Is the decisive domino in the second wave of expansion -- superconference madness! -- about to fall?
The SEC released a statement Monday from commissioner Mike Slive stating his conference has "started to look at schedules for 2012-13 for 13 teams," which would include Texas A&M.
Slive's statement also included this: "When Texas A&M joins our conference, we don't have immediate plans for a 14th member. We aren’t thinking in terms of numbers. We think about the strength of the SEC and the attractiveness of Texas A&M as an institution."
The important part for Pac-12 folks is the "when" that starts the sentence. "If," is a word that was available but not chosen for a carefully-worded statement.
Further, Texas and Oklahoma administrators met over the weekend. While Texas is believed to be trying to keep the Big 12 together, it's also likely the topic of both jumping to the Pac-12 came up.
The Big 12 will try to sell the idea to Oklahoma that the conference can survive by replacing Texas A&M with a team like BYU. Oklahoma, weary of the upheaval, is considered a strong lean toward the Pac-12 -- its regents are expected to vote on the matter next Monday -- and that almost certainly would mean Oklahoma State following along.
If Oklahoma opts to bolt, it's hard to imagine the Big 12 surviving. And if the Big 12 implodes, a mad scramble could ensue, with other BCS conference picking over the remains.
Texas will remain the big prize, though it no longer operates from a position of strength. The Longhorns would have to make compromises to join the Pac-12 and they don't like doing that.
But they might not have much choice.