Aggie Websider Tidbits

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Realignment

Here's what I have this afternoon. I think all parties (SEC, A&M, OU, OSU, Texas) have been quietly waiting to see if the others will take the first step and frankly take all the heat (politically and legally) off of them because once one domino falls, I think you'll see a wave of activity because they will be protected from the long arm of Ken Starr at that point.

Texas A&M has been very quiet since the SEC Board of Directors meeting and the announcement of the conditional invitation. First, the legal team has been digesting the Ken Starr position and developing any counter-actions that can be effective in cleaning up this mess. And, A&M has been waiting to see if OU (and OSU) makes a decision to stay in the Big 12 or go to the Pac-12.

Had you asked me what I thought would happen 36 hours ago, I would have bet my money on OU standing down with concessions from Texas and agreeing to move forward as a consolidated Big 12 looking to expand with BYU. That would have satisfied Baylor and the have-nots and A&M would skip off into the SEC sunset.

That doesn't appear to be the case anymore. If OU was willing to jump back into the Big 12, we would have heard about it by now. With OU and OSU being very quiet these past couple of days, it indicates what sources in OK are saying that they are serious about leaving for the Pac-12, but they too are afraid of the Baylor lawsuit if they jump first. So everybody is waiting on the ledge for somebody to jump…and nobody is brave enough to do it including the SEC.

So does that leave A&M handcuffed? Well, in terms of convention solutions, the answer is yes. However, A&M can THREATEN two options that will call Baylor's bluff and force Ken Starr to make a decision on whether he's going all-in, calls A&M's bet, or folds.

A&M can (and did) start sending out the message today that if Baylor and company takes any strength or inspiration out of keeping the Aggies in the Big 12 and that it will be business as usual in 2012, that's simply no longer the case. Based on my internal sources, donors were contacted this morning to gauge the status of their pledges if Texas A&M were to go independent for a year. To be clear, I think going independent is the last option on the table and a highly unlikely option, but A&M wants to send a message to everybody that the school is dead serious about not participating in the Big 12 after June 30, 2012.

Second, we're hearing rumblings inside the administration team that Texas A&M will start to take some counter-actions and will be more aggressive legally and in public statements. As I was told, "tortuous interference works both ways in this case" and Texas A&M is willing to take actions into their own hands and flex some muscle now that it appears nobody else will.

There's no way to know how Baylor and the rest of the conference will respond to any of these tactics, but I was told that A&M officials are hopeful that this quagmire will be resolved "in days or weeks, not months." That's the goal anyway. I ran this information by several of my best sources on realignment, and I was given a "no comment". Typically, if I'm on the wrong path with another source, they tell me.

This is truly a game of poker. I don't think anybody wants this to go to court, but who is going to blink first? I personally like my idea that I threw out to the board earlier today. Since A&M is not being allowed to leave the Big 12 and technically a member, I'd go to the meetings and make it very difficult for the Big 12 to conduct business and discuss strategies for the future. If I'm A&M, I no longer excuse myself from sensitive discussions regarding expansion and TV contracts and participate fully. We've been talking about A&M being in limbo and in no-man's land with this situation, but so is the Big 12 not knowing whether A&M is part of the Big 12 or not. Texas A&M carefully worded its letter to the Big 12 saying that departure from the Big 12 was contingent on being accepted by another conference. Let Dan Beebe chew on that a little while. In the end, if it appears there's a chance the Big 12 survives even before knowing what OU and OSU will do, Baylor and the other Big 12 institutions may just say "fine, just go and stop bothering us."

Bottom line…as long as Texas A&M doesn't have a home, Baylor doesn't know its future and can't plan for their future outside of the Big 12. I do think that as of today, OU and OSU will eventually leave when it becomes legally and politically feasible, meaning the Big 12 will cease to exist because Texas and Texas Tech will not attempt to revive the Big 12 without OU/OSU. If I were Baylor, I'd start working those phones with the Big East. The Bears may get lucky. Otherwise, if they don't start looking for a new home in the Mountain West or C-USA, they could be knocking on the door of the Sun Belt and playing conference games in Huntsville.

On a side note, I'm hearing from the SEC side that if and when this A&M situation gets resolved, the conference would be open to an inquiry from West Virginia about a future application for admission to the SEC to possibly be the 14th team. That's all on hold until the A&M mess gets cleared up.


