Realignment Today: 2:28 p.m. - All systems go: Mizzou to leave Big 12; West Virginia set to join
2:28 p.m. Update:
At this point, it would be far more shocking if the Tigers did not leave and West Virginia did not become the Big 12's 10th team.
That's where we're at with regard to conference realignment and how it affects the Big 12.
What we don't know, though less, remains substantial.
For starters, we're still trying to nail down whether adding West Virginia and sticking at 10 will be the way the Big 12 goes or if the league will look to add a couple more teams, Louisville, Cincinnati, BYU and others among them.
Sources have told the Journal-World repeatedly and for the past couple of weeks that the league will stay at 10 once Missouri leaves and West Virginia is added. Mizzou's announcement could come today and reports indicate that a similar announcement regarding WVU would come quickly after that.
That's for now. The possibility certainly still exists that the Big 12 would look to expand back to 12 in the near future, be that with one of those teams already mentioned or perhaps some school a little more outside of the box such as South Florida, Tulane, Notre Dame or Boise State.
The other big question that looms now is how quickly all of this can happen. Will Missouri be able to join the SEC next season like Texas A&M or will the Tigers have to spend one final year in the Big 12? I'm sure if it's up to MU, they'll be gone immediately, but, sources have told me, that could impact the final figure in the exit fees MU would have to pay. It's a sticky situation and one that could take this whole thing on a turn for the worse long after the actual decision has been made.
Along those same lines, West Virginia may be stuck in the Big East for 27 months like Syracuse and Pitt, which announced in September that they were leaving the league for the ACC.
As with any of these types of situations, money will play a huge role. Perhaps Syracuse, Pitt and WVU can up their exit fees in order to get out earlier. At this point, it does not look like the Big East is interested in letting them go before the waiting period expires. But more money could change their minds.
The other thing that could change things is the fact that WVU's move could do permanent damage to the league. If UConn and Rutgers follow Syracuse and Pitt to the ACC — as has been rumored for some time — that could be the final blow to the Big East as we know it, freeing up every school in that conference that plays football to look for a new home. It's likely that no matter what happens, the basketball members of the Big East would stick together in some form or another.
So there you have it. We're closer to some answers and still days, weeks, maybe even months, away from others.
Par for the course in conference realignment, I guess.
10:49 a.m. Update:
One more re: West Virginia to the Big 12. Pete Thamel, of The New York Times, writes that it's all but done.
Thamel also said that sources told him the Big 12 is content to stay at 10 after adding WVU.
This thing may be coming to a close, folks.
10:23 a.m. Update:
After making a series of brief comments to KOMU-TV late Monday night (see 10:39 update below), Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton picked up where he left off on Tuesday morning, commenting on radio shows and to reporters about where the Tigers currently stand.
The consensus? Mizzou is headed to the SEC. Deaton said a formal announcement could come in "days" and likely would not take more than "a week or two." The actual decision, which seems to already have been made, could be revealed much sooner, perhaps as soon as today.
Here's the gist of what Deaton has said so far today, courtesy of a series of Tweets from Dave Matter, MU beat writer for the Columbia Tribune, and Vahe Gregorian, MU beat writer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
• Deaton says he regrets the "wish them well" line from last night's interview. Added that abstaining from the voting all day at Big 12 meetings inspired the "them" mentality.
• Deaton expressed an urgency in wanting to get this thing put behind him so that Mizzou and the Big 12 could both move on.
• Deaton said he hoped to have some issues resolved by the end of the day. Those "issues" could include making the news final but not yet formal.
• Deaton made it clear that there's nothing the Big 12 can do to save the Tigers now.
• Deaton: "Our head has to outweigh our heart... because the heart won't lead to where the university needs to be going."
With the Mizzou news seeming firm, the focus shifts to what's next for the Big 12. Conference officials have vowed that they have a Plan A and a Plan A-1 and things will move quickly once MU makes its intentions known. SI.com, through comments from the Big East, seems to think that means West Viriginia to the Big 12 is a done deal.
