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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Is Texas A&M going to leave the Big 12 for the SEC?

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With one response, Gov. Rick Perry elevated the rumors linking Texas A&M and the Southeastern Conference beyond message board chatter and Twitter.

Asked by The Dallas Morning News’ statehouse reporters Wednesday about speculation that A&M might bolt the Big 12 for the SEC, Perry responded: “I’ll be real honest with you. I just read about it the same time as y’all did. ... As far as I know, conversations are being had. That’s frankly all I know. I just refer you to the university and the decision makers over there.”

The comments from a prominent former student, one-time Aggie yell leader and likely presidential candidate sent the message that A&M is considering a move that could again rock the Big 12 and end longstanding traditional rivalries.

At the same time, Perry’s quote raises questions. Are the conversations among A&M officials? Have they extended to talks with the SEC? Where do president R. Bowen Loftin and athletic director Bill Byrne stand?

Asked about Perry’s comments and discussions regarding conference membership, A&M released a statement Wednesday afternoon. Rather than refute the speculation, A&M took a different approach. The statement read: “President Loftin is committed to doing what is best for Texas A&M not only now, but also into the future. We continue to have wide-ranging conversations regarding all aspects of the university, including both academics and athletics.”

Asked in a follow-up email to confirm or deny SEC discussion, A&M spokesman Jason Cook responded: “I will decline to address further .... Thanks for your understanding.”

Byrne, traveling with the men’s basketball team in Europe, didn’t immediately return an email. With commissioner Dan Beebe attending an NCAA summit in Indianapolis, the Big 12 declined comment.

Multiple high-level sources throughout the conference indicated than an A&M move was not viewed as eminent, although things could escalate. They detailed a view of a divided board of regents seriously willing to explore the SEC option. A large, vocal contingent of the fan base has given the movement momentum.

Several Big 12 sources also expressed a growing frustration with A&M’s wanderlust and its impact on a conference trying to rebrand itself after losing Nebraska and Colorado. For the past several months, A&M was the most vocal critic of Texas’ startup Longhorn Network with ESPN and its plans to televise high school games and Big 12 football contests.

Conference athletic directors and presidents gave A&M almost all of what it wanted last week, imposing at least a one-year moratorium on Longhorn Network high school games.

The opponent and league office must approve any conference game carried by the network. Apparently, A&M was not appeased.

Sources indicated that no other Big 12 team is considering an exit and the league would continue with nine teams if A&M left.

While sources said that A&M is intrigued about the SEC’s possibilities, the Aggies remain troubled by the Longhorn Network and its effect on Big 12 stability.

Proponents of a move to the SEC suggest that Texas A&M could finally escape Texas’ shadow and forge a separate national identity. With five consecutive BCS titles, the SEC represents the gold standard for football. A&M would be joining the elite.

But A&M would presumably join the SEC West and face a football schedule that includes Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Arkansas annually. The Aggies have lost their last six meetings against SEC opponents. The SEC maintains a conference title game. The Big 12 does not, providing an easier path to a BCS appearance.

A&M would also lose longstanding rivalries.

The Aggies have played Texas and Baylor more than 100 times. The Texas Legislature could get involved.

Yet none of that may matter given the direction A&M is moving.

SEC-ede, anyone?

Comments

Randy Bombardier 2 years, 8 months ago

Not to worry folks. If this happens you will see capital hill become embroiled in football matters. Kansas' Congressional Representatives are not going to let KU go to the Big10 or Pac12 without KSU which will lead to either a tremendous in-state battle (Bloody Kansas once again) or Congressional intervention with the justification that non-regionalism in college athletics is out-of-hand, that ADs and Administrators have a conflict of interest in the matter, and that safe-guards to protect student athletes are a joke.

My prediction is that there would be new legislation that would totally shake up college athletics. The academics are just waiting for the right moment. This would be it. They would be heard in Washington and everyone who decries the college experience for athletes (particularly football players) not genuinely providing an advanced education will have an audience. The Obama Administration will get involved and this will be one area where we really see change. The good news? We will end up with a relatively equal-access playoff.

