LJWorld.com weblogs Tale of the Tait
Conference realignment comes roaring back as reports of OU to Pac-12 resurface and SEC officially accepts A&M
7:24 p.m. Update:
Meanwhile, the Missouri board of curators is meeting tonight — the meeting was previously scheduled — and, when it does, its members will see an agenda item that is just vague enough to include talk about realignment.
Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton is the current chair of the Big 12's board of directors.
Also noteworthy is a similar meeting at Oklahoma, scheduled for next Monday, which includes an agenda item that has the wording "negotiation" included on it. Could be school-related, could be conference realignment related. Could be completely irrelevant by then.
6:53 p.m. Update:
Real quick... Here's this from Pac-12 commish Larry Scott, after hearing the news about the SEC accepting A&M. The quote comes from Bryan Fischer's Twitter feed. Fischer covers national college football and recruiting for CBSSports.com.
"If schools are going to leave the Big 12 and there's going to be a paradigm shift, or a landscape change as people like to describe it, we'll go ahead and step back and look at our options, then reconsider (expansion)."
5:07 p.m. Update:
According to its web site, the SEC officially has accepted Texas A&M into the conference, with or without the permission of the Big 12.
Here is the official statement from SEC commissioner Mike Slive:
"In the 78 year history of the SEC, the conference had accepted the membership applications of only two institutions—Arkansas and South Carolina. Texas A&M is now the third. We remain optimistic that Texas A&M will be a member of the SEC and have started to look at schedules for 2012-13 involving thirteen teams.
"As I said over the past year or so, the SEC has had no particular interest in expansion. We were, and are, happy with 12 teams. If Texas A&M’s President, Dr. Bowen Loftin had not called me in late July, we had no plans to explore adding an institution.
"However, when President Loftin called we became interested. Texas A&M is an outstanding academic institution with an exceptional athletic program, passionate fans and wonderful traditions. While the SEC wasn't thinking about expansion, it was impossible not to be interested in Texas A&M. As you can see from the unanimous vote of our twelve Presidents/Chancellors, we would very much like to have Texas A&M as a member of our conference.
"When Texas A&M joins our conference, we don't have immediate plans for a 14th member. We aren’t thinking in terms of numbers. We think about the strength of the SEC and the attractiveness of Texas A&M as an institution."
What does this mean, you may be asking? A lot and not much all at once.
I think it's been a foregone conclusion for days now that A&M would wind up in the SEC. Nothing's new there. What is new is that the SEC is talking about exploring scheduling options with 13 teams. Interesting.
Does that mean they're not looking for that mystery 14th team? Is that because they're happy with 13 teams or because they don't want to be the one that starts the widespread panic and mass chaos that surely would hit the rest of the conferences and country?
I'm leaning toward option B here. The SEC has been very careful all along to not step outside of what's legally allowed. I don't know how they could be held accountable for what other conferences may decide to do in the aftermath, but, then again, this is such a hot issue that you never know what could happen or who's capable of what.
This puts us a step closer to some sort of resolution, even if most of us knew it was coming all along.
2:57 p.m. Update:
With rumors of OU and OSU heading to the Pac-12 heating up and questions surfacing about whether the Sooners and Cowboys would face threats of a lawsuit similar to those leveraged against Texas A&M by Baylor, here's a good article from Forbes that examines the merit of any such lawsuits and explains just what legal relevance there is.
Still pretty quiet everywhere else as people digest the OU news. I was able to confirm that KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger is neither in Dallas or Austin today.
1:01 p.m. Update:
Here's this blog entry from Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman, posted a little less than an hour ago. It's short and sweet but brings us up to speed on where we stand currently along with what decisions Texas is facing.
About a dozen administrators from Texas and Oklahoma, including the presidents of both schools and some regents, met in Norman, Okla., on Sunday to discuss potential realignment and get a better understanding of the possible destinations for both schools.
Texas made it clear it wants to preserve the Big 12, but sources say OU made it just as clear it plans to pursue membership in the Pac-12 Conference along with fellow league member Oklahoma State.
The Longhorns’ plans remain unclear, but it appears they will have to choose between becoming an independent to keep their Longhorn Network or joining the Pac-12 or possibly the ACC as a last option.
OU and OSU do not have invites to the Pac-12.
Texas president William Powers flew with athletic director DeLoss Dodds and women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky for the meeting but were unavailable for comment.
Here's a link to Bohls' blog: http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/bohls/entries/2011/09/12/texas_ou_meet.html
12:39 p.m. Update:
Got a few emails from some concerned readers... Concerned about KU and my mental health. Remember, this blog is about throwing out everything that I'm hearing. The situation is so fluid and there are so many different ways it could go. That's why there are so many different scenarios being kicked around.
I've got good sources at different schools in the conference and I'm checking with all of them.
At the end of the day, I maintain that KU will be fine in all of this and will not get left out of a major conference.
Some have enjoyed my percentage update so here's the latest:
- Big 12 - 38%
- Big East - 32%
- Pac-12 - 17%
- ACC - 10%
- Other - 3%
12:23 p.m. Update:
Just heard back from a source outside of the Big 12... Nothing concrete here but he pointed out that the Big 12, even without Oklahoma AND Texas could survive. How, you might ask? By doing some raiding of its own and asking others to join in the fun.
