Here we go again
by Jim Buzzerd
Late last Wednesday the Houston Chronical broke a story about the Oklahoma University and the University of Texas petitioning the Southeastern Conference for membership. If you’re a Big 12 fan in general and a West Virginia University fan, this is potentially devastating news for the conference and the WVU athletic department.
ake Oklahoma out of the conference and, like it or not, the Big 12 takes a big credibility hit. Texas hasn’t been dominant on the field and court in recent years, but Longhorn athletics are a national brand poised to return to their glory years.
The remaining eight schools have success in their resumes (Baylor just won a NCAA basketball championship), and they would make a nice competitive league, but with no Texas and Oklahoma to sell to the TV networks, there isn’t much to bargain with. As of Sunday, the news report appears quite factual, and it appears both schools are gone. At one point there was news that Texas A&M was prepared to try to block Texas’ admission into the SEC.
Now it appears the Aggies have fallen in line to not oppose the expansion. No word yet on who applied the pressure to A&M, but that will be interesting to hear if the story is ever told. For a new school to be admitted to the SEC 11 of 14 current members need to approve. It’s also been reported that Oklahoma and Texas have been having discussions for about six months. No wonder Texas A&M is a little miffed, having been left out of the loop.
And talk about being out of the loop. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said just a week earlier at the Big 12 media days, “A lot of the motivation for realignment is no longer there,” Bowlsby said. “Is that to say it couldn’t happen? No, it could possibly happen for other reasons, but it doesn’t appear to me the motivation is there at this point in time. Not to say it couldn’t happen, but it’s not something that keeps me up at night.”
Sounds like most of the Big 12 schools were also blindsided. So far, I haven’t heard from WVU president Gordon Gee, nor athletics director Shane Lyons on the matter. Gee is well connected, and Lyons has worked in the ACC and SEC, so there’s a chance WVU was prepared for this, time will tell. Still, just knowing a tornado is coming doesn’t mean you will be safe.
Logic would dictate the ACC is the best landing spot for WVU should the Big 12 implode, but the ACC has not invited WVU despite a number of opportunities to do so since the 50’s. Has something changed that?
Is the SEC a possibility? It wouldn’t seem so, but rumors indicate the SEC may not be done at 16 teams. I find more than 16 too unwieldy, but there are those out there proposing four 20 team conferences, or four 16 team conferences. Maybe the SEC is trying to get there first and beat the crowd.
Things moved pretty quickly during the last realignment, maybe there will be some answers this time next week.