There's much frivolity and asshattery amongst our friends in and of College Station about how AWFUL the Longhorns travel schedule will be in a Pac-16, while A&M will enjoy the easy commute of the SEC each fall weekend. Now, anybody that tested out of 9th grade Geography probably realizes the foolishness of this argument, but since speaking slowly and in clear tones is occasionally necessary to help that family member who isn't quite right, let's have some fun with schedules, shall we?
For the sake this argument, we'll use Missouri, the current trendy 14th team, as the partner in the Aggies grand ascendancy to perceived gridiron Valhalla. I'd be more inclined to add Miami or FSU myself, but that's not the name being bandied about right now. I understand the attractiveness of Missouri: Add the St. Louis Television market and an easy W on the football field every year, maybe even for Vandy.
I've assumed some conference realignment if the Aggies and Tigers join the conference. Unlike Gene Stallings, the SEC understands the importance of rivalry's so they'll be loath to split Auburn and Alabama, and I've declined to put both schools in the East, as it would ridiculously overweight the Eastern Division in terms of competitiveness. This schedule is based very loosely on LSU's 2011 schedule:
A possible schedule for the Aggies could look something like this:
Sept. 3 OTC
Sept. 10 OTC
Sept. 17 @ Auburn (651 miles)
Sept. 24 OTC
Oct. 1 Tennessee
Oct. 08 Mississippi St.
Oct. 15 @ Florida (837 miles)
Oct. 22 Vanderbilt
Nov. 5 LSU
Nov. 12 @ Miss. (480 miles)
Nov. 19 Alabama
Nov. 26 @ Arkansas in Dallas (156)
Texas's schedule could look like this:
9/10 @ Arizona (789 miles)
10/1 OU @ Dallas (176)
10/8 @ OSU (399)
11/5 @ Washington St. (1535)
11/25 @ Tech (326)
Not exactly the Apocalypse? Because of the structure of a possible PAC-16, Texas will be asked to go to the actual West Coast once a year, as well as Arizona, and continue games with traditional BIG 12 rivals at locations we've all become familiar with over the last decade. Now, Aggie may cry "Ha ha ha ha, you'll have to play at 10 pm, CST!!!!!"
Well, no. The original PAC 8 teams have no more interest in playing a noon game in Austin then we have playing a night game on the West coast. Austin based games will be played at night in all probability, while PST games will occur in the afternoon to accomodate travel schedules. Yeah, a trip to Pullman, Bend, Eugene, or Seattle is going to be a haul, but one we only have to do once a year, and we won't have to return for eight years. In some years, we'll only be going to LA, which isn't much more of a flight than Ames.
On the other hand, A&M is going to have to haul its squad all over the South East, every year, with some of those year's involving potential trips to South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, or Florida. Having recently driven from DC to Columbia, SC, a virtual straight shot down I-95 and over via I-20, it's eight hours and nearly 500 miles, not something that can be undertaken on a whim of a roadtrip.
That's the beauty of a PAC-16: It alleviates the horrific travel necessary for just A&M and UT to join the PAC-10 alone, and maintains regional rivalry's that largely already exist. When constructing this schedule, I was forced to have A&M play Arkansas to end the season, which is somewhat problematic, as Arkansas and LSU are technically a rivalry (although the Tigers don't really think much of Arkansas) and all the other teams in a realigned SEC West have Thanksgiving week rivalry's that preclude A&M finishing the season against one of these teams. The same is true of the Eastern teams, which means A&M may find itself playing a rivalry week team like Miami or Missouri, with which it has zero history.
See, A&M, unlike Texas, which can easily take another former Big 12 team, like Tech or Colorado and establish a new rivalry, comes into the SEC as the proverbial third wheel, sharing nothing in common with its SEC brethren beyond a history of recruiting violations and generally conservative politics.
But hey, Mississippi St. and the Aggies can duel for best turf management program, so there's that.