One of the things that pundits and others say regarding all of the different conference expansion that's continually being talked about is that conferences don't want to take on teams that will dilute their makeup. But this is a bit of a misnomer that needs to be taken apart a bit.
On one hand, if you're referring to dilution in a monetary sense, this is extremely true. Sure there are other considerations, but if a school isn't in a decent market and/or able to at least pull their share in contributing revenue, they stand little chance of being courted by another conference. Financially, this makes sense for all the "current" conference members.
On the other hand, you could be referring to dilution of the competitive aspects of the conference, bringing in a team that simply can't compete at the level the conference is already at. A variation of this is when a school is disqualified for lack of academic credentials. But on the whole, I think this type of dilution, gets more focus than it deserves, partly because there's usually a solid connection between how competitive a team is and how much money they bring in.
Would it really be that bad to bring in a new conference member that wasn't able to compete as well on the field as long as they were able to pull their share in bringing in money? (Sure there's the tangled web of how much a dilution in competition will affect the ability of the conference as a whole to make money, and we can't discount it, but at the same time 1) I don't think it's that big of an effect, and 2) I don't think the presidents really get down to that much minutae.) But in general, doesn't it seem like a win-win? Adding a school that gives you more money and more wins doesn't seem like that bad of a deal to me. Which is why the SEC should really be interested in Texas A&M, from a football standpoint.
The table below lists each school's revenue and winning % from a six-year span, as well as their respective ranks in each category. Aside from the teams already in the SEC, Big10, and Pac12, (who I'd peg as the most stable conferences right now in that none of their teams would ever consider leaving) the Aggies have the 4th biggest desirable difference between their revenue rank and their winning % rank. Ahead of them are Duke, North Carolina, and Syracuse, all basketball schools comfortable in their basketball-centered conferences. And realistically, the big conferences aren't going to want teams that are complete creampuffs on the gridiron. (There's no way that Vanderbilt gets invited to the SEC nowadays, but you know that the SEC head coaches are glad they're in the conference and most likely an easy W on the schedule.) The Aggies always seem to have solid players but never can quite get over the hump in the Big12 - while they have potential, there's little to suggest that would change in the SEC. Throw in the Big12's impending demise and you've got a really good situation for both the SEC and Texas A&M.
Of course there are a lot more considerations that go into a teams invitation to a new conference, such as geography (becoming less and less of an issue), academics, overall fit, etc. But money is still the big driving force. And when all the chaos ensues again, the teams that can generate it are the ones who are going to be the prized properties.
|Revenue & Competition, 2003-2008|
|Conf||Team||03-08 Revenue (in millions)||Revenue Rank||03-08 Winning%||W% Rank||Difference in Rank|
|MtnWest||San Diego St||191.4||65||.338||97||-32|
|WAC||New Mexico St||104.6||99||.264||108||-9|
|WAC||San Jose St||95.5||104||.400||88||16|
|SunBelt||Middle TN St||93.2||107||.423||82||25|