September 7th, 2011 05:49 PM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
Tags: Mike Slive, OU, SEC, UT
At this point, it’s assumed by most observers that Oklahoma wants out of the Big 12. Perhaps they’re not quite as froggy as Texas A&M, but they sure seem to be eyeing a jump to the Pac-12.
Only Oklahoma doesn’t want to move first. They want A&M to take that leap. The Pac-12 wants the same. And A&M and the SEC were perfectly ready to make that leap today before Baylor started a mini-revolt by refusing to agree not to sue Texas A&M and/or the SEC and/or Mike Slive (as the school had initially agreed).
But we all know the following to be true:
* Any Big 12 school will have a hard time proving tortious interference against the SEC. The Aggies apparently made the first call and the SEC slowed down the process time and again to make sure all i’s were dotted and all t’s were crossed. Not to mention the fact that Baylor doesn’t have a contract with Texas A&M. It has a contract with the Big 12. And the SEC isn’t dealing with the Big 12, it’s dealing with A&M. A very tough case to prove.
* Multiple Big 12 officials have admitted that Colorado and Nebraska seriously wounded the league by leaving last summer — as if the third team out the door could really be held accountable for collapsing the conference. Meanwhile, other Big 12 representatives have made reference to the league’s uneven revenue split and Texas’ arrogance as being the sparks that truly lit this powder keg.
* Also, Texas A&M’s departure would not destroy the league. One Big 12 official after another — including commissioner Dan Beebe — has said that the league’s goal is to expand further (by raiding other conferences for their teams) and to grow stronger.
* Finally, the last time a lawsuit like this was attempted, the Big East sued the ACC. After two years of legal gobbledygook, the Big East got a settlement of — wait for it — $5 million. That might be big cash to you or me, but a BCS league spends that much on a coaches’ luncheon.
Now, as we’ve mentioned, the SEC would have to consider the possibility that a lawsuit filed in Waco might possibly be presided over by a Baylor grad who might just see the law through green-and-gold-shaded lenses. But the odds against a tortious interference case — even under those circumstance — going against the SEC are still extremely long.
Former attorney Mike Slive knows this. So why isn’t his league simply marching forward as the Pac-12 and Big Ten have? With little regard for legal threats or the cries and lamentations of the innocent?
1. Because Mike Slive does not want to be viewed as Atilla the Hun. He’ll let other schools come to him, but he’s not going to raid and destroy other conferences. At least not publicly. He’ll leave that for Jim Delany and Scott.
2. Perhaps the league doesn’t want to get bogged down in any type of legal red tape. The SEC has plenty of money, but attorney fees can get pretty darn expensive. More to the point, who wants the headaches and all the bad publicity?
3. Perhaps the SEC is just playing chicken with Oklahoma, Texas and the Pac-12.
By putting the ball back in the Big 12′s court, it’s possible that Slive and company believe Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech are so far down Route 66 headed West that they will be willing to cross the Big 12′s boundary lines before A&M. (Emphasis on Oklahoma and Texas, not State and Tech.)
If those schools move first, then you can forget about lawsuits being filed against Slive and/or the SEC. OU, UT and the Pac-12 will have destroyed the Big 12, not A&M and the SEC.
In the end, it’s hard to imagine A&M returning to the Big 12. Those bridges are burned. But the rest of the league can recover and survive by adding one school. If so — again — there would be no need for lawsuits.
Texas A&M is clearly caught in the middle of all this and there’s no telling what the SEC’s next act might be. But for now, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Slive intentionally punted the ball back to the Pac-12, OU and UT to see how they’ll handle it… knowing that he can eventually race right past any legal obstacles and score should they choose to punt the ball back to him.
|Post Comments »||Comments (18)|