The rubber will really meet the road when they finally admit that even paying players comes nowhere near what it has cost them to be passed to the next grade, regardless of academic performance and because of the pressure of athletics, since they were 12. That cost is huge and cannot be compensated for by paying them a thousand dollars a month for four years. That is not only my belief, it is my hope.

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Randy Bombardier 2 years, 8 months ago

Look, there are people trying to simply feather their nests while delighting in causing instability for their own gain. Mark my words, if A&M would make this move, they will never in a hundred years win an SEC Championship. NEVER! In the short history of the Big12 they already have one. It is not just about the money (and there appears to be no financial reason to change) but also about an ability to win. I don't think their fan base will happy if this were to happen and 20 years from now they are a .400 team and the only wins they get are Vandy and Kentucky.

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mustlehustle 2 years, 8 months ago

Just heard from a reliable source that SEC officials are meeting Saturday to discuss the addition of Texas A&M......hope everyone finds a chair when the music stops!

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rob4lb 2 years, 8 months ago

There's a lot of weight to this. Would UT give up the Longhorn Network in order to save the conference? Is a 9 team conference viable? The Big East has 9 football members, but does the Big 12 want to compare itself to the Big East. If A&M were to leave, who would the SEC get to balance the conference. Do the Big 10 or Pac 12 really feel the need to expand?

I'm guessing that dominos will not fall rapidly if A&M leaves and that the Big 9 will try to remain in tact at least for a year or two.

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Randy Bombardier 2 years, 8 months ago

I don't see this happening. A&M would become another Arkansas, without a title after 19 years in the conference. Don't see A&M getting anything out of it at all. I see this as purely an EMOTIONAL move. It would not be a business move. Makes no sense.

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mustlehustle 2 years, 8 months ago

The argument the University of Texas may have some decided edge in recruiting with their own Television Network is misguided. They already rank #1 in Rivals recruiting for this year and annually finish in the Top 5 nationally among recruiting. The Longhorn Network is attractive to ESPN, because it gives them a national presence at arguably one of the top universities in the nation.

The network isn't about football as much as bringing the other coverage to sports as well. If you want to cry unfair, they will benefit as well showing basketball, swimming, baseball, golf, girls volleyball, softball, etc. If you notice, UT finishes high in these sports as well. UT will continue to rank above all of the Big 12 in recruiting, and will cherry-pick amongst the 1700 high schools in Texas for who they want to recruit.

As respects showing high school football...again, they already are ranked each year number 1 in recruiting nationally. If anything, it would benefit the other schools to see talent that might get overlooked by their recruiting staff. However, if the "have nots" continue to cry foul, UT Athletic Director Dodds said yesterday they wouldn't show any football."

Where UT has picked up even a more decided edge in recruiting is the addition of Bryan Harsin as their OC from Boise State (all of the California/AZ recruting) and Manny Diaz, Bo Davis, Stacey Searles, Benny Wylie from the SEC. The fan base of UT largely endows its university, to the point they have 101,000 seating in their stadium that sells-out every game, a state of the art training facility, one of the highest paid coaches, and none of this has come from the State coffers.

They have been forward thinking, proactive and regardless of last year's sub-par performance, they went and hired the very best available coaches, and their fans simply won't allow anything but a winning team on the field. Until other schools put that type of commitment into their program and their fans require search committees and athletic departments to hire the best available, and have visionaries leading their charge, the "have nots" will have no one to blame when there's no room at the "adult table" and they're sitting at the folding table with the other kids."

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Ludwig Supraphonic 2 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps decisions made by regents in college board rooms about conference affiliation are solely based in revenue. I suppose, from the perspective of fiscal responsibility, that could be justified as being in their students best interest. I see little consideration of student interest in the discussion of college conference realignment. Do students really want to lose local rivalries? Can they afford road trips to either coast? Will a KU student go home for the holidays and enjoy bragging rights over his high school friend who attends UConn, UMass, Oregon, Boise State.....

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rob4lb 2 years, 8 months ago

It's funny that people are trying to make A&M the bad guy. Going to the SEC gives them more money, more stability, and a chance to create a stronger brand. It's UT that is insisting that it get to play be a different set of rules. No other conference would allow a Longhorn Network, so UT decided to keep the Big 12 together only after insisting that rules be set up to allow them their own network.