Brett McMurphy, of CBSsports.com, also filed a report saying WVU is on deck and an invitation from the Big 12 will be extended within 24-48 hours of Mizzou's departure announcement.
One more thing before I head off for the new few hours to hear Turner Gill talk about KU's match-up with Texas this week, Dennis Dodd of CBSsports.com filed this report about the idea of Notre Dame joining the Big 12 in all sports but football.
Enjoy. I'll check back in when we're done with Gill.
10:39 p.m. Update:
It took a while, but we finally got something out of Columbia, Mo.
Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton spoke tonight to KOMU-TV in Columbia, Mo., regarding the Tigers ongoing dilemma of staying in the Big 12 or heading to the SEC.
Here's the bulk of what Deaton said:
"There's no delays here at all. There's some very specific things that have to be adressed. We want to address those. We really can't rush these things. These are things you can't rush. I know fans get impatient I gotta say I'm very sympathetic. What I hope they will understand that this is not a set of issues that one can just press a button and be done with it. There are some issues that have to be adressed on behalf of the University of Missouri and that's what we're doing, looking out for the University of Missouri."
According to the station's report on its web site, when Deaton was asked if MU had enough votes to join the SEC, he said: "I'll let them speak for themselves, we're reasonably clear about where we stand."
Here's the link to the report, which includes video of Deaton's comments.
Maybe tomorrow. Stay tuned....
5:49 p.m. Update:
Internet and Twitter reports now indicate that a move by Missouri to withdraw from the Big 12 may not happen today. Those same reports, however, indicate that the move remains imminent.
Multiple media outlets that cover the Tigers posted such news a short while ago. Some expressed that they were surprised the move did not happen today. One, via confirmation from interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas, said the Tigers did not submit their withdrawal from the league nor notify Big 12 officials of their intention to do so.
Cold feet? Change of heart? Or simply Missouri being Missouri?
Who knows. Maybe we'll find out more tomorrow... Or perhaps still tonight.
5:23 p.m. Update:
The first inkling of news from the Big 12 or Missouri just surfaced on the Big 12's official web site.
Here's what the league had to say regarding today's meeting:
In a regularly-scheduled meeting today at an undisclosed Dallas area location, the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors reaffirmed previous action to execute institutional grants of Tier 1 (over-the-air) and Tier 2 (cable) television rights to the Conference.
The Board also discussed a wide range of topics including NCAA legislation, the Bowl Championship Series, and exploration of a Conference dedicated TV network. Additionally, a strong desire for the University of Missouri to maintain its Big 12 affiliation was expressed. All 10 member institutions and TCU participated in the meeting.
Let's see where it goes from here.
3:55 p.m. Update:
More speculation out there about who will replace Missouri in the Big 12. Most believed that replacing Texas A&M with TCU was a pretty good score for the league. TCU may not quite be what A&M is today. But joining the Big 12 certainly gives TCU that type of potential long-term.
So what will it take to equal Missouri? Not nearly as much. It's obvious, by now, that Louisville, West Virginia and BYU are among the top candidates to join the league.
Nailing down any of those three will take some work. With that in mind, there has been more speculation out there that includes names like Tulane, South Florida and even San Diego State.
Here's a recent take from Mikie DeCourcy of The Sporting News on the possibility of adding South Florida. I'm all for it. I'd love regular trips to Tampa.
Regardless of which school or schools the Big 12 would add once Mizzou leaves, it looks as if it may happen quickly. The following, from ESPN Dallas a couple of days ago, includes comments from OU athletic director Joe Castiglione on the Big 12's plans.
Still waiting for word from Columbia, Mo. Everything and everyone is eerily quiet right now.
2:38 p.m. Update:
Gabe DeArmond, of PowerMizzou.com, just Tweeted that he's hearing more confirmations that the Tigers will announce plans to leave the Big 12 today.
No time frame given, but the guess here is that it'll be in the next couple of hours.
2:07 p.m. Update:
While we wait, here are a couple of things I've been able to nail down in the past several days from pretty good sources... Nothing for sure on any fronts yet but interesting to note, nonetheless.
