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Your Tuesday Morning “Full Speed Ahead” Conference Expansion Update

Just when it seemed that the conference expansion race (the one no one says they want) was beginning to stall a bit, Monday erupted in rumors, reports, and even a few comments from SEC commissioner Mike Slive.

We’ll try to summarize and simplify everything that’s out there regarding Texas A&M, the SEC, and everybody else.  But these things change pretty quickly.  By the time you read this, the University of the Ukraine could be headed to the SEC West.

Here goes…

1.  Slive opened up about his conference’s plans while at a speaking engagement in Birmingham last night.  Not only did he take the unusual step of chatting about expansion, but he also had the story posted on the SEC’s official website.  So this was no off-the-cuff remark misinterpreted by some blogging stooge (you know, like us).  As a matter of fact, the details of Slive’s speech were posted on before the speech was even given.  What Slive said… he wanted all to know.  And here’s what he said:

“In the 78-year history of the SEC, the conference had accepted the membership applications of only two institutions — Arkansas and South Carolina.  Texas A&M is now the third.  We remain optimistic that Texas A&M will be a member of the SEC and have started to look at schedules for 2012-13 involving 13 teams.

As I said over the past year or so, the SEC has had no particular interest in expansion.  We were, and are, happy with 12 teams.  If Texas A&M’s president, Dr. Bowen Loftin, had not called me in late July, we had no plans to explore adding an institution.

However, when President Loftin called we became interested.  Texas A&M is an outstanding academic institution with an exceptional athletic program, passionate fans and wonderful traditions.  While the SEC wasn’t think about expansion, it was impossible not to be interested in Texas A&M.  As you can see from the unanimous vote of our twelve presidents/chancellors, we would very much like to have Texas A&M as a member of our conference.

When Texas A&M joins our conference, we don’t have immediate plans for a 14th member.  We aren’t thinking in terms of numbers.  We think about the strength of the SEC and the attractiveness of Texas A&M as an institution.”

Our many takes on these comments:

* What a clear message to A&M fans that the SEC hasn’t forgotten about them.  Only the most paranoid Aggie-backers were becoming angry with the conference for not zipping through Baylor’s legal roadblocks, but this should let that crew know that Slive’s league is merely doing its due diligence.

* What a clear message to Baylor — and any judges who may have to listen to a BU court case — that the SEC simply answered its phone when A&M called back in July.  Translation (for the thousandth time): “We didn’t call them, they called us.”

* Tip of the cap to Clay Travis who claimed weeks ago that the SEC would be willing to stick at 13 schools if need be.  Numerous SEC sources — some on the record — said otherwise.  “If we grab 13, we’ll need to grab 14, too” was the message.  Many of us with our own SEC sources said the same thing — “the goal is 14.”  But now the commish himself is saying 13 isn’t unlucky in his eyes…

* That said, we still believe the SEC was hoping that a good “get” would dial up the league offices just as A&M did.  But most of the schools not named A&M and Oklahoma are trying to maintain the status quo.  That limited the SEC options and left Slive and company to accept the idea of 13 schools.  You can bet, however, that the SEC would have loved for Virginia Tech or North Carolina to have asked for an application.  Fourteen schools would have been the best possible scenario and that was — from what we’ve been told by multiple SEC sources — the unstated but obvious initial goal.

* We’ll tip a cap toward ourselves for pointing out in great detail last summer that A&M was a perfect fit for the SEC.  In our “Expounding on Expansion” research piece, we pointed out that A&M would be a quality stand-alone addition and not just a “We’ll take ‘em if we can get Texas” throw-in candidate.  For nearly two years now we’ve detailed how Texas A&M and the SEC have flirted with one another dating all the way back to the mid-80s.  We’ve told you how serious things got when LSU AD Joe Dean agreed to sponsor an A&M entry into the SEC after discussions with A&M AD John David Crow in the late-80s.  And last summer — just as the Big 12 was announcing its salvation — we stated flat out that A&M would eventually be a member of the SEC.  That all seems quite obvious now.  It wasn’t at the time (and we have the nasty emails to prove it).  So we’ll take a bow along with the aforementioned Travis and a few other blind squirrels across the globe.