What's wrong with a Big 12 Network? It worked for the Big 10 and the Pac-12. Had UT decided to do that a figure out some revenue sharing formula (where of course they would get more than any other team), everyone would be happy. For some reason other big time schools with alot of money are fine with equal sharing- (Mississippi and Florida get the same amount; Northwestern gets the same as Ohio State).

For some reason, what is acceptable all other big time programs is NOT acceptable to UT. They are the villian and had it their power smooth things over. What's ironic is that they don't need the money.

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Justin Lindsley 2 years, 8 months ago

I thought we would have a few years before this all came up again. I'm sure the Hawks are looking around at possibilities. However, they might want to start pursuing a deal instead of begging for a spot down the road.

I also find it pathetic that A&M and others (think NE) would rather just take their toys and go home instead of try to get better and beat Texas. Most everyone is going to be at a disadvantage with UT. So is UT going to just go rogue and be independent. Any conference would be happy to get them in the short term, but maybe not so much in the long term.

I just hope KU can find a solid power conference that will invite them. TV money is the $hits!!!!

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Kyle Sybesma 2 years, 8 months ago

ESPN is putting themselves in dangerous territory with the LHN. They've been a pioneer in sports broadcasting. ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPN.com, ESPN3.com (?), ESPN the Magazine and pobably others I can't think of. Entering into a contract with not a conference but a university is crossing the line. How can they be considered a nonbias network when covering college or even high school sports? What's going to happen when Mack Brown retires and UT hires the wrong coach and UT falls into obscurity?

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Sam Constance 2 years, 8 months ago

This whole thing is ridiculous. I will believe that A&M is moving to the SEC (and therefore, that A&M officials, fans and alums have completely lost their minds) when it actually happens, and not a moment before.

They want to "get out of Texas' shadow" by going over and plopping down in the shadow of the SEC. Brilliant. Like it or not, Texas A&M no longer carries the same national cache that it once did. And moving to a conference where the path to postseason glory (and therefore national recognition) is more difficult isn't going to change any of that. Actually threatening for a Big 12 title and going to a BCS game to represent the Big 12 would be a lot more effective than putting their tail between their legs and running for the SEC.

It begs the question--is this about money or ego? Because the only "good" reason to leave the Big 12 is for pride and the childish/jealous view of the Longhorns. If it's about money, then move forward with the chunk of the new revenue pie that the Big 12 just baked and fix your wounded pride by BEATING TEXAS ON THE FIELD/COURT.

I'm no fan of Texas and their overbearing ways, but the way I see it, this move by A&M exhibits the same kind of "Texas pride" that makes the Longhorns so obnoxious. You have a bunch of jack*sses that never truly graduated from the college mindset, and want to make MAJOR decisions about their university and it's future based on some pathetic collegiate rivalry with another school. I dislike KSU and Missouri--in the context of college sports--but I would be livid if KU's administrators decided that we needed to leave the conference because we couldn't stand either of those schools. What a petty, ridiculous way to behave.

Between the money-grubbing conference realignment talk and the new topic of paying college athletes, I am real close to losing all interest in college athletics whatsoever. If I want to watch greedy a-holes quibble over money, I have the pro leagues, where they've turned arguing over money into a sport of it's own. Lockouts seem to be all the rage nowadays.

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Bear86 2 years, 8 months ago

For those of you who lived the conference re-alignment nightmare KU went through 2 years ago this should come as no surprise. F-Texas!!!!!!!!!!!

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mustlehustle 2 years, 8 months ago

Good article KG....I am not sure I completely agree with the writer's assessment. However, it brings an interesting alternative for a "Kansas." The remaining schools she lists not selected, make a very formidable "basketball driven" conference.. Teams like Houston, Baylor, Memphis, Louisville, Kansas State, all have very respectable baskeball programs.

