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Tag:Texas A&M to SEC
Posted on: September 12, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 6:55 pm
 

Slive: No 'immediate plans' to add 14th member

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The SEC may eventually add a 14th team to go with lucky No. 13 Texas A&M, who Mike Slive confirmed Monday has had its application accepted by the league--though thanks to the various legal entanglements thrown in the Aggies' way, is apparently not a full member yet.

But as for team No. 14, it sounds as if Slive is fully prepared to wait at least a year to find it, if not longer. Slive also said in his statement that the league has no "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."

To drive that point home, Slive also confirmed the SEC has "started to look at schedules for 2012-13 involving thirteen teams."

But that little factoid also helps drive a second point home: while A&M isn't officially within the league's ranks yet, they might as well be. "We remain optimistic that Texas A&M will be a member of the SEC," Slive said, commissioner-speak for "Trust me, it's happening, don't worry."

Of course, that's been the expectation ever since the SEC confirmed that its presidents had voted to bring the Aggies into the fold the moment they were legally free to do so. But the expectation has also been that the league -- which Slive famously said could expand to 16 within a matter of minutes -- wouldn't bother playing even one season with unbalanced divisions and an unusual odd-numbered membership.

Given that Slive already feels comfortable enough to tell us the SEC's preliminary 2012-2013 schedules will have just 13 teams included, though, the smart money should now overwhelmingly be on A&M coming aboard in the very near future ... and anyone else in 2013 at the earliest.


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Posted on: September 6, 2011 5:11 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 5:39 pm
 

Report: SEC presidents on verge of inviting A&M

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If multiple reports are to be believed, Texas A&M could be less than 24 hours away from officially becoming the 13th member of the SEC.

Billy Liucci of TexAgs.com and Andy Staples of SI.com have both reported that the SEC's presidents will meet Tuesday to determine if the league will officially extend its expected invitation to A&M. "By Tuesday night, the SEC should know whether it has the required nine presidential votes," Staples writes.

Given the discussions between SEC commissioner Mike Slive and Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin earlier this year, it will be the biggest upset in sports this year if finding those nine votes is anything but a formality. According to CBSSports.com's Tony Barnhart (as well as multiple other sources), A&M could officially announce their new SEC membership as early as Wednesday morning.

If A&M does indeed leave for the SEC -- an event we previously placed odds against happening at 47 billion to one, and that might have been lowballing it -- all eyes will turn to Oklahoma, who could shatter the Big 12 for good by leaping to the Pac-12 with Oklahoma State in tow. (The San Jose Mercury-News's Jon Wilner reported Tuesday that the Pac-12 might take the Sooners and Cowboys even without a pledge from 16-team linchpin Texas.)

But none of the other dominoes can fall until A&M-to-the-SEC officially does. The good news for expansion-watchers: that domino appears to have already been tipped.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 12:59 am
Edited on: August 30, 2011 3:48 am
 

Texas A&M to withdraw from Big XII on Tuesday?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

On Monday afternoon, Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said in a statement that "it is not our intent to prolong our conference exploration for an extended period of time." If the multiple media reports from Monday evening are to be believed, Mr. Loftin was certainly not exaggerating.

Late Monday night, the New York Times published a report that Texas A&M had indeed filed its formal withdrawal from the conference, most likely to officially take place on Tuesday:

Texas A&M’s departure from the Big 12 drew closer to reality on Monday when the university president, R. Bowen Loftin, sent a letter to the Big 12 board chairman, Missouri President Brady Deaton, notifying the league it will formally withdraw — very likely on Tuesday — according to two college officials with direct knowledge of the decision.

Sources at the school have since confirmed that report to Orangebloods.com, and the Associated Press is reporting this move now as well. This would likely be the latest and most decisive step in Texas A&M's ongoing campaign to join the SEC for the 2012 football season; only a formal application to the SEC is all that remains.

Earlier on Monday, the Big 12 sent a letter to Texas A&M spelling out the terms necessary for the Aggies' departure from the conference, including the "mutual waivers of legal claims" that would essentially clear a legal path for withdrawal from the Big 12. That letter fulfilled a request from Texas A&M on Monday morning asking for all the necessary terms for withdrawal.

