Welcome to Football Friday, a weekly post that will take a look at one of the big stories in college football that does not necessarily pertain to Penn State. We begin by taking a look at the latest buzz surrounding Texas A&M and the SEC.
Texas A&M and SEC appears imminent
After a wild summer of 2010 in which Nebraska joined the Big Ten and Colorado left for the re-branded Pac-12, it appears as though the Big 12 will soon have just nine members. The Texas A&M to SEC rumors grew louder Thursday evening when Aggie Yell, the Rivals.com affiliate covering the Aggies, posted a story behind a pay wall claiming that it was a done deal.
Not so fast.
There are actually a couple of procedural things that need to be done before this can truly be called a done deal, but based on everything I have read and everyone I have talked to, those procedures appear to be little more than a formality at this point. Texas A&M regents are scheduled to meet on August 22, and the agenda for that meeting will be required to be made public on August 19 (unless this becomes a special meeting). It is expected that the regents would discuss the application to join the SEC at that time after taking care of some other business. It is also being reported that the presidents of the SEC schools could meet this weekend to hold a special emergency meeting to review the possibility of inviting Texas A&M to their conference. As far as the SEC is concerned, this seems like a no-brainer.
The SEC is already the top conference in college football, and getting a foot in to the state of Texas, which is clearly rich in football tradition and high school talent and intriguing television markets, should be an easy sell. Finding a suitable 14th conference member may be a slightly different issue, but Virginia Tech from the ACC could be a likely candidate (only lucrative ACC member not in an SEC state).
When, not if, Texas A&M officially announces they will join the SEC (adding a reminder for August 22 in iCal now), the second tidal wave of college realignment is expected to happen, and some speculate it will bring in the era of super mega conferences. Sixteen teams in the SEC? Perhaps. Commissioner Mike Slive said at SEC media days that if he was given word that the sEC would be interested in going to 16 teams, he could take care of it in about 15 minutes (probably less). That would dip in to the Big 12 and ACC. If the SEC expands and the Big 12 and ACC are picked from, the Big Ten would undoubtedly make some phone calls. Oklahoma in the Big Ten? It would be great to see the old Big 8 rivalry between Nebraska and the Sooners in the conference, not to mention the chance for Penn State to play Oklahoma during the regular season. But don't discount the idea that the Big Ten could see this as an opportunity to expand eastward and grab a share of the New York, Washington D.C., Boston and Philadelphia television markets. The Big East has some schools that make sense for these purposes.
But we will see what happens. As it stands now, Texas A&M and the SEC have refrained from saying anything that confirms the Aggies will join the conference, so clearly nothing is official.
Nittany Lion's Den Week In Review
It was quite a week. It all started when we learned that Devon Smith crashed in to Joe Paterno, handing the coach a pair of hairline fractures. But that didn't stop Paterno from returning to practice just 72 hours later, with no surgery required. He's a trooper.
Paterno must have been all smiles this week too with some positive recruiting news. Troy Weller was all over the news when Penn State received verbal commitments from WR Eugene Lewis and DT Tony Schutt. Right now we're just waiting on confirmation on CB Armani Reeves (scheduled to announce at 10 a.m. EST)
We also had a bunch of recruiting interviews with some prospective Class of 2013 players. Check out what Derek Aschman learned while talking with DL Kenny Bigelow, RB/LB Dorian O'Daniel, OT Ethan Pocic.
Ryan Murphy has been on a tear taking a look at the 2011 season as though he traveled ahead in time. What did you miss this week? The doormats of the league and those in the middle of the pack look to be the same. The off-season stories at Ohio State and Wisconsin could cause some problems this season. Michigan State and Nebraska will battle it out in the Legends Division, and Penn State could be heading to the Rose Bowl. It certainly seems a bit optimistic for my taste, but I honestly can't rule it out if the offense plays at a level (and with the players) I feel they could play. Remember that in this new era of division play, Penn State can afford to lose games to Iowa, Northwestern Nebraska and either Ohio State or Wisconsin and could still play for (and win) the Big Ten championship. So who's to say they shouldn't be in the mix?
Over on Crystal Ball Run, Bloguin's new general college football blog, I contibuted to this week's theme of my writing about one of my favorite Penn State players of all time, quarterback Michael Robinson. Here I followed up by asking for your favorite Penn State football players, games, plays etc.