With Texas A&M officially leaving the Big 12, much of the focus has been on what the Big 12 will do to replace them. While there are a number of legal issues (mentioned below), the Big 12 as we know has been planning for any and all scenarios. So the potential for a lawsuit by the big 12 is real, but there has been Big 12 planning thus far to find a replacement or replacements for Texas A&M.
I had a good conversation last night with a Big 12 source.
As for the TAMU replacement, it was pretty enlightening.
Yes, Notre Dame and Arkansas are at the top of the wishlist but the Big 12 realizes that neither school is likely to take it seriously so as most know…it ain’t gonna happen barring a miracle.
BYU is indeed the top of the “more than likely” candidates. They bring much to the table and would be expected to be permitted to keep the BYUtv portion of their new setup. It’s the ESPN part that is tricky from a legal standpoint, where ESPN might keep those expected games but they would be branded/labeled as Big 12 games. Problem being potential Fox issues. That happens, BYU needs to drop ESPN. There is an assumption that the BYU/ESPN deal is contingent on BYU being indy with no real penalty if BYU joined a conference and had to leave ESPN.
The WCC issue might, i say might, be an issue for BYU. Less from a legal standpoint, but more due to the ethical nature of cut n’ running so fast.
After BYU, the top option appears that it might indeed by TCU, something I’ve been banging the drum for. And they’re a real option for all the normal reasons: if you lose someone like TAMU, it’s not like losing a lowly Baylor. TAMU might not have been a big winning program, but they have cache. So bringing in TCU DOES bring in the best product available. It is a bit more presence in Dallas and just down the street from the unofficial B12 stadium, Jerryworld. In addition to football prowess, TCU keep the footprint tight, keeping the Texas representative numbers as they were with TAMU.
As for TCU, it does appear that they are higher than anyone else like Houston, Louisville, etc. In fact, the gap between BYU and TCU might be smaller than originally thought.
And of note, the Big 12 is expected to move quickly once TAMU announces, ASSUMING, that the exit fees are taken care of.
As for the fear of lawsuits we’ve discussed here and elsewhere, the primary cause for fear is that the huge TV contract the Big 12 got last summer DOES have a clause that it can be VOIDED if any member leaves. So losing TAMU (Houston market) IS a big problem. So in other words, the TAMU exit will need to be financially finalized before the SEC invites them officially because it is the SEC who could be part of the lawsuit. It’s less likely that Fox would take part in the lawsuit, but instead use the threat of voiding the contract as reason for the Big 12 to solely head it against TAMU and the SEC.
So what makes the Big 12 different than other conference movement this year (say compared to last year) are clear terms in the TV contracts stating the entire contract can be voided with a membership loss. That wasn’t the case in the past, such as last year with Nebraska and Colorado. So schools like Missouri, who would certainly want to be in the SEC, will be so quiet and publicly claim being content in Big 12, no interest in SEC, etc.