Sunday, August 14, 2011
Mack Brown: I hope A&M rivalry stays
ESPN.com news services
Coach Mack Brown and his Texas Longhorns football team figure to lose more than a longtime bitter rival if Texas A&M leaves the Big 12 for the SEC.
But Brown, speaking Sunday as indications continued to point to the Aggies' imminent departure, said the Longhorns' athletic programs and the conference they play in would persevere.
"A lot of people are worried about that," Brown said in a telephone interview with ESPN Radio. "Texas will be fine. I think the Big 12 will be fine regardless of what comes out of this, and we'll move forward."
A high-ranking source within Texas A&M confirmed to ESPN's Doug Gottlieb on Saturday the Aggies were intent on joining the Southeastern Conference. And they reportedly hope to begin play in the league starting as soon as 2012.
"Number one, it's been a great rivalry with Texas and Texas A&M, so I hope it stays," Brown said.
"I hope -- I'm a traditionalist -- and I hate to see situations with universities that have played for hundreds of years break up," Brown added, with a subtle nod toward hyperbole. "And we're having a lot of league discussions over the last few years."
If Texas A&M departs, it could come at a cost to the school, as it did for Nebraska and Colorado, after they decided to leave the Big 12 last summer.
The conference initially sought $19.4 million from Nebraska and between $15 million and $20 million from Colorado in forfeited revenues. In settlements, Colorado agreed to pay $6.83 million and Nebraska $9.25 million.
The Big 12 paid out between $8.7 million and $15.4 million per school in revenues in 2008-09, according to IRS tax records examined by The Associated Press.
The Big 12 looked to be in trouble last year before Texas decided to stay, which made it much easier for Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State to remain in the league as well.
"I'm the guy who likes it like we've had it and hate to see that change," Brown said. "But on the other side of that I trust Bill Powers, our president, and I trust (athletic director) DeLoss (Dodds)."
The Board of Directors for the Big 12 held a conference call Saturday to discuss Texas A&M's plans.
"The Board strongly conveyed to Texas A&M its unanimous desire that it remain a Big 12 member, and acknowledged its value to the Conference," the Big 12 said in a statement. "The Board noted that Texas A&M expressed concerns about institutional networks and that the athletics directors worked together and took actions, which the Board has approved, to adequately address those concerns."
The other nine members of the Big 12, the statement said, remain committed to keeping the conference intact and, if Texas A&M chooses to leave, "the Board is prepared to aggressively move forward to explore expansion opportunities."
The SEC is interested in A&M because the move "brings us into the Texas market," a person familiar with the situation told the AP on Saturday. But the person added that "it's not about us wanting or needing 14 teams, Texas A&M came to us."
The power brokers involved in such a move will continue to deliberate Sunday.
All but one of the SEC's school presidents will meet to discuss A&M's admission to the league, The New York Times has reported, citing a high-ranking conference official who said there was still a 30 percent to 40 percent chance the Aggies would not get enough votes for an invitation to the league. And the issue of needing to add a 14th team along with A&M remained, the newspaper reported.
On Monday, the Texas A&M board of regents will convene for a special meeting that includes an agenda item about conference alignment.
The Texas legislature's Higher Education committee has also called a meeting set for Tuesday to discuss realignment.
LSU coach Les Miles said he would welcome annual games against the Aggies if the move happens.
"I certainly understand the want to be in this league," Miles said, according to USA Today. "If they get on the schedule we'll look forward to that competition."
Texas A&M and LSU first played each other in 1899 and met every season from 1960-75 and 1986-95. The Aggies lead the series 27-20-3, with the Tigers winning their last meeting, 41-24, in the AT&T Cotton Bowl on Jan. 7.
"They're a very good team," Miles said of A&M, according to USA Today. "They have a real nice talent base to choose from."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.