Texas A&M accuses Big 12 of backtracking

By Kristie Rieken

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 7 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Loftin said he believes Texas A&M is "replaceable" when it comes to the TV contract.

"We can argue how good we are compared to others, but I think we're replaceable," he said. "It was clearly stated to me by leadership of Fox that they felt like a school could be found and put in our place to satisfy their interests and therefore their contractual agreement would not be changed in any way. So we feel that was a good way to say that we would not be destabilizing the conference by leaving."

Loftin was in meetings most of Wednesday, trying to figure out what A&M will do next. He said he spoke with SEC officials Wednesday and that they are trying to take in the recent developments. Loftin said he was disappointed that A&M wasn't introduced as the SEC's newest member on Wednesday, but he empathizes the predicament the SEC is in.

"We believe we have no real future in the Big 12," Loftin said. "That's clear to us and how that plays out right now I can't really tell you. That's still actively being worked through. We really appreciated the support shown yesterday by the SEC leadership, a unanimous vote to let us in. But they're rightly concerned about themselves getting involved in extensive litigation that might distract them from their purpose as a conference and I can understand that."

The Big 12's future has been the subject of intense speculation for more than a year. Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12) left in July, while Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are rumored to be the subjects of courting by the Pac-12 with an eye toward building a superconference.

Not as clear was where schools like Iowa State, Missouri Kansas, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Baylor might wind up if the Big 12 falls apart.

"We are basically sitting in a traffic jam and going nowhere fast," Texas Tech President Guy Bailey said of discussions with Big 12 school officials on Wednesday.

"Recent events have put conference discussions in a holding pattern," Bailey said. "However, we will continue to closely monitor the situation and actively pursue a course in the best interest of Texas Tech University."

At Missouri, Chancellor Brady Deaton -- chairman of the Big 12 board -- said the league "remains a strong conference, highly respected academically and athletically."

A person with knowledge of the Big 12 discussions, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are considered private, said that after the Sept. 2 letter, Baylor was the first to "raise its hand" in numerous conversations with Big 12 and SEC officials, along with other conference members, about retaining its legal rights.

That person said Wednesday that there has been no threat of a lawsuit or other legal action. Texas Tech spokesman Chris Cook also said it was "not our intent" to sue anyone, while Iowa State spokesman John McCarroll said the university had not waived its right to pursue potential litigation regarding A&M.

Without naming the school, Loftin said one Big 12 school had been trying to stop A&M's move from the beginning.

"Clearly for quite some time, one school has been specifically the one trying to both bring pressure on us politically for a while and now raising the threat of legal action," he said. "In fact even calling members of the board of the SEC directly and the commissioner of the SEC directly and speaking to them and leaving voicemails for them."

Loftin said that "nothing really changed" after a conference call among seven of the 10 Big 12 presidents on Wednesday. Much of the call was filled with Baylor explaining its position and the group said discussed if it should start looking at why schools want to leave the Big 12, Loftin said.

For Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, Texas A&M's departure could mean the end of one of college football's greatest games.

"I just hope they don't lose the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry," said McCoy, the former Longhorns star. "My junior and senior years that was it — Thanksgiving night, under the lights, that's football, man. The Lone Star Showdown or whatever. Those are the biggest schools in Texas. You just can't lose that."

AP Sports Writers Stephen Hawkins, Luke Meredith, Betsy Blaney, Jim Vertuno, Tom Withers and Associated Press Writer Alan Scher Zagier contributed to this report.

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