I had a chance to catch up with the Big Cigar about all the moving parts in the pending realignment game. One puff of smoke and you could tell this stuff is getting ready to heat up big time.
First, let's talk Aggie--the catalyst in what conventional wisdom tells us would be the impending doom of the Big 12. The thinking is that with a wave of Bill Byrne's sausage fingers and the Aggies get a shiny new conference while the Longhorns are left to languish in a wasteland surrounded by also-rans. Not so fast…
The Big Cigar tells us that indeed Texas A&M is looking to leave, and fast. For an undisclosed reason, the Aggies seem to think that they can minimize the penalty of leaving the Big 12 if they do so before September 1st, so don’t be surprised if something goes down by the end of the week.
But here’s where it gets interesting for the Aggies, Longhorns, and the rest of the Texas schools. The Cigar tells us that Baylor has a war chest of funding along with the political will to do everything in their power to keep TAMU in the Big 12. They’ll sue the SEC, they’ll sue Texas A&M, and they’ll grease the palm of every relevant state legislator to prevent the Aggies from leaving. The good news for fans that wouldn’t mind seeing the Aggies go and Baylor as well, is that Big Brother has some serious contingency plans in the works which might be a better deal for everyone that stays—especially Texas. In fact, the Longhorns are doing everything in their power to help the Aggies leave, short of packing the farmers' camouflaged Samsonite two-suit rollers.
The Cigar explained that talks with Notre Dame and BYU are at a fevered pitch and both could slide right into the Big 12 next season without the conference missing a beat. Yes, that means Texas vs. Notre Dame on Thanksgiving Day is not only a possibility but a probability if everything goes down as Texas plans.
Why not the Big 10 for Notre Dame?
The sticking point with the Irish getting into the Big 10 Conference is their NBC deal. The Big 10 is asking UND to either alter its agreement with NBC or scrap it altogether in favor of the Big 10 Network. With the Big 12, that’s not the case. We like Networks. Hell we’d like to have a plethora of Networks. Networks are fun, and it’s another reason the BYU talks are going swimmingly as well. So adding these two like minded, high caliber academic programs with a penchant for free enterprise is a win-win for the Longhorns.
What about Aggies, Farmers Fight, Fight Songs About Texas, and tradition?
We’re going to let A&M cut off their nose to spite their face, says the Cigar. We’d rather play Notre Dame anyway and that sentiment is prevalent throughout the power structure in and around the program. It’s f’n Notre Dame for crying out loud.
What’s the Catch?
Well there are a few landmines to navigate in this grand plan. First, Baylor has a real hard-on for sticking it to the Aggies but Texas will try to placate them with the aforementioned scenario or cold hard cash if need be. The Cigar tells us that the power brokers of the University want this to happen.
Second, Notre Dame could opt to stay independent or accept a counter offer from the Big 10 if they’re worried about long term viability. If Texas can sell them on forming our own super conference or a spot in the PAC 16 at some point down the road then the landmine is avoided.
The final landmine is the Oklahoma dynamic. Mizzou can leave if it wants to, but if the Sooners depart then Texas will be forced to head west.
"But OU has been a solid ally through all of this?"
Yes, and the main reason is Joe Castiglione. He’s been in talks with DeLoss about the direction of the conference every step of the way and it’s the main reason OU hasn’t looked seriously at their SEC option. The problem is the Longhorn Network has made JC look weak to the powers in the OU program including University President David Boren and Bob Stoops. Stoops and JC’s relationship was already a bit stressed due to annual contract renegotiations, and the Longhorn Network may be the straw that forces Boren to give JC his walking papers. If that happens, UT loses an important connection to OU and the SEC might become more attractive to the Sooners overnight. The Cigar says to keep your ear to the ground for noise out of Norman.
As you see, there a lot of ins, a lotta outs, a lot of what-have-yous--but the Longhorns hold most of the cards. If we can sell OU along with Baylor and Tech on a new improved Big 12 short term, and a PAC 16 super conference in the long run, start reserving your tickets to South Bend. Just wanted to share this certain information that has come to light.