To the surprise of absolutely no one, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has responded to Texas A&M's promise to leave the conference in 2012 by promising to expand membership, rather than condense. Texas A&M is widely believed to be in the process of trying to join the SEC, where it would be the western-most outpost of the currently 12-team conference. This surely means another round of conference musical chairs awaits us as various schools pine to join the new, watered down Big 12.
"Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin has notified the Conference of his decision to withdraw the university from the Big 12 effective June 30, 2012," Beebe said in a statement. "The presidents and chancellors of the nine remaining member institutions are steadfast in their commitment to the Big 12. As previously stated, the Conference will move forward aggressively exploring its membership options."
The Aggies are widely believed to be attempting to join the SEC and would leave the Big 12 with just nine schools. It's unclear whether the conference will attempt to get back to 12 or settle for 10. Among the schools that have been identified as possible candidates are current SEC team Arkansas and Notre Dame, which is currently an independent. More realistic targets include former Southwestern Conference teams Houston and SMU.