Chance Texas A&M joins the SEC: 99 percent
Chance Texas A&M joins the SEC in the next week: 55 percent
At this point, it would take some major and unforeseen snag to keep Texas A&M from joining the SEC -- sooner, rather than later. The New York Times and several other outlets are signaling that a change is coming and there's nothing to stop it.
In a conference call Saturday that included the Big 12’s university presidents, R. Bowen Loftin, the president of Texas A&M, essentially said that the Aggies were leaving, and there was nothing the Big 12 could do to keep them, according to a person with first-hand knowledge of the call.
Multiple presidents on the call used the words "amicable divorce" when discussing the Aggies departure. That would seem to suggest that there will not be any protracted legal wrangling.
The last part is the key. If the Aggies are determined to leave the Big XIIish, the only thing that could stop it would be the SEC worrying about ending up in court. That now appears to be off the table, and the presidents will likely vote to accept Texas A&M's application.
When? Maybe a lot sooner than some of us were thinking.
"It wouldn’t surprise me if it happened this week," said a Big 12 school source when asked about Texas A&M’s departure.
He and another school source cautioned that negotiations could conceivably take longer than expected, although the end of this week appears realistic. Regardless of the timing, A&M’s departure appears to be a near-certainty, each said.
The only way I see that happening is if a deal is done Wednesday, leaked Wednesday afternoon or evening and then announced Thursday morning -- which gives the story enough time to work through the system before the first SEC games kick off. When the games on Thursday are Mississippi State against Memphis and Kentucky against Western Kentucky, you don't want to give announcers or reporters any more reasons to veer off course than you have to.
After all, while this is all about money, it is still ultimately football that the SEC is selling. I think MIke Slive understands that, and will work to avoid having realignment overshadowing the football season. Which also probably means that if the deal isn't done by Thursday, it isn't getting done until some time in January.
In any case, if you needed any more evidence that this was going to happen, there's been a slight shift in the Big XIIish's statements on the matter. Until now, the statements have always included a bit about how much the Big XIIish wanted to keep A&M. On Saturday, it was more bland in a way that also made it more telling.
"The Big 12 Conference members have been and will continue to conduct meetings related to the situation with Texas A&M and conference membership," Beebe said. "There will be public statements as appropriate and necessary if and when action is taken."
As for what the Big XIIish will do next ... well, let's just say that they're setting their sights high. Ridiculously high. According to Chip Brown, the targets are BYU, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and -- wait for it -- Arkansas. One of these days, people are going to realize that a vital element of Arkansas moving to the Big XIIish is Arkanas wanting to move to the Big XIIish. That element is notably lacking.
Turning to the slightly less unrealistic candidates, BYU should be self-explanatory. It's a logical fit regionally, could keep its television network, and would add a sizable market to the conference. And it would probably be interested, something that the Big XIIish seems to ignore in many of its choices.
The only reason I can think for floating Pittsburg's name out there is as a way to scare Notre Dame. If Pittsburg joins the Big XIIish, which I can't ever see happening in any place other than DeLoss Dodds' imagination, the Big East would then be placed on red alert. That matters to Notre Dame because it has all its non-football sports in the Big East. So I guess that the thinking goes, assuming that there's any thinking going on in Big XIIish World right now, that Notre Dame would then also join. Which is patently absurd.
Notre Dame knows that if the Big East is ever really in serious jeopardy, the Irish need only pick up the phone and call Jim Delany. They will be handed a gilded invitation to the Up North Conference as quickly as it can be printed. It also amusing that the Big XIIish leadership's answer to a crisis arguably brought on by one of its members having an independent television network -- is to ask in another member and allow it to start an independent television network. Oh, and bring in yet another member that already has an independent television network, to boot. What's the definition of insanity?