Aggies officially out; A&M will leave the Big 12 in 2012
What many had assumed was just a formality for weeks became official Wednesday morning when Texas A&M officials officially announced that the school would be leaving the Big 12 to seek membership in another conference.
That conference, as we all know by now, is the SEC, which is expected to announce its intentions to add the Aggies as their 13th team in the next couple of days.
While Wednesday's announcement from A&M puts an end to the Aggies' part in all of this, the hard work for the Big 12 is really just beginning.
For the second time in less than 15 months, the conference has lost a member — Colorado and Nebraska bolted last summer — and the once mighty conference that's name matched its number of members is down to nine.
So what's next for the league? Well, commissioner Dan Beebe as well as several athletic directors at the nine remaining schools have said repeatedly that the conference would look to be aggressive in the coming weeks in an effort to add one, three or maybe even seven schools in moving forward. At the same time, the SEC, not content with the odd number of 13, most certainly will be looking to add a 14th school itself. The fact that both power conferences will be on the prowl at the same time means that there is a very real possibility that we could be in for wide-spread conference upheaval once again.
The smart money says the SEC adds one — Big 12 school Missouri is rumored to be one of four on the SEC's wish list, though MU AD Mike Alden and those above him continue to pledge their support for the Big 12 — and the Big 12 does the same. Of course, if Mizzou factors into the SEC's plans, that could force the Big 12 to add more than just one. The guess here is that Mizzou is sincere, this time around, about its allegiance to the Big 12 and the other eight schools.
As for the Big 12, conference officials and members have said all along that 10 is the ideal number but that the league could and would survive with nine as long as Oklahoma and Texas remained committed to the league, which it appears they are.
Notre Dame's name continues to be the sexiest at the top of the Big 12's wish list and, although there are a ton of reasons why a move to the Big 12 would be good for Notre Dame there also exist a ton of reasons that such a move would not or even could not happen.
Make no mistake about it, though. The Big 12 powers will give the Irish their best sales pitch.
After that BYU, Air Force and, to a lesser degree, SMU and Houston remain the hot names on the list. Again, there are plenty of reasons for and against all of those teams joining the league.
I'm not sure we'll see any concrete resolutions to this any time soon. Again, the league wants to be aggressive but also wants to ensure that it's making the right moves and adding the right teams, if it adds any. Remember, everyone from UT and OU to Kansas and Baylor have said that the league could and would survive with nine teams.
While new members might not be announced any time soon, expect the conference to act swiftly in courting other members. The action will be fast and furious from this point on and now that the Big 12 is free from the debacle that A&M created, the league can move forward with a clear conscience in pursuing new members.
Many think this could be a dangerous time for the Big 12 and that possibility certainly exists. However, based on what I'm hearing and I've been told, I think this time should be looked at as an exciting time for the league.