Four months ago, Texas A&M and the Southeastern Conference confirmed that the Aggies nearly moved their sports programs from the Big 12 to SEC. Since then, there’s been much conjecture about why A&M elected to stay in the Big 12 instead of bolting for the SEC.
(Not the first time Byrne hasn’t been afraid to rile up the A&M faithful)
Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne cleared up much of that speculation with a brutally honest assessment of the situation during a guest appearance on WTAW-AM in College Station, Texas, this week. (Via Wiz of Odds.)
Byrne on why A&M didn’t make the move to SEC:
“I was concerned with changing conferences that we may not be ready for the level of competition if we decided to leave. I was very concerned about trying to take things slowly, and not rush.”
Byrne also cited the school’s athletic dept. balance sheet for staying in the Big 12:
“If we looked at where we stacked up financially in the Pac 10 conference, we were about third. If we looked at where we stacked up in the Southeastern Conference, we were eighth out of 12. We didn’t rank very well.”
Byrne cited the Aggies move from the now-defunct Southwest Conference to the Big 12 as an instructive lesson:
“My big concern was that when Texas A&M made the move from the Southwest Conference to the Big 12 conference [in 1996], they were not ready for the level of competition that was out there.”
“[A&M] had not made the investment in facilities, staff or salaries - all the things you need to build a great program. And you saw the results of that. We had a good football team in 1998, then we had problems.
“We had terrible basketball [teams]. … We had significant issues in track and field. We had problems with most of our sports because we were not ready for the level of competition.”
While non-A&M observers appreciate Byrne’s honesty, I can’t imagine his sentiment will go over too well with a good many, diehard Aggie fans. (Longhorn fans? Completely different story.)