ESPN's plans for the new Longhorn Network have raised the ire of the other schools in the Big XII, and Texas A&M is now seriously reconsidering joining the Southeastern Conference, and thus reopening the whole spectre of conference realignment. 'Ol buddy AJ the Huskerh8er doesn't want to hear anything of it. If A&M is so fired up, they should just leave. It's not like Oklahoma was planning to leave, right?
That's what I like about AJ. He's always ready to fire off a scud missile into any debate. Like one of Saddam Hussein's missiles, it usually was poorly aimed and lands off target...but it does make a lot of noise and gets some attention. Within minutes of AJ's latest rant, along came the word that Oklahoma was also talking to the SEC, pretty much imploding AJ's latest diatribe.
That’s why, when Texas A&M calls a meeting to “talk about the Longhorn network”…you’ll have to pardon me if I react with a yawn and a groan. And why is Texas A&M so whiney anyway? They play in a really big stadium and have goofy looking male cheerleaders who look like a cross between an army private and a guy who works at Goodrich…where’s the rest of the appeal? When did they become Florida State? Are they THAT important to the mix to keep everything going? Now if we were talking Oklahoma….then I definitely could see the panic…(and lots of it). But A&M? Perspective people. Perspective. You want to go so bad? There’s the door.
Now tonight, the word is that the Big XII has stepped in and put a hold on the plans for Texas and ESPN to televise high school games on the Longhorn Network. That diffuses the urgency of the situation for now, but really, the damage is done. Texas has shown that they'll do what they want to do because they can do it. Everybody (except, of course, those in denial) knows it's not a question of if, but when, another school leaves the Big XII to get out of the shadow of the Borg.
Here's my take. Oklahoma and Texas A&M will eventually head out to the SEC, which will trigger another round of expansion by the Big Ten and Pac-12. There's even talk that Texas will eventually go independent, but I don't really believe it. I can see why the SEC wants A&M: it opens up Texas television markets and opens up Texas recruits to the SEC. I can see why the SEC wants Oklahoma; like Nebraska, it's a national brand that makes the SEC more compelling. And as the Big XII and Pac-12's recent television deals have shown, the SEC's television deals might be worth much more if they are renegotiated after expansion.
But Texas as an independent? I don't see that. Sure, Texas could build a Notre Dame type of football schedule, but the Longhorns need a conference for all of their other sports. And frankly, the Big XII (or what will remain of it) is just what Texas needs in those other sports. And if Oklahoma and Texas A&M leave, it does free Texas in football to play two more non-conference games each season, much like a independent. The new "Big Eight" may still have a BCS automatic bid and with no other powers to oppose Texas' plans, they really have no need to go independent. They'll be able to call their shots because schools like Iowa State, Kansas State, and Baylor have no ground to stand on in discussions with Texas.
At this point, I don't see Texas jumping to any of the other conferences either. Not with the Longhorn Network deal in place; it means too much to Texas, and no other conference will let Texas have that type of advantage. So Texas is where they are at. That means that schools like Missouri and Kansas won't be orphaned; they'll have a spot to sit at---next to Texas. But they will always be subservient to Austin. They may hold out hope that one of the other conferences will offer a lifeline out, but unless the other conferences go to 16 teams, they'll likely be on the sidelines.
And you know what, they don't have any problem with it whatsoever. It's still better than being in the Mountain West.