* A 13-school SEC is far from ideal.  Other leagues have thrived with an odd number of schools, but not when divided into divisions for the purposes of holding a league championship game in football.  If A&M and Oklahoma set off realignment armageddon, we still believe there’s the potential for a 14th institution to join the SEC in time for the 2012-13 season.

And now, more scuttlebutt and hearsay on the expansion front:

2.  Baylor president Kenneth Starr has penned yet another op-ed piece angling for the resuscitation of the Big 12.  This time his work appears in The Houston Chronicle.  In it, he makes it clear that there’s just somethin’ special about Texas football!  (Just not special enough to have earned Houston, Rice, SMU and TCU slots in the Big 12 when Baylor dumped them in 1996, mind you.)

3.  Let’s now look toward Oklahoma.  If the Sooners choose to stay in the Big 12, that league will likely survive.  But according to, a source “close to OU’s administration” says the school will apply for Pac-12 membership by the end of the month and Oklahoma State will follow soon after.

4.  It was also reported Monday that officials from Oklahoma and the University of Texas met over the weekend to discuss their future plans.  (While UT officials want to keep their Longhorn Network intact, they have reportedly offered to split all Tier I Big 12 television revenue evenly with their league-mates in order to save the Big 12.  OU officials are believed to be past the point of turning back, however.)  One Oklahoma source told The Oklahoman: “Everybody’s sitting around right now… the shoe has to drop at A&M before anything goes on.”

5.  While an OU source is saying his school will wait on A&M to make a move, an A&M source tells The Houston Chronicle that “the SEC and the Aggies will wait and see what happens on the Oklahoma front.”  No shock there.  We wrote on Monday that OU/Pac-12 and A&M/SEC will likely find themselves locked in a staring contest for a bit longer.

6.  Andy Staples of likens the current situation to a game of chicken.

7.  The board of regents at Oklahoma has scheduled a meeting for September 19th (next Monday) and it’s expected that conference realignment will be a main topic.

8.  If the Longhorns are serious about convincing Oklahoma to stick around the Big 12, this writer believes the school should end its partnership with ESPN.  (Yeah.  That’ll happen.)

9.  Meanwhile, according to The Austin American-Statesman, Texas has “three viable realignment options.”   If the Big 12 goes bye-bye, those options include the ACC (which might divide into four four-team pods), the Pac-12 (which would also require a number of issues to be worked out), or independence (which UT claims it does not want).

(On a sidenote, “a well-placed source at a Big 12 school” told The Statesman that “The Big 12′s done… Oklahoma wasn’t open to creating Big 12 stability.”)

10.  One thing’s for sure: Texas is no longer operating from a position of strength.  Looks like UT’s done overplayed its hand.

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A&M’s Independence And More Moving Pieces: Expansion Notes – 9/9/11

Lots of headlines from around the league — and concerning expansion — on this Friday.  We’ll start with the expansion stuff, move on to league news and then finish up with our game projections for tomorrow’s SEC action.

Here’s what’s being written on the expansion front…

1.  The Houston Chronicle is reporting that Texas A&M is more likely to go independent for a year than to play in the Big 12 next season if its entry into the SEC is delayed.

We, however, believe the “independent” option to be a bit extreme:

A.  Texas A&M would still have to give up television revenue from the Big 12 as part of an exit penalty.

B.  A&M would not receive any TV money from the SEC or anyone else to help cover that cost.

C.  Scheduling probably wouldn’t be easy at this late date.

D.  If the Aggies were to play on television less, what would that do for A&M recruiting for a year?  (A short-term issue, yes, but one that Mike Sherman would certainly care about.)

E.  Might Baylor and/or other Big 12 schools find yet another reason to sue the Aggies?  If A&M goes, it’s still breaking a contract that other schools were counting on to help pay for facility upgrades (or so the story goes).

