Sunday, September 25, 2011

Aggies SECede!

The Ags are going to join the Southeastern Conference starting in the 2012 football season.

Wow. I can't believe this is actually going down.

I actually wrote the meat and potatoes of this post way back in June 2010 but had to save it, tweak it for relevancy, and keep it stored away.

Let me back up a little bit and update how we got here. Last weekend OU said something along the lines of, "Hey, we'd like to stay in the Big 12...but here is what we need to see: 1) Get rid of Dan Beebe; 2) Equal revenue sharing. Otherwise, we're pretty cool with going out west to join the Pac-12."

The problem was that on Monday, the Pac-12 said, "Hey gang, we're going to stay put at 12 teams for the time being. Thanks for the interest though." OU said, "Oh crap, we shouldn't have played that card without already having this thing in the bag."

Mid-week Dan Beebe resigned and Chuck Neinas was named his interim replacement. The conference had a meeting on Thursday or Friday and everyone hugged and made up, signing a 6-year commitment to the conference. Baylor and ISU cried tears of joy.

So did Ags everywhere because this saved the Big 12 which meant that there shouldn't be any problem on the legal end because BU got what they wanted. There were rumors that it would be announced on Friday night at Yell Practice....and then at half-time during the game....but no. It came in a press release on Sunday from the SEC (click the link to read the whole thing).

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Southeastern Conference Presidents and Chancellors, acting unanimously, announced today that Texas A&M University will join the Southeastern Conference effective July 1, 2012, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2012-13 academic year.

The addition of Texas A&M will increase the SEC membership to 13 institutions. It is the first expansion for the SEC since September of 1991 when the University of South Carolina joined the league. The University of Arkansas joined the SEC in August of 1991. With the addition of Arkansas and South Carolina, the SEC was the first conference to split into divisions and add a conference championship game in 1992.


The official press conference will be Monday at 6pm.

Holy cow, thank goodness that is all over.

Culturally, this is a much better fit for us than the Big 12 was. We've always been the fanbase that gets the weird look out of the corner of our opponent's eyes because of our passion and a move to the SEC would certainly put us with more teams that are as passionate and over the top (if not more so).

Under the current alignment the conference falls into two divisions: East & West. The East includes Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina. The West includes Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State.

We're going to join the West and o
ne would have to think that they're going to get someone else to join to even the numbers out at 14 teams....rumors point to Missouri, North Carolina, and West Virginia. If it is Mizzou, Auburn has volunteered to move to the East so long as they keep their cross-division rivalry with Alabama.

Quick note - the way the SEC schedules is that you play 8 conference games - 5 against your division, 2 from the opposite division (these opponents rotate), and 1 against a permanent opponent from the opposite division. We will most likely be matched up with the 14th team - but if they take another West team and move Auburn over to the East, I'm not sure how they'll do it.

Here is a snapshot at each current SEC school and some important, and some totally unimportant, info on them....this is a group that has won the last FIVE national championships (6 of last 8)....

(* indicates permanent cross-division rival)

SEC West

Alabama Crimson Tide (Tuscaloosa, AL)
Joined SEC: 1932
Enrollment: 28,807
Distance from College Station: 629 miles (10:30 hours)
Stadium: Bryant-Denny Stadium (92,012)
SEC Titles: 22 - (5 most recent: 1981, 1989, 1992, 1999, 2009)
National Titles: 13 (most recent: 2009)
Rivals: Auburn, Tennessee* , LSU

Arkansas Razorbacks (Fayettevillie, AR)
Joined SEC: 1991
Enrollment: 19,849
Distance from College Station: 503 miles (8:30 hours)
Stadium: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (76,000)
SEC Titles: n/a
National Titles: 1 (most recent: 1964)
Rivals: Ole Miss, LSU, South Carolina*

