Tag:Texas A&M
Posted on: August 31, 2011 11:08 am
Edited on: August 31, 2011 11:21 am

Breaking: Texas A&M pulls the Big 12 rip cord

Texas A&M has notified the Big 12 of its intention to leave the Big 12 for "another conference" Wednesday morning. Here's the official letter

The school's official entry into the SEC beginning in 2012 could come as early as next week. For Texas A&M to be accepted, nine of the conference's 12 presidents would have to vote in the Aggies. 

For now, it's about A&M extricating itself from the Big 12. The Big 12 and A&M are not through with negotiations on an exit penalty, but the school went ahead and announced its intentions. According to league bylaws, A&M owes $28 million to leave the Big 12. However, a source told CBSSports.com that he expects the final amount to be between the $9.2 million that Nebraska paid last year and the $28 million.

If A&M gets into the SEC, the next question is whether the league temporarily goes to 13 or announces a 14th team to balance the league. The smart money says that the SEC takes its good old time -- because it can. 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Big 12, SEC, Texas A&M
Posted on: August 29, 2011 8:37 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 9:05 pm

As long Big 12 has OU & UT, it has options

Let's look at this current conference alignment thing a different way. No commissioner wants to be seen as the one to cause Alignment Armageddon. But if it has to be the Big 12, who could blame Dan Beebe? His embattled league has suffered enough. Suddenly it has options, good ones, with or without Texas A&M.

We all pretty much agree that we're headed sooner or later toward the age of the super conference with four 16-team (or whatever number) conferences. The question is how or when. Right now, we stand on the precipice with Texas A&M wanting to go to the SEC, but the SEC still thinking about whether to take the Aggies.

That's because the SEC doesn't have to expand. It's fine how it is with 18 years to run on a $3 billion contract with CBS and ESPN. If A&M goes then sooner or later, the SEC is going to have to get a 14th member. Commissioner Mike Slive seemingly loves A&M but he -- and his presidents -- don't necessarily want to be that guy, responsible for breaking up another league.

The question is whether Beebe has such reservations. And as long as he has Oklahoma and Texas, he has leverage.

As mentioned, it's looking suddenly like the Big 12 is dealing from a position of strength. It could lose Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC and still be able to lure two teams (or more) to stay viable. Why? As long as the Texas/Oklahoma axis remains solid, so is the league. Fox invested $1.17 billion over 13 years just for the secondary rights. The Big 12 is going to hit another big financial home run in a couple of years when it goes out to bid. (The assumption is that ESPN will re-up for the primary rights.)

To this point, Oklahoma has shown a willingness to stay with Texas. While the schools are rivals on the field, ADs Joe Castiglione and DeLoss Dodds are close. They know that the fortunes of the two superpowers are mutually beneficial.

If Texas and Oklahoma stay bonded, the Big 12 is in somewhat of a position of power. It could raid the Big East and go to 12 or 16. Why not go get Pittsburgh and Louisville? Sure, Big East basketball great but think of a hoops league with Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Pittsburgh and Louisville.

BIG POINT NO. 1: Even though the Big East is due for a windfall rights fee of its own in a few years I'm told that the pending primary rights deal for the Big 12 would be bigger than the Big East's entire deal. 

Would that possibility pry Notre Dame loose? Not likely. ND AD Jack Swarbrick reiterated for the millionth time on Monday that his school is happy with independence. ND probably would need eight home games to make the deal work in the Big 12 because of its deal with NBC, at least one of those being a neutral site game. The school makes a reported $15 million a year from that deal. The Big 12 wouldn't say no then ND also reaping $20 million from the Big 12 deal. Heck, it's Notre Dame.

Texas AD DeLoss Dodds said publicly last year that the Big 12 would be an attractive place for Notre Dame's minor sports. The schools do start a four-game football series in 2015.

While we're at it, let's also forget the talk of Arkansas, SMU and Houston to the Big 12. Arkansas would be taking a pay cut. The Big 12 is already in the Dallas, Houston and state of Texas markets. SMU is making its case in part because it has been to back-to-back bowls. Is that all it takes these days?

In this age don't think of conference affiliations, think of which schools assembled together make for the most lucrative media rights deals. Remember, geography matters little. When TCU enters the Big East in 2012 that will be its fifth conference since 1995.

