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Wrong time for college chaos

End Zone

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Of all the months in any year, August has always been my least favorite from a sports perspective.

It gives us meaningless preseason National Football League games, four weeks of mostly unexciting buildup toward the real thing. It's either too early to get excited about baseball's stretch run or, like now with the Colorado Rockies, time to give up on the season. And it's premature to think about hockey and basketball.

Usually, for football fans, August means simply following the NFL preseason (wow, who will be the Broncos' backups?) and keeping up with their favorite college teams as they prepare for the fall.

But not this August. Suddenly, because Texas A&M apparently has had enough of playing second fiddle to rival Texas, college football — indeed, all of college sports — now might go through another ordeal of uncertainty surrounding schools jumping to different conferences.

This typically has been a soap opera for springtime, such as last year when Nebraska and Colorado wound up deciding to leave the Big 12, effective with the 2011 football season. But the rest of the Big 12 remained intact, mainly because Texas chose not to lead a group into the Pac-10 (which could have become the Pac-16 before settling on Pac-12).

Now, though, after revelations that Texas' new, ESPN-backed Longhorn Network will dominate the Big 12, Texas A&M wants to bolt to the Southeastern Conference as soon as next year. And though it didn't fall into place immediately last weekend, we're hearing that A&M and the SEC still could be making that announcement soon, even in the next few weeks.

There could be no worse timing for another round of schools and conferences leaping into bed with new partners. This might mean the end of the Big 12, especially if the SEC also goes after Missouri and if Texas reconsiders joining the Pac-12 family or even going independent.

On the other hand, we're also hearing that a Texas-led Big 12 could move fast to avoid more defections by seeking one or more new members. Some have suggested the University of Houston as a logical candidate, but rumors also have included Air Force and just-turned-independent Brigham Young.

If you're an Air Force follower, you have to hate this. We have the Falcons adjusting to the evolving Mountain West Conference, which is losing BYU and Utah this year, then Texas Christian in 2012, but adding Boise State now plus Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii next year. That adds up to a challenging but reasonable situation for Air Force, which appears fully capable of staying among the MWC's football elite for years to come.

Now, though, that AFA focus could turn blurry — to the point of creating a major distraction for the Falcons this season. They're already looking forward to a rugged schedule, hosting TCU on Sept. 10 before facing Navy, Notre Dame, San Diego State and Boise State in a four-week October test.

So the last thing Air Force needs is to be mentioned as a possibility for the Big 12. Instead of talking about this team and this fall, we could sink quickly into the mud of debating whether the Academy might make a huge mistake by even considering the Big 12. That's my initial reaction, anyway.

What Air Force should do, without delay, is separate itself from all conference-jumping rumors. Instead, the Academy should announce that it's staying with the Mountain West, period. If the MWC has the chance to capitalize on the Big 12's possible demise by picking up the likes of Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State, fine. But the Falcons simply don't belong in the same league with Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Missouri, playing all of those schools every year.

It's tough enough, being in the same conference with Boise State, San Diego State, Colorado State, Wyoming, Nevada and Fresno, and playing Navy, Army and others (like Notre Dame this year and 2013, plus Michigan in 2012).

So let's hope Air Force doesn't get caught up in more rumors.

In fact, two more uneventful weeks of another boring August would be just fine.

routon@csindy.com

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