• BYU not likely to join the Big 12. There was interest from both parties, but there are a lot of hang ups that make this marriage tough to envision.
• Bohls' report that WVU is the leader makes sense because of the strength of the WVU football program, but I don't think the gap between WV and Louisville is very big at all. There's serious interest on Louisville's part about joining the Big 12 and, obviously, the Big 12 at least has interest in Louisville. One possible hang up here is if the trio of Louisville, WVU and Cincy want to come as a packaged deal. Not sure they have the leverage to do that, but they might if BYU is out and the Big 12's next option beyond those three is someone like Tulane or South Florida (just tossing out names there).
• Heard multiple times and from multiple sources that Texas wants the league to stay at 10. At the same time, several coaches and even a few administrators have said that 12 is the better number. It's nothing to get alarmed about, but this could be the next battle that catches headlines once Missouri makes up its mind. My guess is that this decision won't come down to making UT or anyone else happy. It will come down to the attractiveness of the schools willing and able to join the Big 12. If there are 3 that everyone likes, they'll go back to 12. If there are only one or two, they'll stay at 10.
• Lastly, I feel more and more certain that if MU leaves the Border War is finished. I know that's no revelation, but people are still speculating on what will happen. If you have the chance to make a bet on this, bet that the rivalry's done. Just don't bet big.
1:41 p.m. Update:
Looks like there was a little bit of a travel delay for some Big 12 administrators on the way to Dallas. Definitely slowed down the day's news. But it seems that everyone's there now and I'm sure talks are ongoing.
Should be an interesting afternoon.
11:54 a.m. Update:
By now, you all know that the entire Big 12 is waiting on Missouri to make a decision between staying in the league it has called home for the last 16 years (and then some, if you go back to the Big Eight, etc.) or heading off to the supposed greener pastures of the SEC.
We're now well into our second month — second year, some would say — of waiting on the Tigers and it's quite clear that some, if not most, people around the conference are getting tired of the wait.
The word that came from MU last Friday seemed to tip the Tigers' hand. In the days since then, the MU to the SEC movement has picked up a lot of steam, with several different media outlets expecting a announcement to that end to come sometime today.
One big question surrounding all of this is whether the Tigers have an official offer from the SEC. There's nothing official yet and there won't be until the Tigers pull out of the Big 12. Think back to how the SEC handled the Texas A&M move. It was done this exact same way, with one SEC official even saying that the league would not touch the Aggies until they "broke up" with the Big 12.
That's where we're at with Missouri and that's just smart business by the SEC. No need to open yourself up to legal issues if you don't have to.
Having said that, you can bet there's some sort of under-the-table, handshake deal in place if MU is going to go so far as to pull out of the Big 12, which now looks very likely.
The Big 12 board of directors are meeting in Dallas today. One of the topics of that meeting is how to handle Missouri. So now we wait. Will the Tigers be the first to act here or will the league beat them to the punch and issue an ultimatum of sorts? At this point, it would be a great move for the league to go ahead and do that.
Think of it as the same thing as the Pac-12 jumping ahead of OU's announcement that the Sooners were returning to the Big 12. Who looked foolish and who looked strong in that instance?
Getting back to that notion of people getting tired of waiting on the Tigers, here's a link to Kirk Bohls' blog in the Austin American-Statesman which includes quotes from two unnamed Big 12 administrators regarding their disdain for the Tigers and what might be the next move for the Big 12.
The money quotes from the blog are:
On what's next for the Big 12:
"I’d say West Virginia is the leader in the clubhouse. I think we’ll come out better than before. I’d rather be with someone who wants to be with our conference than anybody who doesn’t.”
On why bringing in WVU would make the league stronger:
“West Virginia has better football than Missouri, better basketball than Missouri, a better budget than Missouri and more passion among its fans than Missouri. They’re better, anyway you turn ‘em. The travel’s not good (to Morgantown, W. Va) but that’s it.”
More to come as word from today's Big 12 meeting starts to leak. We'll also keep an eye on what's happening in Columbia, Mo.