That's why the pool of candidates for the SEC's No. 14 has to include Missouri, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia Tech. That's not the list, it's a best-guess list if you believe that the SEC isn't going to expand inside its footprint. That means no Georgia Tech, no Louisville, no Clemson, no Florida State.

Whether the Big 12 loses Missouri or not, BYU has emerged as an attractive replacement for Texas A&M. That's not news. BYU has a loyal and large following. The question is whether BYU would give up its long-range plan for independence after only one year. One source last week went as far as to say BYU would be "excited" about the prospect of joining the Big 12.

AD Tom Holmoe told Brett McMurphy this month that his school was happy at the moment

While the Cougars have ESPN as a scheduling partner, it has to become apparent to the school sooner or later that it is all but out of BCS contention in most seasons. By going independent, it has the essentially the same BCS status as Army and Navy. That is to say, the only automatic berth would be if BYU finishes No. 1 or No. 2.

The six BCS conference champions are guaranteed a bid. A champion from one of the five non-BCS leagues get a bid if it finishes in the top 12 or top 16 if it is ranked higher in the final BCS standings than a BCS conference champion. Notre Dame (because it's Notre Dame) gets an automatic bid if it finishes in the top eight of the BCS.

Army, Navy and BYU? Guaranteed only in the top two. BIG POINT NO. 2: Essentially that means BYU could finish 10-2 (or even 11-1) and have nothing guaranteed in the BCS.

Earlier this year, I wrote that BYU's independence was more about faith that most people thought. I'm starting to think all it would take is one year of being left out of the BCS (and a call from the Big 12) for the school's fans and officials to change their minds about independence.

Meanwhile, the "composition language" in the SEC contract is probably similar to that of the Big 12's. That means ESPN would most likely try to renegotiate downward its current deal with the Big 12. Say that is 10 percent of the contract given that A&M represents 10 percent of the Big 12. At that point it becomes like rearranging deck chairs. ESPN could tell the SEC, the money it is taking away from the Big 12 goes to the SEC. In essence, A&M's money would follow it to the SEC.

It isn't that easy. The SEC would most likely negotiate for more saying it is gaining huge viewership in the state of Texas. BIG POINT NO. 3: What's forgotten is the SEC isn't starting from a zero position. In case you haven't noticed, ESPN is already in Texas. SMU AD Steve Orsini told me last week that the ratings for Big 12 and SEC games in Dallas are "even." Whether that's true or not, there is already a big following for the SEC in the Lone Star State because there is a big following for the SEC everywhere. That's why the league already gets the big bucks.

A further hang-up on this A&M thing: It's better for everyone if the SEC expands by two all at once. That's one negotiation, rather than two. But if Texas A&M is one, what's the other?

It might not matter to the Big 12.
Posted on: August 25, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 4:24 pm

Texas A&M begins Big 12 divorce proceedings

Sometimes the spouse is the last to know.

As obvious as Texas A&M's shameless affair with the SEC has been, it was still a bit disconcerting to see it admitted in writing Thursday afternoon. A&M president R. Bowen Loftin officially notified the Big 12 that his school is "exploring our options." 

If you need to be hit over the head, we'll go ahead and say it: A&M wants a divorce and marry into the SEC, but it wants to keep things civil. There are children involved -- eight of them if you don't count Texas which is an otherworldly mega-force

We've known for weeks that Aggies everywhere would rather change into formalwear, than stay in the Big 12. It's a University of Texas thing and you're not expected to understand it fully but a multi-million deal with ESPN to launch a network has something to do with it.

This starts the official process of A&M leaving its not-exactly-life partners in the Big 12. Now comes the potentially ugly legal part. According to Big 12 bylaws (these are dated but still relevant), departing schools must give two years' notice.

Short answer: That probably ain't happenin' with A&M. If the school gives less than a year's notice, which seems likely here, it must forfeit 90 percent of two years' worth of payouts. That comes to approximately $30 million. Consider that a starting point for negotiations between the school and league.

By the way, Nebraska paid $9.2 million to move to the Big Ten, basically 50 percent of a year's payout. Colorado paid approximately $6 million.

