The University of Texas is virtually certain to abandon the Big 12 Conference for the Pacific-10 Conference when its governing board meets Tuesday. Texas Tech University is expected to follow along.
Texas A&M University officials apparently are undecided on joining the Pac-10 or the Southeastern Conference. Baylor University’s prospects for joining the Pac-10 remain bleak. And the Big 12 is history.
That, in a nutshell, is how the high-stakes, high-dollar game of college athletics conference realignment — Texas edition — is shaping up this weekend after Friday’s announcement that the University of Nebraska will leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten. A day earlier, the University of Colorado said it will quit the Big 12 for the Pac-10.
One highly placed Big 12 school official said there was no doubt that league members UT, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would join the Pac-10.
“The decision has been made,” he told the American-Statesman. “We’re bringing everybody to the Pac-10 but A&M.”
Texas A&M is apparently considering a move to the Southeastern Conference.
Athletic director DeLoss Dodds has been on record as saying he believes both schools should remain in the same conference. Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne, however, indicated during last week’s Big 12 spring meetings that Texas and Texas A&M need to play each other regularly in all sports but hinted that did not necessarily mean they had to be members of the same conference.
“We really like the relationship with Texas,” Byrne said at the time. “We have a long relationship with them. We have the Lone Star Showdown in every sport.
“I can’t imagine us ever not competing against the University of Texas.”
The major concern Texas A&M seems to have with a move to the expanded Pac-10 is the increased travel and likely increased missed class time for all sports except football. A move to the SEC seems more logical to A&M, if a move is necessary.
“There is a two-hour time difference,” said Byrne, who was once the athletic director at Oregon. “The travel between Eugene, Oregon and College Station is 2,200 miles. That’s a long way, sports fans.”
More on that is here. I don’t know how seriously to take that. On the one hand, I think the geographical concerns make a lot of sense. On the other hand, I think the Bleacher Report raises a good point:
If A&M were to part with Texas and head to the SEC, they would almost certainly have to maintain the annual Thanksgiving game with the Longhorns, forcing them to not only play an SEC conference schedule that is at this point way out of their league, but to also play a non-conference game against a perennial top-five team.
If A&M were a strong enough program to handle this type of schedule, it would be a great scenario as their strength of schedule would undoubtedly put them in a position to play for the BCS title every season.
However, they are not.
A&M, at this point, will be lucky to finish .500 in SEC play.
Playing Texas each year would almost guarantee another loss, giving them a best case scenario of going 6-6.
This won’t work for long.
That’s a bit of an overstatement, and I’ve no doubt that the Aggie faithful would believe that moving to a “better” conference would make it easier to bring better recruits to A&M, thus raising their game. I’d just ask how well that worked for them in the move to the Big XII.
Honestly, I have a hard time seeing the two schools part ways. If you thought the Lege might get involved on Baylor’s behalf, you can be certain they will take notice of a UT/A&M divorce. In the meantime, thinking about it does allow for some entertaining scenarios, as Sean Pendergrast demonstrates.
On a related note, the Mountain West Conference has gotten in on the expansion game by adding Boise State. I wouldn’t count them out as a final destination for some of the currently left behind Big XII schools, no matter how mountain-free they are. You almost have to feel sorry for Missouri, as it was their initial flirtation with the Big 10 that was the catalyst for all this, and now here they are with no place to go. Hey, maybe Conference USA will take them. Beggars can’t be choosers, right? C-USA would be a pretty good fit for Baylor, in any event. It’s all written on water till the big boys finish up with their business. Stay tuned.