After much speculation and wringing of hands, the Southeastern Conference voted unanimously to accept the Texas A&M Aggies as the 13th conference member a week after the school's Board of Regents announced its intentions to leave the Big XII (hey kids, here's a lesson for you: don't put numbers in your conference name).
There's a catch, though. The SEC's acceptance of TAMU was based on the condition that no Big XII school would sue for "contractual interference over Texas A&M's departure." And, as you'd expect, the SEC hasn't gotten that assurance from everyone in the Big XII, namely Baylor. Baylor, I feel, sees the writing on the wall regarding the impending collapse of their conference and is likely worried that they could be relegated to the non-automatic qualifying trash heap (considering how Conference USA was more-or-less founded because the Southwest Conference's post-Arkansas collapse, I think their worries are legitimate). They're likely asking why exactly they should get stuck playing Rice and UTEP every year instead of Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, and the like - a fair, legitimate question.
I imagine this little snag won't really hold up the SEC's expansion all that much, so it is only a matter of time before the Big XII folds.
And, make no mistake, the Big XII is will fold. It may be a slow and agonizing death, but it's coming to an end. This departure is the beginning of that conference's swan song.
With Texas more-or-less treating the conference as their personal cash cow by raking in proportionally higher amounts of shared revenue (this is unlike the SEC, Big Ten + Two, or Pac 12, who all share media and bowl revenue evenly) and creating their own television network, they've shooed off all of the worthwhile conference competition they had. Gone is Nebraska to the Big Ten where, geographically and culturally, they mesh a little better. Gone is Colorado to the new Pac 12 where greener pastures and greener, um, greenery await the Buffaloes. Gone are the Aggies to the Southeast. Soon to be gone are the Sooners to the west, who will likely take the Pokes along for the ride. And Mizzou's a likely candidate to be the SEC's 14th member once all of this realignment is said and done (more on this in a second).
So what does that leave Texas with? Annual games against Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State. A six team conference. Thrilling.
They'll go independent, a new Southwest-ish, Big Eight-esque type conference will emerge, and the SEC will be two teams stronger. This is the beginning of the new SEC, as well as the long, drawn out death of the Big XII. Just when we thought all of this conference alignment stuff was over with, it picks right back up again.
So, this leaves a question to you, dear readers: who should that fourteenth SEC team be? Personally, I think we'd be foolish to not pursue Virginia Tech from a marketing and football standpoint, but I can also see potential in NC State, Florida State (as if the Gators would let that happen), Mizzou, and a few others. What say you?