Conference Consolidation: Texas A&M Domino Falling Wednesday, Pac-12 & UCLA Implications

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 3: View from the south end of the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium during the Oklahoma Sooners versus Tulsa Hurricanes game September 3, 2011 in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Tulsa 27-20. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

So according to Andy Staples of SI.com and number of other college football observers the Texas A&M to SEC domino could fall tomorrow:

By Tuesday night, the SEC should know whether it has the required nine presidential votes to extend an invitation to Texas A&M, which sent a conditional withdrawal letter to the Big 12 last week. If the Aggies get the invitation, they will accept and announce as early as Wednesday their intention to join the SEC. Then, things could get wild.

And that will start a possible chain reaction implicating the Pac-12:

*** If Texas A&M becomes the SEC's 13th team, that sets the superconferences in motion.

"The SEC won't stop at 13, or even 14. And if the SEC is at 14 or 16, the Big Ten will do it," a source said. "At that point, (the Pac-12) would be crazy not to entertain the idea of expansion."

(Multiple sources said the SEC's 14th team would most likely be Missouri. Combine untapped TV dollars with geography, and the schools that make the most sense for the SEC are Texas A&M, Missouri and Virginia Tech.)

Only if the SEC goes to 13 would the Pac-12 evaluate its options.

It won't take Oklahoma unless A&M leaves first, despite the accelerated timeline laid out last week by Oklahoma President David Boren.

That's from Jon Wilner at the Hotline Blog, who has posted some juicy gossips on the latest developments including the following note:

Sources said that at least five schools (Stanford, Cal, USC, UCLA and Washington) have serious questions about admitting the Oklahoma schools, which are not members of the Association of American Universities.

But when I asked a source close to Stanford president John Hennessy, one of the league's most influential CEOs, if the AAU issue would be a deal-breaker, the answer was: "Probably not."

Said another source: "If Larry (Scott) thinks adding (Oklahoma and OSU) is the right thing, the CEOs will ultimately fall in line."

As Wilner notes the academic objections will seem a little silly at this point given Utah is not an AAU member along with the other schools in the conference with "State" in their titles. So there is that. There are other potential issues around this story including implications for UCLA.

Colorado is not going to be all that happy about reuniting with their former girl-friends, I mean Oklahoma and whoever tags along with the Sooners:

University of Colorado president Bruce Benson said this morning he is wary of further Pac-12 expansion, particularly if Colorado is placed in an "East" division with former rivals from the Big 12 such as Oklahoma and Texas.

Benson said he would discuss the situation with university chancellor Phil DiStefano later today. Expansion talks have heated up in the aftermath of the Big 12 losing Texas A&M last week, and widespread speculation that Oklahoma and Texas might now bolt, possibly to the Pac 12.

"One of the reasons - and there are a lot of reasons - we got in the Pac 12 is to play regularly on the West Coast," Benson said. "When I hear things like East-West divisions, we're going back to the Big 12 again. I don't know who's possibly going, but I sure don't want to get shorted out of the West Coast."

The Pac-12, which expanded with Colorado and Utah last spring, could possibly become the Pac-16. Oklahoma officials have indicated its priority, if the Big 12 doesn't stay solvent, is joining the Pac-12. Should OU commit to a move it could push others to join, such as Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.

Benson and DiStefano always maintained a major reason for CU joining the Pac-12 was that the schools matched Colorado's academic mission. While Oklahoma and Texas are on a par with CU academically, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State may not be.

Ooof.  Can't blame him for publicly looking out for his school.

As I have maintained, it is going to be crucial for UCLA to make sure that it's interests are protected as the school from the second largest media market in the country. UCLA should make sure that it doesn't get into a position where it is strong-armed by any future members of the Pac-12.

Do adding schools like Oklahoma or Texas (which according to Wilner may have overplayed it's hand) th the Pac-12 benefit the Bruins, as it will open up the Southern California recruiting scene to those programs. Will UCLA benefit as much by having access to the recruiting scene in Texas?

If UCLA is able to re-establish itself as a successful football program those concerns will not matter as much. However, if the Bruins continue to struggle, the challenges for UCLA will become even tougher. This is why it is important to keep track of conference expansion related stories as much as possible. This is all taking place in what is a pivotal moment in the history of UCLA football.

GO BRUINS.

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