Well done, A&M. I'm still pissed at you for choosing to do this now and not, you know, any time in the last six months, but that was some deft maneuvering you just pulled. Evidently the Texas legislature called a special session to discuss a possible A&M move (and the repercussions of such a thing ... because what else would the Texas legislature need to be talking about right now?) next Tuesday ... so A&M simply moved their August 22 regents meeting to August 15. Boom.
Naturally, that means the odds I offered yesterday regarding A&M's chances of leaving have changed.
1. A&M regents still have to vote on it. They're voting soon, and I'm thinking they vote in the affirmative. Chances: 95%.
2. The Texas Legislature has to avoid screwing this up. Granted, the legislature still controls funding, and don't think for one second they won't 'punish' A&M in one way or another for basically giving them the finger. But A&M's maneuvering has limited their possible intrusion. Point, Reveille. Chances: 90%.
3. The SEC still has to vote them in. At this point, I have to figure the conference approves their inclusion. The voting could get interesting for whoever is proposed as Team No. 14, but the odds here seem pretty good, eh? Chances: 95%.
Alright, so ... quick math...
Chances A&M Is Heading to the SEC: 81%.
Pretty large improvement for one day. A lot of people are figuring this is 100% by now, and it's getting close, but ... just remember: last year we went a full weekend assuming the Pac-16 was a done deal. As Frank the Tank says below, until there's a press conference starring both team and conference reps, and until there's a signed contract, anything can happen.
Alright, so the question is obvious: what happens next? Forgive the self-share, but I'm going to quote myself now. Just saves me some time that way.
Was trying to put together a Choose Your Own Adventure realignment saga, but really, it was 1,000 scenarios answering just a few Q's:
This was incredibly disappointing. I wasted valuable "I should be writing my next SBN team profile (Nevada)" time on this, but I just couldn't get it all hammered out. For one thing, the scenarios are endless. For another, they are both endless and almost identical. Just wasn't worth it to spend more time on it. Alas.
1) If A&M leaves, does OU freak out? Or are they satisfied with "Screw A&M--hey Houston, come on down!" We know Larry Scott will call...
And no, pretty sure OU wouldn't be able to leave without OSU. But Larry Scott would happily take them both.
All eyes are on Oklahoma at this point. The Big 12 survives as a nine-team league if nobody else leaves. Sorry, A&M, but it does. Dan Beebe apparently displayed some cajones on Thursday by straight-up telling A&M, "We'll be just fine if you leave. We'll just call Houston." Honestly, I think that's true. As I was saying yesterday, A&M leaving does nothing -- it's what happens next that matters, and if Oklahoma is able to resist Larry Scott's inevitable advances, then the world as we know it basically sticks together.
In this regard, I'm actually a bit more confident in the Big 12's survival than I was yesterday. Obviously the "Screw it, we'll just call Notre Dame" rumbling is ridiculous (not even DeLoss Dodds has that much power), but the "Screw it, we'll just call BYU" rumbling? I could see that happening. I think BYU moving toward independence was a very smart move on their part, but ... they still don't necessarily have direct access to a BCS bowl. They would in the Big 12 Or Whatever We Are Calling This League Now. Plus, they have the least to lose -- if they join the Big 12 and it (inevitably) falls apart, they just go back to being independent.
That said, there's a chance that the TV contracts don't change with the loss of A&M, and ... dividing money nine ways instead of ten sounds like a hell of an idea to me, eh? So unless the money is going to change, the idea of just bringing in Houston or Air Force (other rumored teams) doesn't make a ton of sense to me. Notre Dame? Never gonna happen, but sure. Arkansas? Even less likely to happen, but sure. BYU? Probably. Louisville? Not gonna happen, but sure. Anybody else? Doesn't make sense unless the Big 12 loses money for staying at nine teams.
So basically, the race is on. There are three parties at work if or when A&M officially leaves: 1) The SEC will be looking for a 14th team, 2) the Pac-12 will be looking for Armageddon, and 3) the Big 12 will be looking for a 10th team that makes sense. There is an endless number of scenarios that could emerge depending on which of those happens first, but a lot of the results end up similar.
2) If OU doesn't leave, does Texas Tech still listen to Larry Scott? Does Scott stay interested? Would Beebe just replace Tech with SMU?
The answers here, I believe, are no, no and maybe. Big 12 admins are putting on enough of a unified front that I don't think Tech bolts without Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, but that's fine, since I don't think Scott goes after just Tech. Scott may be aggressive, but he is handcuffed by geography. Assuming BYU isn't in the cards for the Pac-12 (and they seemed to basically get eliminated when the conference moved from 10 to 12 teams), then Scott's options are basically Big 12 teams and ... Boise State? New Mexico? Air Force? Less than appealing options, in other words. Scott needs the Big 12 to fall apart to move forward, and if Oklahoma doesn't leave, the Big 12 doesn't fall apart.
3) Mizzou & ATM allegedly both chatted informally w/SEC last summer. Does the SEC go toward the ACC (70%) or Mizzou (30%) for Team No. 14?
I instantly regretted the "70%/30%" part of that post simply because ... I have no idea what are good odds. Two days ago, I felt Mizzou had a 30% chance. Today, it's more like 15%. I said yesterday that we should either ignore or have fun with whatever rumors come about in the interim, but it's impossible not to be influenced at least a little bit by it, and for at least one day, almost nobody mentioned Mizzou.