If that all sounds like extra-dry legalese, it sort of is; in short, all this means is that there are legal steps to be followed for Texas A&M to leave the Big 12 as soon as possible without any added repercussions for the school past the Big 12 conference by-laws -- and no repercussions for the SEC whatsoever, who could otherwise be open for litigation if the Big 12 thought the SEC was "recruiting" schools while they were current members of the Big 12.

More on Texas A&M

Undermining that idea, however, is the fact that the SEC has stayed quiet throughout these proceedings, only releasing a statement a couple weeks ago that it was happy at 12 teams and had no plans to expand unless the conference landscape changed significantly. Evidently, Texas A&M's formal withdrawal is enough to qualify; there's virtually zero chance this process would have gotten as far as it has without the SEC's (private) approval.

This departure would be the third that the Big 12 would suffer in the last two years; Nebraska left for the Big Ten effective this season, and Colorado has also joined the Pac-12 on the same timeline. Without these three schools, the "Big 12" would have just nine schools committed to the conference for the 2012 football season and beyond at this point.

The Aggies' reasons for seeking greener pastures are varied and nebulous, but the near-universal underlying theme to the reasons is A&M's relationship with Texas. Texas has caused a great deal of consternation in College Station recently with not only the advent of the ESPN-affiliated Longhorn Network, but the concessions granted to the channel thereafter. Before the NCAA intervened with a ban on collegiate networks showing high school athletics, the Longhorn Network was poised to air HS games involving key recruits. The network also planned to air a conference football game, a plan to which Texas A&M took special offense, even after the Big 12 put the kibosh on that idea as well. 

Conference commissioner Dan Beebe has already indicated that Texas A&M's departure would not be a deathblow to the conference, however. Beebe told his constituents in a letter two weeks ago that the Big 12 would survive the loss of A&M, and the names of schools like Houston and SMU have been bandied about as possible local replacements for the Aggies -- though the ratio of schools mentioned as Big Ten expansion candidates to actual expansion schools (roughly 20:1) should be something of a damper on Houston and SMU talk.

Furthermore, the commissioner said in a later letter that the conference was "poised to move aggressively" to rebuild its ranks, and that type of language could indicate some mutual interest from an independent football program -- namely BYU, since Notre Dame has already shot down any talk of the Big 12. Otherwise, if the Big 12 publicly states it's "poised to move aggressively" at colleges that are still active conference members elsewhere, it opens itself up to the type of litigation the SEC had specifically avoided above. 

As usual, the Aggie football program itself has been somewhat taciturn in its response to the potential move, though that's not a sign of reluctance. As head coach Mike Sherman pointed out, it's a move that isn't even going to affect the program's most important class.

"We have a bunch of seniors on this team that will never play in that conference," Sherman said in a Monday conference call, ostensibly referring to the SEC. "They, at this point, could care less. They're concerned with winning this season."

Senior safety Trent Hunter agreed with that sentiment in an earlier interview, saying the realignment talk is "not anything that's going to affect us playing SMU in that first week."

While it'd be easy to dismiss Sherman and Hunter as just using typical deflection techniques that are endemic in just about every athlete or coach interview, it's a fact that the move affects nothing about the coming season, and this season is all anybody for A&M -- coaches, assistants, seniors, on down to the true freshmen -- ought to be focusing on, because it's all that every other opponent of the Aggies is going to be focusing on. To start looking ahead to future years in Week 1 is to lose focus on the task at hand from the word "go," and that is a recipe for unmitigated disaster. Kudos to the A&M program for not falling into that trap thus far.

Posted on: August 29, 2011 7:37 pm
 

Big 12 spells out "withdrawal procedures" for A&M

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

How close is the divorce between Texas A&M and the Big 12 to being finalized? Close enough that we're already two steps closer than we were this morning, and (as a great man once said) the day ain't over yet.

