Texas A&M’s move to the Southeast Conference is not just about football. It is also about politics. 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.
In the course of writing about Perry over the years, one thing that I heard from his advisers was, “He always has a plan.” Perry is always thinking about his next play. The big advantage he has over his rivals is that his mind is engaged 24/7 on his objectives and how to achieve them. There is no down time. I don’t see how Romney and Bachmann can compete with him in the arena of political foresight. They have no clue how disciplined he is, how focused he is, how inventive his mind is when it comes to the next move on the chess board.
The impending departure from the Big Twelve, or what’s left of it, of A&M raises serious question for the University of Texas. UT overplayed its hand in attempting to dominate the Big Twelve. It was more interested in getting its own network and all of the revenue that it would bring in than in assuring itself of having a credible league in which to play. Many in the A&M community wanted to go to the SEC at the time. The UT folks ignored that threat at their peril. Now, UT is in the position of playing in a crappy league with few credible opponents, and nobody in the near vicinity to recruit into a conference. Meanwhile, A&M has the ability to recruit athletes by saying, come to College Station and you will be playing in the best athletic conference in the country, and the richest. It is a pipeline to pro athletics. The Aggies are going to whip UT in recruiting on the strength of the SEC. Don’t think Rick Perry didn’t think about that, too. [posted from Denver, Colorado]
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Update: I was wrong about A&M moving to the SEC, but I was in good company: It was all over ESPN this morning (Sunday). I do believe that in the long run – and I think the “long” run is two to four years – A&M will join the SEC for the reasons I stated above. They are itching to get out from the shadow of the Teasips. There is going to be another realignment in college football. The Big 12 (or the Little Ten) can not survive in its current alignment. It is economically unsustainable without a championship game.