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Dick Harmon: Missouri takes another step towards Big 12 departure

Published: Saturday, Aug. 29 2015 11:16 a.m. MDT

The Big 12 may be on its way to another defection.

When the University of Missouri Board of Curators met Friday and gave Chancellor Brady Deaton permission to explore and decide whether to change conference affiliations, the panel also granted him permission to negotiate contracts for Missouri in regards to TV deals or any other needed agreements.

So, what does that mean?

It means the chancellor doesn't have to go back and ask permission of Missouri's governing body to switch conferences. If he decides, after talking to lawyers, that it is in Missouri's best interest to go to the SEC, which already took Texas A&M, he can do it at the drop of a hat.

And if Missouri bolts the Big 12, how does that affect the stability-seeking Big 12?

Well, the interesting thing Deaton said on Friday, is if Missouri did leave, it would not be part of the Big 12 in 2012.

Ding, ding, ding.

A Missouri departure would mean instant instability with Big 12 TV contracts because of reduced territory.

That statement by Deaton directly countered a quote made by Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas just nine days earlier that if Missouri left, the Big 12 wouldn't need to replace the Tigers before 2013.

Neinas also said, at the time, the Big 12 would likely stay at 10 teams for the present.

The number of teams the Big 12 could move upon if Missouri defects could change quicker than Neinas and the Big 12 presidents once believed two weeks ago.

The Big 12's board of directors scheduled a meeting for Monday.

The Big 12 will definitely have expansion talks on the agenda when the president's council (CEO's of the Big 12) meet. Said Neinas on Friday, "Obviously, conference membership will be thoroughly discussed at that time."

And what does that mean for a potential replacement for Missouri, if the Tigers leave?

Well, there are four very anxious conferences commissioners waiting for the dominoes to fall. The Mountain West Conference, Conference USA, the Big East and the SEC all have a stake in this move.

The MWC and C-USA recently announced a 22-team football association. The Big East announced it would raid that association for some replacement teams.

It would mean the fourth Big 12 defection in 16 months (Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado and Texas A&M).

If Missouri stays, it means the SEC would need a 14th school to partner up with A&M. It would mean Big East football could crumble if it doesn't scramble for Army, Navy, Air Force and Boise State now that once Big East-bound TCU agreed to join the Big 12 last month as the 10th team.

The state of college sports today has never been as unsettled as it is today.

And how does this impact BYU?

The independent Cougars have been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Big 12 as a possible Missouri replacement or as a No. 11 or 12th candidate if the league expands. Other names mentioned are Big East schools Louisville and West Virginia. People disagree on the pecking order, which school is chosen first or second, if the Big 12 decides to expand back to 12.

What specifically does all this talk mean for BYU?

In reality, things look very good for BYU if the Big 12 needs an immediate replacement. As an independent, BYU can become instantly available in 2012 with a few tweaks in scheduling and bowl ties.

I believe BYU entered independence a year ago with certain clauses in contracts to address scheduling and associations in case a BCS conference invite came its way in 2011 or beyond.

As BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe told the media in Corvallis, Ore., last Saturday, the Big 12 and BYU have remained in contact and negotiations, albeit very private.

Monday is a very big day.

But nothing is likely to happen until Missouri announces what it will do.

This week's predictions:

Washington State 28, Oregon State 24: The Cougars take home field advantage and with some dodging of some passes here and there, they'll prevail.

Oklahoma State 33, Missouri 27: Cowboys have too much firepower for the potentially SEC-bound Tigers.

Stanford 28, Washington 24: Great game and the Huskies have a chance. I'll go with the team with the best quarterback.

Southern Utah 21, Weber State 20: I'll go with the team that shamed UNLV.

Notre Dame 21, USC 17: If this traditional game is allowed late in the season, the Pac-12 should allow BYU and Utah to play in November.

Boise State 44, Air Force 21: The Broncos can choose to run or pass over the Falcons and each would be equally productive.

Utah State 23, Louisiana State 21: I picked the Aggies to defeat Fresno State last week and though disappointed in the late-game breakdown again, I'll ride the Aggies another week.

Utah 17, Cal 14: A matchup of two inconsistent offenses and quarterbacks, you have to go with the best defense.

BYU 44, Idaho State 14: BYU could take the air out of the ball and go to the ground game to keep ticks off the clock and ISU's pass happy offense on the sideline. Look for Jake Heaps to return to the field for significant reps.

Last week 3-4; Overall 43-13 (.767)

email: dharmon@desnews.com

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