While there have been no public developments in well over a week, all signs continue to point to Texas A&M officially announcing their intentions in the not-too-distant future to move to the SEC. And, if that indeed comes to fruition as most expect, the Big 12 won’t have to look very far for a replacement.
Officials from SMU sat down with the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News Wednesday and openly and very emphatically discussed their desire to be in a BcS conference in general and the Big 12 specifically.
For obvious geographical reasons, the Big 12 would make the most sense for the Mustangs, a fact that school officials duly noted to the Morning News. Stature-wise, and even as the conference appears on the verge of imploding at any moment, the Big 12 would — no offense — trump their current league, Conference USA. while at the same time technically putting themselves in position for an automatic BcS berth.
Athletic director Steve Orsini told the News that SMU has privately reached out to the Big 12 regarding possible membership if A&M flees for the SEC. Orsini’s boss also made it publicly clear during the meeting yesterday that a move to a BcS conference is very much on his institution’s radar.
“We are pushing for it,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner said. “We want the city to know we’re pushing for it. We need as much help as possible, even from non-SMU alums. We believe it’s good for Dallas.”
The officials laid out several reasons for SMU’s inclusion in the Big 12 or another BcS conference — the Pac-12? — including a resurgent football program under head coach June Jones; historical ties to one of the predecessors to the Big 12, the SWC; and what the paper describes as leaps in academic rankings and research status.
Additionally, Orsini and Turner noted that there are plans already drawn up that could turn Ford Stadium, with a current capacity of 32,000, into a 40,000-seat, on-campus home venue. One major drawback, even with additional seating capacity, is the Mustangs couldn’t sell out the stadium in its current configuration; last season, SMU averaged just 23,000 fans per game.
The huge television market the school sits in, Dallas-Ft. Worth, that would be a major draw to other conferences could almost become a hindrance as well as the Big 12 already has a sizable blanket over that area, meaning the addition of SMU would simply be treading ground and walking in the same geographic footprint.
Regardless of the pros and cons, SMU appears to be hellbent on going all in on a move up in conference stature, with the public airing of their desires no doubt pleasing the ears of their current conference home.