The Southeastern Conference officially added Texas A&M as its 13th member Sunday, a move that will become effective in July of 2012.
“We are excited to begin competition in the nation’s premier athletic conference,” A&M President R. Bowen Loftin said in a statement.
The move has been imminent, though it did face a roadblock earlier in the month when Baylor and other Big 12 members threatened legal action, withholding their right to sue.
Now that the ink’s dry, and one of the premier schools in the state — academically and athletically — is set to participate in all SEC sporting events for the 2012-2013 school year, there’s one last question:
How long until the Aggies suffer a case of buyer’s remorse?
They wanted the SEC — thought it fit well with the culture of the school, thought the conference would appreciate it more than the Big 12, in which Texas created the Longhorn Network and received the biggest spotlight of all.
And it’s the SEC they’ll get. But time will tell if they can really handle the best conference in the nation.
A&M should compete well in basketball — hell, any conference without Kansas is an easy one. Baseball shouldn’t be a problem either. Football might be: the Aggies, with the best team they’ve had in more than a decade, blew a big halftime lead Saturday to Oklahoma State in a 30-29 loss. So now, they’re 0-1 in conference play. A visit to Texas Tech looms in two weeks. Then a home game against Baylor is a must-win — as are late-season games at Oklahoma and against Texas — if A&M wants to win a conference title in its last year in the Big 12.
If you had told somebody two years ago that the Aggies would make the move to the SEC, they most likely would have laughed. After all, they finished the 2009 season with a 6-7 record. But 2010 was a strong year — one punctuated by a big win on the road against the Longhorns — and has given A&M the confidence that it can succeed out East.
The last time the school beat a SEC team was in 1995. That can be corrected next Saturday against Arkansas. A win would be a nice first impression for A&M. The last time the Aggies won a postseason game was in 2001 — a win over TCU in the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl. Since that win, they have notched a 10-28 record against top-25 teams. They haven’t won a Big 12 Championship since the 1998 season.
Seems pretty discouraging.
But despite all of it, Texas A&M expects to actually fare better in the SEC, a conference that has produced the past five national champions and currently features two of the best three teams in the nation.
With all the numbers calculated, it seems like the Aggies would be a questionable choice to join such a competitive conference. For years, a schedule of essentially Texas and Oklahoma gave A&M fits. Now the Aggiess are in a conference that consists Alabama, Louisiana State, Arkansas, Auburn and Mississippi State. That’s just in the West division — they could face Florida or South Carolina in the conference championship.
Can they actually do this?
Guess we’ll find out next season.
Printed on Monday September 26, 2011 as: A&M's success in SEC remains uncertain