close the door on the Aggies, it's just letting the process play out. Texas A&M hasn't officially requested to join the SEC yet. They should decide to do that at their Board of Regents meeting today. They'll discuss it with the Texas Legislature tomorrow and as long as Texas (the Longhorns, not the Aggies. More on them in a bit) remains in the Big 12 once the Aggies leave (keeping TTU and Baylor in a BCS conference), the TL will give A&M their "blessing", they'll formally ask the SEC if they can join, and then- and ONLY then- will the SEC vote on it. And I'm assuming it'll pass 12-0.

The SEC can't be seen as the instigator or the one pursuing the Aggies. They don't want a lawsuit from the Big 12 or the Texas Legislature for seemingly attempting to blow up their conference and the entire structure of college football. So they'll bide their time, wait for the process to play out, wait for A&M to get the approval they need, and whenever a formal request is made, they'll consider it.

So whether it's this week or next month, the Aggies are going to the SEC. What does that mean for us here in Big Ten country? In a word? Nothing. It'll mean absolutely nothing because I, for one, do not believe that Texas A&M going to the SEC is going to bring about the 16 team-super conference armageddon so many are predicting. Not saying it won't happen eventually, just saying it's not going to happen as a result of this. The SEC will add A&M and then one more school NOT from the Big 12 (likely the ACC and I would say very likely it'll be Florida State), and stay at 14 schools. The Big 12 lives on and so will the ACC, and we'll carry on for a few more years like this. The reason why neither Texas A&M nor the Southeastern Conference are going to bring about the Super Conference Armageddon after the jump...

The way the SEC has handled this situation thus far only confirms it. If the SEC were intent on blowing up the conferences, they would have voted Sunday to accept the Aggies, said bring on your lawsuits, but before you do, we're also adding Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Florida State. Or maybe Missouri instead. Deal with it.

But they didn't do that. Instead, they took the cautious approach and are going to let this thing play out properly, making sure all i's are dotted and t's are crossed, and making sure most of all not to piss off anybody else outside of the conference. That's been the thing about all of this impending doom with the Super Conferences- nobody seems to want to be held responsible for blowing up the current environment (well everybody but Pac 12 commish Larry Scott. He'd dynamite this thing in a heart beat if he were able. But he's an outsider and didn't come up through the collegiate ranks as an administrator/AD/school President so he doesn't care about tradition or "we can't do that because we've never done it that way before." He just wants to do what's best for his conference). More over, the SEC realizes that if they want to add Texas A&M- and ONLY Texas A&M- from the Big 12, then the only way that happens is if they go to 14 teams instead of 16. If the Big 12 blows up, suddenly the TTU's and Baylor's of the world are demanding they be included wherever Texas or A&M winds up because those schools are essentially worthless on their own. So the Big 12's survival in all of this is they key to the Aggies leaving, so the SEC is happy to appease the Texas Legislature and let them have their due process.

Of course, that happening depends entirely upon Texas, and with the Horns involved, well, you just never know. See although it was the Big Ten who started the expansion movement last summer, Texas is really the key to this whole thing. They know it, but they don't want that perception. Again, so that they're not straddled with Texas Tech and Baylor, they need to look like the poor, innocent victims in all of this. Texas worked like hell last summer to pin the blame on the Big 12 almost falling apart on Nebraska, even though just like with A&M and the SEC, Nebraska moving to the Big Ten was a much better decision both financially and academically than staying in the Big 12 (ok maybe it's not a better academic move for the Aggies per se, but you get the idea).

Why was it a better deal? Because you don't get a good deal when you're in a conference with Texas unless you're Texas. The Horns wanted out of the Big 12 last summer because they wanted more than they already had. They figured they could get more money and a better deal with the Pac 12. But when Larry Scott said no to the Longhorn Network, the Horns knew they could go back to Big 12 commish Dan Beebe and get whatever they wanted- like a larger revenue share of the Big 12 media deal than anyone else AND their own network.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Texas should get the best deal they can and they have the clout to do it, but they shouldn't try and be the victims in all of this. If they choose to operate like this by using their power to get themselves the best deal possible while not caring about anyone else, then they can't be surprised when disgruntled members take better deals when they can find them. Especially when it's their arch rival Texas A&M.

The Aggies will get richer, and so will the SEC by adding the state of Texas with a population of a whopping 25 million people to their geographic footprint (as currently constructed, the eight state region the SEC now covers has a population of about 59 million. So yeah, adding the state of Texas is a big deal). They don't need 16 teams to make a lot more money- they can do it by adding A&M and then pretty much anybody else to get to 14. They want and need the Big 12 to stay intact so they don't have to take TTU or Baylor. Instead, they can poach someone from the ACC, which wouldn't kill that conference either (in fact, it would be a silver lining for the ACC since dropping to 11 schools would mean no longer holding a conference title game in football that's been a complete disaster for them).

That's the bottom line in any conference expansion outlook- VALUE. The SEC isn't going to take schools simply to get to 16, they're only going to do it if makes financial sense. Ditto the Big Ten. While Nebraska has a population of less than 2 million people, the Huskers are a national brand that is going to increase the value to the Big Ten and their sponsors and partners. Speculation is that Nebraska will up the TV revenue payout for each Big Ten school to around $30 million!! That's PER SCHOOL ANNUALLY!!! So if the Big Ten expands again, whomever they add is going to need to prove up front that they're bringing AT LEAST $30 million in revenue with them.

As you can imagine, there's not many schools available who could do that. Texas or Texas A&M certainly could, but neither are coming here. A major school from Florida or California (which would likely never happen), North Carolina or perhaps DC (a possibility but again, what's the point right now?), or a brand name like Oklahoma or that school in South Bend could do it. And that's about it. I remain entirely unconvinced Rutgers and/or Syracuse could bring the New York market with them. It'd be a hell of a battle to get the BTN on basic cable in such a crowded market for two schools that frankly aren't worth it to a pro sports market. Boston College? Don't see that happening either for the same reason.

So with so few schools out there that could really increase the value and revenue to the Big Ten, there's just no point in expanding unless one of those big time schools becomes available. As long as the status quo is kept, which the SEC and Texas A&M are trying to do, the big time schools don't have a reason to move. And the Big Ten, like the SEC or Texas A&M or Texas or basically everybody else but Larry Scott, doesn't want to be seen as the reason for Super Conference Armageddon.

So in the coming weeks, Texas A&M will likely join the SEC, and soon after, they'll add a 14th school, likely from the ACC (and very, very likely to be Florida State. It just makes too much sense. For the Florida Gators, it'll be explained it makes $en$e). All six BCS conferences will remain intact, and for now at least, the Super Conference Armageddon will remain a rumor, and a possibility for another day somewhere down the road.