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Beebe taking A&M-to-SEC rumors ‘very seriously’


At this point in the game — because, let’s face it, it certainly feels like one — it would seem that Texas A&M is more than slightly leaning East when it comes to sitting on the proverbial fence separating conference affiliations. Whether or not the Aggies will actually make a move to the SEC ultimately — and for the 100th time — depends on if/when they get a call from SEC commissioner Mike Slive inviting them to join the toughest conference in the country.

But A&M’s current commissioner, the Big 12’s Dan Beebe, doesn’t see this “will they or won’t they?” as anything short of serious business. He would know too. Beebe has already done as magnificent of a job as any commissioner in the country (minus OG Larry Scott) in keeping the Big 12 together after the departures of Nebraska and Colorado last summer.

Remember: Beebe kept Texas in the Big 12, which was monumental, and signed a roughly $150 million annual first and second-tier television rights deal with ESPN and FOX that guaranteed each conference member would make significantly more money. The long-term future of the conference is far from a certainty, but for the present day and time, Beebe is prepared to keep the Big 12 afloat for as long as possible.

Even if that means as a nine-member conference.

I’ll put it this way, I’m taking it very seriously,” Beebe told the Austin American Statesman of A&M’s flirtation with the SEC. “I’ve been talking to a number of people. Obviously, there are a significant number of Aggie supporters who are interested in going in that (SEC) direction.

“There’s a huge risk if an institution leaves its geographic proximity and rivalries. In the long run, it can create a lot of problems.”

But Beebe has his own problems to deal with. The root of A&M’s re-aroused displeasure with the Big 12 coincidentally coincided with the Longhorn Network’s desire to air high school and Big 12 sporting events on the network. Trying to keep Texas happy, while keeping the other nine conference members equally satisfied, or even approximately so, is proving to be an uphill battle.

But Beebe has kept his conference together before. If A&M departs, Beebe will have to work to keep a slowly deteriorating group bound together once again. When and how Beebe faces that challenge is beginning to turn into an unbearable question mark.

“I don’t know if this could go down in a month or a year or in weeks,” a source told the Statesman. “But it’s taken on a life of its own. I would just tell A&M to be careful what you wish for.”

And with exit fees remaining the same for A&M as they did for Nebraska and Colorado, the Aggies will be wishing for an expensive buyout, so to speak.

In either case, Beebe is prepared to move forward as at least a nine-team conference if A&M does decide to part ways. That is assuming, of course, that the SEC doesn’t snatch Oklahoma at the same time.

“You always have to think about all the possibilities,” he said of any possible expansion. “Twelve was always the maximum number of teams that were desired, but that’s as far as I can go publicly.”

The source told Kirk Bohls of the AAS that Houston, Louisville, Brigham Young and Air Force were all possible replacements if expansion was ever discussed in the Big 12 down the road.

If there is a Big 12 down the road — and, sorry Aggie fans, but that won’t hinge solely on your departure. Will it be crippling? Absolutely, but it’ll be Texas who makes or breaks the future of the Big 12.

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15 Responses to “Beebe taking A&M-to-SEC rumors ‘very seriously’”
  1. chmba says: Aug 11, 2011 11:22 AM

    Beebe “brilliant” (???) Really!!! Nothing now (or ever before) but a pimp for Dodds and Texas! No surprise A&M still wants out; why does Oklahoma stay other than travel expense in other sports? Big 12 = joke. Real name should be Texas and the 9 (possibly 8 or 7) Lapdog Conference!

  2. bender4700 says: Aug 11, 2011 12:02 PM


    He put a band-aid over a bullet wound. The Big XII(10) is about to go to 9, and maybe 8.

    Why doesn’t he change the name to the SWC?

    He hasn’t done anything but cater to Texas. How does ANYONE feel he did a good job? TEXAS kept the conference together. Not Beebe. Beebe put together a TV deal for a conference that just lost the National following of Nebraska and the Denver market. How? The BigXII (10) has been on the verge of implosion for too long.

    Texas waited a day before they went back to their old tricks. It’s like someone getting married the day after their divorce is final. They don’t even wait a bit before they demonstrate their character. Texas A&M is not putting up with it, and they shouldn’t. Bill Byrne is too smart to allow a conference/in-state rival to grab such a huge recruiting advantage through the Longhorn network.

    The Big XII will suffer the same fate as the SWC. Sad. Texas (the state) killed 2 conferences, who is stupid enough to allow them to kill a 3rd?

  3. jpiro says: Aug 11, 2011 12:03 PM

    aTm leaving would hurt. OU leaving would be a major blow. And replacing either of them with Air Force, BYU, Houston or Louisville isn’t going to appease anyone.

  4. Austin Swafford says: Aug 11, 2011 12:38 PM

    Beebe has definitely mishandled things, but I’m trying to figure out why A&M would want to go to the SEC. They have no real rivals and they would become the SEC’s doormat, just barely ahead of Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Honestly, they would be to the SEC what Colorado was in the Big 12 — a team that COULD surprise you, but probably wouldn’t. A&M would be in that second tier of teams with Ole Miss and Arkansas.

    They have a MUCH better chance of making a big time bowl from the Big 12, especially with Nebraska out of the way. This just baffles me.

  5. teke184 says: Aug 11, 2011 1:30 PM

    Austin Swafford,

    A&M has natural rivals in Arkansas and LSU within the SEC West and, depending on where team #14 comes from, could be in a substantially easier SEC West than the current one because Alabama and Auburn may move to the SEC East.

