There’s a common misconception — one that we’ve tried to dispel for two years now — that conference expansion and realignment is based 100% on football. While TV contracts certainly provide the biggest reason for schools and leagues to merge, everything from academics to visibility is also considered by decision-makers.
ESPN.com’s Kristi Dosh spoke with Texas A&M’s Jason Cook — the school’s VP of marketing and communications — about the rationale behind the Aggies’ move to the SEC. His take?
“The top decision factor for A&M going to the SEC was about increasing national visibility and exposure… While some look at the Big 12′s (FOX television) contract and see it as good from a financial standpoint, from an exposure standpoint, it doesn’t get coast-to-coast coverage.”
Cook pointed out that ESPN/ABC chose to air A&M’s recent game with Iowa State across only a portion of Big 12 footprint. By comparison, the vast majority of SEC games air on CBS or one one of ESPN’s national networks.
He also noted that nine of the Top 25 selling sports brands in the country are currently in the SEC.
Dosh also spoke with Missouri officials who are focused on the academic side of the school’s new SEC partnership. Mizzou intends to extend “their out-of-state reach, particularly in Florida, where they ahve a large number of alumni.”
Does football matter? You bet. Is it the only thing that matters? Absolutely not.