It became a story much quicker than anyone believed it would, then it took far longer than anyone thought for it to actually happen. But the SEC has announced that Texas A&M is officially the 13th member of the conference.
The Southeastern Conference Presidents and Chancellors, acting unanimously, announced today that Texas A&M University will join the Southeastern Conference effective July 1, 2012, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2012-13 academic year. (HT: ATVS)
This, by the way, is not one of those mealy-mouthed "contingent on getting rid of all legal issues" invitations. This is signed, sealed and delivered -- ready or not, hear the Aggies come.
It's a pretty solid guess that Baylor and the other Big 12 holdouts finally dropped their legal claims after the Pac-12 decided not to take Oklahoma and Oklahoma State if Texas wasn't part of the deal. Either that, or the SEC and A&M decided there wasn't much room for a lawsuit when the Big 12 will survive. Or stagger through another five years hoping that Texas doesn't do anything else stupid. Whichever you prefer.
We also now know that there's not going to be a 14th team in 2012-13. Why? First of all, the time limit is prohibitive. Neither the SEC nor A&M anticipated the weekslong detour through the Pac-16, part two drama, nor the ACC's surprise raid on the Big East. It's going to take some time to go through Mike Slive's checklist of potential members, and much of that time was consumed with negotiating A&M's exit. Also, there's no reason to rush and announce A&M as the 13th member if No. 14 is close behind.
There are issues with setting up a 13-team SEC schedule, but they aren't insurmountable. It's also not something you want to be doing for a long time. Slive and Co. will begin looking for a 14th team soon, though the last few weeks of realignment talk have clearly scrambled that discussion.
But for now, SEC fans should simply welcome the Aggies to our conference. They are a solid addition that fits the SEC in almost every way -- culturally, geographically and traditionally -- and the SEC should be glad to have them, 14th team or not.