September 15, 2011
They tried to bury it, but this still being America — open meetings laws and such — if you scroll aaaaallllll the way down page 218 of the 219-page agenda for next Monday's meeting of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, it's there in plain English:
AGENDA ITEM 28
ISSUE: CONFERENCE ALIGNMENT — NC
The Board of Regents will discuss potential legal ramifications of athletic conference realignment options and/or consider new athletic conference membership and take any appropriate action. An executive session may be proposed pursuant to Section 307B.4 of the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act.
That is what it looks like: As expected, the board will at least discuss the Sooners' imminent plans to withdraw from the Big 12 and/or apply for admission to the Pac-12, and may go ahead and vote to make it so.
You'll also notice that Texas A&M, while having been formally accepted by the SEC, remains tangled in a thicket of lawyers blocking the exit from the Big 12. Assuming the ongoing standoff over the Aggies' defection isn't going to be resolved over the weekend, then, Oklahoma is either a) Crafting an escape plan contingent on Texas A&M leaving first, to have at the ready when the Aggies finally make a break for it and throw the Big 12's existing contractual structure into chaos, or b) Willing to face the same legal roadblocks as A&M on its way out. (Theoretically, there's also option c), a bet that the legal threats will subside rather than attempt to force the hand of two schools that both want out, but given Baylor's apparent desperation to avoid landing in Conference USA at all costs, that may not be the soundest wager.)
Once Oklahoma goes, the only question is how long it takes Oklahoma State to follow suit, and then for Texas to hit the self-destruct button on the conference when it finally makes up its mind about its own direction, whatever that may be. With both of its major rivals already rowing in opposite directions, though, leaving a mere shell of a conference that suddenly boasts Missouri and Texas Tech alongside the Longhorns as premier programs, UT is going to head for safety in its personal helicopter before it starts trying to bail out a sinking ship. For everyone else, the race for the lifeboats officially begins Monday at 1 p.m. Central.