John Adams: Aggies could expand SEC recruiting

John Adams

The possibility of Texas A&M joining the SEC probably creates as much concern as excitement among Tennessee fans. A natural response: UT's rebuilding job in football just got tougher.

Maybe. But that's dependent on who's next.

You would expect the conference to balance its business by assigning the Aggies to the West Division and recruiting another school to the East. If that other school is Florida State, UT's climb back to the top of the division would be tougher than anticipated.

Virginia Tech would be a more likely choice. Like Texas A&M, it would expand the SEC market. Also, it wouldn't be objectionable to Florida. And while it would be competitive, it wouldn't have FSU's recruiting advantages.

Let's table that discussion for now and focus on Texas A&M, the SEC's supposed expansion ringleader. Put it in a division that placed five teams in the top 15 nationally in 2010, and the division immediately would surpass any conference outside the SEC in football.

Texas A&M wouldn't have the same impact on the East. For example, UT's non-divisional schedule couldn't get any more difficult than it is in 2011 unless the conference increased its schedule from eight to nine games. This season, the Vols will play three teams from the West — LSU, Alabama and Arkansas — that have national championship aspirations.

The advantage of adding Texas A&M is as obvious as the billion-dollar television contract the SEC already has. But the Aggies wouldn't just expand the SEC television market. They would open up Texas recruiting.

Don't dismiss the significance of that for every school in the SEC and especially for UT, whose limited in-state recruiting base forces it to recruit nationally as well as regionally.

Give SEC football a Texas presence, and the exposure might do wonders for the Vols, whose game-day experience is one of the best in the country. Exposure leads to recruiting visits, which lead to signees.

It would take only one visit for a Texas high school player to appreciate how much football matters here. He would feel right at home.

I've lived in Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and Louisiana — all of which produce outstanding college football players. But I realized Texas is in a league of its own when it comes to high school football long before "Friday Night Lights" became a good read and a hit TV series.

While covering high school football in South Central Texas in the 1970s, I was impressed as much by the fan interest as the level of play. A player who grows up in that environment couldn't help but have an affinity for the SEC once he was exposed to it. Going from Texas high school football to SEC football would be a natural progression.

Arkansas, a former member of the old Southwest Conference, and LSU, whose campus is only 300 miles from Houston, have a history of capitalizing on Texas recruiting. The Razorbacks currently have 15 Texans on their roster; LSU has 10.

UT fans should keep that in mind when they weigh the hazards of increased competition. If the Aggies come, they won't be alone.

They will bring Texas high school football with them.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 19

thevoice writes:

Longhorns will still get the best recruits, like they do now. Plus, Arkansas and LSU, if anybody, would be the primary benefactors of recruiting opportunities in TX.

utvols420 writes:

let a five year old kid from texas make the trip to neyland stadium every couple of years with his parents and I guarantee you it will make an impression on him.

VOLliven2it writes:

Even if it helped recruiting in Texas a little bit, it would be great. As for competition, if we don't want to play the better programs we might as well drop down a division and play those teams.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Curt Maggit...6 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, 2 sacks. OK,back to covering Texas A&M.....

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

15 articles covering expansion, zero covering todays scrimage. Boy oh boy.

born2ride writes:

Bring in A&M and Florida State.

Kick out Vandy and the Rebel Black Bears.

That would make the SEC better.

Kelly8 writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Victor Ashe was the ambassador to Poland and lived primarily in Warsaw until 2009. I guess he had more important things to do than hang out with all the single moms and their little LaBrandon's out off Pleasant Ridge. Just sayin'.

vut56#231073 writes:

I often bash Adams for what I think are good reasons. This article is objective and timely. The conference issue trumps a Saturday practice in Knoxville. Others have mentioned "the UT experience" and how this might affect recruiting. Those who think UT has the only tradition, color, excitment and football experience just havn't been outside Knoxville. However, our show is equal to almost anywhere else. So, given some added exposure (together with getting our act together and being competitive) our recruiting should be just fine. Added buzz within the conference should be a plus; we just have to be competitive.

allvol32 writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I saw a cartoon the other day that pictured a perv in a public restroom writing stupid graffiti on the stall walls and the caption was:

"The secret inspiration that led to the creation of the internet was so that stupid people could write offensive things anonymously."

Jethro, look in the mirror and that perv is you.

DalTexVol writes:

in response to thevoice:

Longhorns will still get the best recruits, like they do now. Plus, Arkansas and LSU, if anybody, would be the primary benefactors of recruiting opportunities in TX.

