Texas A&M didn't use the words “Southeastern Conference” in its news release yesterday, but it did break ties with the Big 12 – conditionally.
Here's the first paragraph from the Texas A&M news release:
“Texas A&M University today officially notified the Big 12 Conference that the institution will submit an application to join another athletic conference. Should this application be accepted, Texas A&M will end its membership in the Big 12 Conference effective June 30, 2012.”
A&M and the SEC have been the epicenter of the national college football discussion for more than a month, as the waiting continues to see what shifts the landscape will make.
There's much still to play out and a lot Ole Miss athletics director Pete Boone didn't want to say on the record about how this might impact the SEC and Ole Miss, but he did offer a statement in a phone call a few minutes ago.
“The SEC has to be very mindful of any institution that would seek to come in. A lot of it has to do with location. So much of it has to do with culture. Texas A&M has a rich culture and history, not just with its agriculture and military but also in athletics and academics.”
I think location will be important to a degree. The conference would like to maintain the integrity of the southeast, but at the end of the day, TV is TV, and it will drive the economics of the discussion.
I like Texas A&M as an SEC fit: facilities and support, successful in many sports, unique history, small college town, great demand in major markets.
The Rebels' opening opponent, BYU, has been mentioned prominently as a target of Big 12 expansion, and Wednesday's events prompted this statement from Provo, Utah.
"There is much speculation right now regarding conference affiliation that seems to change by the hour. Commenting on such conjecture is not productive and creates a distraction for our program. As we enter the 2011-12 athletic season, BYU is focused on the opportunities ahead. We are excited about our relationship with ESPN as a football independent and our affiliation with the West Coast Conference. The university will have no further comment."