So, it looks like they’re really gonna do it.
An official announcement of Texas A&M’s move to the Southeastern Conference is expected today in College Station.
School officials spent Tuesday preparing for a news conference at Kyle Field to celebrate the move, pending a favorable vote from SEC presidents to extend an invitation. The SEC presidents met Tuesday night and approved an invitation to A&M, said sources with knowledge of the situation, but the SEC made no formal announcement.
A&M officials have indicated they would accept an SEC invitation. The move would be effective for the 2012 football season.
And now the race to the 16-school super conferences begins… at least that’s what they’re telling us to expect.
… Schlabach said if Oklahoma and Oklahoma State bolt the Big 12 for the Pac-12 — as appears likely now — it’s almost certain the Pac-12 will expand to 16 teams.
The other conferences will feel compelled to move quickly to follow suit — some just to remain viable — and the college football landscape likely will be changed forever, he said.
Schlabach sees this development pitting money versus tradition, and when you read quotes like this, it’s hard to argue with his viewpoint:
… Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops may have upped the ante during a Tuesday news conference in efforts to expedite a decision from Texas, saying he doesn’t consider it “necessary” for the Sooners to remain in the same league with the Longhorns. Stoops added that the annual Red River Rivalry game in Dallas could be a casualty of the realignment process.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to keep the OU-Texas game if we do move out of a conference with Texas,” Stoops said, adding that he plans to leave the realignment decisions to Boren and athletic director Joe Castiglione.
“I know no one wants to hear that, but things change. If it changes, you’ve got to change with it. I love the game, but if it doesn’t work out we will find other places to play and get excited about.”
Except I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a bit of gamesmanship at play here, simply because I’m still having trouble figuring out why Texas would want to bolt the Big XII (even a hastily re-jiggered version) for a chance to become a member of a Pac-16 where it would lose the Longhorn Network, face far more daunting logistics (expensive ones for non-revenue sports) and deal with longer odds on playing for a football national title. All that would seem to apply to Oklahoma as well. So maybe there’s a little talk ’em off the ledge before it’s too late going on with this.
And then there’s the money aspect, supposedly the raison d’etre for contemplating the jump in the first place. Are the dollars really there, especially if Texas has to ditch the Longhorn Network in the process? I suppose they could be if the Pac-12 is willing to make it worth Texas’ while. But there are risks involved with that. Just ask the last commissioner of a 16-team conference.
“There wasn’t enough money at that time to satisfy 16 mouths so to speak,” WAC Commissioner Karl Benson said Tuesday. “A 16-team WAC failed from within, not from the outside. There wasn’t enough money to go around, and there was jealousy about who contributed more to the overall value. The 16-team WAC had geographical issues and academic disparities.”
You can argue that’s not a fair analogy because there’s a load of difference between a major and a mid-major conference. Maybe so. But I can’t help filtering Benson’s comment through a comparison of Texas and, say, Washington State and wondering if there really will be much of one at all when push comes to shove.
One thing seems plain to me. The hastier these schools are about jumping to where the grass appears greener, the more likely it is that things get messier over the long haul. Hell, over the medium haul…