HOOVER, Alabama — Almost a decade after major college football underwent a seismic shift that almost saw the destruction of the Big XII Conference, it might happen again, and soon.
According to a report from the Houston Chronicle's Brent Zwerneman, the University of Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners have reached out to the Southeastern Conference (SEC) about joining the top conference in college football.
In a statement to the Austin American-Statesman’s Brian Davis, the University of Texas gave a non-denial denial saying, “Speculation swirls around collegiate athletics. We will not address rumors or speculation.” Davis later said no one at UT has denied the story to him or the Statesman thus far. Oklahoma hasn’t issued a statement yet on the Chronicle story.
A Texas spokesman has this statement about the SEC rumors: "Speculation swirls around collegiate athletics. We will not address rumors or speculation."— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) July 21, 2021
The potential move would fundamentally alter the entire landscape of college football by adding the perennially tough Oklahoma Sooners to the SEC schedule while also adding the deep pockets of Texas to the conference’s coffers.
The Houston Chronicle report said an announcement could come “within a couple of weeks concerning the potential addition of UT and OU to the league.”
Still, there’s plenty of reasons to pump the brakes on adding OU and Texas to the SEC. The first being, the Texas A&M Aggies.
The Aggies are already members of the SEC and part of the reason TAMU joined was to get out from under the shadow of the Longhorns who have had large sway in the Big XII since the founding of that conference. Adding in Texas to the SEC would force UT to swallow its pride and live under the rule of powerful conference leadership.
There’s also a question of what the addition of UT and OU brings in terms of media reach. The SEC already has a footprint in Texas and Oklahoma doesn’t necessarily have a large media market that would appeal to the SEC as Missouri did with Kansas City and St. Louis.
And speaking of the media, according to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, the Big 12’s grant of rights states the conference “owns the TV rights of any school that leaves the conference before the current contract expires in 2025.” This would be a huge price for any school, even UT and OU to pay to join a new conference.
Then there’s a question of history. The Southeastern Conference has never added a school from a state where it already has a member since the founding of the conference. In the 1990 expansion, the conference added Arkansas and South Carolina. In 2012, it added Texas A&M and Missouri. All the states that have two members in the SEC have been in the conference since its inception.
The question of what the state of Oklahoma’s legislature would allow would also be at the forefront. The Sooners would likely have to take the Oklahoma State Cowboys with them. In 2012, this was a major hurdle as OU and UT considered moving to the PAC-12 at one point.
Finally, remember, expansion in the SEC requires a vote of ¾ or 75 percent of the current members to extend an invitation, according to Bryan Fischer of Athlon Sports. Texas A&M would likely be a no along with possibly other second-tier schools that might struggle to compete with Texas, OU, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.
Buckle up fans, it could be a long college football season…that hasn’t even started yet!