Auburn Tigers (Auburn, AL)
Joined SEC: 1932
Enrollment: 24,530
Distance from College Station: 756 miles (12:45 hours)
Stadium: Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)
SEC Titles: 7 - (5 most recent: 1987, 1988, 1989, 2004, 2010)
National Titles: 2 (most recent: 2010)
Rivals: Alabama, Georgia*, LSU

LSU (Baton Rouge, LA)
Joined SEC: 1932
Enrollment: 28,810
Distance from College Station: 338 miles (6 hours)
Stadium: Tiger Stadium (92,400)
SEC Titles: 9 - (5 most recent: 1986, 1988, 2001, 2003, 2007)
National Titles: 3 (most recent: 2007)
Rivals: Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida*

Mississippi State Bulldogs (Starkville, MS)
Joined SEC: 1932
Enrollment: 18,534
Distance from College Station: 481 miles (10 hours)
Stadium: Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field (55,082)
SEC Titles: 1 - 1941
National Titles: n/a
Rivals: Ole Miss, Alabama, Kentucky*

Ole Miss Rebels (Oxford, MS)
Joined SEC: 1932
Enrollment: 16,009
Distance from College Station: 615 miles (10:30 hours)
Stadium: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580)
SEC Titles: 6 - (5 most recent: 1954, 1955, 1960, 1962, 1963
National Titles: 3 (most recent: 1962)
Rivals: Mississippi St, LSU, Vanderbilt*, Arkansas

SEC East

Florida Gators (Gainesville, FL)
Joined SEC: 1932
Enrollment: 51,474
Distance from College Station: 924 miles (15:45 hours)
Stadium: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
SEC Titles: 8 - (5 most recent: 1995, 1996, 2000, 2006, 2008)
National Titles: 3 (most recent: 2008)
Rivals: Georgia, Tennessee, LSU*

Georgia Bulldogs (Athens, GA)
Joined SEC: 1932
Enrollment: 35,520
Distance from College Station: 896 miles (15:15 hours)
Stadium: Sanford Stadium (92,746)
SEC Titles: 12 - (5 most recent: 1980, 1981, 1982, 2002, 2005)
National Titles: 2 (most recent: 1980)
Rivals: Auburn*, Florida

Kentucky Wildcats (Lexington, KY)
Joined SEC: 1932
Enrollment: 26,054
Distance from College Station: 972 miles (16:30 hours)
Stadium: Commonwealth Stadium (67,606)
SEC Titles: 2 - 1950, 1976
National Titles: n/a
Rivals: Tennessee, Mississippi State*

South Carolina Gamecocks (Columbia, SC)
Joined SEC: 1991
Enrollment: 27,488
Distance from College Station: 1,035 miles (17:30 hours)
Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)
SEC Titles: n/a
National Titles: n/a
Rivals: Georgia, Kentucky, Arkansas*

Tennessee Volunteers (Knoxville, TN)
Joined SEC: 1932
Enrollment: 30,410
Distance from College Station: 936 miles (15:30 hours)
Stadium: Neyland Stadium (100,011)
SEC Titles: 13 - (5 most recent: 1985, 1989, 1990, 1997, 1998)
National Titles: 6 (most recent: 1998)
Rivals: Vanderbilt, Florida, Alabama*, Georgia, Kentucky

Vanderbilt Commodores (Nashville, TN)
Joined SEC: 1932
Enrollment: 12,093
Distance from College Station: 760 miles (13:15 hours)
Stadium: vanderbilt Stadium (39,790)
SEC Titles: n/a
National Titles: n/a
Rivals: Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss*

Talk about tradition rich - only South Carolina and Arkansas don't date back to the formation of the conference in 1932.

In regards to Bowl Bids here is how the SEC is aligned:
1) Sugar Bowl
2) Capital One Bowl
3/4) Cotton Bowl (West team)/Outback Bowl (East team)
5) Chick-fil-a Bowl
6) Gator Bowl
7/8) Music City Bowl/Liberty Bowl (rotates)
9) Birmingham Bowl
Of course I have a few questions:
  1. What is going to happen with our recently formed Arkansas series? Will it be dissolved (and we lose all that big money from Jerry Jones?) or would it be rolled into an SEC conference game that is just played at a neutral site? If the latter, would this be a permanent fixture on the schedule in Dallas or does it end when the original contract ends?

