What began with Texas A&M playing the role of the angry youngster who wanted to take his ball and go home appears to have moved into a stage that will change the look of the Big 12 Conference for the second time in 14 months.
You thought it was weird to have a league with 10 teams go by the moniker, “Big 12?” Try staring at one with nine.
The Rivals.com site AggieYell.com reported Thursday evening that A&M had decided to leave the Big 12 and that the SEC had extended an official invitation. According to reports, the key date is Aug. 22. That’s when A&M’s board of regents are expected to meet and possibly vote to join the SEC as soon as 2012.
When the rumors about A&M’s courtship with the SEC first popped up, they appeared to be nothing more than grumblings from a university that was upset with its older brother. The Texas Longhorns always got everything they wanted, and life, A&M seemed to think, was just not fair.
However, in the past couple of days, some key people have given legs to the speculation, including Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds and Texas governor Rick Perry, an A&M graduate living in Austin, who, on Saturday, is expected to announce his candidacy for president of the United States.
To call this whole thing odd would be an understatement. To call it a done deal would be a little off base. However, there is real talk going on between A&M and the SEC and the Aggies’ move south could become official or blow up entirely at any minute.
Sources have told the Journal-World that the Big 12 could, and likely would, survive if it lost A&M.
Texas, and to a smaller extent Oklahoma, continue to be the key pieces here. If they were to leave the Big 12 along with A&M, we could be in for a repeat of last summer’s scramble regarding conference realignment.
Officials at neither OU nor Texas have hinted that they’re unhappy with the current set-up, so, at this point, it looks as if A&M may be walking this walk by itself.
Reports from around the Big 12 have suggested that the other nine schools have been busy getting their ducks in a row should it become time to act. But the belief here is that the rest of the league is at least happy enough with the current set-up and would be content to explore adding a 10th school — instead of disbanding — should A&M bolt for the SEC.
Schools that could be considered include and are not limited to: Arkansas, Houston, Notre Dame, TCU and others.
Of course, with Missouri continuing to flirt with the Big Ten and Texas always able to do whatever the heck it wants, Big 12 ground remains unstable at best. A scenario that sends Kansas to the Big East or Pac-16 still could happen.
Things are beginning to look worse than they did a year ago as conference and school officials have had several months to contemplate what their futures might look like and how they may want to shape them.
It’s a very different landscape than it was in June of 2010, and the reality is it’s a drastically different picture than the one Beebe painted when he stood up at Big 12 media days in Dallas last month and boasted about how strong the Big 12’s bond was.
There’s still a long way to go in all of this and it’s a safe guess that a resolution — one way or the other — will come quickly.
Things may appear worse for the Big 12 as a whole this time around, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be worse for Kansas.
Here's a look at what's being written around Big 12 country and nationally.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says it will happen and also examines OU’s role in this.
ESPN.com’s SEC blogger says it’s only a matter of time before SEC expands.
Houston Chronicle says Texas A&M has one foot out the door.
The Austin American-Statesman reports that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe is taking things very seriously.