Once again, I step into the breech to represent the Baylor Bears. Well, kind of, because I'm going to say some things Baylor doesn't want to hear either.
But, as many of you know, I am alumni of Baylor Law School, so I root for Baylor very casually. I have a vested interest in the Bears, and I like to see them do well. I like Waco (really), I still have friends that are huge Baylor fans, and I watch Baylor whenever they are on the TV. Now, they finish a very distant second to LSU, but I want to at least lay my cards on the table here.
I've also been a vocal proponent of the Aggies to the SEC. They hasn't changed. I really want the Aggies -- I think they are a good fit for the SEC and the move would benefit A&M and, more importantly, LSU.
OK, bases covered...
Baylor is essentially being asked to give up something for nothing, and that something would dramatically harm their football program. Baylor would have to be insane to agree to surrender all legal rights to sue in the future and get absolutely nothing in return.
So, on behalf of Baylor fans, the rest of you can get bent.
Here is the situation, from Baylor's perspective:
ONE. Texas A&M is, come hell or high water, leaving the Big 12.
TWO. If A&M leaves, Oklahoma is likely to leave for the Pac-12.
THREE. If Oklahoma leaves, they will likely take Oklahoma St. with them.
FOUR. If these three teams leave, the Big 12 is likely to fold.
FIVE. If the Big 12 folds, Baylor has pretty much no chance of finding a home in a BCS conference.
Anyone want to dispute this situation? A&M leaving has a very high probability of setting off the dominoes which will result in Baylor ending up in C-USA or the WAC. That's just the way of things, and in the long run, Baylor probably belongs on C-USA or the WAC.
But Baylor is currently in the Big 12, which is a pretty good gig if you're Baylor. Baylor, more than just about any other school not named Iowa St, has a vested interest in the continued survival of the Big 12 as a BCS conference.
It was one thing when Texas A&M was bolting for the SEC. Sure, that sucked for Baylor, but there wasn't a whole lot the Bears could do about it. But then, the SEC made their acceptance contingent on the Big 12 and its member schools waiving their right to sue.
Now, I ask you to put yourself in Baylor's position. Why in the hell would you agree to that? It's one thing for A&M to leave, but why on earth would you HELP THEM DO IT? Baylor literally has no interest in A&M to the SEC. In fact, it is contrary to their interest.
It's not like Baylor inserted themselves into this. Mike Slive invited Baylor in. The SEC and Texas A&M are asking Baylor to give up something of value (their right to sue) and get nothing in return. Oh, and the contract they are supposed to help out will hurt Baylor athletics immeasurably. There is no earthy reason for Baylor to make it easy for Texas A&M to leave. None.
Now, I don't know what Baylor's endgame is. There is almost no chance they can stop A&M's move, or expansion, or even, let's face it, the demise of the Big 12. That is a dead conference walking. However, if Baylor is expected to give up something value, it is only right for Baylor to demand to get something in return.
It appears they are demanding assurances from Oklahoma that the Sooners will stay in the conference. That would be a total win for Baylor and I guess it is possible. But there's only so long you can hold a conference together at gunpoint. Eventually, Baylor has got to face reality that the Big 12 is going to fall apart.
However, Baylor's negotiating power will never be higher, thanks to the SEC's bizarre acceptance of A&M. If Baylor has any chits to play, this is the time to play them. Why let yourself get rolled into irrelevance? Go down swinging at the very least. The question is, what is Baylor's relinquishing of its legal rights worth to Texas A&M and the SEC? A ten year home-and-home series with A&M? I don't know. But Baylor needs to be thinking about what it can honestly get.
Because Baylor is doomed. But that's no reason to give up the fight. Texas A&M obviously values Baylor's "right to sue". The question is, how much do they value it?
One of my big complaints about Texas has been that they have constantly said a school should only look after its own interest, only to turn around and complain when A&M acted in its own interest, which were contrary to Texas. Well, now the shoe is on the other foot. Baylor's interests do not align with A&M, and there is no reason for Baylor to allow themselves to get exiled to a minor conference.
Let's put it like this: Baylor is going to die, but they shouldn't be blamed for not killing themselves to make things convenient. Baylor's not going to simply lay down.