Gene Stallings on Texas A&M joining the SEC jh14b

Gene Stallings used to interview the boys that dated his daughters. He asked his future son-in-laws if they played sports. He wanted to know if they had competed at something. Below is an article on what Stallings thinks about Texas A&M joining SEC.

Stallings: SEC best fit for A&M

By Troy Schulte

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

LITTLE ROCK — Gene Stallings is an admitted traditionalist.

He has always opposed instant replay, has never been an advocate of a college football playoff, and he didn’t like it when the Southwest Conference broke apart almost 20 years ago.

So the former Texas A&M and Alabama coach gets a bit uneasy when talk of college football’s seemingly imminent realignment rears its head.

But considering his connections — he uses “we” when speaking of Texas A&M and Alabama — he can’t escape the questions.

“Everywhere I go,” said Stallings, cracking a smile not long after addressing the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Tuesday at the Embassy Suites in west Little Rock. “I would like to see everything stay intact, but it’s not. Things change.”

Stallings, who coached at Texas A&M in 1965-1971 and won a national championship at Alabama in 1992, was in on realignment talks when the issue heated up last summer as a member of Texas A&M’s Board of Regents.

His opinion then was for the Aggies to stay in the Big 12 Conference even after Colorado left for what is now the Pacific-12 and Nebraska went to the Big Ten. But Tuesday he cited Texas’ new television venture with ESPN, the Longhorn Network, and its more natural ties with SEC schools as reasons he believes Texas A&M belongs in a league with Alabama, Arkansas and others.

The school announced last week it would leave the Big 12 by next summer if it could find another affiliation, and most reports indicate that will be the SEC.

It’s not the home Stallings prefers for his alma mater — he played under Bear Bryant at Texas A&M in 1954-1956 — but if another home needs to be found, the SEC is better than most alternatives.

“We’re both in the same part of the country. Our people are somewhat the same,” Stallings said. “Somebody from Texas and somebody from California, they have different beliefs on different things. … I just think it’s a better fit for Texas A&M to be in the Southeastern Conference as opposed to being in the Pac-[12].”

Stallings, one of Bryant’s famed “Junction Boys” during his playing career, spent about 45 minutes addressing Touchdown Club members about stories of Bryant making he and his teammates practice after a loss to Texas Tech and how Bryant once talked him out of taking a coaching job at Kentucky.

He touched on Arkansas’ Sept. 24 matchup with Alabama — “It looks like Alabama is a little bit better of a football team,” he said — and its Oct. 1 game against Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas — “I saw A&M on television the other night, and they looked good to me.” — as well as what college football will look like in the future as realignment takes place.

“It’s going to eventually be four major conferences. There’s going to be about 20 teams in each conference,” he said. “They’re going to have a championship game. The winners of the championship games will have some little playoff. That will satisfy.”

After voting to stay put last summer, his term on its Board of Regents ended earlier this year. He said he wouldn’t advise Texas A&M of doing the same now, with Texas’ Longhorn Network, which was launched late last month, being one of the reasons.

“I could care less what the University of Texas does. They do what they want to do,” he said. “[But] now, all of a sudden, the playing field’s not level. … There’s 24 hours a day of the University of Texas.

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