Texas A&M's move to the Southeastern Conference has already paid off in recruiting, prestige and in the bank.
Here's some food for thought, though: The switch from the Big 12 may have cost the Aggies an opportunity to play for a national championship.
If the Aggies still played in the Big 12, they could (note the word could) have made it through the regular season undefeated. Considering they lost by a field goal to No. 6 Florida and five points to No. 8 LSU while beating former No. 1 Alabama, it certainly seems at least possible.
Kansas State nearly did it as the Big 12's best, so why couldn't the Aggies have rolled through undefeated and been set up to play Notre Dame in Miami?
The Big 12 is down this season, especially in the elite category. It has only one team in the Top 10, two others in the Top 20 and a third in the Top 25. With two of those four ranked teams set to have at least one more loss --- Oklahoma State and Oklahoma play each other Saturday and Texas travels to KSU on the final weekend -- the final AP poll will not be very favorable for the Big 12.
Another plus for the Aggies would have been the schedule. If the Big 12 would have held true to form, alternating home sites from season to season, A&M would have hosted the two highest ranked teams in the conference, No. 7 Kansas State and No. 14 Oklahoma.
With Notre Dame the only undefeated team eligible to play for the national title, an unbeaten A&M would have surely been the second team in the title game, just as KSU was poised to play for the title before losing to Baylor.
"I don't think about the Big 12," A&M senior defensive tackle Spencer Nealy said. "But now you do have me pondering it."
Until the playoff system goes into affect, winning the SEC is more difficult than winning both the Big 12 and the national championship.
There is one big flaw in this line of thinking, however.
Who would have beaten Alabama?
And there are other flaws.
For example, A&M's defense struggled most against offenses that resembled its own. Nearly every Big 12 team runs some kind of spread or hurry-up offense like Louisiana Tech's, and the Bulldogs dropped 57 points on A&M. Running an unconventional offense, Ole Miss should have upended the Aggies.
Could the Aggies have won eight conference shootouts?
Also, a six-turnover game like the one A&M had against Ole Miss would probably have proven costly in the Big 12, considering how fast and often Big 12 teams like to score. Many of the Big 12 teams average better than 40 points a game, while Ole Miss was still looking for its first SEC Western Division win in three years.
So simply plugging A&M back into the Big 12 offers no guarantees.
Still, it's an intriguing thought.
After all, how much more exciting would this weekend be with an undefeated A&M playing at rival Texas with a national title game on the line? Beats hosting a Missouri team still looking to qualify for a bowl because it couldn't beat Syracuse at home.