My lovely wife has some relatives who live in College Station, Texas and they are huge Texas A&M fans.
They were all convinced the Aggies were going to destroy LSU in last year’s Cotton Bowl, so, at Christmas, my wife’s Louisiana family and I made a little bet with the Texas kinfolks. If LSU won, the College Station family would have to wear LSU gear next Christmas. If A&M won, we would be in maroon next December.
Of course, LSU dominated and now I’ve got the task of finding some LSU wrapping paper in order to wrap up their purple and gold Christmas presents this year.
Anyway, before I really get started here, I just want to throw out a few more playful jabs at the College Station family with some Aggie jokes.
Did you hear about the Aggie who broke his leg raking leaves?
He fell out of the tree.
Or…did you hear about the Aggie who was two hours late for class?
The escalator was stuck.
Those are funny, but have you heard this one?
Did you hear about the Aggies joining the Southeastern Conference?
It’s no joke.
Texas A&M officially joined the SEC on Sept. 26, marking the conference’s first expansion project since 1991 when Arkansas and South Carolina entered the league.
I know what some of you are thinking: Why does the SEC need those Aggies? It takes ten of them to change a light bulb, one to hold it in and nine to turn the ladder.
And I hear you. The SEC, as the dominant college sports conference in the land, does not really need to add another member. But done is done, and this is a great move for not only the SEC but also Texas A&M as well.
This move makes absolute sense from a strictly geographical standpoint, especially when weighing A&M’s move with some other recent realignment shenanigans. College Station, located between Houston and Austin, is not so far west as to seem too culturally different than the Southeast states, especially with its relatively large population of Southeastern alumni.
On the other hand, the Atlantic Coast Conference just picked up the University of Pittsburgh, which is about as close to the Atlantic Coast as that famous beachfront getaway, Phoenix, is to the Pacific. Maybe they should call it the Atlantic Coast Adjacent Conference.
A&M to the SEC also makes sense from a “new-kid-in-school” perspective. The Aggies enter the league with at least two established rivalries, meaning that, on the whole, Texas A&M will integrate itself well into the SEC.
Probably the foremost rivalry for the Aggies will be between themselves and those Tigers from the Louisiana State Agricultural and Mechanical University. Not counting last year’s meeting in the Cotton Bowl, the two teams haven’t faced each other on the football field since the 1995 season-opener (a 33-17 A&M victory). But the two teams played each other every year between 1960-75 and, more recently, each year from 1986-95.
In addition to LSU, the Aggies will also be renewing an old Big 8 Conference football rivalry with the Arkansas Razorbacks. Texas A&M and Arkansas played annually from 1945-91, when the Razorbacks themselves jumped to the SEC, but did not play again until their 2009 non-conference game.
Along the same lines, A&M’s move to the SEC makes sense from a purely competitive point of view. While the Aggies faced some stiff football competition from arch-nemesis Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and, occasionally Oklahoma State, in its years with the Big 12, Texas A&M still had to slog through conference games with truly underwhelming opponents like Iowa State, Kansas, and Baylor.
The Aggies, however, may miss the chance to play Baylor, which, under the infinite wisdom of former Grand Inquisitor Kenneth Starr, held the threat of a potential lawsuit over A&M’s head to try and prevent it from leaving the Waco university in its dust. As the billboard in Waco said, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s conference deal.”
And good luck in the Western Athletic Conference, Baylor. I hear Ruston is a tough place to play in October.
Finally, the move to the SEC makes the most sense from a financial viewpoint. With A&M’s self-proclaimed big brother down in Austin making waves with its Longhorn Network and partnership with ESPN (who are completely unbiased, I’m sure), the Aggies looked like they might get swept away in both the money and recruiting races. Now, moving the financial juggernaut that is the SEC, A&M will get a portion of a billion-dollar business and more national exposure than an Aggie can shake a stick at. Meanwhile, for the time being, the Longhorn Network will be stuck showing games like Texas-Baylor next season.
So, have all the fun you want at Texas A&M’s expense. Pretty soon, the Aggies will be laughing themselves all the way to the bank. Which I’ve heard they think is at the edge of the river.
Brandon Shoumaker is a graduate of McNeese State University and has covered sports for more than seven years for various publications. Coaches or parents with story tips may contact Brandon at firstname.lastname@example.org or send him a message on Twitter (@bshoumaker).