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The A&M/SEC Mating Dance – Morning Edition

With Texas A&M’s decision yesterday to give president R. Bowen Loftin the power to explore conference alignment options, the school and the Southeastern Conference continued to glide toward one another in what appears to be a pretty elaborate mating dance.  For decades the two parties have talked behind closed doors, flirted, and — as was the case last summer — come tantalizingly close to consummating their relationship.  This thing is Ross and Rachel on a much larger and much more entertaining scale.

We’ll have plenty of opinion as the day wears on, but first we wanted to get you up to speed on what everyone else is saying this morning. 

Some claim that the SEC and A&M will get together in just a matter of days.  Others are claiming that in the end the Aggies will stay put in the Big 12.  But as we’ve noted before — and has been proven out time and again — when you’re talking about major moves like this, the safe bet is to expect smaller moves and slower periods of time than the Twitter/messageboard crowd want to suggest. 

There’s a whole lot of disinformation being kicked around right now.  Remember that — as we try to do — while sifting through all of the following opinions:


1.  Andy Staples of SI.com provides an excellent overview for those who are trying to come to grips with the ins and outs of this process.

2.  Ron Higgins of The Memphis Commercial-Appeal caught up with former SEC commish Roy Kramer and ex-A&M/MSU coach Jackie Sherrill to discuss the A&M/SEC situation.  Sherrill says the deal will go through and that attorneys for the SEC slowed down the chase.  Kramer explains why A&M wants out of the Big 12:


“From Day 1 in our league, everybody was on equal footing and that was especially important in our previous expansion process.  Nobody was going to get a special deal to join the league, everybody was going to be one and the same.  That unity has always been one of the great strengths in this conference.

A&M and some of those other Big 12 schools face some tough, hard decisions, because they’ve allowed that (Texas) situation to go on.  That’s no way to run a railroad the way they (the Big 12) are trying to run that one.  You can’t have one engine running down a track that’s totally separate from the other 11 engines.”


3.  Sherrill also believes that recruiting will improve for A&M and the SEC’s schools (Arkansas especially) if/when the parties unite.

4.  Sam Mellinger of The Kansas City Star has a source who believes A&M will wind up staying in the Big 12.

5.  The story is now making the rounds that a recent phone conversation between Mike Slive and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe became quite heated.

UPDATE — Apparently Beebe didn’t view the conversation as “heated.”

6.  OutkickTheCoverage.com brings you a simplified breakdown of how ESPN — which has way too many fingers in way too many pies — will wind up at the center of this entire situation.  The network’s deal with Texas might force the Big 12 to break up… which could save the network money on its Big 12 contract… but could cost the network more money on the SEC end if A&M moves east.  Follow that?  Clay Travis does an excellent job of laying out the details right here.  (This beats the hell out of following the SportsByBrooks’ “release a photo and gossip” model.  Kudos to Travis for this one.)

7.  Dennis Dodds of CBSSports.com provides further info on ESPN’s involvement in this mess.

8.  Here’s an overview of the situation from a University of Texas perspective.

9.  The New York Times reports that NCAA president Mark Emmert is talking to conference commissioners about trying to handle expansion in a less canibalistic way.  (One, he has no power to enforce that and two, has any conference thanked another for taking one of its teams?  I don’t recall the Big Ten catching heat for swiping Nebraska.  Of the Pac-12 for trying to grab half the Big 12.)

10.  The Washington Post jumps on the “it’s all about the money” train.  (Can someone please point out to me a business that is not all about the money?)

11.  Some are already pushing Texas politicians to push (in turn) Houston into the Big 12 as a replacement for A&M… which hasn’t officially left yet.

12.  A&M’s president said he’s going to take his time in making a “100-year decision.”

13.  A political battle is brewing over all of this.  Some Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor backing politicians are already floating the idea that A&M’s departure might lead to economic destruction for the state.  (Yeesh.)  Well, Texas governor Rick Perry — a powerful A&M alum — is trying to downplay such spin:


“I’m sure when the Southwest Conference was disintegrated, there were those who thought it was the end of the world.  I’m sure when Colorado and Nebraska left (the Big 12) to go to their respective conferences, there were naysayers.  My instinct is that no matter what happens, we’ll wake up and the sun will still come up from the east.”


14.  It looks like Texas is leaning toward not playing A&M if the Aggies leave the Big 12.  Where’s the political pressure telling the Longhorns that they’ll hurt the Lone Star State if they act so selfishly?

15.  Andy Kats of ESPN.com looks at A&M-to-the-SEC from a hoops perspective.

 


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