Earlier Monday we found out the two sides are already set to begin their negotiations over the Aggies' exit fee. Now A&M has announced that their soon-to-be former conference has sent them a letter spelling out the "withdrawal prodcedures" for their exit.

Chief among those procedures are the "mutual waivers of legal claims," the agreement of which has long been thought to have been the "speed bump" on A&M's initial fast-track departure to their next conference destination--one that might be, say, speaking purely from a hypothetical standpoint, the SEC. With the Big 12 already having taken a stance on what "waivers" it would agree to, whatever negotiations (if any) on that front can begin sooner rather than later--as well the "financial provisions" of the move, as an A&M spokeman put it.

The official departure date appears to be advancing quickly enough that even A&M president R. Bowen Loftin -- who has previously stressed that the move was a "100-year decision" that would be handled "methodically" -- released a statement that sounds as if he expects the changeover to be wrapped up quickly (emphasis added):
“I certainly appreciate the discussion among the Big 12 presidents/chancellors and the expression of their desire for Texas A&M to remain in the conference. We all agree that Texas A&M is an extremely valuable institution; thus, it is incumbent upon me, as the president of the university, to ensure that we are in a position to enhance our national visibility and future financial opportunity.

While this is a complex and long-term decision, it is not our intent to prolong our conference exploration for an extended period of time."
Maybe the divorce isn't final just yet. But if Loftin and Mike Slive are spotted at an Ikea this week picking out a coffee table they can both agree on, don't be surprised.

Posted on: August 26, 2011 2:27 am
Edited on: August 26, 2011 10:12 am
 

Dan Beebe responds to Texas A&M statement

Posted by Adam Jacobi

In the latest chapter in the ongoing flirtations between Texas A&M and the SEC, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe (pictured at right) has responded to Texas A&M's Thursday announcement that the Aggies were exploring a switch in conferences.

First, the statement in full, from the conference offices:

The letter received today from Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin will be addressed by the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors. It remains our strong desire for Texas A&M to continue as a member of the Big 12 and we are working toward that end. However, if it is decided otherwise, the Conference is poised to move aggressively with options.

Beebe should be careful here, as the only high-level unaffiliated football programs out there are Notre Dame and BYU (no offense, Army or Navy), and saying the conference is "poised to move aggressively" implies that there's a willing candidate already in Beebe's mind. Yes, that almost certainly could mean SMU, who's practically begging for a BCS invite, but if the Big 12 adds Houston (as has allegedly been mentioned by the conference as a possibility before), the Conference USA brass might have the grounds to suggest that the Big 12 was admitting to interfering with Conference USA business, and that could mean the threat of legal action.

That said, it could also mean something much less litigious, like adding BYU and/or Notre Dame in football only, and either gently phasing in the other sports (as both schools have full pre-existing conference affiliations outside of football) or leaving it a football-only arrangement entirely. 

Not only that, there are probably plenty of expansion candidates off the metaphorical radar with which the Big 12 has had some sort of contact, and maybe Beebe has the sense that they're privately amenable to a conference change. Again, we're talking about off the radar, so it would be reckless to speculate (see: flat-out guess) on possible schools, but Beebe would be derelict in his duty as a conference commissioner if he didn't have a contingency plan for any type of expansion -- especially one based on how willing the other schools would be to move to the Big 12.

We'll say this, though: Texas A&M is still not even an applicant (much less a member or invitee) of the SEC yet. That's likely to change, but it hasn't yet. So if Dan Beebe can wrangle four of his conference members away from a potential Pac-16 in 2010, then somehow brink Texas A&M back from the bring of "SECession," he's got to be the biggest miracle worker among conference commissioners. Alas for Beebe, miracles are miracles for a reason, and this one's probably not going to happen.


Posted on: August 25, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 5:56 pm
 

Texas A&M lets Big 12 know it's leaving

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Texas A&M released a statement on Thursday saying that it had informed the Big 12 that it intends to explore the possibilities of a new conference.

“As I have indicated previously, we are working very deliberately to act in the best long-term interests of both Texas A&M and the State of Texas. This truly is a 100-year decision,” said Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin in the statement.

