It is summertime, so you know what that means: sun, fun and talks of the Big 12 being split apart.
While reports that Texas A&M and Oklahoma were interested in moving to the Southeastern Conference out of fear that the Longhorn Network would give Texas unfair advantages were overblown, both schools say they are going nowhere. This raises an interesting question.
What were they thinking?
Nobody really knows why the Aggies are suddenly confident that they could match up well with SEC teams. LSU just beat them 41-24 in the Cotton Bowl. Arkansas has beaten them two years in a row with a combined margin of victory of 35. Georgia took out A&M in the 2009 Independence Bowl, 44-20. Former A&M head coach Dennis Franchione is still smarting over that 7-38 loss to Tennessee in the 2005 Cotton Bowl.
The last time the Aggies actually won a game over an SEC team, Bill Clinton was still in office. The year was 1995, the Big 12 hadn’t been created yet and the Aggies took out LSU 33-17 in College Station.
That alone should speak for itself, but I’m not quite done. Texas A&M hasn’t had a 10-win season since 1998 and hasn’t won a bowl game since a 2001 win over TCU in the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl. In the years after that ’01 win over the Horned Frogs, the Aggies have a 10-28 record against top-25 teams.
And they want us to believe they can succeed in a conference that boasts the winner of the past five national championships?
No disrespect intended toward a school that is definitely on the upswing and should contend for a BCS Bowl this season, but Texas A&M would surely be blasted back down to Earth if it switched to the most powerful conference in the country.
Oklahoma has a much better shot at succeeding in the SEC than the Aggies, if only because the Sooners are proven winners. But there would be one problem if the Sooners jumped to a more competitive conference: recruiting.
Now, you can make the case that playing in the SEC would actually attract more blue-chippers to OU because of the league’s pedigree and national exposure. That’s true to an extent, but don’t forget this is a school that calls Norman, Okla., home.
Players have no problem spending three or four years in that barren city so long as the Sooners are competing for national championships. Norman isn’t such a bad alternative to other Big 12 towns such as Waco, Texas, Manhattan, Kan., and Ames, Iowa.
But if schools like Alabama, LSU, Florida and South Carolina are on the schedule each year, it’s pretty unlikely Oklahoma keeps winning the way it has been. High schoolers aren’t going to go to Norman to win eight or nine games a year, and they’re certainly not going to choose it over better southern cities like Oxford, Miss., Athens, Ga., Baton Rouge and Knoxville.
Simply put, in order for Oklahoma to recruit well, it needs to win. And as both the Sooners and Aggies would find out the hard way, winning doesn’t come easy in the SEC.
Printed on 07/25/2011 as: A&M, OU not ready for move to SEC