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Realignment Wars: Now we wait...
4:43 p.m. Update:
Getting word now that Oklahoma State has issued a statement saying it will not join in on any legal action against the SEC or Texas A&M.
This is a big move for the conference and may indicate that OU is close to committing to the Big 12 long term. Throughout this crazy week, OSU has acted in step with the Sooners, though in a much less visible manner. The Cowboys' willingness to step into the light with such an announcement could be noteworthy.
Then again, it could be a move on behalf of OU, illustrating that they don't want to stand in ANYONE'S way if another school desires to leave the conference.
Too soon to tell exactly what this means and it's probably one of those things that either side could spin in its favor.
Another Big 12 source I spoke about an hour ago said he believed that Baylor's move to block A&M to the SEC was more about sending a message to the rest of the league that bolting will not be easy or tolerated.
Said the source: "I know this, if we were thinking about joining another conference, we wouldn’t do it right now.”
2:18 p.m. Update:
Just talked to some folks at KU and many of them said today seems to be much calmer than yesterday, saying yesterday's action "gave everyone a chance to breathe."
Prior to that, a little earlier today, I had the chance to speak to a Big 12 source and this person said that the move by Baylor yesterday to block A&M's departure to the SEC — at least temporarily — humbled some people within the conference.
"What that showed is that the have nots (in the Big 12) have some power," the source said.
Source also said he believed that there had been no official talk between Big 12 ADs or presidents and other schools regarding Big 12 expansion but did not know for sure. It's not time for that. The Big 12 still needs to take care of its own business before moving on to explore that.
After talking to some people, both at KU and elsewhere in the conference, it seems that we're still waiting for Oklahoma to make its next move. None of the people I talked with said they had any clue when such a move might come.
When he came out last Friday and talked about OU's interest in exploring it's options, OU president David Boren said he planned to make a decision in the next two to three weeks.
Tomorrow marks the end of Week 1. Let's hope that Boren's feeling like doing something in the two-week range instead of three.
1:31 p.m. Update:
Chip Brown, of Orangebloods.com, is reporting that sources have told him that A&M may be considering delaying their move to the SEC by one year. Instead of joining the league in 2012, which remains the Aggies' preference, they'd join in 2013, giving the Big 12, the SEC and the rest of us, plenty of time to sort through the legal mess this has created.
The good news? This round of realignment talk could all be over quickly if that were the move.
The bad news? It would never really end, as the next year would be spent wondering what might happen and, a year from now, we'd probably find ourselves in this mess again. I just don't have much faith that most of the people in all of this will be able to act in a calm and rational fashion.
Torn on what to think here. But I do know that I don't like the sound of the Aggies being in the Big 12 for two more years, knowing they're one foot out the door. There has to be a better resolution. Somebody needs to step up. Beebe? Texas? OU? Kansas?
1:13 p.m. Update:
As many have pointed out, there's still A LOT for the Big 12 to take care of before anyone can start talking about expansion. But, from where I sit, I think the two go hand-in-hand. I don't think the Big 12 can hold honest and serious talks about survival without addressing the fact that adding more schools would be a key factor in that outcome.
There's not a lot of talk from Big 12 country about this, at least not out in public, because that would be absolutely ridiculous. How can a league fighting for its life be cocky enough to start talking about which schools it would like to pick up?
But rest assured that this kind of talk is going on behind closed doors and, as the conference struggles to figure out what the future holds, every possible scenario is being considered.
Here's an interesting story from the Salt Lake paper regarding BYU. Notice the language here in the headline: "Cougars will likely stay put if Big 12 implodes"
Right. But what if it survives? Language is key here, folks. It's as much about what's not said as what is.
11:42 a.m. Update:
Now being told that Twitter account @FootballBYU is a fan account so the validity is in question. However, are we really sure right now that fans don't know more than the rest of us?
11:33 a.m. Update:
This from the Twitter account @FootballBYU: "BYU will accept Big 12 offer pending OU signs intent to stay contract... Could be announced as early as Saturday
No clue who runs the account or how legit this is. Trying to gather more info.
First Tweet from the account since Aug. 31 so I'm skeptical, but.... you never know.
11:23 a.m. Update:
Everyone at the paper's getting in on the action!!! Just got some great stuff from our political reporter, Scott Rothschild, who got in touch with Kansas Board of Regents chairman Ed McKechnie on Thursday.
Here's Rothschild's write-up:
Kansas Board of Regents Chairman Ed McKechnie on Thursday said the ability to keep the Big 12 together may have more to do with academics than football.