“While we understand the desire of all parties to quickly reach a resolution, these are extremely complex issues that we are addressing methodically. Ultimately, we are seeking to generate greater visibility nationwide for Texas A&M and our championship-caliber student-athletes, as well as secure the necessary and stable financial resources to support our athletic and academic programs,” Loftin added. “As a public university, Texas A&M owes it to the state’s taxpayers to maximize our assets and generate additional revenues both now and well into the future.” 

"I support President Loftin and our governing board’s desire to explore all options regarding the future of Texas A&M University," Texas A&M Director of Athletics Bill Byrne added. "We all want what is best for the Aggies.  I’ve met with all of our head coaches to keep them informed and we all remain excited and optimistic about the future of Texas A&M Athletics.”

Now, this does not mean that the Aggies have left the Big 12 just yet, just that they're officially letting the Big 12 know that they're looking to.

It's the "I think we should see other people" of the college football world.

As we're all well aware, Texas A&M hopes to join the SEC, and the next logical step will be for the school to apply to the conference as its thirteenth member. While the SEC has made no formal invite to Texas A&M and has gone out of its way to make that point that the SEC didn't court the Aggies, you have to think that Texas A&M has a pretty good idea of what the SEC's response will be for the school to let the Big 12 know if its plans.

When the SEC will make a public decision on whether or not it will accept Texas A&M as it's thirteenth school, we can't be sure. It could be next week or a month from now, all we really know is that today's move by Texas A&M made it a lot more likely that the announcement will come at some point.



Posted on: August 15, 2011 5:28 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 11:49 pm
 

Texas A&M Regents authorize realignment action

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Monday was an eventful day for developments on Texas A&M's conference affiliation. The Aggies appear to be at least one step closer to joining the SEC, but Texas A&M's president didn't set a timetable on change, nor even confirmed that Texas A&M would be leaving the Big 12.

-- The Texas State House Committee on Higher Education canceled a hearing scheduled for Tuesday that would have involved officials from Texas A&M, the SEC, and the Big 12.

Committee chair Dan Branch had said that making any conference moves without meeting with his committee first would be "inappropriate," but according to Kirk Bohls, Branch postponed the meeting because Texas A&M had yet to "complete anything." Branch added that the hearing may re-convene at a later date.

-- As expected, the Texas A&M Board of Regents authorized Loftin to "take all actions relating to Texas A&M University's athletic conference alignment."

On Sunday, the presidents and chancellors of the SEC met and announced that the conference was happy with its 12-team alignment for right now, and "took no action" in regards to unhappy Big 12 member Texas A&M. The underlying message from the SEC was clear: the ball is in your court, Texas A&M, not ours.

To that end, the Texas A&M Board of Regents met on Monday, and as expected whent the agenda was released, has authorized Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin to leave the Big 12 or do whatever else he sees fit with the school's athletic conference alignment. Loftin is now expected to make an entreaty to the SEC.

Loftin told reporters after the meeting that the SEC has yet to invite Texas A&M, however, and when asked if there was a timetable, replied "Not for me." He also said that staying in the Big 12 still remained an option, and that any move to the SEC would be a "lengthy" process.

-- According to CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd, NCAA president Mark Emmert contacted various conference CEO's to discuss the realignment situation.

Here's the statement issued by the office of Mark Emmert to CBSSports.com:

"President Emmert has had conversations with a number of presidents and commissioners related to recent conference realignment issues and these discussions mirror many of the topics raised last week during the [Division I] presidential meetings."

The NCAA did not elaborate on the discussions had between Emmert and the CEOs, nor did it specify which ones were contacted (though it's probably not hard to guess). The New York Times had a report about that call, however, in which Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said, "I think people have asked him to make some phone calls. He’s doing exactly what he should be doing.”

The New York Times' report also cites a high-ranking official who alleges that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe and SEC commissioner Mike Slive had a heated phone conversation on expansion talks last week, but Beebe told Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News that "we have been very direct but have not had any conversations with Mike Slive I would describe as heated, ever." This appears to be more of a quibble over semantics than an outright rejection of the report.

