Texas, Oklahoma could shock college football landscape with move to SEC

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The consequences will never be the same.

The consequences will never be the same.
Photo: Getty Images

The college football conference map has been drawn and redrawn, torn down and rebuilt so many times in the past that it started to become routine. The Big 12 has specifically seen a carousel of teams come and go that the conference today can’t remember how many teams are involved?

Let’s see. There are Kansas, K-State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU, Iowa State, Texas, Texas Tech, and West Virginia. That’s ten schools, not twelve.

That joke has been told a million times before, but according to a report by the Houston Chronicle, we could see even more schools exiting the Big 12 very soon.

Texas and Oklahoma both want to leave the conference in favor of the SEC. This wouldn’t be the first time famous Big 12 schools left the conference for the SEC. In 2011, Missouri and Texas A&M both left the Big 12 after brief spells of just 15 years only to be punched in the mouth every year by Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Auburn football. There were other legitimate reasons, such as: Texas A&M wants to have its own identity, or Missouri has had enough of the Big 12’s mismanagement, but those universities’ decisions to leave would pale in comparison to the departures of Texas and Oklahoma.

The Longhorns and Sooners are two of the most iconic college football programs of all time. Texas is the only school with its own broadcast network. Oklahoma is “Quarterback U”. Those two schools alone provide millions of dollars in revenue for the Big 12 each year. Without them, who will the Big 12 rely on? Baylor and Kansas are likely next, but that school’s brands aren’t nearly as iconic as Texas or Oklahoma.

There are some issues that Texas may face, such as their deal with the Longhorn Network. The Longhorn Network earns the University of Texas about $15 million a year, but that deal may need to be broken before Texas can join the SEC. The SEC has its own network, and based on how powerful the SEC is in the world of college football, they may not be so kind as to have a competitor within their own conference. Texas had become so accustomed to throwing its brand randomly around the Big 12 that the SEC could be a devastating reminder to the Longhorns that they are not the center of the universe. They would be the new kids around. They should earn the right to claim to be the best, and based on how Texas recently finished in the Big 12 conference, they won’t be earning that right any time soon.

Obviously, the Big 12 would be the biggest loser in this deal. Aside from the loss of two of its biggest money makers, the Big 12 would have to turn to smaller conferences to fill their empty seats. Early favorites to fill the Texas and Oklahoma void are Cincinnati, Houston, UCF and Memphis. None of those schools have had the success that Oklahoma football has had in recent years. Should UT and OU decide to leave the Big 12, the conference would most likely sink to the bottom of most people’s third-best conference in college football (behind the SEC and ACC) – even worse than the Pac-12 *GASP *. The conference’s reputation would take an absolute nosedive, so preserving two of their most historically celebrated programs should be a top priority.

However, the SEC offers several financial benefits that the Big 12 simply cannot provide to schools like Texas and Oklahoma. The SEC has grown dramatically in popularity over the course of the 2010s. The latest Southeastern Conference expansion — which involved Texas A&M and Missouri — delivered a huge return for the SEC. The year before the expansion, the SEC was able to $248.1 million among its constituents (about $19.5 million per school). By 2016, that number had risen to $565.9 million ($40.4 million per school). The money that can be made by joining the SEC is huge. In 2016, Texas A&M’s Athletic Department generated $194.4 million, a 122 percent increase from the school’s senior year in the Big 12.

However, this move would not only negatively affect the Big 12. In fact, if multiple AAC schools, like the one I just mentioned, disembark to participate in a Power 5 conference, the AAC would probably lose its best bids to participate in the college football playoff. . Both Cincinnati and UCF have recently had undefeated regular seasons. While neither school was invited to the College Football Playoff, the CFP could see an expansion pretty soon, and teams like Cincinnati and UCF would certainly have earned bids for the tournament if the CFP had included eight teams during their undefeated years. The American Athletic Conference was delighted to finally have the chance to be represented on college football’s biggest stage, but watching UCF, Cincinnati and potentially others move to greener pastures would be a death knell for the playoff chances of the conference.

The fans would like to see Texas and Oklahoma move to the SEC. Oklahoma because it would give one of the most consistently solid schools in college football more chances to play against the top league, and Texas because they have to be humiliated after years of being the top dog (brand wise) in the Big 12. A move from this caliber would send shockwaves through the college football landscape that would be felt for years. Does the SEC need 16 teams? No, but I’m sure they’d be happy to add two of college football’s most historic programs to the group. According to the first report, we could see the SEC announcing the additions of both schools “within a few weeks.” However, there are still several hoops that all parties involved have to jump through to make it happen. For example, the Big 12 still has the Texas media rights through 2025, and while the school has stated that they will not renew the grant of rights, the Big 12 could theoretically force Texas to stay in the conference until the deal is finalized. Expect a major legal battle in the Big 12. What will be the result? I couldn’t tell you, but I do know it’s a great storyline to watch as we approach college football season.

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