When news about Texas and Oklahoma allegedly having discussions about a possible move to the SEC, everyone looked backwards to guess what’s in front of them.
There should be enough wiggle room in that sentence to be safe all around.
While the Longhorns and the Sooners are sworn enemies on the fields of battle, they are buddies in boardrooms and (more often than you think) partners in everything from big business to oil fields.
This is about big money and you can always count on that topping any particular fan interest. This thing has been talked about secretly for months, according to a story by Brandon Marcello at 247Sports.
Of course nothing has been officially discussed. No problem with that because it goes on in every business every day of the year. Nobody should really be surprised.
Fans, naturally, can’t believe it. They think Texas would want to control everything and the Hogs left the Southwest Conference for the SEC because of the Longhorns 30 years ago. No, it was because the discussions about a merger with the Big 8 involved leaving Arkansas out completely.
While there have been issues over the Longhorn Network and some jealousy there, things have changed and the smart money is we’re going to see four 16-team leagues in the future under an umbrella controlled by someone other than the NCAA.
The NCAA can keep the small schools and do whatever.
Things have changed in the last three months with the NCAA giving up any sort of control. Now it’s about money, which comes primarily from television contracts and luxury box sales. You’re going to get that being in a conference with power and these two teams in the SEC would make it the biggest and baddest anyone ever dreamed about.
The Texas Aggies will jump up and down, probably even throw a fit before somebody screams “Yell Practice!” and they will suddenly develop more pressing matters to worry about.
A&M needs the Longhorns. Arkansas needs Texas. The Sooners already have their big war in Dallas in October with the Longhorns and neither side is going to give up that big payday.
If you read the responses from everybody involved, nobody is say there’s not any discussions going on. They’ve either declined to comment (like SEC commissioner Greg Sankey), acted offended (Oklahoma State) or claimed they got to the league first and shouldn’t have to share (A&M athletics director Russ Bjork).
All of that is for their individual fan bases. For all but one of those it’s just babble because they either don’t want to admit they know anything or honestly didn’t have a clue. Oklahoma State will be the one that gets left on the outside looking in.
Adding the Longhorns and Sooners would turn the SEC into the most dominant force in college athletics.
The logistics all make sense. TV contracts for both leagues expire in 2025. Exactly how the Big 12 could enforce any contract without a television contract is a head-scratcher by itself.
Even re-arranging the divisions in the SEC would be fairly simple. Move Alabama and Auburn to the East, Missouri to the West and add Texas and OU. That will turn recruiting in Texas into a full-blown war where no prisoners would be taken, but it adds some interesting rivalries.
Texas-Arkansas would be every year and the Hogs’ fans could have one game to get worked up about. The Longhorns and Aggies could start playing again on Thanksgiving, which is good for all of college football.
Texas’ contract with ESPN over the Longhorn Network might be an opening for league schools to control third-tier television rights. With OU having a deal with Bally Sports (formerly Fox Sports Oklahoma) for the Sooner Sports Network the SEC could simply tell the schools they can do their own TV network, probably online.
Again, that’s just more money. It will be like name, image and likeness where some schools will have big deals while others try to make enough to pay the expenses.
But with a 16-team league and 12 of the teams being in the Top 25 of the biggest brands in college athletics with seven in the Top 10 adding Texas and OU, there will be numbers large enough to make eyeballs pop out.
And also change the minds of people with the knee-jerk resistance.
Fans may just have to stop looking to the past and using that to predict the future.