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Sprints Is Keeping an Eye on the Death of the Big XII (Maybe) and A&M's SEC Odds // 06.14.10

First, where we appear to be entering the second week of BIG XII DEATHWATCH: 2010, based in part on the stories below and in part on what I'm picking up between the lines and from other observations and reading.

  • Texas can still save the Big XII if it wants to. This is an important point as schools try to shift the blame for the impending death of the league. Texas A&M can probably still be convinced to stay in the conference if Texas, Oklahoma, et al., are also committed to trying to make things work. And Oklahoma -- which seems like it would be just as happy anywhere as long as the whole thing ends -- will stay if Texas stays. Anyone who is a friend of A&M should make this point over and over again. That's because ...
  • There is a propaganda war being waged in the media between Texas and A&M. At first, I thought that was a little bit over the top, but it's become more clear as time goes on. The Longhorns do not want to be blamed for what happens to the Big XII no matter what. They tried to blame Nebraska, but when Tom Osborne pushed back and Dan Beebe started giving his powerpoint presentation showing the league could still make money, Texas needed a new villian. Enter A&M. In the meantime, A&M has seen media columnist after media columnist in Texas slam them for daring to consider not following Texas' instructions to the letter. This might be part of the reason A&M was so quick to shoot down reports that it had already turned down the Big XII; Texas also wants A&M to take the blame for breaking up the Lone Star State coalition by turning down the Pac-10, even though everyone knows that the SEC has either already invited Texas or would in a moment if the Longhorns showed interest. Denying the reports also probably buys the regents a little more time and protection, though it's hard to imagine they're not getting swamped by now.
  • I still think the Big XII is probably done. At this point, I'm not willing to make any definitive statement after the roller-coaster ride that has been realignment. But it's hard to see anybody being able to put this conference back together again after the acrimony and bitterness that seem to grow by the minute. Texas and Texas A&M are all but openly hostile toward each other right now, Kansas' interest in preserving the Big XII seems to be inversely proportional to how likely they are to be included in the Pac-16, and the distrust between the schools in the North and the South has to be enormous by now. If Beebe can save this thing, though, I'll take back my statement that he's the worst conference commissioner in America. That's the least you can do for someone who might pull off the save of the century.

Again, all updates are final until they change in 10 minutes.


It's not quite a done deal yet -- but it's getting pretty close
The Houston Chronicle story that seemed to generate so much interest late Sunday doesn't add too much to the already available information, but it increases the degree of certainty about what the Aggies will do if the Big XII spins apart.

A&M’s board of regents likely will meet late this week -- perhaps as soon as Thursday -- to decide the Aggies’ sporting future, a person with knowledge of the situation said. And that future appears to be the SEC, as the powerful league to the east is prepared to lure A&M away from the clinging-to-hope Big 12, a proposed Pacific-10 affiliation and its storied league rivalry with Texas. ...

The SEC is prepared to take on the Aggies as its 13th team, the insider said, with no clear time frame on when it would add a 14th or who that would be.

Details, details.

Again, there's not anything groundbreaking here, but it does paint the A&M leadership as pretty squarely pro-SEC. Whether this is part of the information war that we talked about isn't entirely clear, but it seems to be backed up by everything else that's out there.

If the Big XII spins apart, that is
Despite the seeming improbability of it, some people apparently still think this is a possibility. Dreaming, or is everyone taking a moment to reconsider things. On the other hand, I find it hard to see Texas A&M ready to go along with some of the ideas being floated out there, and I really don't understand how a deal resembling the deal made when the Big XII was initially formed is going to make things better.

A source close to the realignment negotiations suggested that Texas -- the key to league survival in its present form -- probably would gain concessions for "getting to play the hero."

It was concessions to Texas -- for example, in the form of uneven revenue distribution that allows schools to keep more of their money from TV appearances -- on which an unstable foundation was laid when the Southwest Conference and the Big Eight Conference merged.

"There is a price," the source said. "But the price is worth it, or it’s a price we have to pay."

The anonymous sources -- which are necessary to report a story like this -- are part of what makes those comments hard to decipher. Logic says they're probably coming from one of the Big XII North schools, who at this point would likely be willing to give Texas the naming rights to their stadiums in order to keep the league in one piece. But if this is an A&M booster or regent -- unlikely -- then it would be huge news. And if it's Dan Beebe -- well, I'm beginning to think that Chip Brown knows more at this point than Dan Beebe does.