    The pressure just went WAY up for next weekend's game. It is going to be used as a measuring stick by everyone, as irrational as it would be, as to how well we'd fare in the SEC.

  2. What happens with our current rivalries? The Lone Star Showdown has been played 117 times, the third oldest rivalry in the nation.

    "Goodbye to texas university.
    So long to the orange and the white.
    Good luck to dear old Texas Aggies
    They are the ones who show the real old fight."

    I'll be sad to lose the t.u. series. The way things are ending, you could push me over with a feather if we play them in any scheduled event for the next 5-10 years. It could make for a HELLUVA bowl game though (and regional hosting in baseball).

    After being asked about the t.u. series in his press conference following the B.O.R. meeting last week, Dr. Loftin said the following:
    "I would just say this, that if we were to negotiate with other conferences of any kind, SEC or anybody else, a primary criterion would be our ability to continue a non-conference contest each year, hopefully on Thanksgiving Day or thereabouts, with our friends at UT-Austin. That's a historic rivalry. We see no reason why it could not continue under a different conference arrangement. If they chose to do so, we certainly want to make that part of any discussion we have with another conference."
    Dr. Loftin put the ball squarely in the horn's court.

    Mack Brown had come out the day before the B.O.R. meeting and said, "it's been a great rivalry with Texas and Texas A&M, so I hope it stays." Obviously, this is a call that will be made above Mack's head....but maybe there is a chance.

    Get your tickets now for the final showdown on Thanksgiving night - it is going to be a WILD one at Kyle Field.

    As for Baylor and tech.....

    I originally felt kind of bad for Baylor's fans for the likelyhood of them dissapearing from DI football (their administration can go to hell), but now that they've landed on their feet, I don't really care what happens to them.

    After the shenanigans they pulled during this ordeal I can't imagine we'll be scheduling any games against them in the near, or distant, future. The football game is going to be nuts - both teams are currently ranked in the top 20.....and the basketball games will be even crazier because that rivalry is so much more bitter.

    texas tech - I hope they end up rotting away to nothingness - which is better than they deserve.

  3. If we're split from t.u. do we still sing both verses of the War Hymn? I better find a lyric sheet because I have no clue what the first verse is.

    "All hail to dear old Texas A&M
    Rally around Maroon and White
    Good luck to dear old Texas Aggies
    They are the boys who show the real old fight
    That good old Aggie Spirit thrills us
    And makes us yell and yell and yell
    So let's fight for dear old Texas A&M
    We're gonna beat you all to…"

  4. Do we add or lose any recruits as a result of this move?

  5. What happens to the Southern Cal (2015/16) and Oregon (2018/19) home-and-homes that we have scheduled for OoC?

  6. How long before a Houston radio station picks up the Paul Finebaum Show?
Hands down the most exciting part of this move for us fans is the thought of these monster teams coming to Kyle Field AND THE ROAD TRIPS!

If any of you old readers remember My Sports Bucket List from two summers ago you might realize that this move also puts a large majority of that list within fairly easy reach.
  • Ags at Alex Box Stadium (LSU) - missed out my chance in '04 because I couldn't get out of a weekend of work when I was interning at Minute Maid Park

  • A game at Neyland Stadium (U.Tennessee) - 102,307 people, the checkered end zones and the beautiful Smokey Mountains

  • Ags playing at Ole Miss - Dying to see a game in Oxford and check out The Grove. I just can't justify going to see Ole Miss without the Ags being in town - this one is going to take some time

  • Ags playing at Georgia - See above - want to see a game "Between the Hedges" in Athens but it would probably need to involve an Aggie roadtrip

  • An SEC night game at LSU - This kind of goes back to the European soccer fascination....these folks are crazy and they also love their football. Stick a conference opponent in the mix and top it off with a full day of crazy backwoods drinking and you have what is considered one of the most electric atmospheres in college football.
  • I am glad that I went ahead and got up to Boulder and Norman in '09 to see the Ags play so I could scratch off seeing games at Colorado and Oklahoma off my list.

