MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – After a week of lots of speculation, the Southeastern Conference announced Sunday evening that it was happy with the current 12-team alignment. But, the SEC also left the door wide-open to expanding at any time.
Texas A&M has been at the center of the conference realignment talks, but the SEC’s reach into Florida was also in question. The Aggies want to leave the Big XII because the behemoth that is Texas runs roughshod over all league decisions.
The SEC had flirted with Texas A&M during last year’s conference realignment talks, but no deal was ever completed. After the University of Texas announced the new Longhorn Network would televise high-school games, Texas A&M finally had enough of UT’s dominance in conference decisions.
Where Florida comes into the equation is if the SEC eventually extends an offer to Texas A&M, what other school will be added to balance out the two divisions.
The school likely at the top of the SEC’s wish list is the Florida State Seminoles. FSU would add to the conference’s basketball teams and would also further cement the conference’s status as the best football conference in the country.
However, it’s widely believed that the University of Florida would fight any possible invitation to Florida State. But from the conference’s point of view, adding A&M would finally open the state of Texas up to recruiting and adding FSU would further open up Florida recruiting.
According to Arkansas chancellor Dave Gearhart, the Aggies approached the SEC about coming to the league, not the other way around. Still, A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said he will be authorized by the regents to deal with any possible conference realignment.
For its part, the Big XII has pleaded with Texas A&M to stay in the conference and commissioner Dan Beebe knows that if the Aggies bolt from the Big XII, it could be the final nail in the coffin for the league.
But, reports came out late Sunday saying that if the Aggies leave the Big XII, the conference will look to fill the void left by A&M. The school mentioned at the top of the list for the Big XII is the University of Houston. The Cougars were a former member of the Big Eight, which became the Big XII.
SI.com’s Andy Staples said that there are specific steps to be followed including a vote to empower the school president to change conferences, politicians acknowledged, admission is sought, SEC president will vote and 9 of 12 must approve the new member, and all of it has to be done with the attorneys watching over every step.
So while the SEC isn’t making any moves Monday, there’s nothing to stop the league from changing its mind and pursuing A&M.