Gene Stallings foretold the current upheaval a year ago.
The Aggies former coach and regent said all the right things about staying in the Big 12. But in the same breath Stallings said that if things did break up he'd rather see the school join the SEC rather than the then-Pac-10. Don't forget that Stallings has extensive experience in the SEC as a national championship coach at Alabama.
Obviously, things have progressed -- or degenerated -- since then. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said Wednesday night he is taking "very seriously" reports that A&M is in conversations about joining the SEC. There were indications at the Big 12 media days last month that the school was close to joining the SEC in 2010 before it decided to stay with the reconstituted Big 12.
The Aggies continue to lean eastward toward the SEC and away from the Big 12. It's a given that the school feels a certain independence and a desire to break away from Texas' influence. The recent rancor over the Longhorn Network was merely a symptom of that rancor. It still believes the SEC could be a long-term home because ...
--Stability. The SEC has it. The Big 12 doesn’t.
--Money is no object. The payouts in both conferences are essentially going to be equal when the Big 12 goes to market for its primary rights in a couple of years.
--Arkansas is a natural rival from the old Southwest Conference.
--If the SEC were to balance things out at 14 teams (for now), Missouri would be an obvious candidate. That would given the Aggies two travel partners in a league that would stretch from South Carolina to Houston.
As for the SEC, it would love to have recruiting access to Texas. Texas -- and the rest of the surviving Big 12 -- would then have to battle SEC schools coming into the Lone Star State for recruits.
Remember, if this happens it won't be portrayed as a predatory move by the SEC in any way. This will be A&M trying to get away from Texas and strike out on its own. Whether the SEC then chooses to go to 14 or 16 will be the next issue. You can bet the Big Ten and Pac-12 commissioners aren't going to sit on their hands and lose traction in the marketplace.
As far as those long-term deals signed by conferences? They can all be adjusted. I'm told they all include periodic "look-in" clauses that would allow for adjustment due to change in membership.
As crazy as the summer of 2010 was, it's hard to believe that the Big 12 might not make it to the 2011 kickoff with a solid 10 going forward.