Whether their union has been merely deferred or ultimately deterred, Texas A&M and the Southeastern Conference continue making eyes at each other.
And that might not be the only imminent threat menacing the future of the Big 12, whose other members now could scoff at the sanctity of renewed vows and be reassessing their own options.
But the prospect of A&M leaving is the clear and present danger for the Big 12. And while several members have expressed optimism that the conference could function with nine schools -- "absolutely viable," Missouri athletics director Mike Alden called it -- there is at least one major reason it's virtually certain the league would attempt to replenish its membership if A&M goes.
By early indications, the 13-year-deal with Fox Sports signed in April worth more than $1 billion for second-tier Big 12 rights "would be adjusted," said a source familiar with the deal and Big 12 thinking.
The unspecified decrease would be triggered because there simply would be less content to offer. But add a "suitable" 10th school, the source said, and the deal would suffer minimally, if at all.
That helps explain why Mizzou chancellor Brady Deaton, chairman of the Big 12 board of directors, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Saturday that if A&M leaves, the Big 12 is prepared to move "aggressively" to pursue expansion opportunities.
Attempts to reach Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe have been unsuccessful, but he told USA Today: "I think 10 seems to be the number our folks are real excited about maintaining, and we feel we have an attractive group of institutions that might be attractive to others to consider."
Perhaps ironically for a conference perceived to be so Texas-centric, both in terms of the school and the state, the 10th school figures almost by definition to have to come from outside the state.
During its self-examination after Colorado and Nebraska left after the last school year and the recent inventory it has taken, the conference has determined that in order to add appropriate value for rights it almost certainly must go outside its geographical "footprint" because it pretty well has maximized what it can in those areas -- Texas more than anywhere.
That doesn't mean there's no scenario in which A&M would be replaced by a Texas school. But it does mean that the conference is more likely to explore options outside the footprint, with a question to be resolved of whether it's willing to go beyond contiguous states to, say, Utah.
While the source said it was hard to rule anything on or off the table at a time A&M is in a holding pattern, all indications are that the Big 12 at least is thinking big, albeit delusionally in the minds of some.
Notre Dame is prominent on the radar of the Big 12 and is believed to be a favorite target of a key power-broker, Texas athletics director DeLoss Dodds, whose school last year negotiated a four-game series with ND from 2015-2020.
Notre Dame's obsession with football independence is well-known, of course, and it would have seemed more likely to join the Big Ten when it had the chance most recently as a year ago than a teetering Big 12 now.
But one thing the Big 12 can offer that the Big Ten couldn't, because of the Big Ten Network, is the opportunity for ND to continue to carve out its own TV deals within the framework of the Big 12's third-tier rights setup that the source noted was unique to BCS-automatic qualifying conferences.
In the improbable event it did secure Notre Dame, then, the Big 12 in essence would land college football's most hallowed program for the very reason it lost Texas A&M -- the rights of each school to form their own distribution platforms.
Another less lofty but compelling possibility is Brigham Young, based in Utah and which has a national following and name brand, strong football history and would more than counter the loss of Colorado in that region of the country.
While some believe BYU is driven to make a real run at the independence it declared from the Mountain West Conference, there are those who believe it took that step on the assumption it would be offered a place in the new Pacific 12 that never came.
In the Big 12, BYU could continue to work with its own network, and the conference wouldn't have to raid another because BYU stands on its own.
But the Big 12 has its hesitations about traveling so far again, perhaps especially after a marketing campaign unveiled just weeks ago that included stressing a belief in playing in the same time zone.
Also in the West, Air Force is considered a possibility, enough so that it released a statement Monday saying it is a "proud and happy member of the Mountain West."
That hardly was a denial of the notion, perhaps best substantiated by the Austin American-Statesman's Kirk Bohls, who is well-wired to UT and Dodds and recently Tweeted based on multiple sources that ND, BYU and Air Force, in that order, are the top names the Big 12 will go after.
Closer to home, albeit in the Eastern time zone, is Louisville, in a state contiguous to Missouri and thus the northern part of the Big 12 that at times has felt secondary in the pecking order.
The basketball program is more prestigious than football, but football has had success in recent years and the school is a more natural geographic fit in the Big 12 than the Big East.
The fact that it's the 50th TV market in the nation may minimize that interest, though, as might the notion of raiding the Big East, which even with the addition of Texas Christian next year will have only nine football schools.
However, Big East commissioner John Marinatto, perhaps in a pre-emptive move, said he's had conversations with Beebe and ACC commissioner John Swofford about the changing conference landscape.
Less disruptive might be going after TCU before it even gets to the Big East.
Its powerhouse football program has been more successful than A&M's in recent year and seemingly would reinforce the Dallas-Ft. Worth market.
But that market, which also includes Southern Methodist, scarcely needs reinforcement.
Besides, A&M has more of a foothold in Houston, suggesting that area would be a more sensible spot to bolster. So might the University of Houston make sense?
According to the Houston Chronicle, Texas A&M was told by the Big 12 that Houston would be a "viable candidate" to replace A&M.
Without saying Houston is not an option, though, the source well-connected to the Big 12 mentioned that specific report as an example of the "misinformation" swirling around the matter.
Like SMU, Houston plays in a stadium that holds just over 30,000 and simply lacks a following that moves the needle amply to suit television.
Just what school would move it enough and be willing to join isn't obvious, and it's natural enough to wonder who else could leave as much as who else would come. But that round of drama likely will wait, at least publicly, until the flirtation between A&M and the SEC plays out.