The bigger conferences aren't attracted to a "Kansas" because the Kansas City, Topeka, Wichita markets aren't televsion markets that move the proverbial needle. Also, the sparse population of Kansas, doesn't have the economies of scale from a recruiting standpoint. It may be a newly formed conference of the above, and negotiate a substantial television contract based on their basketball strength may be a solution.

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gchawk 2 years, 8 months ago

I see the potential for Texas ultimately being in the Big 1. It seems to me that they've done about every conceivable thing they could do to alienate the other schools in our conference and the sad part is, they just really don't care. Oh how I miss the Big 8.

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KGphoto 2 years, 8 months ago

Here's a nice breakdown of the possible final re-alignment.

http://businessofcollegesports.com/category/pac-10/

He has KU as the last team in the Big 10's expansion to 16 teams.

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jgkojak 2 years, 8 months ago

OK...

1) Rick Perry is an idiot.

2) Let's pretend the SEC wanted A&M... fine. We WOULD easily be able to add a 10th team (Houston & Memphis being the most likely). Its not like A&M is an academic powerhouse.

3) Let's pretend A&M wanted the SEC... playing Alabama, Auburn, LSU and then having a champ game against Florida, etc. is kind of like back into the frying pan - losing NE and CO and the divisions makes it MUCH easier for A&M to get lucky on a down year by TX and OK and sneak into a title game or BCS bowl.

4) Note- A&M would probably do quite well in basketball.

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2_Phoggy 2 years, 8 months ago

You know how we protect KU from being left out of any power conferences? You buy football tickets and go to the games. Yeah. That's all. If we have a half packed house at every home game it's embarrassing and why the f would any of the power conferences want us? We are not a very attractive school to any of these power / super conferences being talked about

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KGphoto 2 years, 8 months ago

Hope Turner's boys make noise this year. A bowl game would go a long way toward selling our new football program as winning. In order to do that we would have to chalk up several big upsets, garnering some national attention, proving T.G. has turned football at KU around and making us more attractive to the Big 10, PAC 10, whoever.

It seems the NCAA would love 4, 16-team power conferences. Everything would be nice and tidy for the switch to a playoff system. Conference Championship game winners in football would slide easily to the top of the playoff bracket, and teams like Boise St. would find it far more difficult to steal the thunder of big money schools like Ohio St., Alabama, Texas etc.

Seems like it will be the PAC 16, The Big 16 (Big 10), SEC and the conference that always seems left out of these conversations, The ACC. I could easily see the ACC soaking up some of the Big East, along with the Big 12.

Can you imagine playing Duke and North Carolina regularly in basketball? Hey basketball may not be the cash cow football is, but that would be the mother of all the other basketball conferences combined! ESPN would probably start a new network just for ACC basketball.

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WestNEHawk 2 years, 8 months ago

Mustlehustle - I'm curious, if ND, texass, BYU and a couple of others form a group would it be difficult for them to schedule games during the "regular" season with teams that are playing in their conference, i.e., the regular season???

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mustlehustle 2 years, 8 months ago

All news and comments points in the direction of it all being a formality. Governor Rick Perry (soon to be as of this Saturday "Republican Nominee for President Perry) who is an Aggie (KU fans think of your disdain for K-State, and multiply that by a power of 10 and you'll understand the despise between UT/A&M) said all as much yesterday. A&M Board of Regents will announce 8/31 the decision.

Apparently the remaining issue for A&M is an "State of Texas" Oil and Gas Fund that is split among the major universities and A&M gets a 1/3 of that $6B dispersal of funds for their research departments. SEC is a winner with A&M joining as it opens the State of Texas for recruiting, and gives them two major TV markets in Dallas and Houston. ESPN, the network for SEC wins by adding those markets to their growing empire and ESPN also wins because that clears the runway for them to continue full-speed ahead with the Longhorn Network and specifically showing Texas High School football games on their network.

(A note here...the national 7 on 7 high school football tournament is hosted at A&M every summer. It showcases the top high school kids from Texas and around the country. "7 on 7" is a big deal in the summer time in Texas..and as UT Athletic Director Deloss Dodds said yesterday about the unfair advantage of high school recruiting each summer by hosting this "you don't hear our comments about this being an unfair advantage because we choose not to share our comments publicly")

A Big 12 official was quoted earlier this morning (yest earlier meaning Thursday morning) the "Big 12 can survive with 9 teams until the 2015-2016 season when the ABC/ESPN contract expires."

