The Once (and Future) Conference Game: Arkansas vs. Texas A&M

Reading over the weekly "Reasons to Hate" post at Arkansas Expats, I was reminded of something interesting about the upcoming game between Arkansas and Big XII school Texas A&M: Those guys were almost a part of our conference. And at the time, I thought it was a good idea.

To an extent, I still believe that. I have to admit that even though I would like nothing better than to remain at 12 teams, and am indeed glad that the SEC did remain at 12 teams, I got a bit excited about the possibility of Texas A&M joining the conference. And the nominees for the 14th member were pretty good teams in their own rights, so it's not like there would have been that much dilution.

All the reasons for A&M being in the SEC still make sense. They still have a shared tradition, history and economic value that makes them the most logical addition to the league when that addition is needed. And I did say when.

Listen: Conference realignment is going to happen again, probably some time in the next five to ten years. There's no way that duct tape and bailing wire is going to keep the Big XII together, especially not with every reason to believe that Texas will bolt once things have died down and the money makes sense.

In fact, some A&M fans seem even more eager to leave what they're calling the Zombie-10 now that they see what the smaller league will look like. It's not a unanimous sentiment, as some of the comments make clear, but there are still a lot of Aggie fans who want to be a part of the SEC.

And the reasons for the disillusionment with the Big XII are going to keep getting stronger. Assurances to Dan Beebe to the contrary, Jim Delany is likely still considering expansion plans -- but this time to the east, possibly adding Rutgers or Pittsburgh. Or maybe in the middle of the conference -- say, some town in Indiana.

Arkansas and Texas A&M will play their 67th game against each other this Saturday, the second installment in a renewal of their rivalry expected to last for at least ten years. There are more than enough reasons to think that, by the end of that contract, the annual contest will be a conference game once again.

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