Never doubt that football is king of college sports.

A week after the U. S credit rating is downgraded by Standard & Poor’s, the college athletic landscape appears to be teetering on the edge of a massive transformation — depending on whether Texas A&M is invited and accepts an invitation to join the Southeastern Conference.

Pete Thammel of the New York Times says it best:

For all the billions of dollars, millions of fans and boundless passion that surround college football, that has always been its glaring and bizarre flaw. No one is looking out for the greater good of the game. No one is guiding the sport toward long-term prosperity and short-term sensibility. No one is building consensus and channeling all of the ratings, financial success and popularity toward an outcome that is positive for everyone in the sport.

And with the conference plate tectonics poised to shift with Texas A&M’s possible move to the Southeastern Conference, the college sports world finds itself, yet again, panicking about a major paradigm change.  Must Read.

But Frank The Tank, usually in the know on these issues, won’t believe Texas A&M is going South until it happens:

Last year, the entire world was convinced that the Pac-16 was a “done deal” on a Friday without any doubt in anyone’s mind, but after a weekend of rampant discussions, it ended up collapsing within a few days.  In conference realignment discussions, absolutely nothing is a done deal until you see an announcement with both the inviter and the invitee at a press conference with signed paperwork.  This goes double in the case of public universities located in the state of Texas.  Also note that Tony Barnhart (about as plugged-in with Mike Slive as anyone) and Mr. SEC seem to intimate that it’s not necessarily full speed ahead from the SEC side with a lot more smoke coming from College Station as opposed to Birmingham.

Meanwhile,, a University of Texas fan site, says the Big 12 wants to stick together no matter what happens with Texas A&M:

The Big 12 athletic directors – minus Texas A&M – pledged their commitment to a nine-member conference during a call Saturday afternoon if the Aggies were to bolt for the Southeastern Conference. But the Big 12 ADs are reaching out to A&M to stay in the Big 12. The ADs decided if A&M left and the league was to expand, it would be by only one school, sources said. The early candidates would include BYU, Air Force, TCU and Houston, sources said.

Forgive University of Louisville fans if they’re disappointed their school didn’t at least get an honorable mention on the list. While Tom Jurich says the Big East is a perfect fit for U of L, he would like to have as many options as possible when the ground starts to move.

And the fact that TCU is even on the list, as it prepares to join the Big East in 2012, says a great deal about the callous, cut throat nature of the university community when it comes to athletics, especially football.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.