Texas A&M's vocal majority clamors for revolution. The Aggie president refuses to douse the flames. Even Texas Gov. Rick Perry pumps the rumors, saying A&M conversations with the Southeastern Conference “are being had.”
Maybe the Aggies are just enjoying their sudden status as Big 12 linchpin. Maybe the Aggies just want to make the hated Longhorns sweat. Maybe the rational Aggies, though their ranks dwindle, will keep A&M where it belongs.
But I wouldn't count on it. When so many rabble-rousers march around with firearms drawn, chances are some knucklehead will shoot Archduke Ferdinand, and here comes world war.
Many A&M reports Thursday, including some legit people, claimed the Aggies are SEC bound. Which makes it every Big 12 school for itself. No more 10 musketeers, or even nine.
Realignment fever has struck again, one summer after Nebraska and Colorado bolted for new shores.
Hold that wagon train after all. Here in Oklahoma, we might soon be shouting Westward Ho.
If A&M leaves, some in Norman still want to preserve the Big 12, though not as a nine-team conference. There's even some support for doing what the Big 12 should have been doing from the start; finding replacements to get back to 12.
But others in Soonerville want to head West, to join the Pac-12, which last summer extended OU (and four others from the Big 12) a tempting invitation.
The latter option is best. Finding one fill-in for A&M might be doable. Calling Provo, Utah. Calling Provo, Utah. But who besides Brigham Young would be willing to come? Louisville? Air Force?
The Big 12 pledged solidarity last summer when the conference split. No way will anyone buy into solidarity should the league fracture again.
Besides, why does anyone think the SEC would stop at A&M? If the SEC needs another team for its western frontier, Missouri's bags are packed.
The Sooners aren't a candidate. That's one thing they all agree at OU; no one wants any part of the SEC recruiting culture.
Which takes OU, and probably OSU, back to the Pac-whatever.
Be assured, the Sooner brass doesn't have its head in cracks of clay. Seems likely that conversations are “being had” between OU, certain fellow Big 12 members and the Pac-12.
A good chunk of OU administration wanted to go West anyway last year. Hard to suppress that tide if the Big 12 splits more.
And it's not like the door has closed. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said earlier this summer he remains interested in expansion. Who's more fit than the Oklahoma and Texas schools? The Pac-12 has spoken on Boise State and BYU. So who's left? Virginia Tech and West Virginia?
It's clear the Pac-12 still craves OU and, hold onto your Stetson, maybe even Texas.
The Longhorn Network seemed to end all talk of Texas ever going to another conference, since the Big 12 was the only league willing to allow UT its own cable channel.
But without the Big 12, Texas' only option to keep its network is independence. And independence is fool's gold. Let's see. Football independence and your own television network. How's that worked out for Notre Dame?
Wouldn't shock me if Texas and the Pac-12 resumed discussions. Maybe there's a television compromise to be had. The Pac-12 has started its own conference network, with regional satellite networks within that framework. I have no idea how that all will work, and I'm not sure anyone on the West Coast does, either.
But I know this. Conference affiliation is far more important than television autonomy, even if ESPN is paying Texas $15 million for marginal content and would pay much more for the prime stuff. Perhaps there's a way the Longhorn Network could be folded into the new Pac-12 system, with both sides saving face.
Independence would severely harm Texas' other sports, would do nothing for football and would serve only to fill the Longhorn vault, which already is packed with greenbacks.
So it by all means is in Texas' best interest to at least check out Pac-12 expansion, even if it gave A&M the ultimate satisfaction of damaging the Longhorn Network.
Oklahoma State is tied to the Sooners, of course, and OSU is OU's best comrade in this madness. Wherever these schools go, they need friends. Friends and neighbors.
OU is best served going West as one of four schools. Adding a quartet to the Pac-12 that would form what almost came to pass last summer; an East Division that also would include Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah.
That gives OU (and OSU) a workable regional schedule, with minimal West Coast travel, and like-minded schools around the boardroom.
Without Texas, another partner is needed out West, to join the likely trio of OU, OSU and Texas Tech. Missouri, if the Tigers don't go with A&M, or Kansas, if the Jayhawks can split from K-State.
I've even thought about TCU, since the more Texas schools the merrier. OU and OSU, particularly, need to be aligned with as many Texas schools as possible; their recruiting south of the Red River has flourished in the Big 12 era. But at least one Big 12 administrator shot down the TCU idea. Not enough TV clout.
Or heck, why not A&M? If the Aggies are going to bolt, at least try to talk them into staying away from the SEC barbarians. Go to the Pac-12 with OU, OSU and Tech. The Aggies want the last laugh on Texas? That would do it.
Oh well, maybe everyone will settle down. Maybe the Aggies will realize how good they've got it. Maybe they will take solace in having stood up to Texas this summer. Maybe they will stick with the Big 12.
But you never know when someone will suddenly shoot Ferdinand.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at