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August 29, 2011

Texas A&M may delay withdrawal from Big 12

Just got a text from a key source at A&M late Tuesday night who tells me we may not get the withdrawal from the Big 12 by the Aggies until after the Aggies' season opener on Sunday against SMU - meaning next week.

I was told from a high level A&M source there was a Tuesday press release planned to announce A&M's withdrawal from the Big 12. But the source said Mike Sherman is very concerned about all this leaving-the-Big 12-for-the-SEC being a distraction to the football team leading into A&M's opener.

But there may be reason for the Aggies to slow down from the SEC's point of view as well, according to sources. It appears the SEC may want to explore interest from a potential 14th team before moving forward with Texas A&M, sources said.

According to multiple sources, Virginia Tech could be emerging as the leading candidate to become the 14th team in the SEC as a member of the SEC East. If the SEC presidents want to slow the process until a 14th team is identified, any announcement involving Texas A&M could be delayed beyond next week, one source close to the SEC said.

A&M sources continue to tell Orangebloods.com everything is still on schedule for the Aggies to withdraw from the Big 12 and that the SEC will vote to accept the Aggies. Texas A&M needs at least 9 of 12 votes from the SEC presidents to be admitted as the 13th team in that league.

Meanwhile, BYU could be emerging as a leading candidate to replace Texas A&M in the Big 12, according to three sources close to the situation.

Sources said BYU's close relationship with ESPN, which operates BYU's TV contract as an independent, could play a key role in the Cougars being added to the Big 12, whose Tier 1 TV rights are held by ABC/ESPN.

As an example of ESPN's relationship with BYU, two key sources told Orangebloods.com that if ESPN can not work out an agreement with either Kansas or Kansas State to appear as the second football game on the Longhorn Network this season, it will be BYU.

The Cougars play Texas in Week 2 of the football season - Sept. 10 in Austin - one week after LHN is to air UT's season opener against Rice at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday. Texas fans are getting nervous that there haven't been more announcements about cable providers who will carry the Longhorn Network and show the Texas-Rice game Saturday night.

The thought that UT's first two football games of the season could both be on the Longhorn Network - with potentially very limited distribution - could be a huge turnoff to Texas fans. ESPN officials have been silent this week on any Longhorn Network developments.



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