Who knew people in Alabama use the Interwebs?

“Yeah, no.”  This phrase — celebrated among a group of friends AD and I share — was the first thing that came to mind when he suggested I contribute to this blog (by which I mean to say that I was included on a group email that went out to what is like to be the full contingent of readers this blog has in the near future).  In any event, after (1) a quick review of the quality of ALDLAND posts (and in spite of some of the preposterous suggestions AD has made — we all know who first “owned” the G) and (2) a bit of reflection on the fact that although I consume an unhealthy amount of internet junk-food, I have yet to contribute in any meaningful (or meaningless, as the case may be) way, I thought “No, yeah” and decided to give things a whirl.  My humble apologies in advance.

Since I have very little in the way of original musings to contribute, I’ll begin by linking to an NYTimes blog post on college football fandom around the country.  While I disagree with any methodology that puts the number of Georgia Tech ahead of the number of Georgia fans, I think the broader conclusions the post makes are interesting, if not illuminating, particularly in the midst of all the conference realignment talks.  A couple things stood out to me, particularly as an SEC fan.  First, as alluded to in the title of this post, I found it pretty amazing (maybe I shouldn’t have, given the fervor of every Bama or Auburn fan that I’ve ever met), that Birmingham might be the 6th-largest college football market in the country.  Second, if A&M does in fact join the SEC, it will immediately have the largest fan base in the conference (again, accepting the dubious methodology in question).  Slive might be onto something after all.

Anyhow, just a couple thoughts in what really is a must-read piece.  Hope you enjoy.

Aggies up the ante

The New York Times reports:

Texas A&M’s departure from the Big 12 Conference drew closer to reality on Monday when the university’s president, R. Bowen Loftin, sent a letter to the Big 12 board chairman, the Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton, notifying the league that the Aggies would formally withdraw — very likely on Tuesday — according to two college officials with direct knowledge of the decision.

This latest step in the Aggies’ effort to join the Southeastern Conference appears to have two stumbling blocks. The first is Texas A&M’s exit fee from the Big 12, which it has not negotiated. That amount is expected to be close to $15 million. The other is the approval of the S.E.C. presidents. Nine of the 12 would have to vote in favor for Texas A&M to become a member of the conference. It is unlikely that Texas A&M would be this far along in the process without adequate S.E.C. presidential support.

Texas A&M hopes to play in the S.E.C. during the 2012 football season, which would appear to leave the conference with a mathematically clunky 13 teams for one year.

With this move, Texas A&M’s membership in the SEC is far from secured, and a smooth transition into the SEC is not guaranteed. There has been no public statement from the SEC on conference expansion since mid-August, when the conference “reaffirmed [its] satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment.”

Rather than negotiate the particulars– including its Big XII exit fees and whether the SEC would operate with an odd-numbered membership (currently it has east and west divisions of six schools each)– behind closed doors, A&M has stepped out into the open, formally making its intentions known to all.

The move does not place any more pressure on the SEC to act, however. A&M is a school that needs a conference– it can’t and won’t operate as an independent– but the SEC is not in danger of losing it to another conference; this pairing is the only logical option, and the SEC should want a foothold in Texas if it is to expand at all.

Even though this decision doesn’t raise the stakes for anyone but A&M, it may make easier a deal that brings it to the SEC. If the conference was nervous about making the invitation before it was sure A&M would accept it, this formal notification of departure from the Big XII would appear to erase any first-mover qualms the SEC might harbor. The ball may be back in the SEC’s court, but Texas A&M has served up a slow floater, and the SEC can and likely will sit and watch this one for a bit before taking action.

All-Nighters Keep Football Team Competitive During Ramadan (via NYT)

DEARBORN, Mich. — The clock reached midnight as Sunday ticked into Monday and someone yelled, “It’s go time!” Football season could officially begin. New balls appeared and players at Fordson High School prepared to do what had long been done in this hometown of Henry Ford, build something with assembly-line precision and reliability. … Read More

via NYT