Texas A&M's Board of Regents met this afternoon in College Station, as expected, and did exactly what it was expected to do: Authorize university president R. Bowen Loftin to take action relating to Texas A&M's conference alignment. So that's done.
So… now what?
Well, now we wait, apparently. As SEC presidents made abundantly clear on Sunday, no invitation exists for A&M to join the SEC — and almost certainly will not exist until the Aggies are officially divorced from the Big 12 — and Loftin said he felt no pressure to arrive at any specific conclusion within any specific timeframe. Leaving the Big 12 is a "100-year decision," he said, and it has not been made. Some reports over the weekend suggested any official overture the SEC may still be weeks away.
In the meantime, the chairman of the Texas House of Representatives' Committee on Higher Education, Rep. Dan Branch, canceled a hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon to discuss "matters pertaining to higher education, including collegiate athletics" with both Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe and SEC commissioner Mike Slive among the invited guests. His official rationale: "There is no immediate need to evaluate the merits of an athletic conference reconfiguration involving Texas A&M." So we wait.
At least Loftin wasn't playing too dumb after the board's vote to admit there's some significant chance he'll still decide to pull the plug on A&M's current relationship. He admitted to reaching out to Slive on July 21, around the same time resentment over the new ESPN/University of Texas-owned Longhorn Network was beginning to reach a boiling point, and said some suggestive things, like, "It's not what's wrong with the Big 12 as much as what's right for Texas A&M," and that the school is seeking better stability and visibility. And if the Aggies do leave, it may only be the condition that they don't have to give up their annual Thanksgiving-weekend rivalry with the Longhorns.
That in itself is news, because Loftin is the first Texas A&M official to publicly acknowledge that A&M is considering a defection. In terms of the overall trajectory of events, though, the vote changes nothing except the speed of the process: TAMU is still on track to leave the Big 12, still appears to expect an invitation to join the SEC and still seems intent on following through barring an unforeseen development. The Aggies are still on their way. If there's any turning back from this point on, it will be because of an obstacle they didn't expect.