I'm not sure whether this is encouraging or not. At the very least, it's good to know that the NCAA isn't planning on merely sitting around in Indianapolis and letting Texas A&M's move to the SEC spring another six months of conference realignment madness. Sure, that may happen. But at the very least, NCAA president Mark Emmert seems to want a role in the discussion. Even more encouraging is the news that some conference commissioners want Emmert to want a role in the discussion.
Mark Emmert, the president of the N.C.A.A., reached out to several top college officials Monday, suggesting a meeting to discuss a less cannibalistic and more collegial way to approach conference expansion.
“I think people have asked him to make some phone calls,” Pacific-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. “He’s doing exactly what he should be doing.” [...] “Those conversations start and stop with that there’s no N.C.A.A. authority on these topics,” Scott said.
Emmert has the support of Scott, ACC commissioner John Swofford, Big East commissioner John Marinatto, and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, the latter of whom shared a heated phone call with SEC commissioner Mike Slive about A&M's potential move last week, according to the Times. In other words, these commissioners are seeing what's happening and getting visions of Armageddon; there's a lot of "Desolation Row" on these guys' iPods. Rather than stand by and watch the SEC tear the Big 12 apart -- and then react by scraping and clawing for the leftovers -- they'd like Emmert to step in and try to prevent that from happening.
Emmert is in a difficult position. He can try to influence the realignment debate and use his clout, as it were, to bring those rapacious capitalists in the conference commissioner seats to a mutually beneficial conversation. What he can't do, as far as we know, is anything to actually stop realignment from happening. He might be able to organize the process. He could raise the level of decorum involved in the debate. But realignment is really the conferences' business, and if massive changes are going to come -- if Texas A&M really wants to SECede (see what they did there?) -- it's not clear Emmert can do anything to stop them.