It's now official. Texas A&M is withdrawing from the Big 12 to go -- well, nowhere yet. But odds are that they will be applying to the SEC for membership. Add this to the recent news that Virginia Tech would listen if the SEC came calling, and a new 14-team SEC appears in the offing.
Highlights of the press release include this:
"After much thought and consideration, and pursuant to the action of the (Texas A&M University System) Board of Regents authorizing me to take action related to Texas A&M University's athletic conference alignment, I have determined it is in the best interest of Texas A&M to make application to join another athletic conference," President R. Bowen Loftin wrote to Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe in the letter dated August 31, 2011.
"As I have indicated throughout this process, we are seeking to generate greater visibility nationwide for Texas A&M and our championship-caliber student-athletes, as well as secure the necessary and stable financial resources to support our athletic and academic programs," Loftin said. "This is a 100-year decision that we have addressed carefully and methodically. Texas A&M is an extraordinary institution, and we look forward to what the future may hold for Aggies worldwide."
There is no doubt whatever that joining the SEC would generate greater visibility. No conference in the nation is as visible, or as successful, as the SEC both commercially and athletically. Texas A&M is certainly a worthy new addition to the conference, if in fact that does happen as expected.
There is, of course, the matter of being invited to join the SEC, as it's a sure bet TAMU did not withdraw from the Big 12 to be invited to the Big Ten or Big East. However, most observers of the situation expect that to be fait accompli, and the only remaining hurdle to a new, bigger SEC is finding the balance of another team worthy of the conference.
As long as it's not the Louisville Cardinals, I'm fine with whoever it is.