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Talk of Texas A&M moving to SEC heats up, but is Florida State now in the picture?

As Texas A&M students chanted "SEC! SEC!" at commencement ceremonies Friday amid growing speculation the Aggies are moving to the Southeastern Conference, a new name surfaced as possibly joining them there.

Florida State has been talking to the SEC for several months about moving from the ACC, and the talks have gotten more serious, according to the Palm Beach Post.

FSU president Eric Barron said he has heard the rumors but that's all they are at the moment — rumors. But he also didn't say never, referring to the reports as "quite fascinating."

"I don't think there is anything to talk about right now," he said. "I don't speculate when there's no conversation."

Football coach Jimbo Fisher also said nothing is concrete.

"There's no offer on the table," he said after Friday's practice. "I have not spoken to anybody about it. We love the ACC. We love the conference we're in."

SEC spokesman Charles Bloom declined to comment as did Florida president Bernie Machen and athletic director Jeremy Foley.

The Texas A&M System board of regents has called a special meeting for Monday that includes an agenda item called, "Authorization for the President to Take All Actions Relating to Texas A&M University's Athletic Conference Alignment, The Texas A&M University System."

The latest talk over realignment was ignited by A&M's unhappiness with archrival Texas' powerful position in the 10-team Big 12. During last year's shuffling of conferences, the Aggies were pursued by the SEC and reportedly were close to switching.

The Big 12 did lose Colorado to the Pac-12 and Nebraska to the Big Ten. And officials already are speaking of a further reduced conference.

"(Kansas) has been assured that the nine schools are firmly committed to the Big 12," Jayhawks athletic director Sheahon Zenger said.

The news of the Monday meeting comes on the heels of the Texas House Committee on Higher Education calling a Tuesday hearing to discuss possible realignment of college conferences in the state.

The committee said commissioners Dan Beebe of the Big 12 and Mike Slive of the SEC have been invited to testify as have R. Bowen Loftin, president of A&M, and Richard Box, the A&M system board of regents chairman.

Beebe declined an interview request by the Associated Press.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, an A&M graduate, said this week that as far as he knows, "conversations are being had" about A&M moving to SEC.

The only official word from A&M came in a statement released Wednesday: "President Loftin is committed to doing what is best for Texas A&M, not only now but also into the future. We continue to have wide-ranging conversations regarding all aspects of the university, including both academics and athletics."

One possible reason for A&M's renewed interest in leaving the Big 12 could be its unhappiness over the Longhorn Network, which was created through a 20-year, $300 million deal with ESPN and is launching Aug. 26. A&M officials have complained about the recruiting advantages created by it.

A&M has a large and rabid fan base, and many Aggies were upset when the school decided to remain in the Big 12 and are miffed that Texas now has its own network.

Loftin issued a letter last summer addressed to "The Aggie Family" on A&M's decision to remain in the Big 12: "We were able to more than double our financial return to the levels being offered by other conferences."

He said another consideration in staying was maintaining A&M's "strong foothold" in the state and preserving a rivalry with Texas that dates to 1894.

Aggie internet message boards and blogs lit up with chatter about the possible move and several posts on Friday said students chanted "SEC! SEC!" as university president Loftin walked to the podium at commencement ceremonies.

Texas said it would be "disappointed" if Texas A&M left.

"At this point, we do not know if Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12," Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said. "We are actively looking at every possible option we have and have been talking to other Big 12 schools.

"We'd be disappointed if Texas A&M leaves. But if they do, we wish them well."

As for the Florida State rumors, ACC commissioner John Swofford said he has heard nothing from any of his schools about being contacted by other leagues.

Although wooed by the SEC more than 20 years ago, FSU became the ACC's ninth member when it formally joined in 1991, beginning its football membership in the 1992 season. The ACC is now comprised of a dozen teams with the addition of Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech in 2004.

Talk of Texas A&M moving to SEC heats up, but is Florida State now in the picture? 08/12/11 [Last modified: Friday, August 12, 2011 10:29pm]
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