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Headlinin’: Rick Perry turns simmering A&M-to-SEC rumors to a boil

Matt Hinton
Dr. Saturday

Making the morning rounds.

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This just got real. Idle message board chatter hit the fan Wednesday when Texas governor / pending presidential candidate Rick Perry, a former Texas A&M "yell leader" and unabashed Aggie, confirmed that, yes, "conversations are being had" about his alma mater jumping ship to the Southeastern Conference over its issues with the Longhorn Network. Perry didn't specify who is having conversations, or whether he knows anything beyond the rumors that had already cropped up over the previous 48 hours (he told reporters, "I'll be real honest with you. I just read about it the same time as y'all did"). But his word was enough was enough to force Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe to tell the Austin American-Statesman that he is taking the threat of Aggie secession "very seriously."

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Texas A&M released a statement Wednesday that read: "President (R. Bowen) Loftin is committed to doing what is best for Texas A&M not only now, but also in the future. We continue to have wide-ranging conversations regarding all aspects of the university, including both academics and athletics." Which basically says nothing except "We're not saying no." A very large segment of A&M fans openly pined for an SEC invitation last summer, when the Big 12 looked like it was on its deathbed in the wake of Texas' flirtations with the Pac-10, and Big 12 official told the Statesman Wednesday night he sees another crisis on the horizon: "If A&M has a chance, I think they'll go for it. Loftin sure didn't stop it." [Dallas Morning News, Austin American-Statesman]

In the fold. Sheldon Richardson, a former five-star recruit out of St. Louis, has been academically cleared to play at Missouri. Richardson originally signed with the Tigers two years ago as the No. 1 defensive tackle and No. 4 overall player in the entire 2009 recruiting class, but never played a down before taking a junior college detour in California. Last fall, Richardson briefly committed to play at USC because Trojan defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin gave him the best chance to pass directly to the NFL after this season; no word on whether he still plans to be a "one and done" at Mizzou, but you can probably take a wild guess. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch] {YSP:MORE}

Yellow Jacket down. Georgia Tech has suspended starting offensive lineman Phil Smith for the first two games of the season for an undisclosed violation of team rules, thereby denying the fun of participating in bloodbaths against Western Carolina and Middle Tennessee State. Smith, a junior, has started 12 games over the last two seasons and is expected to regain his starting spot when he returns for the third game, a Sept. 17 date with Kansas. [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

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Can't stop won't stop. As promised, Joe Paterno returned to Penn State practice Wednesday bruised but broken, surveying the action from a golf cart with his right arm still in a sling from a blindside collision with a wide receiver that put the 84-year-old coach in the hospital for two days. You didn't think a little scuff or two was going to keep an old Brooklyn kid out of the mix, didja, you punks? Whyioughta… [Associated Press]

Quickly… Russell Shepard talks about his ongoing compliance issue for the first time. … Ahman Green is joining the Big Ten Network. … Zach Brown is making his move at Pitt. … Texas fans wonder if this is "separation week" for the Longhorns' dueling quarterback quartet. … Arizona State loses another wide receiver, this time to a broken collarbone. … Chris Galippo's shoulder is going to be fine. … Southern Miss announces a home-and-home with Boise State. … Ole Miss returns 2,000 Egg Bowl tickets to Mississippi State. … Barry Brunetti says he was "all cries and tears" on his way to West Virginia. … Zeke Pike is going to be a lot of fun for everyone. … And all hail James Sims, Pharaoh of the Plains.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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