You are correct in your first statement but wrong in your second. Arkansas and LSU already get Texas kids because of the proximity of the schools.

tdforvols writes:

Forget Fla State or VA Tech, they aren't moving. Most likely scenario with a two team expansion is that Missouri jumps along with A&M and then Auburn gets moved to the East. Those two teams would join the West

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to vut56#231073:

I often bash Adams for what I think are good reasons. This article is objective and timely. The conference issue trumps a Saturday practice in Knoxville. Others have mentioned "the UT experience" and how this might affect recruiting. Those who think UT has the only tradition, color, excitment and football experience just havn't been outside Knoxville. However, our show is equal to almost anywhere else. So, given some added exposure (together with getting our act together and being competitive) our recruiting should be just fine. Added buzz within the conference should be a plus; we just have to be competitive.

Learn to read. I didn't say the scrimage was more important than A&M joining the conference. But to have 15 articles on it and not 1 on the scrimage makes no sense.

As for the rest of your post, you are SPOT ON! I've read posts made by folks on here talking about A&M watering down the SEC. They must be out of their minds. A&M is a really good program with fantastic tradition. Not to mention one of the most rabid fanbases and raucous atmospheres to have to visit. Personally I'm excited for them to join our conference.

pms151 writes:

Again folks this is HUGE news down here and not just in Houston. Sure the SEC is seen in Texas every Sat. on CBS and ESPN, but not to the extent it would be if A&M joins the SEC. And don't forget that the newspapers and websites like this present viable publicity down here and there are 5-6 times more people here than in Tennessee. A&M is a statewide phenom here not just a regional school like TTU and Baylor. Heck DFW and Houston each rival the population of TN. That kind of publicity is invaluable for recruiting. Arky and LSU who already heavily recruit here probably won't gain but the rest of the SEC will including Tennessee with its excellent national recruiting network. When people down here talk of SEC powers they already mention UT as an elite program. That kind of talk will only increase.

Classof72 writes:

Although the Longhorns pick and choose Texas D1 recruits, there are 345 of them (this yr, as an example). Texas picks early, and there is no assurance their 25 will turn out to be the 25 best. Note that the Aggies beat the Longhorns in Austin last year, despite any imaginary recruiting advantage. Having the SEC in Texas will help the Vols recruit Texans and build a better program. It's expecially good for the Vols, as many of our conference rivals rely on in-state talent, and we can't. There aren't enough quality D1 recruits in Tennessee for the Vols to do so.

pms151 writes:

One more thing about publicity. Unless I really look hard to find SEC standings in the Houston Chronicle, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, or the Dallas Morning News I can't find them. With A&M in the SEC they will be right along side the BIG 12 (9). Gold for recruiters from the SEC. If A&M fails to put a quality team on the field the D1 recruits will look elsewhere in the SEC if they weren't already. Let's hope all of these discussions are not moot.

jobrando#216494 writes:

Looking at the geography of it Missouri is the team I would like to see join. Texas A&M is a fit. Then one from Virginia but the forth I cant see. Another team out of Georgia or Florida. Ga Tech has already tried it. FL State I guess.

keviningeorgia writes:

in response to TennVolFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah, but it's a definite match for the SEC. Just think about THIS: Texas starts with a T, just like Tennessee. And the second letter in Texas is an E, also just like in Tennessee. Not only do their first 2 letters match EXACTLY but the second letter is a vowel, also just like Tennessee! How weird is that?

I was going to go into some other details about how their spelling matches EVEN MORE SEC schools' letters. But, this is a UT site and I don't think it is appropriate...

macgaz writes:

As a Vol fan living in the DFW area, I can tell you that most folks I've met don't even know what the SEC stands for. For example, my boss' son got a full-scholarship baseball offer from Vandy and he threw away the letter because he didn't know anything about the program. If it ain't Texas, A&M or OU, it's not on their radar.

The only exposure these people get to the SEC is when the National Championship game is on. Maybe A&M coming over will broaden their world a little bit.

gogovols2002#222335 writes:

West Virginia University is less than an hour from pennsylvania,ohio, maryland and northern virginia. A perfect addition for the eastern division. Could encroach on Big Ten territory. WVU has an excellent basketball program (final four 2 years ago) And has a winning record against SEC opponents ( Beat Ga in the Sugar Bowl, recent wins over Auburn & Mississippi St) Also many WVU fans in live in the southeast due to the state losing population.. The Eastern division hosting teams would likely sell out

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