Texas A&M's SEC Monopoly in Longhorn State
As the official announcement of the billion dollar SEC Network in partnership with ESPN inches closer and closer, one aspect of the SEC's expansion to add Texas A&M and Missouri -- a decision that was worth over $100 million a year -- has gone unexplored. That's this, does Texas A&M have SEC exclusivity in the state of Texas? This is an important question because the SEC Network's spigot of money will be eye-opening and astounding. The SEC and ESPN are about to make money rain on college athletics in a way that money's never rained on college athletics before.
When you make it rain on college athletics, other schools take notice and want to experience the shower themselves. (Yes, this means colleges are just like strippers.)
Those of you who read OKTC have been nearly two years ahead of the SEC Network narrative. While most fans and media focused on the value of the SEC renegotiating its existing TV deal, we told you that A&M and Missouri represented a new paradigm for the SEC, a network era for the nation's most popular college conference. Expansion to 14 wasn't about extracting more money from ESPN or CBS, it was about getting filthy rich off a brand new network.
It seems like a long time ago now, but two years ago when A&M decided to bolt the Big 12, there was a tremendous amount of discussion about where the SEC would look for a 14th member. OKTC told you it would be Missouri long before anyone else. Other news organizations talked about Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Louisville, and other expansion candidates. OKTC told you that no team would be added to a state with an existing SEC school because of a pact between the schools in those states. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Kentucky were all in agreement that all four would mutually block the inclusion of Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson or Louisville.
The rationale was simple, none of those schools wanted to dilute their local brand value by bringing a second team into their market. Adding those schools also didn't make sense from an SEC Network perspective, new markets make a network more valuble, additional teams in the same market have no real value.
In light of an expansion to 14 teams, this raises an interesting question that no one has asked, would Texas A&M join these four schools and block the addition of any additional school in Texas?
I think the answer is yes.
This is an important question to ask because the SEC's expansion to 16 teams is inevitable. It's a question of when not if. I've told you before why I believe the SEC's future will include the states of Virginia and North Carolina. My prediction has been that eventually Virginia Tech and N.C. State will be in the SEC. (Oklahoma is the other state that's hanging out there as an option, but only if the SEC could take Oklahoma without Oklahoma State, which I don't believe is politically possible).
Would the SEC ever take Texas or Texas Tech or Baylor or TCU or any other school in Texas?
I don't believe so.
Yes, I think the SEC would now even turn down the mighty Texas Longhorns.
Because I believe Texas A&M would block Texas's move to the SEC.
You need another reason why Texas A&M joining the SEC was so brilliant?
Effectively, the Aggies took complete ownership of the largest football state in the country and wedded themselves forever with Longhorn exclusivity to the SEC. Yep, the Aggies have a monopoly on the SEC.
The four state SEC pact now has a fifth member that guarantees no additional school will enter their respective state markets.
Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Texas A&M are now members of a one-state SEC pact, meaning the Aggie football future is paved with gold. So long as these five schools stick together, the SEC can't expand without their consent.
This is important to realize because the tectonic plates of realignment have not stopped shifting. The Longhorn Network has not been that lucrative for Texas. Worse, it's been valueless as a branding vehicle. Meanwhile, the Aggies have struck SEC oil. Suddenly that little Aggie brother got rich, and big brother isn't going to be happy. Could we see a future day where the Longhorns realize how dumb their decision not to join the SEC truly was? Yes. (Hell, that day may already be here for many Longhorn fans and administrators not named Deloss Dodds.)
Yep, the Longhorns could one day beg to join the SEC.
And the Aggies could get the ultimate rivalry victory, an ability to say thanks but no thanks to their erstwhile Longhorn foes.
Now, could the Aggies decide to allow Texas into the SEC? Sure. But would it ever make competitive sense for them to do so?
No one has written about it, but the Aggies don't just have present-day SEC exclusivity in the state of Texas, it looks downright likely that the Aggies have a perpetual monopoly on the SEC in the state of Texas.