Yesterday, report Brent Zwerneman dropped a bombshell story in the Houston Chronicle that has the college football world in a frenzy - the two blue bloods of the Big 12, Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners have reached out to the SEC about joining the conference and leaving the Big 12 behind.
At first this could be described as nothing more than your usual summer realignment story that is needed to drum up headlines and clicks but when SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey basically refused to even talk about it, everyone’s spidey senses quickly perked up as that was an usual omission.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey to @247Sports on report of Oklahoma and Texas interested in joining SEC: “I’m here to talk about the 2021 season.”— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) July 21, 2021
The fact that Sankey specifically only mentioned the 2021 season caught everyone’s eyes and the rumor mill began to churn. Now, you could then immediately say that perhaps it was bad reporting or even just quick fingers that got us into this but now Oklahoma Sooners released a statement that also was a cryptic denial and didn’t refute the story.
Oklahoma statement on report of Sooners & Texas interest in joining SEC: "The college athletics landscape is shifting constantly. We don’t address every anonymous rumor."— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) July 21, 2021
Quick recap - exclusive story in a Houston paper leads to the SEC commissioner issuing a non-denial about this upcoming football season and then one of the two schools in questions releases a non-denial in response. Where there is smoke, there’s fire and this was a raging inferno.
Now that the fire was burning, the news has begun to quickly come in. Reports surfaced that Texas may inform the Big 12 of their intent to leave as early as next week, as reported by a Rivals article.
Orangebloods publisher Geoff Ketchum and I have checked in with multiple sources on Wednesday and asked about Texas’ desire to leave the Big 12 and join the SEC.
Texas and Oklahoma are ready to make that move.
A high-level university official informed Orangebloods the expectation is that Texas and Oklahoma would inform the Big 12 as early as next week that both schools intend to decline on extending the existing set of media rights. The contract expires in 2025.
A kicker is that this appears to be breaking up with your old girlfriend before making sure the new girl really wants you, as reports are surfacing that both will inform the Big 12 of their intent and then ask the SEC if they can join. You have to assume its just a formality but still -
In a nutshell that is all we know at this point, but from everywhere we can see, this has real legs and is definitely the next round of realignment. The reasons appear to be simple, the newest version of the college football playoffs is likely to be 12 teams and will feature 6 at-large teams. Those at large teams are going to feature at least 3, possibly 4 SEC teams so right now the teams that want a championship are vying to get into the SEC for those championships.
That leaves West Virginia and the rest of the Big 12 in scramble mode. With the addition of Texas and Oklahoma, the SEC would now be at 16 teams and 16 seems to be the magical number for conferences. The ACC, which is has 14 plus Notre Dame, would likely consume Notre Dame and then add one more piece to get them to 16. The Big Ten which also has 14, will likely add two. The Pac-12 would likely add 4.
If the rumors are true about Texas and Oklahoma, which by all account they appear to be, West Virginia Mountaineers needs to do everything possible to get into the ACC. Forget the past, forget what has been said, West Virginia needs to get into the ACC.
As we continue to monitor this situation, rumors are flying and things are beginning to heat up. First came an ESPN article that mentioned the Sooners and Longhorns could make a move in “a few weeks”.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, a Big 12 source believes the talks between the SEC and the two pioneer members of the Big 12 have been ongoing for at least 6 months. The same source indicated that a move between the two schools could happen in a matter of weeks. As of the time of that report, the schools had not explicitly expressed a desire to leave to the Big 12.
ESPN reported Thursday that both Texas and Oklahoma would likely owe the Big 12 upward of $76 million apiece to buy out the remainder of their grant of media rights agreement, which runs until 2025. A new agreement with the SEC, however, would likely make that price tag easily affordable for the two powerhouse programs.
Now a CBS Report has come out indicating that the two schools are likely to make their declaration in the next couple of days (24-48 hours)
“I’m not saying it’s 100%, but it’s close to it in terms of being a done deal,” a Big 12 source intimately involved in the process told CBS Sports.
“It could be as soon as 24-48 hours and as long as two weeks before we have any clarity in terms of timing,” said the source in reference to when Texas and Oklahoma would expect to formally join the SEC.
If the programs were to effort an SEC debut in 2022, each could owe up to $80 million to the Big 12 as a penalty for leaving before the current TV rights contract expires after the 2024-25 season. That total equals the combined revenue distribution per school of the last two years.