How Texas A&M’s SEC Dreams Could Impact The Race For The White House
Texas A&M wants to move to the SEC. Texas governor Rick Perry wants to be President Rick Perry. Those interests, it turns out, match up quite well. Perry's an A&M alum, and over the last few days, his name's been at the center of rumors that the school will jump ship from - and possibly thereby destroy - the Big 12 and join the SEC, and while no such move is happening just yet, that doesn't mean it's not happening at all.
And if it does happen, don't think it's lost on Perry how visible he'll be in a region of particular interest to him. According to Texas Monthly's Paul Burka, it's no accident that Perry has such an interest in his alma mater moving to the Southeastern Conference:
It is a way for Perry to validate himself as a southerner. In one bold move–and don’t think for a moment that Perry didn’t orchestrate this–Perry has used A&M to leverage himself into prominence in the South, an area where a Republican presidential candidate must run well. The A&M culture and the southern culture mesh well. It’s military, it’s patriotic (if you overlook the Civil War), it’s athletics overshadowing academics at most institutions, the exceptions being Vanderbilt and Georgia.
First of all...Georgia? Not that it isn't a fine school, but Georgia is football-crazy just like the rest of the SEC (and has more tradition than most programs, to boot), and we wouldn't put the school on any different level of prioritizing academics than, say, Florida.
Second of all...this is an intriguing point. Burka said it's been impressed upon him by Perry advisers that "he always has a plan," and since his biggest plan right now seems to be becoming President of the United States, it's hard not to think the A&M-SEC developments play their part in it. The case that Perry is making a concerted effort to appeal to the South is a compelling one - happen to recall any other Perry-driven events lately that might be seen positively throughout the Bible Belt? Sure, it all might be purely playing politics, but it does fit together awfully nicely - and if A&M does join the SEC sooner rather than later, it's...well, sort of a brilliant play.
One area where we disagree with Burka, though, was that Texas "overplayed its hand in attempting to dominate the Big Twelve." The Longhorn Network was too much money, too much publicity not to do, and as we recently saw, it provides plenty of protection for the school even in the event the Big 12 ceases to exist entirely.
Even if Texas were to go independent, it would still be Texas, with vast resources at its disposal. It's just too big, too ingrained in the culture of the state, for A&M to "whip" it in recruiting. We're confident that Texas, like Rick Perry, always has a plan - and even if we're still unconvinced Perry's plan will be rewarded with his ultimate goal of the presidency of a nation he once sort of hinted his own state might secede from, we imagine those plans will serve both entities well.
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