    Current rumors are Mizzou being that 14th team, which makes sense on their part, as not to be left scrambling when the Big 12 dies, but not on the part of the SEC.

    The A&M-LSU rivalry from the 80s and 90s was a great one with a lot of fond memories on both sides. That’s why this past season’s Cotton Bowl between the two teams sold out in record time.

  6. thefiesty1 says: Aug 11, 2011 2:18 PM

    All talk, that’s all it is. They know where their bread is buttered. If Texas would have offered a little cut from the new Longhorn Network, nothing more would have been said about leaving. The AGGIES are tied to UT and always will be.

  7. ukeone says: Aug 11, 2011 2:34 PM

    Ever since the old Big 8 conference morphed into the Big 12 (adding the Texas schools), the question of implodability of this newest union was always a reality. Face it, the old Big 8 was just fine up till then & never got along with it’s newly added southern brothers, especially with Big Bully Texas running the show through its puppet, ol’ Commissioner Beebe. Nebraska (for instance) considered its departure to the Big 10 as far back as 1994 (to join recently added Penn State…but backed-off at the last moment), and I’m certain others were just as eager to leave on their own & in their own time. Texas A&M is absolutely right in discussing its possible departure to the SEC because they are a totally 1st class university on their own & don’t need Texas to survive at all. I don’t agree at all that Texas A&M would end-up a 2nd tier-type of ball club in the SEC either. They would make an immediate impact in the SEC west if they chose to move. Additionally, Oklahoma’s ‘superior brand’ (well-deserved) would add instant noteriety and marketability to any conference it chooses to go to, especially to the SEC. The funny thing behind all this is all the recent talk about Texas going independent someday (along with their new TV network)…looks like they won’t have to leave at all…because the way everything is currently moving in the Big 12(10), it’ll just be a matter of time before Texas is the only team left, and Beebe will have no other choice left but to wait for a job-offer from Texas to sweep-out its locker rooms for minimum wage. That would be hysterical.

  8. sportsdrenched says: Aug 11, 2011 2:43 PM

    I’m with Austin. They’re going to trash a 100 years of tradition. Yes, they’ll have natural rivalries with Arkansas and LSU. But they’ll still be a 2nd teir school in the SEC.

    I know they’re following the money. But didn’t we try mega conferences before?

    The geographical border skirmishes are part of the reason I like college sports. These mega conferences are diluting that.

  9. fcmlefty1 says: Aug 11, 2011 2:58 PM

    Hasn’t A&M been a second tier Big 12 team for the last decade and 1/2? I don’t say that to be smart – I just see it as this: If you’re going to be a decided cut below the elite, why not do it in the SEC instead of this inferior version Big 12? (And, as a disclaimer, this is coming from a Boise St and MN Gophers fan, so I really don’t have a dog in this hunt – I’m seriously curious about all of this though)

  10. blitz4848 says: Aug 11, 2011 3:35 PM

    All this speculation on changing the base members of the SEC East/West is just that!

    If and when the SEC expands it would almost certainly be from 12 to 16 teams. This would be to ADD 2 teams to each division without changing the existing structure/rivalries.

    The SEC hierachy has also kicked around the idea of 4—4 team divisions with a semi final weekend and then a conference championship weekend which would create a whole new TV revenue stream with the added 2 semi final weekend games.

  11. yuckygeo says: Aug 11, 2011 4:11 PM

    Here we go with the “toughest conference in the country” schtick again.

  12. sportsinhd says: Aug 11, 2011 4:12 PM

    I can’t think of any reason for A&M and Oklahoma to not go to the SEC. The rivalries are there-Arkansas, LSU, Alabama, each other. If the SEC wants to expand to 16 teams they could take Mizzou as well and pick up Louisville or West Virginia (we all know that the Big East would then be the next domino to fall).

    Texas as an indy would fair just fine, and they could pull a Notre Dame and join the Big East for the rest of their sports. Kansas (and/or Mizzou) could join an expanded Big 10, and the final remnants of the old Big 12 could be absorbed by the Mountain West. The MWC would then become an AQ school, I think it would out well for everyone.

  13. cometkazie says: Aug 11, 2011 5:08 PM

    If the Aggies’ performance in the Cotton Bowl this year is any indication of their competitiveness, they don’t belong in the SEC.

    Of course their track team has taken off since my friend Pat Henry took over . . . . , but Pat is used to winning national championships.

  14. truechamp says: Aug 12, 2011 5:10 AM

    All of the conference realignment stories make for good gossip, but if you want the solution to this madness, read the new book, “It’s Possible! Realignment and Playoffs – College Football’s Opportunity.” The book casts a vision for a real championship and conference alignments that will make financial sense for more schools.

  15. southernpatriots says: Aug 14, 2011 5:49 AM

    cometkazie: Don’t be so hard on the Aggies…they beat their bigger brother (Texas) and the Mighty Oklahoma in the same season and then suffered a loss to one of the elite teams in the SEC (LSU).

    They have one of the best academic and research universities and a very competitive athletic program. Pat Henry is a phenom. No body comes close to him today. They would receive better competition in swimming, basketball, tennis, softball, baseball, and even in football from the SEC, along with much greater media exposure.

    The SEC would get a high quality academic univerrsity along with national prominence athletic programs. It looks like conferences will expand to 16 teams and the SEC wants to be ahead of the curve so they can attract the best schools.

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