CBSSports.com Senior Writer

A&M-SEC reminds that superconferences would damage hoops

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Texas A&M will remain in the Big 12.

For now.

That's what we learned Sunday when the SEC put the brakes on the Aggies' plans to change leagues by announcing it has "reaffirmed" its "satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment." The statement, courtesy of Florida president Bernie Machen, caused quite a stir, in case you didn't hear.

But the whole thing seems like more of a stall tactic designed to help the SEC avoid lawsuits than anything else, and the smart money still has A&M ending up in the nation's most powerful conference at some point in the near future.

So this isn't over.

It's just not.

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Things continue to head the exact same direction they've been going for a while. The power conferences will get bigger. The gap between the haves and have-nots will widen. We'll eventually have the four super conferences folks have long predicted. That's when I fear college basketball will change forever.

Yes, I know, college basketball doesn't matter.

Not a single decision will be made with hoops in mind.

The four super conferences will become a reality -- and I've forever believed they will while forming their own division under the NCAA umbrella or breaking away from the NCAA altogether. They'll also probably have their own postseason basketball tournament and make billions and their own postseason football playoff and make kazillions. And though the football playoff would be a dream realized for most college sports fans, I can't help but think college basketball could be ruined because A) all super-conference schools would likely make the field of 64 or 72 or whatever, which would render the regular season useless, and B) the Butlers, Virginia Commonwealths and George Masons almost certainly would be reduced to second-tier status.

More specifically, they probably wouldn't even be involved.

Can you imagine?

We could end up with a postseason basketball tournament featuring North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA, Ohio State, Kansas, Louisville and nothing but schools like North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA, Ohio State, Kansas and Louisville. All big boys. No Cinderellas. That's not a tournament I prefer.

I love watching Valparaiso advance thanks to a crazy inbound play.

I love watching Northern Iowa shock the nation thanks to a little shooter.

I love watching George Mason, Butler and VCU crush big schools and march to the Final Four.

Those things don't happen often, but the opportunity for them to happen always is in place, and that's precisely what makes the NCAA tournament our country's greatest postseason event. We get bad Super Bowls, boring World Series and NBA Finals that don't match the hype. But the NCAA tournament never lets us down because a previously unimaginable storyline always materializes, and it usually involves a small-conference school.

We're probably on our way to losing that.

I don't know when it'll happen.

Could take 10 years.

Maybe 25.

But I'm guessing the greed that led to Texas starting the Longhorn Network, that prompted Texas A&M to explore an exit from the Big 12 and that serves as the motivating factor behind every decision that has been made, is being made and will be made in the coming days, weeks, months and years is going to be what causes us to someday lose one of the things that makes college basketball great.

It's a day I'm not looking forward to. At all. But it's a day that seems inevitable because of everybody's quest to get bigger and richer and ensure those that are smaller and/or without football cease to exist in any nationally relevant way.


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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