Then there is the question of whether the Big 12 wants to claim tortuous interference on the part of the SEC. Street term: Poaching. That's what that SEC presidents meeting was about a couple of weeks ago. I was told the presidents huddled with SEC lawyers to determine the best legal path.

Texas A&M has to extricate itself legally from the Big 12 before it jumps into, ahem, bed with the SEC.

Loftin wrote " ... If Texas A&M withdraws ... we want to do so in a way that complies with the bylaws and is supportive of your efforts to seek a new member ..."

That made the letter seem official and legal but was it final? Remember, "If Texas A&M withdraws ..."

Doesn't anybody care about the kids?

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 15, 2011 6:24 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 10:18 am

Breaking: NCAA head contacts CEOs on realignment

NCAA president Mark Emmert has contacted various conference commissioners and school CEOs on the subject of conference realignment, the NCAA told CBSSports.com Monday.

There were no specifics but observers were wondering if Emmert would get involved in the increasingly volatile Texas A&M-to-SEC situation. A&M president R. Bowen Loftin was giving permission to pursue conference affilation issues by the school's board of regents Monday. However, Loftin, in a sometimes confusing interview session, said there was still a chance the school could stay in the Big 12.

The NCAA released this statement first to CBSSports.com through a spokesman:

"President Emmert has had conversations with a number of presidents and commissioners related to recent conference realignment issues and these discussions mirror many of the topics raised last week during the [Division I] presidential meetings."

The presidents came away from that meeting promising radical reform in academics and in enforcement.

What was once thought to be a slam-dunk, done deal for A&M is now fraught with legal entanglements. The New York Times reported that the SEC is possibly leaving itself open for a tortious interference claim should it be perceived that the league is raiding the Big 12. Texas A&M may be looking at a buyout that approaches $30 million if it leaves the Big 12 only 14 months after the 10 remaining schools made a 10-year pledge to stay together.

It's clear that ESPN has a major stake in the issues being discussed. It could be upset that if the SEC gets Texas A&M that would allow the conference to renegotiate a new deal at a higher dollar value. The SEC is two years into a 20-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and CBS. 

If A&M leaves, then that would put in jeopardy the future of the Big 12, which is due to go out to bid in an exclusive negotiating window with ESPN within the next two years. ESPN could also be concerned about the future of, and its investment in, the Longhorn Network at Texas. 

In essence, ESPN would be paying more for the SEC but potentially lose a property in the Big 12 if that league breaks up. The net result, potentially, would be less inventory for ESPN to telecast. That's the reason why ESPN and Fox combined to save the Big 12 last summer. If it had dissolved, ESPN would have lost the Big 12 and possibiltiy been shut out of the Pac-12 if that league had gone on the open market.

As it stands, ESPN combined with Fox to get the rights to the new Pac-12. 

Posted on: August 14, 2011 5:58 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 10:46 am

Embarrassment Sunday for Texas A&M

Aggie yell leaders are going to have quite a challenge this season shouting over the chants of "S-E-C, S-E-C."

In Big 12 stadiums.

Texas A&M will remain in its present conference for at least one more day. That's one day too long for scores of Aggies after Embarrassment Sunday. Your shame, ya'll, has just begun. Every Big 12 game involving A&M will, from here forward, resemble a weekly date with an ex-wife. Call A&M the (Home) Wrecking Crew.

The Big 12 just went from unstable to uncomfortable with the announcement that the SEC will stand pat. That beats the hell out of unraveling. Good for the Big 12 that it is threatening to stay together for a 15th consecutive month. The proud Aggies will just have to endure the taunts and cheap shots until the SEC changes its mind.

That could be soon, it just wasn't Sunday. Florida president Bernie Machen said that "future conditions" may make SEC expansion "advantageous". Well, of course. The SEC's decision to do nothing Sunday doesn't mean Texas A&M will never be in the nation's most powerful league, it just means a lot of people look a bit foolish right now.

Sources/ADs/administrators/message boarders/fans/Doug Gottlieb.

Note to Aggies everywhere: Before you borrow daddy's Caddy and rent a tux, make sure you have a prom date.