Right now, conventional wisdom says that the leftover Big 12 schools could and should join the Big East. But what if it goes the other way? Follow me here.
What if the Pac-12 adds OU, OSU, UT and Texas Tech? What if, the SEC adds A&M, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Missouri? What if the Big Ten adds Notre Dame, Pitt, Maryland and Rutgers
That would leave Big East football schools like Syracuse, UConn, Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida looking for a home. No way the Big East can survive in the current landscape with just five football schools.
So, those five join the Big 12 leftovers — KU, K-State, Baylor, Iowa State — and the league pulls in BYU, Air Force and SMU or Houston to create a 12-team football league.
It's not the best option (or is it?) but it allows KU to become the big dog in the conference and brings in some decent football and maintains solid basketball. Beyond that, the league keeps its automatic qualifier status in the BCS, keeps its TV contracts (though maybe slightly renegotiated) and maintains a presence in the middle of the country as well as in Texas.
Not putting my money on that one happening. Just wanted to remind you that it's a possibility and also illustrate how messy this thing can, and probably will, get.
12:11 p.m. Update:
Just made about a half dozen phone calls and am waiting to hear back... While we wait, let's look at a few scenarios that could play out and try to see where KU sits in all of this.
A. I could not get anyone official to confirm that the Big East had made a fallback offer to Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri last week, but I did get a couple of people to nod their heads in that direction. I know the Big East is not high on most people's lists, but it does seem like the league could be a decent landing spot for KU if the Big 12 falls apart.
B. Let's talk Big Ten. I know many think it's a longshot and I'm not saying it's likely but I still think there's a better chance of this happening than most people believe. Consider this, what if that report of Texas and Notre Dame to the Big Ten is accurate. The B1G would then need two more schools to get to 16 in order to keep up with the Pac-12 and SEC. KU and Missouri anyone? I know officials at both schools would walk over hot coals to join the Big Ten should the Big 12 fall apart so you can bet that they'll have commissioner Jim Delany sitting on speed-dial No. 1.
C. Pac-12. This one depends on Texas. If OU and OSU are in, which Chip Brown's report indicates, then the Pac-12 would need two more schools. If Texas is either (a) too upset to join the Sooners or (b) too much of a mess for the Pac-12 to want them, then the need for two more Pac schools pops up. That could be KU and Mizzou. That could even be KU and K-State. I've heard KU mentioned in both scenarios. In addition, the scenario still exists that the Pac-12 takes the schools it WANTS here, regardless of state ties, and winds up with OU, UT, KU and MU. That'd be hard for Kansas to turn down.
D. ACC. The ACC has been pretty quiet in all of this but there is some merit to the idea of the leftover Big 12 combining with the ACC to make one heck of a basketball conference and a decent football league. A lot of things would have to fall into place before this one could happen — most notably the Big Ten and SEC plucking the right schools for their expansion efforts — but don't rule this one out yet.
All right. Hopefully you're caught up... for now.
11:39 a.m. Update:
Here's a pretty good column from The Norman Transcript that outlines just how wacky OU's decision to stay or go actually is.
11:21 a.m. Update:
While the talk of OU and OSU to the Pac-12 has picked up steam, those who cover the two schools closest are saying that it's not a foregone conclusion or a done deal.
While the Sooners may be leaning toward heading west, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said throughout the weekend that the Pac-12 would not be the one that fires the first shot in all of this. Could be sincere, could be coach speak. Could be a huge factor.
The key cog in all of this continues to be A&M's move to the SEC... When or if that becomes official, it likely will "force" other conferences to act and you can expect to see an all-out scramble unfold.
Until then, though, nobody wants to be labeled as the one who brought down college football conferences as we knew them. So we wait.
And the longer we do, the more time schools in the Big 12 have to plan their strategy against A&M — and potentially OU and OSU — leaving the league.
We already saw Baylor stand up once. And with Ken Starr calling the shots and the Bears having the most to lose here, they stand to remain a force to be reckoned with. They may eventually give in but not without a fight. The fact that they have support from at least five other Big 12 schools only makes this whole ordeal destined to become quite a mess.
Still waiting on calls back to hear if anything came out of UT's trip to Norman. Oh to be a fly on the wall in that room, where the Longhorns likely were on their proverbial knees asking the Sooners to help 'em out. Nah.
10:43 a.m. Update:
Well, that sure was nice.
An entire weekend where the focus was more on college football than conference realignment, more on touchdowns and tackles than sources and rumors. I'm sure part of it was out of respect for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and I'm guessing at least a small chunk was out of respect for the sanity of man.
Well, that's over. Back to business.
We start this morning with a whopper of a report out of Texas that says OU officials will vote to apply for membership to the Pac-12 in the next couple of weeks.
Where OU goes, so goes Oklahoma State. With those two gone, you have to wonder if the Big 12 even has a snowball's chance of survival.
Here's the report from Chip Brown, of Orangebloods.com. Brown has great ties to the Texas program and sources are indicating that a contingent of UT folks made a quick trip to Norman, Okla., on Sunday in a last-ditch attempt to talk the Sooners into staying.
No official word on how that went, but it sure doesn't sound good.
I'm jumping on the phones and web sites right now to see what I can drum up, but this is not a good sign for the Big 12.
Sources close to KU have said in the past that even if OU left there would be a chance that the Big 12 could survive with Texas as the lead dog. But dropping down to seven teams is not a good step in that direction.