Texas A&M almost assuredly is headed to the Southeastern Conference. It appears almost impossible that Baylor's threat of a lawsuit will prevent it. Be it within the next hour or the next 18 months, change is coming.
Texas A&M leaving the Big 12 will start the move toward the 14- and 16-team megaconferences that will dominate the college football landscape.
Here's one spit-ball projection as to how it could shake out:
SEC East: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and West Virginia
SEC West: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri and Texas A&M
Current 12 teams and add Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and BYU
Current 12 teams and add Kansas, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Louisville
Current 11 teams (with Virginia Tech heading to the SEC) and add Connecticut, South Florida and Central Florida with possible spots for two more.
Everyone else will be jumbled into an NCAA field for football, not unlike the NCAA tournament, although it will feel more like the NIT. Remember that Georgia, Florida and South Carolina reportedly have a wink-wink, nod-nod deal in which none of those three will vote for inviting another school from those three states. So no Georgia Tech, no Clemson, no FSU, and that may very well save the ACC.
The overhaul is coming, gang, and the biggest question remaining may be whether the other schools have the strength and the wherewithal to force Notre Dame and Texas to join the fold so they can broker the TV rights deals together. Because expansion is not about competition or classification as much as it's about market shares and money.
In a perfect world, the conferences could stay where they currently are and look to tweak the BCS system. But all the hand-wringing and calls for playoffs jump-started the conferences to be aggressive and perform the sports version of the California Gold Rush of 1849.
If the TV contracts are deal-breakers for Texas and Notre Dame, then maybe they stay independent. But if they stay independent, do the future four power conferences allow them a special entry into the title games and the BCS billions? More than likely not, and if Notre Dame is playing football with no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (see what we did there?), how much is NBC willing to spend?
And if you're wondering why the NCAA has been quiet about this, maybe it is planning security measures for next week's football game between Miami and Ohio State -- two programs that have prominent spots on the NCAA speed dial.
As for next week's Da U/THE Ohio State Penitentiary, here's saying the NCAA buys two luxury boxes and has its quarterly meeting there. It would be cheaper than bringing all of the field officers down around South Beach back to the ranch in Indy.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...