Rivalry in jeopardy as Aggies exit Big 12

Adrian O'Hanlon III

Editor’s Note: With the Wednesday announcement that Texas A&M had officially sent in a letter of withdrawal from the Big 12 Conference, there would be no better opinion to gauge than that of Adrian O’Hanlon III, the sports editor of A&M’s school paper, The Battalion.

The breakup is official as Texas A&M notified the Big 12 Conference of its intention to join another athletic conference Wednesday.

What a historic turning point in the relationship between A&M and Texas. For centuries, our fans and alumni have bantered back and forth, arguing which school has a more prestigious academic program, a more successful athletic program and who best represents the state of Texas.

Longhorns and Aggies will riot without the Texas showdown, so officials would be smart to sign off on a contract. A&M agreed to renew its rivalry with Arkansas to play in the annual Southwest Classic at Jerry’s World, and fans of both schools will plan well in advance to make the trip. The bottom line: The two schools will reach an agreement to play a non-conference game once per year…

Or else.

Already, message boards are bursting with passionate responses to the recent news, its effects on the rivalry, the conference, A&M’s future and construction plans of a bronze statue to honor Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin. The majority of conversations surround the stability of the Big 12. Will it survive the departure of three teams in two years?

I believe so. The conference has the potential to nab big name programs in BYU, Notre Dame, Air Force and TCU. In addition, SMU placed its name in the hat with interest in joining the league.

The real question is how the conference will rank potential prospects. Location should play a larger role in this round of musical chairs after the Big 12 and its board of directors addressed the importance of geographical rivalries.

Loftin expressed his appreciation of conference officials in the withdrawal process.

“We appreciate the Big 12’s willingness to engage in a dialogue to end our relationship through mutually agreeable settlement,” Loftin said. “We, too, desire that this process be as amicable and prompt as possible and result in a resolution of all outstanding issues, including mutual waivers by Texas A&M and the conference on behalf of all the remaining members.”

The university announced it will submit an application to join an unidentified conference. At this point, all signs point to the Southeastern Conference, as Loftin said in a press conference on Aug. 15 that he had contacted only the SEC.

The SEC has yet to extend an invitation, so Aggie fans must postpone any celebration plans.