R. Bowen Loftin, who helped run the Aggies in the SEC in 2011 while he was chairman of A&M, said the oft-discussed unwritten rule was a “specific conversation” during expansion talks in 2010. -11 when he was involved. Loftin also served as chancellor at Missouri from 2014 to 2015 after the Tigers transferred to the SEC.
“There is this understanding among the members – at least it was 10 years ago – that you do not admit a school from the same state as a member school unless that member school agrees with that” Loftin told ESPN.com on Thursday. . “We talked about it from time to time among ourselves, that this was how it was going to be, that if we had another school in Texas that wanted to get into the SEC, Texas A&M would have a veto. “
Loftin said the talks took place while the late Mike Slive was commissioner. Loftin, who is retired and no longer involved in the talks at A&M or Missouri, said he believed current Commissioner Greg Sankey, who was Slive’s deputy before taking office as Commissioner in 2015, “the SEC makes very good long-term sense. . “
An SEC spokesperson said the league made no comment on Loftin’s comments on Thursday.
Three states – Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee – each have two SEC schools, but these date from the formation of the conference. In 1990, the league added Arkansas and South Carolina to states that did not have another SEC team.
Loftin said the deal precludes expansion talks involving teams like Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Miami, even when the league targets the ACC if 16-team superconferences occur in the final round of realignment.
“We discussed these specific possibilities,” Loftin said. “The state of Florida was never in the conversation, for obvious reasons. It was clear that they wouldn’t be eligible unless Florida wanted to include them, and who could imagine? “
Loftin said most of the expansion talks centered on schools like North Carolina, the state of North Carolina, Virginia or Virginia Tech, all schools in a state without SEC members. .
“I can tell you that during my time with the SEC at two different schools, that was the understanding we had,” Loftin said. “It wasn’t written. There is no specific rule you can point to. You can point the finger at the statutes, talk about having a three-quarter majority to admit a new school, which means four schools could prevent it from happening legally and officially. But beyond that, there was this understanding. “
Loftin said he and members of the A&M board specifically discussed Texas membership prospects during expansion talks with Slive, who was commissioner at the time. Slive passed away in 2018.
“I remember a meeting with the commissioner and some of our regents who were with me, [Texas] came into the conversation, ”Loftin said. “Mike assured us that they got what they wanted from Texas A&M because they got the Texas market and they had a school that was very compatible with SEC schools.
Current Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork said Thursday he would be “diligent in our approach to protect Texas A&M.” We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas. There’s a reason Texas A&M left the Big 12 – to be self-sufficient, to have our own identity. “
The Aggies and Longhorns obviously haven’t had much love for each other over the past 125 years or so, but especially since their split when A&M left the Big 12.
“They’re gone,” former Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds told the Daily Texan in 2013. “They’re the ones who decided not to play us. It’s up to us to decide when we play again. “
Loftin said he would be surprised if it was in the SEC.
“There would be a lot of anger from the Aggie community,” he said. “It’s certainly ironic – and that’s a very sweet word for it – after all the verbiage directed at us trying to discourage us from [going to the SEC], and then we fight after we do that, it’s really interesting that this school comes back and says, “Oh, we want to join you now”.
And he found the Texas interest to be an about-face, especially after discussing realignment possibilities with his counterpart in Austin, Texas President Bill Powers, who died in 2019.
“They have a very high opinion of themselves – which is not surprising – but not always justified. And that sparks a lot of thinking there, ”Loftin said. “Bill Powers made it very clear to me that they felt much closer to the Big Ten and West Coast schools. He despised the SEC a lot because he felt academically it was an inferior conference. He’s not here anymore. , I understand. But the fit, culturally, between A&M and the SEC is very good. Texas’ suitability is not. It is simply clear and simple. “
Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz, a newcomer to league drama in his second year as head coach of the Tigers, joked during SEC media day on Thursday about Texas’ alleged interest and Oklahoma.
“We are the best college football league and everyone wants to play it, and now you have two iconic brands that also want to join,” he said. “It’s an exclusive club and not everyone comes in so good luck. Especially if A&M has something to do with it. ”