Earlier on Free Form Friday I briefly talked about Mike Slive, Conference Commissioner and boardroom ninja, and the likelihood that he's been talking conference realignment with all sorts of folks.
Now we seem to have the first official confirmation that Slive's not the only one who's been talking. The Texas A&M Board of Regents will behaving a specially-called telephonic meeting on Monday to discuss, well, let's just quote directly from the agenda available on the Texas A&M website, shall we? They'll be meeting to discuss:
Authorization for the President to Take All Actions Relating to Texas A&M University's Athletic Conference Alignment
Well that clears some things up now, doesn't it? While the rumors of Texas A&M's interest in joining the SEC have been rampant for a year now, and I would have given you better than even odds that the alleged interest was both real and sincere, this is something different altogether.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that A&M will be joining the SEC (more on that shortly). But if their Board is anything like ours, the fact that a meeting has been scheduled means that a decision has already been made. And if the straw poll showed a lack of support for the proposition, there would be no meeting to have the vote. Having a vote, even one which rejected any action, would, ipso facto, signal that formal discussions had been had, which would be a bit unseemly from a Big XII perspective. The fact that the Board is meeting to discuss whether they'll authorize A&M President Bowen Loftin to act regarding athletic conference alignment therefore means that they've already decided to give Loftin that authority. Capiche?
And of course, the fact that A&M is trying to decide whether they would accept if Mike Slive asks them to the prom is not the same as saying he's asked. Or that Slive's mom (read: the SEC's school presidents and AD's) won't tell him he's not going anywhere with that hussy from College Station. In other words, this does not mean that Texas A&M will now be joining the SEC. But it does likely mean that Texas A&M wants into the SEC under proper terms. That's been nothing more than a rumor for the past year.
Of course there's still a need for a fourteenth team to balance the divisions if A&M is admitted to the SEC. And that should be really fun, what with the renewed rumors breaking today about discussions between the league and Florida State. I've always assumed that the admission of the Seminoles was a dead letter because Florida would veto such a move faster than Peter Warrick breezes through the Dillard's mens' department. As our esteemed SB Nation colleague Jason Kirk put it in the post linked above, Florida State is really the only truly national brand which the SEC could add while staying within its existing geographical footprint. This thing is ultimately about cash, and FSU is worth some when it comes to a renegotiated TV deal.
And as in all other endeavors, in conference expansion, somebody has to go first. It may be easier to coax FSU into the fold if Slive can point to Texas A&M and assure FSU that all it takes to make the thing happen is their approval. Being team #14 is a helluva lot less risky than being #13. If A&M leaps, the chances are much better that someone, be it FSU, Clemson, Virginia Tech or Kennesaw State, follows them. Stay tuned folks. It's gonna be an interesting few days.
Until later . . .