University of Oklahoma president David Boren has admitted that at least more than one conference has shown an interest in the Sooners and he told multiple media outlets he expects a decision on whether or not to leave the Big 12 within three weeks.
Boren confirmed that he traveled to Texas A & M and Columbia to meet with University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton, who is the Big 12 Board of Director’s chairman, in efforts to keep the Aggies in the conference. Earlier the Aggies announced they will leave the Big 12 to explore other conferences. A & M will most likely join the SEC.
Deaton has stated several times during the A & M saga that Mizzou is committed to the Big 12.
When A & M made the announcement, many fans were saying this was the death of the Big 12 and I was arguing that with Texas, Oklahoma and now Missouri making a strong national footprint, the conference still had a solid foundation and could survive with nine teams in the short term with a goal of getting back to 10 or even 12.
The schools that I heard as possible replacements, or at least logical replacements were BYU and Air Force, both football independents. However, if Oklahoma does leave, that does put the conference on high risk.
I hope for the sake of Missouri, that while they show a unified stance for the Big 12 in the public eye, that privately they are out scoping out the landscape for another home, whether that is the Big Ten, Big East or even the SEC.
Back to Oklahoma. They turned down offers last year from the PAC-10 and SEC last year when Nebraska and Colorado left. The fact they are exploring options again tells me their belief in the Big 12 surviving is weakening. If the SEC is inquiring about OU, I can see a situation where they are not only considering 14 teams, but a 16 team super conference. Even if that is the case, I don’t see a scenario where Missouri fits in the SEC. If the SEC added A & M and OU, there are plenty of options out east. That conference could approach Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Maryland, possibly Virginia?
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Misssouri is heading for the Mountain West or a lesser conference. If the SEC moves to the 16 teams, then it would make sense for the Big Ten to expand to 16 as well to keep pace. The Big Ten could scoop up Missouri, which as we know already has a built in rivalry with Illinois and they could add Kansas which would give them a basketball powerhouse. Perhaps then, they could get Notre Dame to join and/or possibly add Pittsburgh, maybe a Syracuse or Cincinnati?
Regardless of what is taking place with Oklahoma, this should serve as a wake up call to Missouri. They are the third best program in the Big 12 in terms of overall success across their athletic programs, they offer up the Kansas City and St. Louis television markets and now more than ever, they should be out knocking on the doors of other conferences with a plan B in place.