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And They're Off: Texas A&M Tells the Big 12 It Will 'Explore Their Options'

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UPDATE: SI has the full text of Loftin's letter to the Big 12, including this excerpt:

While this letter is not a notice of Texas A&M's withdrawal from the Big 12 Conference (the "Conference"), we are exploring our options. There has been a great deal of speculation and comment in the media about Texas A&M leaving the Conference, including discussions of other institutions joining the Conference.

If Texas A&M withdraws from the Conference, we want to do so in a way that complies with the Bylaws and is supportive of your efforts to seek a new member of the Conference. We would appreciate your conferring with the other member institutions and outlining for us the process to be followed by Texas A&M should it withdraw from the Conference.

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Texas A&M isn't breaking up with the Big 12, per se. They just think that maybe it's time to see other people. According to Billy Liucci of TexasAgs.com, which so far has had a pretty solid track record on this sort of thing:

Mere moments ago, Texas A&M sent a statement to Dan Beebe confirming that the Aggies will explore their options as they pertain to conference affiliation.

As Liucci notes, this is pretty much a point of no return for the Aggies and the Big XIIish. Within the next few days, A&M is likely to apply for acceptance in the SEC. My guess is that the statement that A&M made to the Big XIIish will satisfy the SEC's "they started it" standard. From there, it's just a matter of Mike Slive rounding up the votes -- and I'm pretty sure that things wouldn't have gotten this far if Slive didn't have them. Looks like the SEC is about to go to 13 en route to 14.

I had taken to saying that we would hear either in the next week or sometime in January that the Aggies had joined the SEC, because Slive wouldn't want to distract from the football on the field during the season. It's looking more and more like it might be the former. Ready or not, here the Aggies come.