Really, Mike Slive and company shouldn't. The SEC, as it has been in the past, should be the aggressor – they should go sign Texas and some other school(s) and get the ball rolling for themselves rather than being reactionary to the Big Ten.
I understand that Texas or Oklahoma or some other sets of schools might be weighting all of the options in front of them. Perhaps the Longhorns are not willing to move before they know exactly what is going to happen. But if Nebraska and Missouri, who seem like the top targets right now, leave the Big 12 and Colorado bolts for the Pac 10 (all probable scenarios) then Texas is going to want to leave it, too.
By leaving ahead of any Big Ten expansion, Texas controls its own destiny. In fact, they could leave for the Pac Ten or Big Ten if they wanted, but it seems like the SEC is the best overall athletic fit for the Horns. By being the first to expand, Texas could bring Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and in-state rival Texas A&M with them. That, with LSU and Arkansas, would give Texas' travel budget a little bit of a rest. I mean you do still have to travel to play women's tennis, softball and volleyball – and getting on a plane to travel across the country for all of that seems more than ridiculous. The SEC West wouldn't be so bad for Texas and company then in terms of travel, because Alabama and Auburn would likely slide to the SEC East for a battle royal with Florida, Tennessee and Georgia for the Eastern title each season.
In football, if/when the SEC goes to 16 teams programs in the East will rarely play programs in the west. Programs would play the other seven division schools and one opponent from the other division each year. Georgia, for instance, would play Texas two years in a row and then would rotate through the rest of the western schools over the next 14 years until they got back to the two-year matchup with Texas. Georgia's annual game with Auburn would be saved by the Tigers sliding over to the East, but Bama and Auburn would no longer play LSU each season.
If Texas leaves and take those teams with them it would avoid the SEC bringing in Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech or Clemson – all teams much further away than from Austin than A&M and Oklahoma. The Horns could stack the deck in their favor as much as possible… they would have three allies to help them with any fights inside the new SEC, and would probably drastically improve their bottom line with more television revenue as a result of the SEC's deal with CBS and Disney, which is the only reason for all of this madness anyway.
Money is the most important thing in the expansion process, but Texas has a lot more in common athletically with LSU and Arkansas than they do with Ohio State and Michigan or Cal and Stanford. If the Horns joined the Pac Ten they might be expected to start athletic programs like Men's Soccer, Men's Gymnastics, Women's Lacrosse and Water Polo for both genders. Only one Pac Ten School, conference reject Oregon State, does not have those programs. The Big Ten? Texas is at least three states away from that conference right now. That's like the SEC inviting New Mexico to join (better yet, like the ACC inviting Boston College…) it just doesn't make sense. Also, doesn't "Texas Hockey" just sound wrong?
Texas has the most to gain and the most to lose. If the SEC waits too long they might be in the same position. No one in Texas really wants to join the Big Ten. No one in Texas really wants to join the Pac Ten. No one in Texas really wants to be in a conference that just replaced Nebraska, Colorado and Missouri with BYU, TCU and some other also-ran. So if it seems to be headed that way anyway why not control your own destiny?
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