Ok, so the move to the SEC isn’t official yet…but come on, we all know it’s going to happen. Texas A&M officially announced today it will be leaving the Big 12 and seeking another conference. No need to prognosticate over where they might land. They’ll be the 13th member of the SEC.
If you’ll allow me, I’d like to take off my journalist hat and put on my fan hat. Having lived in SEC country all but nine months of my life, and having graduated law school from an SEC school, I’d like to give A&M fans a primer on what to expect when they become a part of SEC nation.
- We operate as equals in the SEC. Alabama never lobbies to receive a bigger share than Vanderbilt. You get the same conference distribution no matter how many times you are or aren’t on television. Florida isn’t trying to start its own network. It’s all for one and one for all.
- You are no longer simply Texas A&M fans. You will be SEC fans. When any SEC team plays any non-SEC team, you will root for the SEC team to win. I’m a Gator fan who has rooted for every other SEC team at some point in time, including Georgia. Best example? Alabama and Auburn have perhaps the biggest rivalry in the SEC and one of the biggest in college football. Yet, over the past year they’ve each done something to help the other through groups called Tide for Toomer’s and Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa. Although a rogue Alabama fan poisoned trees at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn, Alabama fans created Tide for Toomer’s and pitched in over $50,000 to the effort to preserve the trees. Just a few months later, Tuscaloosa was devastated by a tornado. Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa formed and recently a flag football game, Rivals Unite for Recovery, featuring former Alabama and Auburn players was played to raise money for tornado relief. Bottom line: in the SEC we take care of our own.
- If you want to be a season ticket holder, you should act fast. It may already be too late given the news that all season tickets for this year are already sold out. It’s not likely to get any better. Last I heard the waiting list at Alabama is 10,000 fans deep. You’re not Alabama, but you’re a new Texas A&M. You have until the fall of 2012 to figure out how to get season tickets and then you should hold on for dear life.
- Speaking of waiting lists, you can get on the list for the 2012 SEC Championship game starting tomorrow. Yes, you read that right: 2012. The 2011 game is already sold out. On average around 200 tickets become available to those on the waitlist each year, but with each fan having the option to buy two tickets only about 100 people make it off the waitlist. The average ticket on the secondary market for the 2009 game was $583, so I’d get on that waitlist if I was you. Once you’re in, you’re in, so if you get off the waitlist, be sure to renew your tickets each year. Trust me, you’ll have no trouble unloading them if A&M isn’t in the game.
- If you want to travel to another SEC stadium for a game, make your hotel reservations at least a year in advance. Hotels in Gainesville routinely allow fans to sign a contract reserving a room for every home game weekend. Those contracts are signed a year in advance. Expect to encounter a lot of this around the SEC.
- “Nowhere in the SEC do SEC sports come second [except maybe Nashville, but Vanderbilt is often the exception].” I added the last part, but the rest of the quote is courtesy of Chadd Scott, who recently wrote about why Missouri isn’t a good fit in the SEC in terms of culture and passion. Don’t worry, Aggies, what Missouri lacks you all seem to have in spades.
- We travel around here. With visiting team ticket allotment going from the Big 12′s 4,000 to the SEC’s 7,000, roll out the welcome mat. SEC fans will descend upon College Station, and with few exceptions be cordial visitors.
SEC fans, what other advice or comments do you have to welcome Aggies into the conference?