Big 12 football: Look who’s suddenly weak
A reader likened the Big 12 soap opera to half Dallas, half Sopranos. And that’s about right. Lots of back-stabbing. Lots of corner booth deal-making. Lots of mistrust.
But a weak player has emerged in the mess, and it comes from the most unlikely of ports. The Southeastern Conference. The mighty SEC looks awfully spineless in this crazy story.
The lords of college football are letting the president of Baylor hold up their expansion plans. We haven’t seen anything like this since Tiananmen Square. Kenneth Starr has led a Big 12 revolt — the league and its members have backtracked on the letter sent by Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe last week, saying the league and its members would not sue Texas A&M or the SEC, should the Aggies bolt for that conference.
Starr, presumably, got word to the SEC on Tuesday that his school would not abide by such a promise, and Beebe quickly fired off a letter to the SEC apologizing for the confusion but stating that his original letter should refer only to the conference’s potential legal action. So the SEC put a stipulation on A&M’s entry. A waiver of the right to sue by the Big 12 schools, or no go.
Strikes me that the SEC is saying, we’d like A&M, but we could go either way. We want the Aggies, but not all that much. Which is crazy in itself. You either want A&M or you don’t. This isn’t the Sooner Athletic Conference, which can add schools in about a day and a half.
The SEC should know exactly what it wants. Should know exactly how much A&M would help the SEC. Make a decision and stick with it. Threats of a lawsuit from a bully like Kenneth Starr? Threats of a lawsuit from a school like Baylor?
If I’m A&M, I’m mad at Baylor, but I’m also suddenly leery of my future league. Is that all the support A&M can expect to receive? Leave you standing with no cover at the first sign of trouble?
You’d think the SEC might have access to a lawyer or two in Atlanta or Nashville or Birmingham or New Orleans. But the SEC seems to be saying, we don’t want to go to combat with someone from Baylor. The Baylor Law School rankings should rise several spots. Change the name of the school song from “That Good ol’ Baylor Line” to “That Good ol’ Baylor Law.”
But seriously, does this sound like the SEC is really fired up about A&M? I know A&M is fired up about the SEC, for good reason, but I don’t see much commitment from the SEC. I’d be worried if I was the Aggies, about my status once I get into the conference. Will A&M be second-class citizens? There’s reason to think so.
We’ve talked a lot about where schools might want to go and the reasons for it. One thing I’ve always referred to is friends in the boardroom. Don’t go to a league as a lone soldier. Take some friendly faces with you. This is a perfect example why.
OU has shown little interest in the SEC, despite a grass-roots campaign from fans to consider what clearly is the nation’s best football league. But you think this makes the SEC more appealing to anyone? Eh, somebody might sue us. Somebody might threaten us. Kenneth Starr might get mad. Sort it out yourself, then call us back.
Be careful, A&M. Be very careful.
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