UPDATE: Be sure not to miss D-Sing's post below this one, since I didn't know it was coming and totally trampled all over it. Sorry, D-Sing!
Admit it, Aggie Fans Still Capable Of Forming Rational, Non-Conspiracy-Addled Thoughts: you're a little nervous right now, aren't you? When the speculation from "anonymous, highly-placed SEC sources" goes from "Who's Team No. 14?" to "We're Not Even Sure We Want A&M!", and when you've already set aflame every bridge between College Station and the rest of the Big 12 ... there's at least a bit of dread setting in right now, isn't there? At least a little bit?
There weren't any major developments yesterday in A&M's quest for total MIZZOUEXPANSIONAPALOOZA™, other than an incredible number of denials, but let's go to the scorecard to see what may have changed.
1. A&M regents still have to vote on it. I'm more convinced than ever that they will vote to make the move. Chances: 99%.
2. The Texas Legislature has to avoid screwing this up. Ah, ha! Here's where things get interesting. Apparently A&M has given a pledge that they will not be giving their final answer after Monday's regents meeting, and the Texas Legislature will still have plenty of opportunity to ask questions. As has been mentioned in comments and elsewhere, if the Big 12 pursues another Texas school to replace A&M, then it's hard to imagine anybody at the Capital standing in the way here, but who the Big 12 pursues will not be known on Tuesday. There is still a chance that the government does something hilarious here, so I'm bumping these odds down by 5%. Chances: 85%.
3. The SEC still has to vote them in. And here's where things get very interesting. First of all, today's rumored meeting of SEC presidents is now allegedly not happening. (That, or they were pissed that their "secret" meeting was no longer a secret, so they "canceled" it.) Between that news and the fact that a "high-ranking SEC official" told the New York Times that "there was a 30 to 40 percent chance that the presidents could vote against Texas A&M’s membership" ... well, let's just say that I'm no longer 95% certain the SEC will let A&M in the door. I won't bump the chances all the way down to 60-70%, but we'll say... Chances: 75%.
So ... quick math...
Chances A&M Is Heading to the SEC: 63%.
So we've gone from 54% to 81% to 63% in three days. This suggests two things: 1) expansion talk is more fluid than water itself, and 2) to the extent that I consider myself a measured, pragmatic writer, a lot of that goes out the window when talking about expansion. I like to come to a conclusion about something, then sit back and watch everything play out. Here, my conclusion changes every five minutes.
Yesterday's other development was, basically, the power of lawsuits. The SEC could be sued if it is determined that they talked to teams from other conferences (the Big 12, to name one), and it led to said teams' departure. So what we learned yesterday, then, was that nobody has talked to anybody about any expansion of any kind. Nope, none. If A&M gets into the SEC, it's because they applied like any other team can (seriously, UAB, just start submitting an application every day ... that would be awesome), and once the application came in, the SEC began to discuss the university's candidacy.
This led to a hilarious few hours, where we learned that 1) Florida State, Clemson and Missouri were all likely to join the SEC once the ink has dried with A&M, 2) Florida State has not talked to the SEC, 3) Clemson has not talked to the SEC, 4) Missouri has not talked to the SEC, 5) the SEC is sure to only expand to 14 if A&M comes aboard. Ah, Internet, never change.
This also resulted in complete and total solidarity among Big 12 schools not named Texas A&M on a conference call yesterday. Oklahoma is all in! Missouri is all in! Et cetera! Nobody's leaving, nobody will even answer the phone! Of course, if A&M actually does make it out, we'll see what changes, eh?
Or, to put it another way:
Mike Alden's (or Joe Castiglione's) Statement If Mizzou (or Oklahoma) Is 100% Committed to the Big 12 and is Harboring No Thoughts of Leaving: "We're 100% committed to the Big 12. We have pledged our solidarity. This is a great conference. It will be fine without Texas A&M. We're staying, and that's that."
Mike Alden's (or Joe Castiglione's) Statement If Mizzou (or Oklahoma) Is Talking Non-Stop to the SEC (or Pac-12) Behind the Scenes and Will Leave at the First Official Opportunity: "We're 100% committed to the Big 12. We have pledged our solidarity. This is a great conference. It will be fine without Texas A&M. We're staying, and that's that."
Same with Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and everybody else. And same with BYU and the Big 12, for that matter.