Television revenue is driving the realignment and creating the "mega-conferences and the "regional" mega-conferences." UT still has an ace in their hand and if the Big 12 continues to be dismantled, there is the chance of Notre Dame, University of Texas, Brigham Young University, and a couple of other schools of their size and influence, forming their own elite conference. Deloss Dodds and Jack Swarbrick the AD at Notre Dame are very close friends and Swarbrick considers Dodds his mentor.

Texas A&M's departure will have more significance than Colorado and Nebraska leaving the conference. Ironically, Nebraska may have a real opportunity to win the Big 10 Conference this year. Texas A&M, perceives no longer being in the long shadow that is cast by the University of Texas, may produce similar results.

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cthusker 2 years, 8 months ago

Once again TEXASS will destroy another conference! That loud sucking sound you hear are the Whorns siphoning every red cent they can get from the B12-2 before hitting the road and the B12-2 implodes. All we heard last year was how NU wrecked the party? What a freaken joke... you lie down with dogs you catch fleas.. welcome to the Whorns Network... lol... What conference would be stupid enough to let TEXASS in now? Who's dumb enough to want those ego manic's in their conference? Before this is over TEXASS will be independent and begging for opponents.... The Big 12-2 should tell them to shut it or simply kick them out. You're going to have some very unhappy folks at places like K-State and ISU when the B12-2 folds!

Thanks you Coach Osborne and Harvey from getting us out of that rats nest!! Good bye and good riddens to the Whorns.... BTW.. thanks to all the B12 lacky's that voted year after year with TEXASS thus giving them supreme rule over the conference....

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milehighhawk 2 years, 8 months ago

I realize it isnt an ljw article but it is "imminent" not eminent.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 8 months ago

In Zenger we trust!

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Ah

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

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rob4lb 2 years, 8 months ago

As we get back into this I have to assume to some of the reporters did some research last time on the following question:

Are KU and K-State a package OR can KU move to a conference without K-State? Would the legislature/ Board of Regents intervene to prevent the two from splitting up? Despite the 1-13 record last year vs. K-State, KU is a more attractive program for one of the two desireable conferences-- The Big 10 and the PAC-12. If they are tied to K-State, that will never happen and the only hope would be to keep the Big 12-3/4 together or move to a vulnerable Big East. I don't like either of the latter options.

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rob4lb 2 years, 8 months ago

I am fascinated about what is going on behind the scenes in the athletic departments in Lawrence, Columbia, and Manhattan. Are they lobbying to other conferences? Are they doing nothing? I am troubled at the apparent lack of outrage by KU or K-State (at least MU has made some statements) about the Longhorn Network. There is an article earlier this week, where ESPN was trying to make a sweetheart deal with Tech to have its game with UT broadcast on the Longhorn network. Tech gave them an emphatic "NO", despite some guaranteed money and that some of their other games would be broadcast at the prime times on ESPN. If this same deal were offered to KU or K-State would they take it and force us to have to subsidize Texas and the Longhorn network to watch our team. Since ESPN owns the LHN, they can threaten not to broadcast future games on ESPN/ABC meaning the games would be broadcast on Fox meaning less revenue for KU when the revenue is divided.

I guess we are in such a weak position that it does us no good to publicly express outrage. Maybe it's because I live in Houston and am more exposed to this, but I am outraged.

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HuskerNLawrence 2 years, 8 months ago

It's just a matter of time and B12 will separate in pieces. NU and CU both knew it and were tired of TX ego. Tx really needs to just go independent and leave everyone else alone and live on their big mountain of money. I would love to see KU go B10 and join NU. Not only keep KU/NU games going but also seeing all those B10 teams coming through Lawrence!! That would be cool. GBR

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utahjayhawk 2 years, 8 months ago

We better get talking to the P12 or B10 fast to express interest. They're the only two conferences we've been linked to that have true long-term stability. The BE is ripe for defections to other power conferences down the road - it's a hodge podge collection of revenue (football) weak schools and is not best for our hopefully permanent future affiliation.

