SEC Expansion: As Texas A&M leaves Big XII, Saban shares some thoughts

The New York Times reported late Monday evening that Texas A&M officially notified the Big XII that it “will formally withdraw—very likely on Tuesday.” The New York Times said, “This is the latest step in the Aggies’ effort to join the Southeastern Conference.”

With Texas A&M so close to joining the SEC, Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban was asked about the addition of the Aggies to the Southeastern Conference. Saban offered some advice to explain what newcomers to the SEC should expect: passionate fans and quality players.

“Football is football. I think sometimes our style of play may be a little bit different than some other part of the country,” Saban said. “That doesn’t make it better or worse, I do think there are probably a little better cover people and maybe a little better pass rushers. And I think when you come and play somebody in this league you better be ready for those things.”

For present SEC fans, Saban indicated expansion is not necessarily a bad thing and pointed to his experience in the Big Ten as an example.

“I think if you understand the dynamics of college football and what’s happening then you understand that there are teams and programs that could become assets for other conferences based on the circumstance in their particular conference, and I don’t necessarily see expansion as a negative thing,” Alabama’s football coach said. “People have heard me talk before about the fact I was in the Big Ten when Penn State came in, and there were a lot of naysayers about all that. The fact of the matter is Penn State made the league better and opened up the Big Ten to the East, and it helped us all recruit better in the East because those kids got exposure in the East from Penn State. The east became one of the best recruiting areas for us as a far away recruiting area at Michigan State whereas before we could never get a player there.”

Could the addition of Texas A&M yield a bounty of football recruits for SEC schools like Alabama? Possibly. There is little doubt that is the biggest fear in Austin and with Texas fans. It could be justified, as football coaches already recognize the quality of football in the state.

“I do think there are a whole lot of folks in Texas, and there’s a whole lot of good football over there,” Saban said. “I do think there would be some assets that a team from Texas would bring to our league. That doesn’t mean I’m for or against it. It means I’m for the people who are in positions to make those decisions, to make them. I’m not going to call them. I’m not going to call the president to ask what play to run on third down, so he doesn’t have to worry about getting a call from me, or getting my opinion on whether we should expand or not.”

Saban places his trust in the conference leadership to make the final call on SEC expansion.

“I really do feel like we have a lot of people in the SEC, Commissioner Mike Slive and his whole staff, a lot of great administrators at many institutions in the SEC that can really make much, much better decisions and have a much better opinion on this than I can as a coach, especially in-game week worrying about the game,” Alabama football coach Nick Saban said. “I have all the faith, trust and confidence that all the presidents and administrators will make the best possible decision for our league moving ahead.”