MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The Florida Gators are very close to gaining a new rival in the Southeastern Conference. Texas A&M University is set to inform the BIG XII Conference Tuesday that it is leaving for the Southeastern Conference.
There was one report from the New York Times that Texas A&M had already informed the Big XII via letter that it was leaving, but the school has denied that report. But a separate report, from Chip Brown of the University of Texas’ Rivals.com site indicated A&M would make the announcement Tuesday.
Brown has been out in front of all of the conference realignment discussions since last year, so his report carries a bit more weight.
Monday, A&M was informed of the penalties it would incur for leaving the Big XII conference, and they are steep. The school will face an exit fee of between $28 million and $31 million, according to Rivals.com. Plus, the Big XII could withhold A&M’s revenue for this year, which is expected to be $18 million.
If A&M pays all of the fees, the Big XII agreed not to sue the school. If A&M sues the school to get out of the exit fees, the Big XII will counter-sue. All of it will likely be negotiated once the Aggies make their move.
The SEC would then become unbalanced in that it would have 13 teams. That means the conference would look at adding a 14th school to keep the divisions balanced and keep the very lucrative SEC championship game in place.
The school linked to the SEC the most is Florida State. The Seminoles would leave a conference they are at the top of in football, to being in the middle of the pack fighting for the top. Plus, Florida would likely nix the move.
Clemson, West Virginia, Missouri, and other schools have been rumored to be possible targets by the SEC.
As for the Big XII, assuming the conference decides to remain together they will be searching for at least one team, possibly more. The Big XII was interested in Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish have turned down every conference, so that’s a non-starter.
The Big XII may try to pull Arkansas out of the SEC, but the Razorbacks would be insane to leave the SEC and the coffers the conference currently enjoys.
The Big XII will likely look westward to Brigham Young University as one possible target. Other possible targets for the Big XII include Houston and Southern Methodist University.