It always seemed strange that A&M was fast-tracking this thing. In the end, SEC presidents didn't want to be rushed. Why should they? With or without the Aggies, the SEC is still making $3 billion in a 20-year media rights deal finalized a couple of years ago.

The SEC is basically telling A&M: Get your house in order and then we'll talk. There is an A&M regents conference call on Monday. A Texas state representative wants to hear testimony to a Higher Education committee on Tuesday.

In the end, those SEC presidents couldn't find a 14th school to go along with A&M or didn't want to risk a legal challenge from the Big 12 (by potentially breaking up the league). Possibly both.

Our Brett McMurphy reported that SEC presidents have a "gentleman's agreement" not to expand within the league's footprint. That would eliminate Clemson and Florida State.

ESPN probably has a lot to do with it too. The key to the deal is how the Worldwide Leader can maximize A&M, Oklahoma and Texas with conference realignment looming. A&M must extricate itself from the Big 12 so it doesn't look like the SEC is interfering. OU must decide between the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC. Texas has to be in a place where its increasingly burdensome and controversial network is the most profitable.

Until then, spare us your crap on the finality of the subject. Everybody. This is the second shot heard 'round the world that didn't make it out of the cannon. How'd that Pac-16 thing work out?

What's the rush? There's plenty of time and cash for everyone. Texas A&M isn't going anywhere -- for now. It sure as hell didn't go to the SEC on Sunday.

Hope those Aggie yell leaders have ear plugs.

Posted on: August 13, 2011 10:26 am
Edited on: August 13, 2011 11:59 pm

Texas A&M on the brink

A high-ranking Texas A&M official told CBSSports.com Saturday that it is waiting to hear from Aggie president R. Bowen Loftin on a possible move to the SEC.

The official wouldn't necessarily have to be notified but is so high up that the fact he has not been notified suggests that A&M-to-the-SEC isn't quite done yet. The A&M regents will meet by conference call on Monday. CBSSports.com was told Saturday that Loftin could make the call on moving to the SEC at any time "pending regents approval." That suggests that a move could come sooner than Monday's call.

"Waiting to hear from Dr. Loftin," the source said in a text early Saturday morning.

The Houston Chronicle, citing multiple sources, said A&M's move will become official on Monday.

 The New York Times reported Saturday that 11 of the 12 SEC presidents will discuss A&M's admission on Sunday. A source told the Times that there is a 30-40 percent chance the presidents would vote against A&M's admission. A league spokesman said Saturday that a three-fourths majority (at least nine) would be needed to approve A&M's move to the SEC.

Late Saturday, the Big 12 presidents issued a statement stating their desire for Texas A&M to stay in the league.   

Category: NCAAF
Tags: SEC, Texas A&M
Posted on: August 11, 2011 11:57 pm

Texas to the Pac-12 makes sense

Don't look at this Texas A&M thing as conference realignment. Look at it through the stakeholders' eyes.

The stakeholders being ESPN, Oklahoma, A&M and Texas. It's likely that ESPN CEO John Skipper is evaluating at this moment how to maximize his profits through Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Texas if there is another round of conference shuffling.

Where those schools end up is less important than how the three current Big 12 schools can be profitable for ESPN (and Fox).

Whether or not A&M ends up in the SEC, watch for the Pac-12 to sooner or later take another run at Texas. The Big 12's instability dictates it. Commissioner Larry Scott told the Austin American-Statesman last month after the formation of the Pac-12 network one could "imply" that the Longhorn Network would be a "huge impediment" to Texas joining his league.

How quickly things change -- or possibly change. In a strange way, the Pac-12 could now make it more likely that Texas make the jump if it deems the Big 12 not worth the effort.

"At this point I don't think Larry does anything," one source close to the situation said, "He's got to let it come to him. He's the one who is sitting there with all the firepower. There is no one in a better position to monetize expansion than Larry Scott is. Not the SEC, not the Big East, not the ACC, not the Big 12. He's sitting in the catbird seat."

Why? Because he can. Remember, Scott was the guy who had invited six Big 12 teams, including Texas, last year. Consider it a still-open invitation. One that Texas would have to seriously consider.

One source painted it this way: The new Pac-12 Network is made up of six regional networks. Why couldn't the Longhorn Network be folded into the Pac-12 as a seventh regional network?