The most interesting development for me regarding the SEC's 14th team is Virginia Tech's president straight-up saying "We'd politely decline an offer." Granted, there are plenty of people who could influence him to change his mind, but it was an interesting reminder that a great football conference isn't, in and of itself, a big-time draw for academics. Taking him at his word for now, I would say the current pecking order for No. 14 would be...
Florida State (40%)
North Carolina (10%)
Virginia Tech (3%)
Somebody Else (2%)
I'm sure that will completely change by tomorrow.
4) If Pac-12 goes to Pac-16, how much do Texas and/or Notre Dame freak out? Enough to join the Big Ten? If not, does B1G still go to 14/16?
I'm torn on Texas here. I very much doubt that they could reach an agreement with Jim Delany regarding the existence of a Big Ten Network and a Longhorn Network that satisfies both sides. BUT ... if the SEC moves to 14 (with the threat of 16) and the Pac-12 turns into the Pac-16? That's about the only thing in this world that could spook both Texas and Delany enough to make it happen. Again, still doubtful, but it's at least a possibility.
I do think Notre Dame is more likely to get spooked, in the end, than Texas. But doing the math, Notre Dame alone wouldn't get the job done here. The B1G would need either one or three more teams, and ... well, we've covered that one. Either way, it does appear that the Big Ten will be taking action after the SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12. Then again, they could just be lurking and getting ready to uncork something surprising.
And that's approximately it. If SEC raids ACC then ACC raids Big East raids CUSA. And CUSA frees La Tech.
There does seem to be a pretty clear pecking order here, eh? If the ACC loses Florida State or Clemson (or whoever), then they go after somebody like West Virginia or Syracuse (or whoever), and then the Big East goes after Central Florida or Houston (or whoever), the CUSA frees Louisiana Tech from geographical dissonance (i.e. The WAC), and we're just about done. Maybe the WAC officially dies, resulting in some more moves from the Mountain West and CUSA, but that doesn't really matter just yet, does it?
From that Oklahoman article: "Dodds mentioned Texas and Notre Dame joining forces to create a new conference" should B12 die.
As mentioned in comments yesterday, this was a fun option that got my imagination going yesterday. We always assume this is heading toward the "Four 16-team conferences" model, but the math doesn't really work that way. Neither do administrators. We could end up with a "Three 16-teamers and some others" scenario, or "Two 16-teamers and chaos," but four 16-teamers is still pretty unlikely to me. And in that uncertainty could come some odd arrangement between Texas, Notre Dame, BYU, the Big 12's leftovers, the Big East's potential leftovers (if the Big Ten and ACC combine to raid them into oblivion), other Texas schools and the service academies. It is still quite obviously unlikely, but this was a nice reminder that while we think we know where this may be going, we actually have no idea.
And just for fun ... here's where I am this beautiful Saturday morning:
What Will Be Mizzou's Conference of Residence in 2012 And Beyond?
Big 12: 50%
Big Ten: 13%
Big East: 10%
Super Irish Longhorn Alliance Conference (or SILAC, for short): 2%
Yesterday, "Big 12" would have been at about 20%. I consider myself relatively stable, but wow does MIZZOUEXPANSIONAPALOOZA™ bring about some crazy swings in my line of thinking.
Orangebloods: Texas lawmakers want to talk to A&M
Burnt Orange Nation: Texas A&M Board of Regents Meeting Monday, SEC Move Imminent
SI.com (Andy Staples): Texas A&M to SEC talk causing political tension in Texas
Houston Chronicle: Hearing on Texas A&M realignment set | Aggies
SB Nation: Texas A&M Spins Up Conference Realignment Rumors, This Time Featuring SEC
College Football Talk: Denials flowing as ‘Noles, Hokies dismiss SEC talk
SI.com (Stewart Mandel): SEC expansion seems inevitable amid Texas A&M, Florida State rumors
The SEC Reacts
Mr. SEC: SEC Will Hold Special Expansion Meeting On Sunday
Dawg Sports: Texas A&M To The SEC? Not A Done Deal, But More Than Idle Speculation
The Big 12 Reacts
Daily Oklahoman: OU officials believe Texas A&M headed to SEC
KC Star (Campus Corner): Alden says Mizzou committed to Big 12
College Football Talk: UT’s Dodds on A&M: ‘They’ve got to do what’s best for them’
Bring On The Cats: Stan Marsh Shares His Lesson From Conference Realignment
KC Star (Campus Corner): K-State remains committed to Big 12
KC Star (Campus Corner): KU's Zenger says nine Big 12 schools are firmly committed to the conference
KC Star (Campus Corner): As the Big 12 turns, part II, Friday edition
Post-Dispatch: Possible Big 12 newcomers
Double-T Nation: Big 12 Implosion | Link Dump
Dr. Saturday: All signs point to ‘gone’: Texas A&M is about to join the SEC
Frank The Tank: You Down with SEC? Yeah, You Know Me!
CBS Sports: Friday Follies: College Station is talk of college football nation
In the Bleachers: Texas A&M: Why You No Think Good?