I try to trace/track the heartbeat of realignment here.
Everyone who writes about realignment sees a role to what they do.
I don't have any secret sources anymore.
I am not a guy driven to break stories. I am someone who finds realignment stories that ring true.
I like to try to expand on the ideas in those articles. Or debunk them.
What I do bring to the table is a general knowledge of both the driving factors of realignment and the historically what realignment behavior looks like.
I've been tracking realignment since the breakup of the Southwest Conference. I know the trends. I know the behavior.
I try to use that to identifiy when I see it coming.
So what am I seeing through my perspective?
I see a lot of articles from a lot of different sources that appear to confirm what the much maligned West Virginia leak guys have been saying.
When various sources who aren't generally realignment writers all start saying it looks very possible is generally a strong confirmation that the ball has started rolling.
It doesn't mean that anything will ultimately happen --- one powerful vote can totally shut down expansion in a conference overnight, and the Big 12 definitely has one very powerful voice in UT --- but it does mean it is a ton more likely to occur.
Especially when the finances support it. (Per Mr. Lambert the early return back from the Big 12's research firm BHV are extremely favorable.)
Here's what's out there now.
Dennis Dodd is one of my favorite sports writers. He dips into realignment from time to time. When he does so, it is a sign that things may be immenent. His voice on these things is quite impactful.
In this article he pulls back the curtain on the mechanics of a Big 12 network and he gets the first acknowledgment out of the Big 12 commissioner that something has to be done that anyone I have read has put up.
This was a very interesting interview with a Big 12 sports announcer. Here are some of his highlights.
The presidents will get together in May, his informal canvassing of his peers lead him to volunteer that all the Big 12 announcers think expansion is going to happen.
There is some thought ESPN doesn't want to push for a second conference network onto cable providers in SEC territory, especially Georgia and Florida.
The implication is that ESPN might steer the Big 12 away from the SEC territory. And that kind of matches up to the rumors out there that ESPN wants the Big 12 and SEC to peacefully coexist and not raid each other.
(The whole desire by ESPN to not push another network in SEC territory is kind of interesting to me...I think it is potentially the source of a huge, impactful, ripple effect to the emerging tapestry of the mega conferences. I will address this realignment pebble in a future article.)
Is a piece by another Berry Tramel fan that points at the obvious value of a BYU inclusion. Tramel likely greenlit publication of this because 1) it is a strong case and 2) because OU keeps talking up BYU and UT is reportedly on board with BYU.
And finally there is a dissenting voice. What would the Sports Minority Report be without one?
The Kansas City Star's Sam Mellinger had an article in his blog that reads as a bit of a hatchet job on OU president David Boren.
His argument seems to be that Boren and OU are pushing expansion based on feelings of insecurity rather than the plain reality that OU is not getting supplemental out of state recruiting anymore. He ignores the reality that OU is no longer among the recruiting haves in football.
He argues that if Boren had just kept his mouth shut on expansion better options would have presented themselves and the Big 12's underlying financial problem would have magically fixed itself.
I don't know how anyone can make that argument.
Perhaps Boren's behavior offends Mellinger's sensibilities.
To me his article reads like a reporter currying favor with a source in the hopes of landing more inside info.
Realignment tracking is fairly simple. It is clear that the Big 12 hasn't expanded in part because UT has been against it --- they get everything they could want in the current Big 12 --- (UT has Tech's realignment vote and may have TCU's) and because schools like Iowa State, Kansas State, and Kansas have been cool to the idea.
With no pressure on UT, UT has no reason to change their position. OU leaving is about the only thing that would put pressure on UT.
Boren dragging the financial reality of this conference into the light not only puts pressure on UT, it also exposes the limited thinking of the 3 northern Big 8 schools, and more specifically the Kansas schools for not supporting OU's position.
If this report comes back and says "Oh hell yeah you should expand...You should have expanded 3 years ago!" That is going to be something that calls the decision making and insight of the leaders at the Kansas schools into question with their boosters. They are on a collision course with that reality now due to the insistence of Boren.
I can totally understand why they would want to slam Boren in the press.
I think this action by the leaders at one or both of the Kansas universities suggests they have seen the initial numbers and are at the anger stage of the acceptance progression.