HOOVER, Ala. – Texas A&M playing Texas in conference play would be fine with former Aggie head football coach Jackie Sherrill.
“You know me,” said Sherrill who was 5-2 against UT from 1982-87. “I’d play Texas in the parking lot.”
The two haven’t played in football since 2011, the Aggies last season in the Big 12 Conference before leaving for the Southeastern Conference. The two could be playing again if Texas and Oklahoma join the SEC. The two have inquired about possibly joining the league according to multiple reports.
Sherrill understands while some Aggies might not want the SEC to add the Longhorns who criticized A&M when it left the Big 12.
“It’s hard to mend feelings and that’s basically what happened with Texas and Texas A&M,” said Sherrill, who added that there’s probably many things going on behind the scenes.
Sherrill said it could be difficult for Texas and Oklahoma to get enough votes, because it takes three-fourths of the SEC’s members. A&M athletics director Ross Bjork said the Aggies want to be the lone team from Texas in the league. Missouri, which exited the Big 12 along with A&M, also could be opposed to adding teams they left behind, while schools such as Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State could be significantly hurt in recruiting if OU and UT were to join the league, Sherrill said.
Sherrill doesn’t rule out that Oklahoma and Texas could be fishing for the best deal.
“I would, too,” he said. “Is the best deal for Texas the SEC or is it in the Pac-12?”
Oklahoma and Texas flirting with the SEC could lead to a better offer from the Pac-12, which could also include adding Oklahoma State, Sherrill said.
“None of that is probably off the table,” Sherrill said. “So the question is what are Texas’ real deep feelings? Are they really fishing or are they really serious about the SEC?”
Texas’ officials in the past had said academically it would be a better fit with the Pac-12 or Big Ten rather than the SEC if the Longhorns had to move.
A decade ago, the then Pac-10 attempted to add Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and A&M in what would have created a super 16-team conference. But A&M and Missouri joined the SEC and Colorado went to the Pac-12.
Sherrill said talk of Texas leaving behind Baylor and Texas Tech could get legislators involved.
“What people don’t understand is that in the state of Texas politically is still controlled an awful lot by what goes on at each college, because the governor appoints those board members,” Sherrill said.
Sherrill said the future for both Oklahoma and Texas hinges on eyeballs – television ratings.
The SEC’s footprint is large in regards to college football fans, while the Pac-12 is much smaller, Sherrill said.
“So if you’re going to advertise, are you going to put your money in something where you’re going to only get 14-17% of the viewing audience or are you going to put it where you’re going to get 50-85% of the viewing audience?,” Sherrill said.
Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama; Houston, Jacksonville, Florida; Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee; and New Orleans are typically among the year’s top college football TV markets and all are in the SEC footprint.
Sherrill said both Oklahoma and particularly Texas have seen how the Aggies have benefited from joining the SEC.
The SEC distributed over $45.5 million per school in 2019-20, up slightly from $44.6 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year.