It feels bizarre to think that somehow Texas A&M could be a catalyst for a shift in the college football landscape, but here we are, anxiously awaiting word from College Station about their affiliation intentions — one way or the other.
If the Aggies left for the SEC, one of the fallout questions would be the future of the Big 12. Would it disband? Or, would it expand? The official word from Big 12 officials from over the weekend was that the nine other members valued A&M’s presence, but would stick together if the Aggies departed.
Replacing A&M in such a situation would be difficult, but commissioner Dan Beebe has already outlined preliminary discussions if a need for a replacement came to fruition.
Shedding some light on the situation was Texas Tech president Guy Bailey, who appeared on KJTV 950 AM in Lubbock.
“If A&M leaves, we’re going to use this opportunity to build one of the strongest conferences in the United States,” Bailey said. “What we’ll do, we’re going to be very aggressive in recruiting schools and I don’t know how many we’re eventually going to recruit, we’ll need to work with FOX and our other media partners in doing this.
“In the past we’ve sort of been reactive, I think the nine remaining members of the Big 12 have decided that the reactive behavior – it’s time to get rid of that. It’s time to be proactive and I think you’ll see a very proactive approach… I think you ought to think of conference realignment with the Big 12 being one of the cornerstones.”
As far as finding a replacement for the Aggies — and Bailey really makes it sound like he expects A&M to leave — Houston, BYU, Air Force and Louisville have all been mentioned as potential candidates, with BYU gaining the most momentum as of late.
Notre Dame has also been thrown around the rumor mill. For what it’s worth, Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick and Texas AD DeLoss Dodds are very close.
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has stated previously that a 10-member Big 12 is the ideal situation moving forward, but the terms “aggressive” and “proactive” would certainly indicate that more options are possibly on the table. At this point, though — and we’ve stated it before — there just aren’t a lot of great candidates from which to choose.
Apparently, the same could be said for Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott.
Bailey insists that another invite from Scott doesn’t appear on the horizon, largely due to a package deal that would feature Texas, and the Longhorn Network, as cornerstones. Scott already denied Texas a chance at their own network once, and most other Big 12 members are attached to the Longhorns by the hip.
Or, since it’s Texas, big ol’ belt buckle.
“Here’s the deal, what the Pac-12 offered last year, and I think they would be open to this year, is a package deal,” Bailey said. “You’d have to have four schools and Texas is the cornerstone to that. Remember, the issue last year came down to the Longhorn Network. The University of Texas wanted its own network for tertiary rights and the Pac-12 doesn’t allow that. We can cut that out right there. I don’t foresee that happening.”
(Big thanks to the Dallas Morning News for the quotes)