On the anniversary of the first Big 12 college football game to be played, Texas A&M delivered a bold statement to the rest of the nation. They are leaving the Big 12 effective June 30, 2012.
A statement released on the university website addressed the school's intention to switch conferences after an application to a suitable conference is accepted. The expectation is that Texas A&M will apply to the SEC to be the conference's 13th member—and that appears to be a formality at this point.
"After much thought and consideration, and pursuant to the action of the [Texas A&M University System] Board of Regents authorizing me to take action related to Texas A&M University's athletic conference alignment, I have determined it is in the best interest of Texas A&M to make application to join another athletic conference," president R. Bowen Loftin wrote to Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe in the letter dated August 31, 2011.
"We appreciate the Big 12's willingness to engage in a dialogue to end our relationship through a mutually agreeable settlement," Loftin added. "We, too, desire that this process be as amicable and prompt as possible and result in a resolution of all outstanding issues, including mutual waivers by Texas A&M and the conference on behalf of all the remaining members."
Texas A&M has been a member of the Big 12 since it was created in 1996, but they will likely become the third program to leave the conference in the past year. Nebraska has already left for the Big Ten and Colorado was added to the Pac-12. The question now becomes not what is next, but who is next?
If and when Texas A&M's departure becomes official, how will Oklahoma view their position in the conference? Will the Sooners think about looking for a new home? If they do, would Oklahoma State attempt to hitch their wagon to the Sooner Schooner?
Texas A&M's decision could change the landscape of college football in a variety of ways, with a ripple effect touching every major conference in the sport, including the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC, Big East and, of course, what is left of the Big 12.
We will await to see when Texas A&M's conference affiliation officially changes, what ramifications it has for everyone else involved and follow-up as necessary.