Football Recruiting

As I mentioned last week, the staff has focused the remaining 4-5 spots on getting some big, physical defensive linemen that can play in the SEC. With all three starters graduating, the need is urgent, but the open starting spots is very attractive to JUCO prospects who put playing time at the top of their list with only two years of eligibility remaining. Coach Terrell Williams is focusing on JUCO's in SEC country. Two of those targets both go to East Mississippi CC and you've heard their names before….Damien Jacobs (Tennessee commit) and Brandon Moore (former Alabama DL who left because of grades). Talk about size, Jacobs is 6-foot-4, 290 pounds and Moore is 6-foot-7, 330 pounds. A&M needs some beef up-front with most of the team's young prospects being defensive ends or undersized nose tackles. That's not a good mix likely heading to the SEC. Anyway, they are both still planning to take an official visit on that big September 24 OSU weekend. Coach Williams stopped by Thursday and he's making a lot of progress. In fact, both players are drooling over the three open starting spots and if all goes well on the visits, I do like the Aggies' chances here but I think they need to close the deal on the visit.

Also keep a close eye on Denzel Devall on the same big weekend. He has always liked A&M, but has never been to a game at Kyle Field. The place will be at a fever pitch and the hope is that the weekend will get a quick commitment from him despite his stated plan to wait until December.

The staff also feels the need to get another running back, and despite Devante Bourque visiting last weekend, they did not get the warm and fuzzies with him. So it's back to the drawing board. While Trey Williams is a stud, he's 5-foot-8 and not somebody a coach will want to establish a physical move-the -sticks running game. With so many running backs already off the board, the staff is starting to look at some JUCO backs, and one they will look at Saturday night in Brenham is Marion Grice originally from Katy. He's over 6-foot and weighs about 215 pounds and his acceleration is incredible. I've seen some JUCO lists that have Grice a national Top 5 prospect. FYI, I'm planning to be at the Blinn game Saturday evening and I hope to have highlights and interviews. If A&M decides to offer, he could commit as he's been looking for A&M to recruit him. Here is his highlight video on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2jPAZ4ERE4

The other big news from the past week is that Athens (TX) WR/DB OSU commit Kendall Sanders...

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Football

There was a lot of talk about Patrick Lewis tearing his ACL, threatening his 2011 season. From what I'm being told, it was actually a sprained ankle and he's questionable for the Idaho game. Sprained ankles are nothing you want to mess with as these injuries can linger through re-injury. I've heard Lewis will be available to play, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Lewis take limited snaps and veteran Danny Baker stepping in and getting plenty of reps with the starting unit.

I've also heard that the staff is hoping to get Jameill Showers some game day action in the Idaho game. As long as A&M is comfortably ahead, expect to see the redshirt freshman to get his first action at the college level in the second half.


Basketball Recruiting

Late breaking news tonight has 5-star Flower Mound guard Marcus Smart and teammate Phil Forte committed to Oklahoma State Friday night after returning from an official mid-week visit to Stillwater. Smart and Forte are not only teammates on the high school circuit, but also on the AAU circuit where Forte's dad is heavily involved. It had been rumored that the team that offered both would have the inside track on Smart, and that ended up being the case. Texas A&M already has its point guard in J-Mike Reese and they did not have the room for Forte. Smart is someone the staff wanted, but with Alex Caruso likely coming on-board after this weekend's trip to Colorado and the need for two post players, there simply wasn't enough space to offer Forte.

For now, we'll assume Caruso will be commit No. 2. From talking to sources close to the program, they feel very good about their chances to land post Connor Lammert from SA Churchill and he could be No. 3. Now, he's at Texas this weekend and Rick Barnes is in desperate need for multiple big men in this class, so his recruitment is still up in the air. However, Lammert's brother is an Aggie and he attended numerous football and basketball games growing up. Now, he has another brother who's a walk-on at Texas Tech, but from what somebody close to the situation told me shortly after last weekend's visit "he seems to get Texas A&M and he really likes the staff and the players." Needless to say, the Aggies feel they are in very good shape despite the fact that Lammert is in Austin this weekend.

I exchanged text messages with Smart and he said he has canceled his official visit to Texas A&M next weekend, so that means that only Garland Naaman Forest shot blocking phenom and top 75 national prospect Prince Ibeh will be visiting College Station next weekend. Ibeh is another state of Texas post prospect that both the Longhorns and Aggies are battling over. He visited Texas last weekend and the Texas Internet services feel Rick Barnes is now in the top spot, but he didn't commit. That is key. The A&M staff will have its shot next week, and it will be important to build a relationship because Ibeh has made previous trips to College Station when being heavily recruited by the previous staff.

The following week for the big OSU game on September 24, sources told me the staff still feels confident that the No. 1 national 2012 prospect....

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