The source emphasized that ESPN is desperate to make TLN profitable. It has sunk hundreds of millions into the venture and there is no certainty whether it will work. To date, only the Big Ten Network has been profitable among collegiate networks.

It didn't help Thursday that the NCAA ruled against the televising of high school games on school/conference networks.

There are a few hurdles. Texas supposedly would have to surrender its third-party rights (re: archival, historic properties). But if Texas shows interest, that's nothing more that details. The new Pac-12 shares revenue more or less equally. Again, that can be worked out because it's, well, Texas.

Pac-12 schools would have consider working around those barriers to get the No. 1 revenue-producing athletic department into its conference.

That takes care of Texas. Oklahoma? If A&M bolts, it is seemingly a swing team between the Pac-12 and SEC.

Here's why ESPN would like A&M in the SEC: The Aggies would make ESPN's (and CBS') 15-year, $3 billion deal with the league more profitable. Some at A&M obviously see it as a more stable home.

If the Big 12 crumbles, the Longhorns most likely aren't going to the SEC or Big Ten. Texas has always looked down its nose at the SEC. Texas AD DeLoss Dodds is on record as saying he is against independence.

The Pac-12 makes the most sense for Texas almost because of TLN. It would increase the value of Pac-12 Network as well as increase the value of TLN.

"Something is wrong with your conference," a source said. "when Washington State is getting more from its conference than the University of Texas."

The source was referring to the fact that some Pac-12 projections have the league making $30 million per school once its network gets up and running. Even when the Big 12 renegotiates its primary rights in a couple of years, it is expected to top out at $20 million per year. That was with A&M.

So where does that leave us? Scott and SEC commissioner Mike Slive declined to comment through spokesmen. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe did not return phone and text messages.

But I learned last year during the conference merry-go-round to start with the stakeholders. Last year, it was Texas and Notre Dame. Both stayed in place, minimizing conference realignment.

This year the main players are Oklahoma, Texas and A&M. The question seems to be whether the Big 12 will hold together (with nine schools, or more with new expansion) if A&M leaves. That decision is up to Texas and ESPN (and Fox).

That combination kept the Big 12 together last year. Is the negativity such that the league couldn't go on after the loss of A&M? Is an enhanced SEC and Pac-12 worth more to ESPN than a damaged or non-existent Big 12?

The answers, seemingly, are coming soon. Despite reports that A&M-to-the-SEC was a done deal, it's likely that nothing will be officially decided until the Aug. 22 A&M regents meeting.

While Nebraska was a slam dunk to go to the Big Ten last spring, it wasn't official until AD Tom Osborne and chancellor Harvey Perlman made their official presentation to the regents.

Through an A&M spokesman I was able to determine this much about the process:

--A conference call among the regents is scheduled for Aug. 22. The fiscal year budgets for the entire A&M system will be discussed.

--An agenda has not been published beyond the budget discussions. An official agenda for the meeting will be available 72 hours prior.

--The spokesman would say whether conference membership would be discussed.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 11, 2011 3:48 pm

High school games cannot be on school networks

The NCAA is not allowing the televising of high school games on school or conference networks, the association ruled on Thursday.

For the moment, that seems to relieve some of the pressure created by the Longhorn Network's intention to televise such games. That was considered a main reason why Texas A&M is reportedly looking to move to the SEC.

The ruling has to be considered a blow to the Longhorn Network which forged a partnership with ESPN, based in some small part on the belief that Texas would be able to telecast high school games. An Aug. 22 NCAA summit had been scheduled to discuss the issue. The summit remains scheduled, NCAA president Mark Emmert said.

Emmert added that NCAA staff had made the interpretation and board of directors had approved it. Texas A&M had lobbied the NCAA hard for such an interpretation. It's unclear whether this changes A&M's reported intentions.

TLN and ESPN officials said previously they would be comfortable with whatever the NCAA decided. But clearly ESPN/TLN had ambitious plans. TLN chief Dave Brown said in June that the network had planned to televise up to 18 games per season. He also said there were plans to fly to different states to televise the games of players who had committed to Texas.

This does not affect the televising of high school games on networks not affiliated with a conference or school. 
Category: NCAAF
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com