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Texas A&M to the SEC will Start Another Round of Conference Shakeups

Texas A&M has served notice to the Big 12. In a move that may signal the beginning of the process to leave for the Southeastern Conference, the university’s president, R. Bowen Loftin, sent a letter to the Big 12 announcing that Texas A&M was "exploring our options" for conference movement. Unhappy for a long time with the Big 12 setup, its not a question of "if" but "when" Texas A&M splits.

When the break to a new conference comes, that conference will probably be the Southeast Conference. The addition of Texas A&M would give the SEC an uneven 13 teams, with six teams in one division and seven teams in the other. The natural course of events would dicate they add a 14th school to balance out their conference. And speculation is already brewing, with one big name cropping up based on the SEC conference footprint, who has BCS power, and brings the financial addition of television markets: Virginia Tech.

If the SEC raids the Atlantic Coast Conference for Virginia Tech or perhaps another ACC school, the ACC would also have to poach school to fill that hole. The most probable scenario would be to snatch a school from the Big East, as they did in 2005. That would leave the BE looking more seriously again at a CUSA team for a replacement, most likely UCF or Houston.

Of course, while that is taking place, the Big 12 will also be checking out the landscape for a suitable filler of their own. They will look to expand if they want the conference to survive and some sources note that the conference's short list has Notre Dame, Arkansas and Brigham Young University at the top. BYU is already being discussed as the most suitable replacement for Texas A&M, and there is little doubt that BYU would accept an offer from their dream conference.

But not so fast with BYU heading to the Big 12 just yet. Behind the scenes, other schools are throwing their hats into the Big 12 circus ring. CUSA schools Houston and SMU have jumped at the possible chance to get into the league and have gone public with their desire to do so.

You can be sure that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe will be cautious. TCU is another candidate he and the other Big 12 presidents will be forced to look with Texas breathing down their necks. They have spurned the Frogs in the past. The question is would TCU be interested in the Big 12 now that they are in a BCS AQ conference with the Big East? Right now the answer might be no, but if the BE gets raided by the ACC and the BE looks to be crumbling (as it will be if the ACC raids them again) TCU will gladly accept. But TCU is not the only name that might come up on the Big 12 radar: a Bleacher Report source is throwing SMU along with MWC schools Boise State and Air Force into the mix of a potentioal Big 12 salvage plan. And, of course, San Diego State has made no secret they would be interested in a Big 12 invite.

In the end, the Texas A&M's departure from the Big 12 will undoubtedly set off a huge round of conference realignments and expansions that could make a replay of the 2010-2011 look like child's play. Just don't look for the Big 12 to fold its tent any time soon. While the conference will take a hit, the potential hits on the ACC, Big East, and CUSA could be much larger. Heck, even the Mountain West might take a punch. But that punch won't be near the level of the body blows the conference has weathered over the past two years.