There's also a couple of interesting notes about the denied denial that A&M supposedly gave the Pac-10. According to the Star, Missouri's media relations director had confirmed that "a Big 12 official had informed Missouri late Sunday afternoon that Texas A&M had turned down an offer to join the Pac-10." Without knowing for a fact who that official is, what he or she said and what the actual conversation was between Larry Scott and A&M, it's impossible to figure out the significance of that. (There are ways to turn down an invitation without technically turning it down.)

And Texas A&M has plenty of reasons, as we've noted, for saying that it's still open to the Pac-10.

More on the Big XII doing its best imitation of the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail from Chip Brown

As was told by a top source in the day's developments: "The winds to keep the Big 12 together with 10 teams are getting stronger."

Texas had been resolute up to this point that if Nebraska left the conference, it would accept an invitation to join the Pac-10 and likely lead an exodus that appeared to include Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

The more relevant point for our purposes, though: Chip Brown says he has a vote count.

Texas A&M has been in deep discussions with the SEC and as of Saturday night had enough votes on its Board of Regents to join the SEC (believed to be 6-3).

That's a good majority there, but it's before Larry Scott's visit. So let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.

The Mayor does some reporting
It's just as trustworthy as anything Chip Brown reports -- probably more so, given the TEXAS A&M HAS TURNED DOWN THE PAC-10 OH WAIT A MINUTE I MISUNDERSTOOD debacle over the weekend. The Mayor's source says a decision will be announced by Friday, which is backed up by common sense, the Houston Chronicle report and how quickly this thing is moving.

You're not the only one confused by the new world
If you're unclear: The Big Ten is the conference with 12 teams and the Big XII is the league with 10 teams. Oh, and the Pac-10 has 11 teams and might soon have 15 or 16 teams. Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton is also having trouble with it.

"We’re working hard to strengthen the Big 12, or the Big Ten as it is right now. In other words,the 10 institutions left in the Big 12.

"Nomenclature is very difficult in this process," Deaton said.

Don't worry; in a few year, there's probably not going to be a Big XII to worry about getting confused.

Poseur looks at the end of the Southwest Conference
Why did it die?

The Big 12 ditched the old Big 8 and was considered a new conference, which sowed the seeds of its destruction. No one, not Texas, not Nebraska, not OU, not A&M, not even Iowa St, had any historic loyalty to the conference. At the first sign of trouble, there was no anchor to hold everyone in line.

The important things to note here are (a) the Big XII isn't technically dead yet; and (b) Texas won't join the SEC at least in part because it would not be allowed to wield as much power as it did in the SWC and it does in the Big XII. Which is fine if you're Texas, but is one reason you'd consider the move if you're Texas A&M.

As long as the crystal football stays in the SEC ...
Rock M Nation takes a look at what would have happened to Mizzou in the SEC over the last few years based on that Yankee propaganda known as "statistics," and makes a credible case that the Tigers could have gone to the BCS National Championship Game in 2007 instead of LSU. It's an academic argument, as I think all scenarios involving Missouri moving to the SEC are, but we'll see.

Is this legal?
The CEO of FedEx is offering as much as $10 million to the first BCS conference that will take Memphis. Which is, if nothing else innovative -- but are you telling me this doesn't run afoul of some NCAA rule or federal law? And if not, then why not? The Big East: Where all you need for membership is a dream. And $10 million.


Now will they throw the ball to Deonte Thompson?
In all seriousness, Frankie Hammond might very well be a smart individual, but he did a dumb thing Sunday morning.

The "uncoordinated" Hammond -- with slurred speech, bloodshot and "glassy" eyes -- failed his sobriety field tests and registered breath samples of 0.188 and 0.191, according to the report. The legal limit for blood alcohol content is 0.08.

That's almost three times the legal limit. That's beyond "kind of irresponsible" or even "young and reckless." Not that either of those are actually excuses for DUI, but at least they're explanations; even a college kid should know better than to drive with that much alcohol in his system.

Arkansas fullback has DWI charge
Van Stumon decided to make an improper U-turn and an improper lane change, which was probably a pretty big hint for Fayetteville's finest.

You know, usually you get new material for your second show
But Lane Kiffin appears to be going back to the "talking to 'em when you're not supposed to" routine. Here's hoping that it goes better for him this time than it did last time. Or not really. Florida and Alabama both deny the allegations.

Maybe Auburn's baseball team isn't doomed
Plainsman Parking Lot makes a case for at least four of the drafted Tigers returning next year.