June 14, 2010
For all of the flight tracking and idle speculation Sunday as Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott continued his tour of the Big 12 South, we didn't learn much about the pending exodus to the Pac-10 that we didn't already know on Saturday night. Various reports Sunday afternoon suggested Texas A&M had turned down Scott's invitation to join rivals Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech on the wagon train to the Coast, unless the Aggies were continuing to evaluate all their options; meanwhile, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe launched a last-gasp attempt to salvage his disintegrating conference by keeping the remaining 10 schools (minus Pac-10-bound Colorado and Big Ten exile Nebraska) intact.
All of it amounted to a rough temperature-taking, according to the Houston Chronicle, which reported Sunday night that A&M power brokers continue to inch closer to the SEC, and may be preparing to accept an invitation to split with Texas by the end of the week:
COLLEGE STATION — Texas A&M has grown starry-eyed for the Southeastern Conference, an Aggies insider said Sunday, and A&M considers its overall athletic endeavors grander than the death of a conference rivalry game on Thanksgiving.
A&M’s board of regents likely will meet late this week — perhaps as soon as Thursday — to decide the Aggies’ sporting future, a person with knowledge of the situation said. And that future appears to be the SEC, as the powerful league to the east is prepared to lure A&M away from the clinging-to-hope Big 12, a proposed Pacific-10 affiliation and its storied league rivalry with Texas.
The SEC is prepared to take on the Aggies as its 13th team, the insider said, with no clear time frame on when it would add a 14th or who that would be.
A Thursday meeting would follow Board of Regents meetings at Texas and Texas Tech on Tuesday and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on Wednesday, when all four are still expected to accept Scott's invitations to follow Colorado to the Pac-10 – despite growing political pressure to tap the brakes. A&M appears increasingly willing to sever century-old ties with Texas in hopes of one-upping the Longhorns by, as the Chronicle puts it, "playing in the nation’s premier football conference [and] drawing big crowds to Kyle Field from SEC fan bases that tend to travel well." Of course, the fat SEC payout doesn't hurt, either.
If the Aggies are off the table, the Pac-10 will set its eyes on Utah (Scott was reportedly in Salt Lake City on Friday) or Kansas, where Scott is expected to be today after missing his scheduled arrival from Austin on Sunday night. This week will be the decisive days for the future of the Pac-10 as a sprawling super conference and the very existence of the Big 12 in any recognizable form, and as easy as it is to track Larry Scott's itinerary, it doesn't give us any insight into his success.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.