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Former Texas A&M coaches happy with move to SEC

September 28, 2011
By , LegendsChannel.com
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After a whirlwind of rumors and pending lawsuits, Texas A&M has finally been accepted as the newest member of the SEC.

Texas A&M becomes the conference’s 13th member, and commissioner Mike Slive says the SEC will remain a 13-team league for the foreseeable future. On Monday’s Scripps Legends Poll teleconference, the panel of legendary coaches discussed the topic of realignment, much of which revolved around Texas A&M.

“We (Texas A&M) were not the first or the only team in that league to be looking around,” former Aggie coach R.C. Slocum said. “And it’s kind of hard not to – when you’re in a league and, you know, you keep hearing all the time about this team’s looking here and that team’s looking there, and looking to see what’s best for them.  So, at some point in this whole thing, the ‘powers at be’ at A&M decided, you know, we should be looking to see what’s in the best long term interest of A&M.”

Another Texas A&M legend, Gene Stallings, is a former member of the school’s Board of Regents and was in favor of the move to the SEC. Stallings recapped the events from a year ago that ultimately led to A&M’s move to the SEC.

“Last year, the University of Texas had spent quite a bit of time talking to the Pac-10,” Stallings said. “I remember talking to them for the Texas people and they said, ‘well, they were going to include A&M with them’ and I said, ‘Well, we’re big enough to sit at the table and vote ourselves.’ Nobody gave us an opportunity to vote.”

Stallings was on the Board of Regents at the time and says he expressed feelings that Texas A&M didn’t have much in common with teams on the West Coast.

“It’s a 2 hour time zone difference,” he said.” If you watch your game at 8 o’clock there, it’s 10 o’clock in College Station.  I mean, I personally think if the Big 12 were going to disband at the time, I recommended that we go to the Southeastern Conference.”

Texas ended up passing on the opportunity to move to the Pac-10 or even the Big Ten and the Big 12 remained intact. But after a few months, a bomb was dropped on the other Big 12 members that stuck around. The Longhorn Network.

“But now, all of a sudden, the Longhorn network is an entirely different animal,” Stallings said. “Now, they’re talking about 24 hours a day you can turn on something about the University of Texas.  I couldn’t care less what they do at the University of Texas, that’s their business. I am representing A&M, I thought it was in the best interest of Texas A&M we should go to the Southeastern Conference.”

The Longhorn Network wasn’t the only reason that Texas A&M decided to leave the Big 12 and join the SEC. Slocum says there were other motivating factors.

“I would question that premise that this is all about television,” Slocum said. “In Texas A&M’s terms, it’s not all about television.  It’s about stability and long-range future of our school and the exposure for our athletes and that stuff.  Of course, money is involved in everything, but this is not a television move for Texas A&M.

“In terms of stability I think of an equal partnership where you’re in a league where you don’t have a team or two or three teams that have a big advantage over the other teams in the league. That was attractive to us — the stability of the Southeastern Conference.”

The conference is stable, and it’s tough. The SEC has produced the last five BCS national championship teams. The SEC is continually hotbed for NFL talent. The SEC is week-in, week-out the toughest conference in college football.

“We know, without a doubt, we know how tough that league is,” Slocum said. “We have great, great respect for the Southeastern Conference and the level of competition there.  So, we’re not under any false illusion that we’re just going to walk in there — we know it’s going to be challenging, but we think that we have the infrastructure, we think we have the fan base, we have a recruiting base that we think over time that we can be competitive in that league.

“We’ve got great respect for the league and I think we bring a lot to the league.  We bring a lot of television states to Texas, we bring a lot of old, old, historical land grant institution that’s a member of the American Association of
Colleges and Universities.”

With such a rich history, Slocum says Texas A&M — which is ranked thirteenth in the latest Scripps Legends Poll — is excited about renewing old rivalries and facing new challenges in the SEC.

“We’ve had a long-term relationship with the University of Arkansas. We’ve had a long-term relationship with LSU,” Slocum said. “You know, we look forward to renewing those rivalries.  It’s always been kind of a unique, special connection between A&M and Alabama and it goes back to the fact of Coach Bryant, one of the absolute, most respected coaches in the history of college football, who coached at Texas A&M and then went to Alabama.”

Stallings, who has been a proponent for the move all along, says that the university won’t be the only property that benefits from the move. He says the fans will benefit as well.

“I think it’s an outstanding move for A&M and I think it’s good for the SEC,” Stallings said. “Texas A&M is the sixth largest university in the country. They’ve got a beautiful stadium, the alumni will follow the team and the people enjoy coming to College Station to see a game, there are land grant colleges on both sides and it’s a good fit in the Southeastern Conference.”

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