For the most part, conference realignment has wrought more bad than good. Longstanding rivalries (Texas-Texas A&M, Kansas-Missouri, West Virginia-Pittsburgh) have been disrupted. One conference (the Big East) will soon be a geographic farce, and another (the WAC) will soon be extinct.
However, one school's decision to change conferences has had a direct hand in one of the most exciting stories of 2012. In fact, it led straight to the most impactful upset of the season, a game that may one day go down as a milestone moment that not only alters a national championship race, but one that ushers in far-reaching changes.
When Texas A&M's leadership decided to bolt the Big 12 for the SEC back in the summer of 2011, the most common response (from myself included) was ... man, the Aggies are going to get their butts kicked for a while. They had long played third fiddle (at best) to Texas and Oklahoma in the Big 12. Now they were going to attempt to tussle with Alabama and LSU?
Of course, we couldn't have known then that just a few months later, Texas A&M would upgrade at head coach from notorious underperformer Mike Sherman to Kevin Sumlin, who overachieved at Houston. And not even recruiting analysts realized that Sherman had signed a preternaturally gifted quarterback who, when deployed in the right offense (and afforded an appropriately cool nickname), would flummox the SEC's most renowned defense -- as a freshman.