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LJWorld.com weblogs Tale of the Tait

With A&M leaving, is the Big 12 on the road to recovery or oblivion?

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It's a question that's as hot as any right now, and one that brings about many different answers from many different people in all walks of life.

Fans are fearful and joyful at the same time. Coaches are relieved or indifferent. And administrators across the country are sticking to the party lining and talking a lot about unity, moving forward together and being happy with their current set-ups, even if many of them are holding the keys to a very different future in their other hand.

What we know to this point is that Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12 and will, someday soon, join the SEC.

The rest is as clear as mud.

We've heard all along, from some very solid sources, that as long as Texas and Oklahoma remain committed to the Big 12, the league will survive, be it with nine teams, 10 teams, 12 teams or more.

While the reasons for UT to stick are obvious, and undoubtably strong enough for DeLoss Dodds and company to fight like mad to keep the Big 12 together, the reasons for the rest of the conference to do so are growing more ambiguous by the day.

For starters, you've got teams like Oklahoma and Texas Tech. Are they, too, becoming fed up with UT and the Big 12's inequity, enough to make a major move that could bury the Big 12?

Then you've got schools like Kansas State, Iowa State and Baylor, all of which are hoping like mad that the Big 12 can survive for fear of not wanting to jump into full-on survival mode.

Then there's Missouri. Sources have said that the Tigers are all-in here. They're committed to the Big 12 and are willing to do whatever it takes to help the league flourish. I believe it. For now. But at the slightest hint of times growing tougher, will the Tigers hold their ground? Their past actions speak to that, though, at least when taken at face value, it's a little easier to believe they're willing to be loyal this time around.

That leaves Kansas, the wildcard in all of this. While some schools have enough power and moxie to pave their own paths and others are lacking and will simply be reduced to hangers on should the big one hit, the Jayhawks find themselves somewhere in the middle. They have a basketball program and football facilities that any conference would love to have. But the football program itself and the rest of the varsity sports leave a little to be desired.

Throughout both rounds of conference realignment talks, under the direction of two different athletic directors, Kansas has maintained that the Big 12 is the best place for KU to be. I also believe that. But I'm not so sure that if things got hot, and I'm talking really hot here, that KU wouldn't turn into the aggressive salesman rather quickly.

Kirk Bohls of the Austin American Statesman wrote today that he believes the Big 12 will blow up before the end of the month.

In his column, Bohls outlines exactly what would have to happen to spell doom and spells out where each of the conference's nine remaining teams would land. His take on Kansas? The Big East.

There are certainly worse places for the Jayhawks to be, and there's no doubt that the Big 12 could live on. But for those who think that Texas A&M making its plans to move south final ends all of the nail biting and cold sweats, think again.

The fun, if that's what you wanna call it, may be just beginning.

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