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Texas A&M departure would leave future of Big 12 a Big Mess

by Berry Tramel Modified: August 11, 2011 at 11:39 pm •  Published: August 11, 2011

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?

Jenni Carlson: Texas A&M to the SEC doesn’t make sense Chat Recap: Berry Tramel

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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