CBS Sports — The Big 12 is concerned that the American Athletic Conference (AAC) is actively attempting to assume all eight remaining league members once Texas and Oklahoma are formally accepted into the SEC, league sources tell CBS Sports. This comes as Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBS Sports that ESPN is leading an attempt to restructure college sports.
"I'm absolutely certain [ESPN was] involved in it with the [American] trying to poach our members," Bowlsby told CBS Sports.
AAC commissioner Mike Aresco did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Texas and Oklahoma have formally notified the Big 12 they intend to leave and join the SEC and the dominoes are already falling in rapid succession. The latest news is that the American Athletic Conference is apparently trying to get all eight remaining Big 12 teams to come to the "Power Six" league and form a super conference of their own.
The most interesting part of this report, in my opinion, is Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby being willing to go on the record and bad-mouth ESPN as the conductor of this entire round of realignment — although, the Big 12's TV deal is with FOX, so he doesn't really have anything to lose in doing so. Jack Mac talked last week about the fact that Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC may have been spurred on by ESPN to begin with.
Regardless of who was involved and how much, college football is going to look almost unrecognizable in five years. We're headed towards a landscape, for better or worse, that's going to look radically different than anything we've ever seen in collegiate sports before. And I don't even know how else to elaborate on that comment, because nobody knows what else is going to happen. It's the Wild West right now and everything is up for grabs.
But if the American was able to add all eight of those Big 12 teams, that could actually be a pretty solid league to throw into the mix. You'd have the AAC teams like UCF and Cincinnati which would presumably be able to level up their recruiting in what might be considered a Power Five league and they'd now have better opportunities to beat teams like Oklahoma State or TCU when they have one of their upticks. It could be a good football conference.
There are going to be about 50 more rumors of conferences trying to get everyone under the Sun before anything finalizes, though, so take everything with a grain of salt. Nobody actually has any idea what is going to happen, but we do know it will be insane.