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MIZZOUEXPANSIONAPALOOZA™ 2011: Hitting The Pause Button

How much do I hate the places MIZZOUEXPANSIONAPALOOZA™ takes me? I find myself actually thinking things like, "Yeah, I think Chip Brown's right..." And then I walk into the kitchen and maim myself with either a meat mallet or the nearest Wusthof knife. Thankfully, the SEC heard my cries and decided to press the pause button on all things expansion-related, either until a few months from now ... or until this afternoon, when the A&M regents announce that A&M is going independent or something. One or the other.

Alright, so what do yesterday's developments mean for Mizzou? Let's walk through this quickly so I can start playing catch-up on the season preview pieces. (However, I'm now scared to go back to talking real Mizzou football; one non-expansion Links post, and Elvis Fisher goes down. For the team's sake, I guess we should keep not talking about them, eh?)

Here are the most interesting tidbits I found from yesterday:

1. This Really Is Just An Intermission

Or, if this were an R&B album, an interlude.

As mentioned above (sigh), I think Chip Brown has it right. And yes ... SOURCES!

[T]he presidents and chancellors of the SEC wanted to slow down the process and make sure everyone was on the same page as far as expansion plans as laid out by SEC commissioner Mike Slive, the sources said.

There was probably some concern in the SEC about possible litigation from the Big 12 with regard to the SEC interfering with Texas A&M's current contracts with Big 12 TV partners (ABC/ESPN and Fox), the sources said.

Texas A&M's lawyers have also been looking at all the details involved with leaving the Big 12.

According to an official in the Big 12, Texas A&M's buyout (exit fees) could reach $30 million to leave the Big 12.

By hitting the "pause button," according to one source, the SEC also gets to see how Texas A&M handles questions from state lawmakers during a hearing on Tuesday before the House Higher Education Committee.

I don't believe this because Chip Brown's "sources" tell me so, but I believe it because it makes sense. A&M will go about its business, talking among themselves, talking to Texas legislators, etc. If they decide to remove themselves from the Big 12 and "apply" for SEC membership (incurring some potentially serious financial wrath along the way), and if the Texas legislature lets them do it (still a key point), then the SEC will almost certainly accept them as long as they feel they can do so without being held liable in any way. Hey, speaking of liability...

2. Lawyers, Guns And Money

From The New York Times' Pete Thamel:

A seemingly inevitable legal tussle, and the SEC’s desire not to look as if it was raiding the Big 12, prompted the presidents to pause. The absence of any discussion or clarity on which university would become the 14th team in the SEC, a necessity for scheduling and television contracts, was also a question.

It is uncertain how long the presidents will ponder this issue. Texas A&M has a conference call scheduled for Monday with its regents that will give its president, R. Bowen Loftin, the authority to take action on all issues related to conference alignment.

“These are extremely complex issues, and it is imperative that we proceed methodically and in the best interests of Texas A&M,” Loftin said in a statement that hinted that the vote by the SEC presidents was more of a speed bump than a roadblock.

The only reason to rush at this point is so that A&M could join in time for the 2012-13 academic year. I'm not sure how likely that looks at this point, but if that doesn't happen, it's A&M's own damn fault. They've known about the Longhorn Network for months upon months, yet they evidently contacted the SEC three weeks ago. I cannot blame anybody for chafing at the inequality of the Big 12, but A&M really has gone about this in an untimely, impressively huffy way. Especially since they somewhat knew about the Longhorn Network when they signed their lives away to the Big 12 last year. Nothing Texas has done, or tried to do, with the Longhorn Network is surprising. If you didn't like it a year ago, why sign a blood oath with the conference, then throw a fit less than a year later?

(And this is neither here nor there, but some A&M fans' use of "t-sips" is the dumbest thing I've ever seen. It almost -- almost -- makes me want to support Texas in this whole thing. That's how ridiculous it is. I get the "tu" references; obviously some Mizzou fans refuse to capitalize the "K" in Kansas, so that's common territory even if it's something I don't do myself. But "t-sips" is just embarrassing.)

(And while we're being parenthetical, why is it that I show Kansas respect by capitalizing the "K", but I always get a huge kick out of calling Missouri State "SMS"? Sports fans really just make no sense.)

Anyway, both the money and the potential litigation involved naturally made the SEC scale back a little bit, which makes perfect sense. Why would they get themselves into too much trouble when they're already the best football conference? A&M clearly has value, and I understand why they would accept an application from the Aggies, but they are in no ways desperate to get A&M aboard. Might as well take your time to make sure you don't incur financial and legal wrath you could have avoided.

3. The Gentlemen's Agreement

Perhaps the most interesting part of yesterday's news, as it pertains to Mizzou, is the news of the SEC's "gentlemen's agreement" that any future SEC expansion will only take place with schools that don't share a state with a pre-existing SEC school. As it pertains to the still-mythical "Team No. 14," that's very good news for Mizzou, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and, I guess, North Carolina, eh? Especially since North Carolina is as "ACC" as it gets and almost certainly wouldn't leave their current conference and rivals. Either side can back out of a gentleman's agreement, and there's nothing saying South Carolina or Florida might not end up agreeing to bring Clemson or Florida State aboard, but still. If the SEC is looking for a 14th program, and Missouri is actually interested (this is a key point since nobody at Mizzou is even anonymously showing any interest right now, which could be posturing and could be totally genuine), then they could receive major consideration.

Alright, enjoy the links below, and unless until A&M does something crazy (or unless we have to drop everything for a full-fledged Karma Thread), we return to our regularly scheduled programming.


Mizzou Is Content(ish)

Post-Dispatch: Mizzou's Deaton, Big 12 board chair, speaks on state of union
KC Star (Campus Corner): Missouri moves ahead with plans for its own Internet-based network
KC Star (Campus Corner): Deaton says Big 12, Mizzou fighting public disconnect

SEC Presses Pause

SB Nation: SitRep: Texas A&M To The SEC Explained (As Of The Present Moment)
New York Times: SEC Decides Against Adding Texas A&M, for Now
CBS Sports: SEC finishes meeting, doesn't invite Texas A&M
College Football Talk: A&M addresses SEC decision to stand down on expansion
Burnt Orange Nation: SEC Passes on A&M, For Now
Burnt Orange Nation: Tortious Interference and You: Roadblocks to Texas A&M Joining the SEC
Post-Dispatch: SEC says it's happy with 12 teams for now
Kegs 'n Eggs: The SEC is Putting Expansion on Hold
Dr. Saturday: SEC keeps Aggies at bay until A&M-Big 12 divorce is final
Rock Chalk Talk: Did Texas A&M Get Mizzou'd In Conference Realignment?
Team Speed Kills: SEC Presidents Didn't Take Action They Probably Never Planned to Take. Everyone Panic!
Clay Travis: How ESPN Is Complicating Texas A&M to SEC Deal

Only A Matter Of Time

Orangebloods: Sources: A&M will be announced in SEC in 21 days
College Football Talk: A&M’s exit fees could reach as high as $30 million to leave Big 12
The Daily Gamecock: Pastides: No university has applied for SEC membership


CBS Sports: Iowa State's move to NFC North flying way under radar

These Urges Last A Long Time

College Football Replay: Time Machine