Everything’s on the table in College Station — and you can bet some Aggies are ticked enough to leave the league out of spite immediately — but a year of independence might be more costly than one last hate-filled tour around the Big 12.

For the record, we still believe A&M will be in the SEC in 2012.

2.  Baylor (and/or others) can file suit if they like, but this writer for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram says history is on A&M’s side…

3.  But don’t expect lawsuits to be filed in the first place.  As we pointed out yesterday, the threat of litigation is a stall tactic designed to keep Oklahoma in the Big 12.

3.  Meanwhile,’s Andy Katz writes that Baylor won’t budge when it comes to waiving its right to sue A&M, the SEC, Mike Slive and the Easter bunny.  (Just kidding about the Easter bunny.)

4.  John Lopez of writes that “Baylor’s tantrum seals its own fate.”  (Of course, there could be just a hint of bias there from a site called

5.  Clay Travis of believes the Big 12′s television contracts will help keep the core of that league together even if some big boys leave.

6.  Stewart Mandel of says if you think conference realignment will lead to a college football playoff… think again.

7.  Want to create your own realignment plan?

8.  And the folks at online gambling spot have posted prop bets as to who will join the SEC next.

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SEC Expansion: The Latest Scuttlebutt

Two conflicting, expansion-related stories are being reported on Big 12-related websites this afternoon.  Both are behind paywalls, so we’ll simply provide you with summary information.  (Sort of silly considering the info will be copy and pasted into a million messageboard posts this afternoon, but hey, we’ll play by the rules).

First, — the Rivals site for Texas A&M — is reporting that all of the SEC’s presidents and chancellors are at Hartsfield International Airport this afternoon.  AggieYell believes this could be the final vote to invite A&M and to discuss other potential targets for expansion.

However, — the Rivals site for Missouri — is claiming that according to their sources in College Station, “the SEC might be slowing things down.”  According to PowerMizzou, the SEC felt fine bringing in A&M and then taking its time to find School #14.  They do not — supposedly — feel comfortable inviting A&M in the face of total armageddon.  Instead, the site claims, the SEC would rather have a full 14-16 school lineup in place.

Andy Staples of reports that the SEC should know by tonight whether or not A&M has the nine votes necessary to land an SEC invite.  If so, a deal could be announced tomorrow and then the dominoes could start falling in other leagues.

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LSU Lands SI Cover

Fresh off a 40-27 win over Oregon on Saturday, the LSU Tigers will be featured on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated.

“It’s Go Time” is the headline and that gives us another reason to link to this.

Normally, we would say beware of the SI cover jinx.  But if Les Miles Tigers’ can overcome all the off-field drama of the past month and still whip Oregon, they got no need to worry about a jinx.  What’s one more headache?

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A Few Afternoon Leftovers

1.’s Stewart Mandel is already trying to predict bowl matchups.

2.’s Pat Forde has posted his first Forde-Yard-Dash column of the season.

In it he includes a great quote from former SEC commish Roy Kramer regarding officiating and how fans view it.  “It’s amazing how much better the officiating is when you don’t care who wins.”  Amen.

3.  Rana L. Cash of names Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore a Heisman hopeful.

4.  Tony Barnhart of looks at 10 big questions on the college football horizon.

5.  And The Jackson Clarion-Ledger has polled 12 SEC beatwriters for their predictions, picks and prognostications for the fall.

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You can hand the offensive and defensive MVP trophies to Alshon Jeffery and Courtney Upshaw.  You can count on Jadeveon Clowney to be the impact freshman of the year.  And you can pencil in a South Carolina-Alabama SEC Championship Game.

At least according to’s preseason SEC predictions.  You can see their full write-up here, but their divisional predictions are as follows:

SEC East
Conf. Rec.
Overall Rec.
  SEC West
Conf. Rec.
Overall Rec.
S. Carolina
  Miss. State
  Ole Miss

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Carolina’s Jeffery And Bama’s Richardson On SI Cover

Sports Illustrated’s college football preview issue will hit the market on Thursday and a pair of SEC stars will be featured on the cover.  Alabama tailback Trent Richardson is flanked on either said by South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery and Nebraska’s Jared Crick.  Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones are also featured on the fold-out cover.

