Lost in the rest of today's big news (at least on this site) is the report from the Sporting News that Oklahoma and Texas A&M will likely turn to the SEC if the issues they have with the Longhorn Network are not worked out.
We've covered several recent developments regarding Texas A&M looking at the SEC, but this is the first I've seen that Oklahoma would be willing to bail on the Big 12 as well. OU chose to link itself up with Texas and follow UT wherever it went last summer, but that loyalty has apparently evaporated with the Longhorn Network's plan to televise high school games of big name recruits.
We do know from last summer that the SEC talked to both OU and A&M about joining up, but it was purely a reaction to the Pac-10's belligerence. It was not part of a longstanding plan. Now, this report does mean that the SEC could fire the first shot in the next round of conference realignment. A big outstanding issue with the plan is whether or not Oklahoma's state government will insist that the Sooners and Oklahoma State are a package deal.
Mike Slive was noncommittal on potential future expansion plans during SEC Media Days today. He did work in a line that he could get the conference up to 16 teams inside of 15 minutes if he really wanted to, but as I cautioned earlier, he's probably sarcastically referring to the prospect of inviting CUSA or Sun Belt teams. Yes, I'll bet he could get UCF, Troy, ECU, and Tulane inside the league within 15 minutes. He's obviously not going to.
Just about everyone seems to agree that broadcasting top recruits' games is an advantage to Texas' recruiting. Being able to sell those same recruits on getting to play SEC ball is about the only way Oklahoma and Texas A&M could effectively counter that fact. That's why the schools could blow up the Big 12, and that's why this story is out there. It's likely their way of telling Texas to stop throwing its weight around and at least pretend like it cares what its conference brethren think.
The Dallas Morning News reports that plans to have the Longhorn Network broadcast high school games are now shelved pending a review by the NCAA and Big 12. Also on ice for now is Fox's sale of a second Big 12 game to the LHN for this fall.
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe says the LHN won't broadcast high school games unless "the conference can make it happen with benefit to all and detriment to none." Based on what I've read about what Oklahoma and Texas A&M think, that means it will never happen if we can take Beebe at the letter of his word. Texas, for its part, sees broadcasting high school games as a service to the state and not a recruiting advantage. Of course it does.