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blackhawkjayhawk 2 years, 8 months ago

Let A&M go, pick up TCU, Louisville, Memphis and Cincinnati. You've got a pretty good conference, there....

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Jacobpaul81 2 years, 8 months ago

Eh... Let them go. Frankly, the addition of the Texas schools was never a good decision. This will be the fourth time they've broken apart a conference. On the plus side, if Texas and A&M left for "greener pastures", Arkansas is almost guaranteed to leave the SEC... just so they don't have to be in a conference with Texas/Texas A&M again. They hate them more than we do.

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Jacobpaul81 2 years, 8 months ago

Eh... Let them go. Frankly, the addition of the Texas schools was never a good decision. This will be the fourth time they've broken apart a conference. On the plus side, if Texas and A&M left for "greener pastures", Arkansas is almost guaranteed to leave the SEC... just so they don't have to be in a conference with Texas/Texas A&M again. They hate them more than we do.

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pheidole 2 years, 8 months ago

"an A&M move was not viewed as eminent" Imminent. The word Chuck wanted was imminent. Nebraska departs and the IQ of Texas drops another point or two. Go KU. Go Big Red.

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doolindalton 2 years, 8 months ago

One secessionist commenting on the secession of his football team from a misfit football conference. How supremely ironic.

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jhox 2 years, 8 months ago

I've seen many rumors of MU also being in talks with the SEC. While the Big 12 could survive the loss of A&M, it would be difficult to survive the loss of both. MU would make sense for the SEC. They have a good football program (I believe 4 ten win seasons in a row) and they would be a natural rival for Arkansas. Not to mention they bring 2 major metro areas to the table (though let's be honest, they don't own either market outright, with KU owning most of the KC market and Illinois owning a good percentage of the St. Louis market.)

I've also seen rumors of KU and KSU being in talks with the Big East, as a back up plan. The Big East would be great for our basketball program, and would make East coast recruiting easier than ever. It may even help our football program in the long run by making 6 win seasons easier to come by. The travel would be the downside, and the loss of rivalries, so the Big 12 still makes the most sense of us. However, it would be very cool to play teams like Syracuse, Georgetown, UConn, etc. once or twice a year in hoops.

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Hank Cross 2 years, 8 months ago

KU BB needs one thing to maintain its status as a marquee program - tv. ESPN has dumped 100s of millions of dollars into developing Big Monday and needs a marquee name in the CST for the 2nd half of the double-header. A match made in Heaven. It doesn't matter if KU is going to be playing BYU, or Cincinnatti. If they'll put KU/TT on, you can be assured that KU will be on Big Monday no matter what conference they're in. And that's not going to change no matter what the FB team does.

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Hank Cross 2 years, 8 months ago

I've been saying this for a year. The B12 is going to implode thanks to Bevo sooner or later. Broadcasting HS games on the Longhorn Network, gee who would have a problem with that?

If only A&M would've pulled the trigger last year. We would've been on our way to the P16, siding with the UC schools, Stanford, and USC against UT.

Take Little Brother and Fizzou and go to the Big East now.

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Kyle Sybesma 2 years, 8 months ago

My brother-in-law comes from an A&M family and this has been building since last summer. If the PAC 12 picked up the Longhorns, A&M had it lined up to join the SEC. They are tired of being in the shadow of Texas. The Big 12 is being pulled apart in multiple directions. The SEC, Big 10 and PAC 12 are looking to be power 16 team conferences. So far KU's name has been left out. What are we doing to position ourselves to appeal to the Big 10 or PAC 12. We all know we have the best basketball program but this is about money and football drives that.

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texashawk10 2 years, 8 months ago

The Texas state legislature has to approve any change in conference among its "big 4". This is the reason why Baylor was the 4th school Texas school to join the Big 12 instead of TCU, SMU, or Houston. Right now, Texas A&M is just sounding like Missouri did last year with all of the going to the Big 10 talk.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 8 months ago

Rick Perry should pray and all of this will be resolved.

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