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Passive-Aggressive Texas Pushing A&M’s Buttons With Network

Things have gone quiet on the SEC expansion front in recent days.  While the league has worked behind the scenes to find a 14th member to possibly pair with Texas A&M, all chatter has been coming from the Big 12 side of things.

Commissioner Dan Beebe said he wants A&M to stay (while also suggesting that he might force the school’s hand with a deadline).  Big 12 mega-boosters like T. Boone Pickens have asked A&M to stay.  Panicked economists attached to Baylor University have cranked out numbers showing that if A&M leaves for the SEC, the entire state of Texas will go the way of the Roman Empire.  And even folks attached to the University of Texas have publicly stated that they desperately want the Aggies to stay put.

While all these statement have been bubbling up on the surface, Texas and ESPN have actually been back in the kitchen cooking up new plans for the Longhorn Network — the cable channel that started kickstarted A&M’s escape plans.

The NCAA ruled last week that high school games could not air on college or conference networks for fear that such broadcasts would give said school or league a recruiting advantage.  On Monday, the NCAA will discuss the matter further with representatives from multiple networks and multiple schools, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

But Texas and ESPN are already planning to get high schoolers onto the Longhorn Network in another way — highlights.  During a news conference yesterday, a representative for the network said that UT and ESPN plan to show high school football highlights on their co-owned channel.

In other words, “We really want you to stay, A&M… now how ya like these apples?”  In addition, it was announced that the network would carry two Big 12 games this season, another of the original sticking points for A&M.

Consider this to be passive-aggressive behavior on a collegiate level.  And the Longhorns’ actions are speaking a lot more loudly than their words.

In response to all of this, an Aggie official said only, “Our recent conversations are reflective of our ongoing concerns.”  Indeed.

If Beebe holds his league together this time around, he should know that it will be even more flawed and fractious than it has been for the past year.  Of course, if he can deadline A&M into staying, he also knows he can up the exit penalty by tens of millions of dollars before the Aggies actually do depart.

And they will depart.  It’s just a matter of when.

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While A&M Waits For SEC To Find #14, Big 12 Threatens A Deadline

Texas A&M wants into the SEC yesterday.  Even if it costs — as some have suggested — as much as $30 million in exit penalties.

The SEC slowed the process down over the weekend.  The league wanted to make sure A&M could clear any and all hurdles before providing them a new home.  That and the SEC wants/needs to find and add a 14th team to join alongside the Aggies.

So we wait.  But we may not be waiting for long.

Commissioner Dan Beebe suggested to The Dallas Morning News today that the Big 12 might give A&M a deadline to make a decision.

“I think the (Big 12) members deserve to know what Texas A&M’s intentions are going forward regarding the conference.”  Asked about waiting for months on a decision — which A&M president R. Bowen Loftin has said might be a possibility — Beebe made it clear that he’s not in favor of such a delay.

“I would suggest that would be an untenable position.  We can’t operate with an institution waiting to decide if it wants to remain in the conference.  There has to be a very short time for an institution to commit.”

Beebe said he could approach the Big 12′s board of directors about setting a deadline for A&M’s decision.  (Interestingly, Oklahoma State booster T. Boone Pickens was quoted in a story this morning as saying that A&M have “got three weeks to come to their senses.”)

“Ultimately, our strong main desire is to keep A&M and address whatever needs to be done to keep them as happy, fulfilled members of the conference,” Beebe said.

Yeah.  And forcing a deadline down their throat should really help on that front.

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Okla. State Mega-Booster Pickens Angling For A&M To Stay Put

Oklahoma State mega-booster and power-broker T. Boone Pickens told the Associated Press last night that he wants Texas A&M to stay in the Big 12… and that he thinks they will.

“That’s a big mistake for Texas A&M,” Pickens said of a move to the SEC.  “They’re moving out of Texas when they do that.  I don’t think that’s a smart deal.”

Pickens also said that he does not want to see the Big 12 split up with some schools heading to the Pac-12.  And he also said that he thinks whatever happens, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will stick together (which could be more wishing than believing):

“The rest of the conference isn’t quite that way. … There’s too much tradition just to wash it out and we scatter.  I think OU and Oklahoma State will stick together if something happens.  We’re kind of a stick-together crowd in this state.

The Aggies ought to stick with Texas.  They have a hard time hugging Texas.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed that.  But I can always hug Sooners if they don’t beat us. …

The Aggies, they’re very spirited guys and all.  I don’t think they’ll move.  I don’t want them to.  Texas doesn’t want them to either.  Nobody wants them to leave.

They’ve got three weeks to come to their senses.  I think they’ll stay with the conference.”

Pickens is one of the most powerful boosters in college athletics, so his words are worth listening to.  However, as an OSU supporter, he’s also laying out a best-case scenario for his school.

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