A&M to the SEC: Didn't We Just Have this Conversation?
The grand ol' Southwest Conference lived to be 80. The Big 12 Conference may die a teenager.
Only 17 and just a year removed from turmoil that left it with just 10 teams but supposedly unity and cohesion, the conference is again this morning reeling with the news that Texas A&M -- irked by the ESPN Longhorn Network -- has rekindled its flirtation with the Southeastern Conference.
Confirmed Texas Gov. and former Aggie yell leader Rick Perry: "As far as I know, conversations are being had."
What. The. What?!
It was just 14 months ago that the Big 12 barely escaped lethal injection.
Last June Nebraska bolted for the Big 10 and Colorado left for the Pac 10. But just when it looked like Texas was headed west as well, Big 12 commish Dan Beebe stepped in with more cash thanks to a pledge from ABC and Fox. Beebe ultimately lured the Longhorns to stay by guaranteeing Texas, Oklahoma and A&M $25 million year and the right to pursue their own TV networks.
Said Beebe in my Observer column from June 24, 2010: "We've got more cohesion than ever."
But now A&M is suddenly pissed at Texas' Longhorn Network. It's an unfair advantage, they scream. Somehow it took the Aggies a year to realize the ramifications of such a network and -- given that they don't have the sex appeal to create their own network -- they've now decided to whine. And possibly leave.
A&M president R. Bowen Loftin acknowledges that there is "uncertainty" with his school's future in the Big 12.
Said Beebe, "There are a significant number of Aggie supporters who are interested in going that direction."
A&M, of course, would get its shaved head handed to it in the SEC. Just ask Arkansas. I see the SEC's gain of adding Texas and big TV markets in Houston and Dallas. But the Aggies should've seen this coming.
A year ago a potential Longhorn Network was part of the Big 12's stay of execution. Now it may be the death sentence.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.