Done deal? Conference realignment machinations never are until the contracts are signed.
For those who missed it Sunday, the SEC released the following statement from Florida president Bernie Mechan:
“The SEC Presidents and Chancellors met today and reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment. We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league. We discussed criteria and process associated with expansion. No action was taken with respect to any institution including Texas A&M.”
Translation: The SEC wants to cover any possible legal exposure for being party to A&M breaking contracts with its current Big 12 colleagues. Oh, and since 13 is an awkward number, officials need time to identify a 14th school, and, longshot here, a 15th and 16th.
A&M’s Board of Regents meets late Monday afternoon, and university president R. Bowen Loftin issued his own statement Sunday:
“As we have seen over the past several days, there has been a considerable amount of misinformation regarding these discussions and any associated timelines. The chairman of our board has indicated that the regents will proceed with tomorrow's agenda item, which authorizes the president of Texas A&M to take all actions related to athletic conference alignment.”
(The board granted Loftin that authority Monday.)
Loftin added that he has accepted an invitation to appear before a committee of the Texas legislature Tuesday to discuss the Aggies’ conference future. That hearing has since been postponed with no new date announced.
Might sanity and the status quo prevail? We can only hope, but when money and politics – A&M and Texas don’t play well together – are the driving forces, sanity rarely is a concern.
There’s also this: At a political rally in Alabama on Friday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, an A&M alum, entered the room to the tune of the school’s fight song.
“How many SEC fans are here?” Perry asked, according to Kevin Scarbinsky's account in the Birmingham News. “Rumor has it you may be hearing more of that Aggie fight song.”
So again, where does that leave the ACC?
Various media have reported a “gentlemen’s agreement” among SEC members that no school from a current state represented in the conference will be added, lest the SEC give up inherent recruiting advantages.
If true, that makes good horse sense. Florida, South Carolina and Georgia can tout SEC membership when recruiting against state rivals from the ACC such as Florida State, Miami, Clemson and Georgia Tech.
Such an arrangement would also remove South Florida, Central Florida and Louisville from consideration.
Hence, many continue to identify Virginia Tech as a possible 14th. But Friday’s statement from the office of Tech president Charles Steger was adamant.
“Virginia Tech is exceedingly pleased with our membership in the ACC. It is the perfect conference for us. The university administration has no interest in any discussion concerning affiliation with any conference other than the ACC.”