Conference Realignment: Texas A&M

Once again, Chip Brown of has important news on conference expansion, namely that Texas A&M now intends to join the SEC. Assuming this is true*, this has the potential to completely change the conference realignment picture. Previous reports had indicated that the remaining five Big 12 invitees would announce that they too were joining the Pac 10, possibly as early as next week. Should Texas A&M decide to break ranks and join the SEC, then it becomes an open question as to what Texas and Oklahoma will do.

First of all, it is important to note that Texas A&M going to the SEC does not necessarily kill the Pac 10 deal. The Pac 10 would simply replace Texas A&M's invitation with Utah, a deal that would still be appealing financially while allowing Texas and Oklahoma to be in the same conference. At the same time, it should also be noted that by losing Texas A&M for Utah, the difference financially between the Big Ten and Pac 10 grows, and Texas' incentive to go to the Pac 10 to maintain traditional rivalries drops. Meanwhile, should Texas A&M be able to move to the SEC, it could well signify that the Texas legislature does not intend to intervene too much in conference realignment.

Also important is that Oklahoma and the SEC have a mutual interest as well, and it seems likely that if Oklahoma manages to dissociate from Oklahoma State, then they will join the SEC. Should Oklahoma manage to do this, then the Pac 10 invitation to Oklahoma State would almost certainly be revoked, as Oklahoma State does not bring in anything close to the amount of money as Oklahoma would.

This all leaves Texas in an interesting position. Texas could still easily go to the Pac 10, but recent events have made it somewhat more likely that the Big Ten would be a viable option from a political standpoint. And if the Big Ten is politically viable, then it is quite likely that Texas will go there, as the Big Ten has a superior financial situation and the academic benefits of the CIC. And if Texas goes to the Big Ten, this greatly increases the chances that the Big Ten could get Notre Dame. And as I have stated previously, this is likely the best case scenario for the Big Ten. In fact, it would not be surprising if the Big Ten and SEC were working together to destabilize Pac 10 expansion, as it would allow both conferences to profit as the SEC would almost certainly get Texas A&M and Oklahoma, while the Big Ten would get Texas, rather than let those three schools go to the Pac 10.

*It should be noted that, as a writer for Texas' Rivals site and the Texas beat writer for the Dallas Morning News, Brown's sources are most likely coming from Texas and not Texas A&M. As such, these reports may well be secondhand and not necessarily accurate. Nevertheless, he's been much more accurate than most on this topic and deserves the benefit of the doubt.

UPDATE: Texas A&M's Rivals affiliate is now reporting that Texas A&M turned down the Pac 10's offer. The article is behind a paywall, but the information is in the header. Conflicting reports from others, as summarized by the Dallas Morning News.

UPDATE 2: Per Chip Brown's Twitter: Texas A&M refutes his report. The original source came from outside Texas A&M.

UPDATE 3: now reports that Texas is willing to stay in the Big 12 and will commit to the conference as early as today. His track record, however, is not looking as good recently.

UPDATE 4: ESPN has a conflicting report stating that Texas to Pac 10 is imminent.

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