Posted on: August 14, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:44 pm
 

SEC finishes meeting, doesn't invite Texas A&M

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The SEC has just finished its scheduled meeting of its presidents and chancellors, and unfortunately for secession-minded Texas A&M fans, the conference is staying put at 12 teams -- for now. Here's the full statement released by presidents and chancellors chair (and Florida president) Bernie Machen:

“The SEC Presidents and Chancellors met today and reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment. We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league. We discussed criteria and process associated with expansion. No action was taken with respect to any institution including Texas A&M.”

What Machen didn't say is that Texas A&M won't be invited to the SEC; if the chancellors and presidents didn't want the Aggies to come, the statement would likely have been worded with a bit more finality. As it stands, the conference is clearly leaving the door open to expansion.

It's also worth pointing out that the Texas A&M Board of Regents has yet to authorize school president R. Bowen Loftin (who did not attend the SEC's meeting) to negotiate its conference standing; that action is set to take place Monday. Texas A&M is still a member of the Big 12, and it might not even be legal for the SEC to invite the Aggies at this point.  In other words, the "future conditions" Machen talks about may be as simple as Texas A&M applying to the SEC, or at the very least setting an end date to its affiliation to the Big 12. Either way, the metaphorical ball likely wasn't in the SEC's court to begin with.

Moreover, Texas state Rep. Dan Branch has called for a hearing before his Committee on Higher Education on Tuesday, with officials from the Big 12, SEC and Texas A&M invited. The Texas state legislation has been active in conference affiliation matters in the past; it pushed for Baylor's inclusion alongside Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech in the "Pac-16" plan that eventually fell through, for example. Branch has said it would be "inappropriate" for Texas A&M to go to the SEC before the Tuesday meeting, and Loftin said that he would be present at that meeting, and that the Regents.

Arkansas chancellor Dave Gearheart attended the meeting, and said that while no action was taken on Texas A&M, the school was certainly one of the topics of discussion. "It was really an open discussion, not just about A&M but about the future of the conference and the future of other conferences," Gearhart said. "We did talk about Texas A&M. It's a great university, a great place. But I think the decision was to make no decision at this particular time."

This issue isn't put to bed by any stretch. An unnamed SEC official told the New York Times' Pete Thamel that the meeting was to let Texas A&M "get its house in order." But for now, Texas A&M is stuck with the Big 12. Saturday, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe issued a statement that the conference had "unanimous desires" for Texas A&M to remain a member, and that the conference "took actions [...] to adequately address those concerns" that Texas A&M had raised.

Texas A&M's main problem revolved around the upcoming Longhorn Network, the Texas-affiliated sports channel set to launch this fall. In particular, Texas A&M was among many Big 12 members who objected to the channel's plans to air an in-conference football game and high school games involving high-profile recruits. Both of those options have since been taken off the table, with the NCAA issuing a moratorium on all collegiate networks airing high school games.

Still, the mere suggestion that these ideas were planned by the network may have been enough to sour Texas A&M on the Big 12 for good, regardless of what the Longhorn Network actually does, and it probably didn't help matters when Beebe told the conference that it can survive without Texas A&M and speculated on candidates to replace the Aggies, namely Houston and Notre Dame

Members of the Texas A&M coaching staff and its players declined any comment that indicated any interest in the potential move. Head coach Mike Sherman said "I don't pay a lot of attention to [the SEC issue]" after an afternoon practice on Sunday. Senior safety Trent Hunter agreed, saying "it's not anything that's going to affect us playing SMU in that first week."

Loftin issued a statement through Texas A&M on Sunday on the issue.

"As we have seen over the past several days, there has been a considerable amount of misinformation regarding these discussions and any associated timelines. The chairman of our board has indicated that the regents will proceed with tomorrow's agenda item, which authorizes the president of Texas A&M to take all actions related to athletic conference alignment. I will also accept Chairman Branch's invitation to participate in his committee's hearing on Tuesday. These are extremely complex issues, and it is imperative that we proceed methodically and in the best interests of Texas A&M." 


RapidReporter Brent Zwenerman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
 
 
 
 
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