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Big 12 conference call deemed productive for ADs, commissioner Beebe
6:13 p.m. Update:
The conference call between Big 12 ADs and commissioner Dan Beebe ended around 4:30 p.m. today and the prevailing thought that came from it was this: Texas A&M wants to leave, the rest of the league would like them to stay and the Texas legislature will still get a say in the whole deal.
Beyond that, there's still an outside chance that the SEC might not actually invite the Aggies.
Shortly after the ADs had their conference call, league presidents and chancellors met on one of their own, the results of which have not yet been released.
Sources told the Journal-World that the theme of both calls was to make sure that everyone involved and saddled with the responsibility of moving on without A&M, should they leave, was on the same page.
It appears that is the case. Multiple sources with knowledge of the call said the conference call between the ADs had a positive tone and was more about solving the problem together than picking each other apart.
We expect KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little to release some kind of a statement on regarding the situation sometime Sunday, most likely a statement of solidarity between the nine remaining Big 12 schools.
4:54 p.m. Update:
Then there's this from Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman, which sites OU sources who say that if Missouri were to leave then OU would explore a move to the Pac-12, possibly taking Oklahoma State and Kansas with them.
This is in line with everything I've ever heard regarding OU football coach Bob Stoops' strong desire to stay away from the SEC, but I'm not sure where the link between KU and the Oklahoma schools comes from. KU could certainly do worse.
Earlier this week, a couple of different sources told me that they had a strong belief that both Oklahoma and Texas were in favor of sticking with Kansas, realizing the value KU's hoops program and great tradition brings to the table.
Talk is cheap, but you'd certainly rather hear that OU and UT are talking like that than the alternative.
4:32 p.m. Update:
Good summary of Mizzou's stance here from Vahe Gregorian of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Nothing new, as in new from the end of the conference call or anything, but a good summary of how the Tigers are approaching this thing.
4:15 p.m. Update:
Reaction from other schools now starting to surface, too. Brett McMurphy of CBSsports.com just Tweeted that you can eliminate two schools from the list of possible Big 12 replacements. Louisville and BYU ADs on record saying they're happy where they're at.
Of course they are. Things can change quickly, though. There's just no reason for them to say they'd be interested in the Big 12 when that's not even officially an option yet.
It's newsy, but nothing real substantial...
3:59 p.m. Update:
The Big 12 conference call is still ongoing but a few things from the rest of the country continue to surface...
For starters, we're now up to Mizzou, Florida State and Clemson — the other three linked to the SEC with A&M — all adamantly denying that they've even had talks with the SEC.
If you've been around long enough, you'll know that a denial isn't worth the price of the tape recorder it's uttered into. But... it's still something.
That's where we're at for now. Stay tuned...
2:55 p.m. Update:
Phones are charged up (let's hope) and this conference call between the Big 12's ADs and commissioner Dan Beebe is about to get started. From what I'm hearing, everyone is in a great frame of mind for this call and they're not heading into it with a lot of fear, more the idea of trying to come up with a sound solution.
My guess is we'll learn three things at some point later today:
All nine members of the league are and remain committed to keeping the Big 12 strong. Whether that's 100 percent true or not is up for debate, but that's what they'll say. Missouri is still worth keeping a close eye on.
A&M is out. I know school officials are already saying it and I know the Big 12 is bracing for it, but I think some others might start saying it soon after this call.
The Big 12 learned a lot from being poached last time and will not stand for it this time. I know that's a stretch for some of you to believe, but I think that's the case. These are not weak schools. Beebe is not a weak man. This conference is not a weak conference. There are plenty of reasons for this conference to survive and plenty of reasons that other good schools would jump at the chance to join. I think getting everyone together and reminding them of that during this conference call will deliver a group more unified than ever. I know hearing that is getting old, but sometimes this kind of thing is what it takes to get some real unity.
1:04 p.m. Update:
This just came in from the Austin American-Statesman.
A blog that covers the Texas legislature quotes one key Texas lawmaker as saying that A&M making a move or voting to leave for the SEC before allowing the legislature a chance to weigh in would be "highly inappropriate."
That may be true, but at this point, I'm wondering if A&M cares. They're already facing stiff exit penalties and the idea of looking like fools if they back out now... How much worse can it really get? If you've made this kind of a mess, you might as well follow through.
I know that's easier said than done and real easy for a blogger in Kansas to say, but, still, I'm not convinced that the folks at A&M are that concerned about Texas law. In fact, I think they're kind of digging the fact that they feel like the are Texas law.
12:45 p.m. Update:
Not a lot of new information out there at this time, as it appears everyone is preparing to head into this conference call in a couple of hours.
I've been on the phones for the last 20-30 minutes and the only thing I've been able to gather from a couple of good places is that the folks at Mizzou are adamant that they have not spoken to anyone from the SEC.
There is one new development that may be of interest. Dennis Dodd of CBSsports.com Tweeted that SoonerScoop has reported that UT has hired a lobbyist to keep Texas A&M from leaving.
This is not the direction I wanted this thing to go... The less government is involved the better, in my opinion.
A little more than two weeks ago, a solid source in Dallas told me at in the beginning of all of A&M's grumblings that the league would survive with nine teams. I'm paraphrasing, but it was something along the lines of "If they want to leave, that's fine."
This latest move at least indicates that Texas might not feel that same way.
