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Friday, June 11, 2010
A&M serious about SEC or puffing chest?

By Jeff Caplan

Texas A&M athletics director Bill Byrne is a strong-willed man. He's smart and cunning. His vision when he arrived in College Station came with a slick motto: "Building Champions." He saw A&M as a place that could recruit the best athletes, hire the best coaches and compete to win it all in every sport in every year.

A&M's Olympic sports have mostly thrived, men's and women's basketball are on solid footing. Only football has endured rugged times -- a lot of them -- but the Aggies are optimistic about a serious upswing in 2010.

The question now is: Will Byrne really break A&M away from Texas and Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, all of which are reportedly ready to go to the Pac-10, and begin an adventurous new era as the lone Texas entry in an expanded SEC?

Or is this simply Byrne sticking out his chest and refusing to allow big, bad Texas to dictate all the terms? Tech is in lock step with Texas. And why not from Tech's point of view? They're the step-brother in all this and they're about to reap an untold financial windfall by joining an expanded Pac-10 with Texas. It's not as if the SEC is keeping a seat warm for the Red Raiders.

Byrne and the Aggies want Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds and the Longhorns to know that they're not the little brother here, that they can make up their own mind and do what they think is best for them, that they are not sheep following Texas to the greenest pasture. And that's great, they should explore all options open to them.

After all, A&M could cash checks just as big in an expanded SEC as it could in a new Pac-10.

By Tuesday, when Texas and Texas Tech will hold Board of Regents meetings and will reportedly accept bids to the Pac-10, the Aggies likely will back off their power play and join their Texas and Oklahoma brothers in heading west.

BTW, check out this post for some reasons why the Aggies should consider the SEC.