    I can also probably get a trip to Vandy out of Jennifer because she's always wanted to go to Nashville. I've already started working on negotiations for one road trip per season. We'll have to see how that plays out.

    Another side-affect of this move is that a high percentage of the big games that I normally have on my "need to watch this weekend" list are SEC games. Being in the same conference puts us in a position where we have a vested interest now and these games are going to be even more exciting. Think of the '08 texas/texas tech game (Crabtree's TD) but have it happen 5 or 6 times each season.

    One of the biggest downsides is the extreme difficulty the SEC creates to advance to the National Championship, but then there is the thought that to be the best you have to go through the best. Frankly, it can't be any worse than suffering through the Fran-era.

    For those of you who want to find out what to expect from other SEC fanbases, I highly suggest reading two of my all-time favorite books: Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer by Warren St. John and Dixieland Delight by Clay Travis. Both are highly entertaining stories of traveling through the SEC conference. (St. John chronicled his RVing experience as he literally followed the 1999 'Bama team and Travis writes about his journey in 2006 when he attended a game at every SEC stadium). Funny books and great, easy reads.

    Once you read those you'll see that we're going to need to get some sort of etiquette manual, otherwise we're going to be the proud, passionate new guys that step on lots of toes.

    Two words: THICK SKIN

    SEC fans are different from Big 12 fans, and that is something that it going to be a rude awakening for most Ags. The Big 12 was a fairly friendly conference - it was new so most of the teams didn't have a long history to build up hatred. The SEC is old and there are plenty of instances between each school to flare up the old blood pressure. Be prepared for heckling like you've only heard in lubbock.

    I've always had an affinity towards Georgia and Alabama so it will be interesting to see if I maintain that (kind of like I did with Nebraska in the Big 12) or if it goes the other way. I get the feeling that I'm going to get really annoyed with some of the moron t-shirt fans that seem to come with a good number of the deep south schools. By the time we're comfortable in the conference we're probably going to have strong feelings one way or the other about almost each team.

    Our natural rivalries are obviously going to be Arkansas and LSU, both schools we already have a deep history with. We played both of them last season which has already rekindled a little bit of the venom. They are going to be easy to get fired up to play against.

    I'm also a little - I think apprehensive is the best word - about chanting SEC! SEC! SEC! You see, I've been raised with the mindset that if my conference rival does something good (like win a bowl game) it is better for their recruiting which automatically means it is not better for A&M and thus is undesirable. In the SEC everyone roots for each other in OoC games - it has been described as a brotherhood. I'm probably going to struggle with that.

    Something else that you're going to definitely want to prepare yourself for - a HUGE hike in ticket prices. Bringing big name football programs to Kyle Field has always caused for a jump in individual game ticket prices and we're going to get a lot more of them now. This probably means the end of "No Donation" season ticket areas, which is going to flip me upside down. I wouldn't be surprised one bit if tickets jumped to $100 per game. This is a prime opportunity for $Bill to make a big jump and at least have some way to back it up. Either way, Kyle Field will be ROCKING!

    By the way, this is also an incredible move for baseball - the SEC is a TREMENDOUS baseball conference. Their college baseball is on par with their football. We got to see South Carolina first hand up in Omaha on their way to defending their national champ (beating Florida, another SEC school, in the final).

    On the hardwood, I think that we walk in to the conference as the 2nd or 3rd best team with Kentucky as the one school that is clearly ahead of us.

    After waiting for over a year, is it safe to say it now?

    SEC! SEC! SEC!

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