A Baseball Perspective On The Latest Conference Shuffle…
By Collegebaseball360.com Editor Sean Stires
As of next July, Texas A&M will no longer be a member of the Big 12 Conference. The SEC announced Sunday that the school will join its conference in all sports on July 1, 2012. The plan is for all of Texas A&M’s athletic teams to participate as Southeastern Conference members during the 2012-2013 academic year.
The move obviously has more to do with football than anything, but it’s a big move from a baseball perspective as well.
The SEC has won the last three baseball national championships (LSU-2009, South Carolina-2010 & 2011) and the addition of Texas A&M gives it another championship caliber baseball school. The SEC sent seven teams, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi St., South Carolina, and Vanderbilt to the College World Series this past season, while Texas A&M was one of six Big 12 teams to qualify for the 2011 NCAA Baseball field.
Rob Childress‘ Aggies didn’t just make it into the NCAA field of 64 though. They marched all the way to Omaha along with their longtime rival, Texas. South Carolina, Florida and Vanderbilt also made it to the CWS, with South Carolina defeating Florida in the CWS Championship and Vandy falling to the Gators in the CWS semi finals.
Things are going so well in the world of Aggie baseball that a $7 million renovation project is in progress on the home of Texas A&M baseball – Olsen Field.
By losing Texas A&M, the Big 12 doesn’t just lose a high-caliber team. It also loses a couple of uniquely scheduled conference series. The Aggies had split their conference series recently with arch rival Texas and Baylor by playing part of those series at home and part on their rivals’ home field. For example, this past season A&M hosted the first game of the Baylor series on a Friday in College Station and then games two and three were played in Waco. They did the same with Texas, with the last two games played in Austin.
Considering Nebraska will play its first season in the Big ten this year, Big 12 baseball takes another big hit as well with the loss of Texas A&M. They only had 10 teams to begin with (Colorado and Iowa State didn’t have baseball) before schools starting defecting for other conferences, and now they’ll be down to eight baseball playing schools in the 2013 season.
Nebraska and Texas A&M aren’t just any old baseball schools they’re losing. While Nebraska has been down in recent years, the Cornhuskers and Aggies represent two of the five Big 12 schools that have advanced to Omaha in the last decade. Childress was an assistant on all three Nebraska teams to advance to the CWS before leading his own team to the promised land this year.
The SEC is, understandably, already swollen with pride in its high quality baseball programs and now its high quality populace is even more swollen as well. Meanwhile, Texas continues to prop-up the Big 12, but how long that will last is anyone’s guess.
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