Texas A&M to the SEC Can Still Happen and How ESPN is Manipulating the Entire Situation
We've all heard the statement released from University of Florida President Bernie Machen regarding the SEC's decision to not expand, at this time. However, this does not mean A&M to the SEC is a dead issue.
President Machen released this statement regarding the SEC's meeting over the weekend:
“The SEC Presidents and Chancellors met today and reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment. We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league. We discussed criteria and process associated with expansion. No action was taken with respect to any institution including Texas A&M.”
Now, look closely at the wording. It in no way implies that the SEC turned down an A&M application to the SEC or that the SEC does not want A&M. It merely states that they, "reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment."
The reason the SEC didn't offer A&M a position in their conference is based entirely on legality. This statement was released to slow down the talks and movement that seemed to be moving at light speed. The SEC and A&M lawyers all needed more time to examine their respective contracts and find where either institution could face legal ramifications if A&M leaves the Big 12. The SEC needs Texas A&M to leave the Big 12 before they can offer any type of membership, so they cannot be held legally responsible.
Also, the Texas A&M Board of Regents had yet to meet, so A&M President R. Bowen Loftin couldn't even begin negotiating the terms and conditions of A&M's departure to the SEC.
Now this whole conference realignment has to pass through ESPN, who both the SEC and Big 12 will listen to very intently, as the TV broadcaster pays both conferences millions of dollars.
ESPN is in a awkward position as, stated in their contracts with each conference, must act in the best interest of the SEC and Big 12. It seems it'd be difficult to do that when the SEC will want to know how much more money they'd be willing to pay with the inclusion of A&M, when ESPN has to act in the best interest of the Big 12, which would be to keep A&M.
Now, one could argue ESPN started this whole thing with their major part in the creation of the Longhorn Network, and their part in trying to force other Big 12 schools (Texas Tech) to play on the Longhorn Network or face not having their games against UT on television at all, but that's a whole different story.