11:56 a.m. Update:
Reports are now saying that Texas A&M officials have said that the Aggies do intend to join the SEC and could begin play in their new conference as soon as 2012.
This latest report points out that there's still a 30-40 percent chance that the Aggies would not receive enough votes from current SEC schools to receive an official invitation.
However, if we're this far along in this mess and this much has been made public, you can bet the Aggies are darn certain that they have an invitation on the table.
One source told the Journal-World on Friday night that after talks broke down between A&M and the SEC last summer, the SEC left a standing offer on the table.
A&M's board of regents have scheduled a meeting for 3 p.m. Monday. That's when they could vote to leave and an announcement could follow.
11:14 a.m. Update:
Here's this update from the New York Times about a secret meeting between 11 of the 12 SEC presidents set for Sunday.
Now we're getting into some "Deep Throat" stuff... The saga continues.
A couple of the best quotes from the story, from a high-ranking SEC official, shed some light on how serious talks between A&M and the SEC have been. Here's a look:
“They have a contract now,” the SEC official said. “We’re very sensitive about being part of breaking a contract. What we asked them to do was to go settle their issues and not have us be on the table as the agent of causing them to leave.”
“We realize if we do this, we have to have the 14th,” the SEC official said. “No name has been thrown out. This thing is much slower out of the shoot than the media and blogs have made it.”
10:52 a.m. Update:
The Journal-World and KUsports.com have confirmed that the Big 12's athletic directors will host a conference call with league commissioner Dan Beebe at 3 p.m. today. Missouri's Mike Alden is expected to participate, as the 10 men will discuss A&M's possible departure from the conference as well as the speculation about Missouri wanting to join them, which Alden says is not true.
The key players appear to be committed to keeping the league together and, perhaps, making it stronger. Whether they'll be able to do that remains to be seen.
10:30 a.m. Update:
Curious what Missouri is saying about all of this? Vahe Gregorian of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reached Mizzou AD Mike Alden, who adamantly denied the report and said that the Tigers remained committed to the Big 12 along with the other eight remaining schools.
That's more in line with what KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger told the Journal-World on Friday, but it's hardly a guarantee.
Missouri "remained committed" to the Big 12 last summer, too, even though it was desperately courting the Big Ten on the other line.
For now, Alden has to be taken at his word, but that word should be taken with a grain of salt. As you've seen, things can change fast in this mess.
10:11 a.m. Update:
Though it's a little outdated — already — this report from the Austin American-Statesman talks more about A&M's progress on moving to the SEC and also sheds some light on what the Big 12 might do should the Aggies officially leave.
Texas AD DeLoss Dodds mentions, halfway through the story, that he's always liked the number 10, which would mean the Big 12, should Missouri head to the SEC with A&M, would need to add two more schools to get to 10. Dodds also says he could see the league going to 12 if that's what it took to survive.
The three schools mentioned as possible replacements in the article are: Notre Dame, BYU and Air Force. The thinking here is that Notre Dame is going to have to join a conference someday and they may as well do it with one that's a little desperate in order to maximize their bargaining rights.
As for BYU and Air Force, stepping into the Big 12 — so long as OU and Texas remain — would be a major step forward for both programs.
As for that fourth team, that hasn't yet surfaced. Though sources have told me that Houston could be offered and would accept in a heartbeat. That move makes sense because getting Houston would help the Big 12 keep the Houston market, which A&M currently delivers.
I know Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has talked a lot about being jealous of those conferences that had a true round robin and how excited he was to finally have that, but if it comes down to survival or staying round robin, Beebe has to pick survival and, therefore, could have to go with 12.
As for Missouri, this isn't bad news for Kansas. Although the end of that rivalry would be a bitter pill to swallow, getting rid of Mizzou would not be all bad. The Tigers have wanted out for too long and they've gotten to the point where Kansas — and the rest of the Big 12 — simply cannot trust them to remain loyal.
If it's me, I'm heading to Columbia to help them pack.
Original Post, 9:23 a.m.
Former Oklahoma State basketball player Doug Gottlieb is known for his hoops knowledge. As a member of ESPN’s college basketball staff and host of his own radio talk show, Gottlieb typically focuses on hoops.
Today, however, the former Cowboy spread some serious news, via Twitter, about conference realignment.
In a Tweet this morning, Gottlieb communicated that a high-ranking source at Texas A&M had confirmed to him that A&M was headed to the SEC. The kicker? The Tweet also said that Clemson, Florida State and Missouri were also “likely to join.”
The early-morning drama picks up exactly where we left off on Friday and even takes it a step further. With A&M heading south assumed to be a done deal by most, rumors ran wild about the SEC looking to add a 14th team. Florida State and Missouri, along with a handful of other schools with the right geographic coordinates, were tossed into the hat, but nothing was even close to official there.
Calling anything official still remains a little ways off, but this thing is definitely picking up steam by the hour. I can’t speak for Clemson or Florida State — though through some quick thinking both leaving their conference seems to make sense — but hearing that Missouri is involved does not surprise me for a second. The Tigers have been desperate to go to any major conference that would take them ever since the Big Ten said no last summer. Don’t be surprised if that goes down.
If it does, the Big 12 would have a decision to make. I still think that as long as OU and Texas remain strong, the league would survive by adding two — perhaps four — new teams. Especially because, after Mizzou, the rest of the league’s schools truly do seem committed to one another.
Stay tuned for more.