Texas A&M SEC bound?

Why would Texas A&M want to join the SEC, and why would the league have interest in the Aggies?

Media reports indicate that Texas A&M is all but certain to join the SEC when their Board of Regents meets on Monday. This meeting was originally scheduled for later in the month, but now occurs a day ahead of the meeting which State Rep. Dan Branch, the chairman of the Texas House Committee on Higher Education, has called for Tuesday.

The powers that be in Texas have always been determined to keep Texas, Texas A&M and some other Texas schools in the same conference.

A&M's move to the SEC probably can be credited to the sweet deal Texas received to stay in the Big 12 (currently at 10 teams). Texas was given the right to negotiate their own network contract, dubbed the Longhorn Network, and will be pulling in large amounts of cash as a result. While that is great for Texas it is not great for the rest of the Big 12, who will suffer financially as a result. The Longhorn Network inked a 20-year, $300 million deal with ESPN. The rest of the Big 12 gets the pleasure of looking at that $300 million contract Texas inked, while knowing that the league comes up empty on the deal.

Why the SEC? The SEC annually returns one of the largest chunks of cash, often the largest chunk of cash, to member institutions. The annual return of the green makes the SEC an appealing destination for many schools in an era where few schools' athletic departments are earning as much money as they are spending.

Adding Texas A&M expands the SEC's regional TV and radio network coverage territory. This is a plus for the SEC, where expanding the league's footprint makes for more lucrative regional media contracts.

Adding Texas A&M brings yet another strong football program to the league that has all but owned the BCS national title in the last decade as the league has won five consecutive BCS title games and six of the last eight.

The writing is on the wall and that writing indicates that today's financial climate is going to change the model of college athletics. The "superconferences," which were discussed in the first wave of realignment that added teams to the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, and led to the formation of the Big 12 with the merger of the Big 8 and the Southwest Conferences two decades ago is now a financial necessity for the viability of college athletics at the BCS level.

The massive realignment that began last year may also see a shift away from the NCAA with the superconferences forming their own organization that will allow things like full payment for the cost of attendance at schools, something that most schools cannot afford.

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