According to Orangebloods.com — the Rivals site covering the University of Texas — lawmakers in the Long Star State are on the verge of involving themselves in Expansionpalooza 2011. If they do, that could potentially be bad news for the SEC.
Until late last week, Texas politicians had given Texas A&M a free-pass to exit and head east to the Southeastern Conference. But now legislators are worried that Texas and Texas Tech could bolt from the Big 12 and race west to the Pac-12. Some/many/most politicos in Texas don’t want to see that happen. So…
According to Orangebloods:
“Sources said the reason lawmakers are hot is that they received assurances from the Big 12, including (UT president Bill) Powers, that the Big 12 would survive without Texas A&M.
And because of those assurances, lawmakers did not take an aggressive stand against Texas A&M withdrawing from the Big 12. But that may be changing.
Sources said members of the Legislature are or will be reaching out to Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin to tell him the Aggies may no longer have the blessing of lawmakers to leave the Big 12, especially if it looks like the Big 12 will collapse.”
In addition the site claims that Big 12 sources have said there is “an increasing likelihood of litigation” against the SEC.
Good luck to the Big 12 on that front.
The Big Ten began the expansion craze last summer. The Pac-10 then began flirting with Texas and others in an effort to swipe four- to six-teams from the Big 12, which would have extinguished the conference in one push. The Pac-1o was conducting an all-out raid last summer. By comparison, the SEC simply answered a phone call this July.
When the smoke cleared in 2010, Nebraska had left for the Big Ten and Colorado had departed for the Pac-12 (as it’s now called).
Unless the judge overseeing such a silly case attended Baylor, the Big 12 would have a hard time convincing any sane person that it was actually the third school out the door that destabilized the league. Especially when Oklahoma president David Boren has been making comments like this to the press:
“The Big 12 is not the same Big 12. I was extremely disappointed when Nebraska departed. Disappointed when Colorado departed.”
Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel also stated last week:
“Obviously we have some issues in our league… When Nebraska leaves one year, Colorado leaves and then also now Texas A&M. So it’s three real good football teams (that) are leaving.”
Do a Google search and you’ll find countless other Big 12 figures who’ve been publicly stating the obvious — that Nebraska and Colorado exited and hurt the league a full year before A&M started looking for an escape hatch.
But while a tortious interference case would likely be hard to prove, that doesn’t mean such a lawsuit still couldn’t gum up the works for Mike Slive and the Aggies. The mere threat of a lawsuit could cause SEC presidents to slow down out of fear that the person hearing such a case really would be a Baylor grad… angry that his Bears are in danger of being left for dead in this round of realignment. (Nevermind the fact that the Bears left TCU, SMU, Houston and Rice for dead when Baylor jumped to the Big 12 without remorse in the mid-90s.)
Back in 2003, several Big East schools filed suit against the ACC for a raid that netted the Southern league Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech. In 2005, the ACC settled that suit for a grand total of $5 million. Pocket change.
But television contracts have jumped to another level since 2005 and the Big 12 — whoever’s left of the Big 12 — would likely ask for a cool billion of SEC cash. Well, even if there were just a 1% chance of losing that kind of cash, the SEC would need to do some serious risk/reward analyses. Perhaps the league would decide to stand pat and not offer A&M a landing spot. If that were to happen, would the Big 12 then be forced to re-admit a suddenly homeless Texas A&M? Now that would be a happy, long-lasting marriage, to be sure.
Bottom line? This thing isn’t over, folks. In some ways, it may just be getting started.
Oh, boy. Great. ’Cause who wants to talk about football?
UPDATE — Pete Thamel of The New York Times reports that Judith Zaffirini — the chairwoman of the Senate Higher Education Committee in Texas — claims the state senate has no intention of getting involved in conference expansion and realignment.