The power of football and big TV contracts can't be denied, but McKechnie said if Big 12 institutions increase their academic standing the league will become a destination.
The future of the Big 12 has been up in the air the past few weeks as Texas A&M University announced its intent to go to the SEC. Oklahoma University has also made noise about joining the Pac-12. Last year, Nebraska bolted to the Big 10 and Colorado left for the Pac-12.
"It is a concept of a total conference, not just a football conference," McKechnie said. "Research, purchasing power, strengthening transfers between universities, or whether lifting up other sports, the Big 12 has a lot to offer and we need to make sure we are extracting every dime of that as possible," he said.
He noted no schools are threatening to leave the Big 10, which he said includes some of the top-rated academic institutions in the country.
And if OU were to go to the Pac-12 it would be joining academic powerhouses such as Stanford, USC, UCLA and University of California-Berkeley.
He said he hoped the Big 12 could stay intact and that Kansas University and Kansas State "stay together."
"I really hope that everybody can take a deep breath and figure out how we get back on the Big 12 bus," he said.
10:58 a.m. Update:
Our own Chad Lawhorn, who covers the city beat, whipped up a rather interesting look at the role population plays in all of this.
He looks at each of the conferences and their population growth over the past decade. Population in Big 12 country has grown by 14.8 percent from 2000-2010, which, Lawhorn argues, is a great selling point for the league should it survive.
Here's a look at the blog. Scroll down to his final bullet point.
10:44 a.m. Update:
Great story here from Paul Myerberg, of the web blog Pre Snap Read, about how odd life would be if the Big 12 disintegrates and leaves the nation's heartland without a relevant conference.
It raises some interesting points but definitely seems to be written based on the belief that the Big 12 is dead. I'm not sure we're there yet, but I'm not sure we're not either.
10:03 a.m. Update:
Jason King, of Yahoo Sports, a Baylor alum who used to cover the KU beat for the Kansas City Star, just filed this story which says that Baylor's bold move on Wednesday may have locked up a more secure future for the Bears no matter what happens to the Big 12.
Great read. There's also a link in the story to King's previous story about why the Pac-12 would be smart to add Kansas basketball to its league.
9:44 a.m. Update:
I didn't think about it while it was all going on, but, late last night, I read about a thousand columns recapping Wednesday's action in the Big 12 Conference and I came across one line that stood out to me above all others.
"Wednesday was the darkest day in the history of the Big 12," the line read, or something of the like.
Wow. How true.
It began with what we expected to be a morning announcement from Texas A&M that the Aggies were headed to the SEC and quickly morphed into all-out war. Claims about lawsuits and schools being held hostage were tossed around like nothing and, while it remained in many ways an every-man-for-himself endeavor, it had a subplot that sounded a lot more like every man against A&M.
But it wasn't. Sure, on the surface, it looked like this was a move against allowing A&M to leave the Big 12. But that ship already had sailed. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe wrote a letter to SEC commish Mike Slive essentially saying that the SEC was free to take the Aggies.
Wednesday's fuss was much more about firing a warning shot to any conference schools — Oklahoma — that might be considering leaving the league in the near future. The message: You can try it, but we're going to make it hell for you and everyone else.
As we wake up today, that's where we stand. The Big 12 is still alive, appears to be gaining at least some strength and continues to depend upon Oklahoma re-committing for a healthy and happy future.
Except, how happy can things really be now that Wednesday has happened? The Big 12 may survive. It may add teams, good teams, and it may look like one heck of a league on paper. But in practice, will that — or can that — ever actually be true? Can this ever be a good league again? And by good I'm not talking about performance on the field or titles won, I'm talking about ADs and presidents getting along, trusting one another and working together for one common goal.
The league may survive, but that question will linger for a while... even if people are saying it won't or isn't.
OK, great. So now we know where we stand in the Big 12. But let's not forget that there are other conferences, universities and egos in play here.
Jon Wilner, who covers the Pac-12 for the Mercury News offered up this fantastic take on where the Pac-12 currently stands. You'll learn a lot by reading this, even if it doesn't bring us any closer to understanding what might be the final outcome.
As for the Big East, Big Ten and even SEC, well, it appears that the SEC won't touch Missouri and it appears that the Big East and Big Ten won't do anything proactive. If the Pac-12 and SEC make further moves, they'll jump in. But they won't be the first to act.
Oklahoma's on the clock. It's their move. Today might be quiet in the public arena but you can bet it's anything but quiet in Norman, Okla., as dozens of people and places with a real interest in what the Sooners decide will no doubt be checking in throughout the day.