SI ranks Alabama #1 in its preseason rankings with LSU (#3) and South Carolina (#7) also making the Top 10. 

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Meyer The Hottest Name For 2012, But We Don’t Think He’ll Be Back So Soon

When a college football job comes open, Urban Meyer’s name is connected to it.  When an article is written about the top candidates for jobs in 2012, Meyer’s name is on that list.

Read the internet and or turn on television or radio sports coverage and you’ll hear that it’s just a matter of time before the ex-Florida coach is back on the sidelines.

And we at continue to say Meyer’s return will come later rather than sooner. has posted a series of videos that shine light onto Meyer’s personal life.  In this clip from “Inside the Private World of Urban Meyer,” you’ll see how Meyer’s decision to walk away from football — twice in a year — impacted his wife and children.  Hint: They weren’t sad about it.

The lure of coaching is great, to be sure.  And Meyer may recharge his batteries and grab the reins at Ohio State in just a few short months.  But we think it’s more likely he’ll follow in the footsteps of fellow well-known workaholic Jon Gruden.  Rather than jump right back into coaching, the ex-Super Bowl winner has remained a broadcaster with ESPN much longer than anyone anticipated.  Don’t be surprised if Meyer doesn’t do the same.

Watch “Behind the Resignation” and we think you’ll understand why we feel the way we do.

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SEC Headlines – 7/21/11 Part One

Hope you liked yesterday’s coverage of SEC Media Days.  (If so, tell a friend.)  Today, we’ll be bringing you all of the news from Hoover, more live blogs when the coaches hit the podium, reaction from around the league, and all the other non-Media Days news items involving SEC schools.

We’ll get started with some headlines…

1.  ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” has studied the video LSU purchased from Willie Lyles last year and found that some of the players shown were already playing college football when the Tigers received the DVDs.  ESPN says there would be little value to the video.  Uh and Oh.

2.  This on the heels of Mike Slive’s “agenda for change” speech.

3.  Even Gregg Doyel of says Slive’s proposals are so sensible they won’t work.

4.  Slive told that you can win these days without cheating.  (Obviously.  Hyperbolic question.)

5.  Here’s ESPN’s Media Days’ Notebook.

6.  Andy Staples of says Slive’s suggestions are unlikely to be implemented.

7.  Dennis Dodd of — Lord High Executioner apparently — says the media has given Steve Spurrier a pass on the Stephen Garcia situation.  (Yep, ’cause no other college player has ever boozed it up.  Somebody alert me when Garcia steals something or assaults someone.  Then this site will jump on the “run him off” bandwagon.)

8. reports “SEC to raise academic standards.”  No.  Slive proposed that all schools across the NCAA do that.  The SEC isn’t expected to got out on a limb on its own.  (Or maybe Slive is planning to do that and FoxSports learned of it by hacking his phone.)

9.  Will Muschamp is “a player’s guy.”

10.  The Gainesville Sun lists its best and worst from Day One.

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Afternoon Headlines – 7/20/11

There are some stories relating to the SEC that aren’t coming out of Hoover, Alabama today.  Here are a few:

1.  Dennis Dodd of says South Carolina is this year’s Auburn, Houston Nutt’s seat is warm, Alabama can win with either of its quarterback and more.

2.  With Mike Blakely forced to redshirt, Auburn’s depth at running back could use another body or two.

3.  Here’s more on Mike Slive’s “bold” agenda for change.

4.  Can the SEC renegotiate its television deal with ESPN?  (It’s not like the league is getting left in the dust cash-wise… some folks need to calm down a bit.  Just our opinion.)

5.  Stewart Mandel of tackles quarterbacking in the SEC and the Texas A&M situation (stating as we have that the Slive does not want to be the aggressor).

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