That said, I do think the odds of the Big 12 holding together through this have crept a little higher, both because a) the odds of A&M not getting into the SEC are higher and b) I do think Missouri is not going to be the team that breaks the conference apart. If Oklahoma looks like they might actually bolt to the Pac-12, then Mizzou gets active. But until then, I do think that Mike Alden is speaking more truth than lies when it comes to his (totally acceptable) milquetoast statements on the matter. Because of all that has been discussed before -- rivalries, Texas recruiting, etc. -- I don't think Mizzou higher-ups want to leave the Big 12 unless there isn't going to be a Big 12. We can get annoyed by that all we want (I know Texas Tech fans are in an extremely similar boat right now ... Oklahoma State fans too, probably), but there is still value and weight in this conference, and if I said yesterday that I was 50% sure the conference sticks together ... make it 60% today.
So ... just for posterity (and for making fun of me later when it turns out that, once again, I am dead wrong about everything)...
What Will Be Mizzou's Conference of Residence in 2012 And Beyond?
Big 12: 60%
Big Ten: 11%
Big East: 7%
Super Irish Longhorn Alliance Conference (or SILAC, for short): 1%
What Does It All Mean?
New York Times: Texas A&M’s Expected Defection to SEC Is a Sign of N.C.A.A. Anarchy
ESPN.com (Pat Forde): Texas A&M Aggies' expected departure brings us back to the brink
SEC Presidents Meeting Today!
New York Times: SEC Presidents to Discuss Texas A&M’s Admission
Dr. Saturday: SEC presidents can still take or leave Texas A&M in ‘secret’ Sunday meeting
CBS Sports: SEC to discuss A&M on Sunday
Team Speed Kills: SEC Presidents Meeting Tomorrow to Discuss Expansion
Or Maybe Not!
The Sporting News: Source: SEC presidents will not meet Sunday to discuss Texas A&M
The Texas Gov
Houston Chronicle: Key legislator doesn't think A&M will move before hearing
Big 12 Solidarity
College Football Talk: DeLoss Dodds on A&M: ‘Everybody wants them to stay’
Orangebloods: Big 12 ADs pledge unity as A&M stares down SEC
Big 12 Sports: Report From Big 12 Conference Board Of Directors
Post-Dispatch: Mizzou's Deaton, Big 12 board chair, speaks on state of union
The Trib (Dave Matter): "Big 12 Board reaffirms commitment"
Mizzou Has Talked To Nobody
PowerMizzou: In-Depth with Alden
The Trib: Alden says MU has had no contact with SEC
KC Star (Campus Corner): Alden denies ESPN report of "likely" Mizzou move to SEC; reveals Big 12 call today
Post-Dispatch: Mizzou to SEC? 'No, no, no' AD says
College Football Talk: Mizzou holds the key to Big 12′s future?
Daily Oklahoman: OU sources say Missouri departure would doom Big 12
KBIA Sports Extra: Mizzou reportedly on SEC’s expansion radar; Texas A&M as good as gone
Nobody Has Talked To Nobody
College Football Talk: BYU AD says no call has come from Big 12
Gobbler Country: A Compendium of SEC Expansion Denials
Big 12 Reactions
Rock Chalk Talk: Conference Realignment: Round Two
Thee Bears.com: If A&M Doesn't Leave, Then What Is This All About?
Burnt Orange Nation: Bevo's Daily Roundup wishes the Aggies a fond farewell
Blatant Homerism: Sooners Most Likely to Head West in Latest Shake-up
Daily Oklahoman (Berry Tramel): OU wants no part of the SEC
KC Star: What happens next if Texas A&M leaves the Big 12
Houston Chronicle (Richard Justice): It's time UH makes leap into Big 12 conference
Double-T Nation: Big 12 Implosion | Unconditional and Unequivocal Commitments
The Trib: Big 12 exodus wouldn’t be progressive
Post-Dispatch: Big 12 to fight Texas A&M move to SEC
And The Valley Shook: The Aggies Are Coming to Dinner, Pt I: Why They Hate Texas
And The Valley Shook: The Aggies Are Coming to Dinner, Pt II: What the Future Holds for Those Left Out
Dawg Sports: SEC Expandaggedon: Saturday Night Update.
Team Speed Kills: The Latest News on Texas A&M to the SEC
KC Star (Campus Corner): The SEC perspective
Card Chronicle: Louisville and Conference Realignment... Again
Pitt Blather: Expansiopocolypse — Big XII or Big East
Rush The Court: Considering the A&M to SEC Rumblings
Gobbler Country: Why We Should Go Down Kicking and Screaming Before Virginia Tech Joins the SEC!