Now that the Big 12 grant of rights is less than four years from expiration — and the league’s television partners, ESPN and FOX, declined to engage in preemptive contract negotiations to extend those deals — the first new realignment bombshell dropped on Wednesday during SEC Media Days with the Houston Chronicle reporting that the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners have reached out to the SEC to express interest.
During the last round of realignment 10 years ago, Texas and Oklahoma served as the linchpins of the potential creation of a 16-team super conference on the West Coast. As Texas signed a deal to create the Longhorn Network and the two schools declined to play the key roles in massive realignment and consolidation of Power Five schools into 16-team super conferences, the Big 12 stuck together despite the departures of Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas A&M.
But after watching the success of the SEC over the last decade, the two schools now apparently want to join the fold, with the Chronicle reporting that negotiations could move quickly.
The political difficulties of such a move emerged within minutes of the Chronicle’s reporting.
Texas A&M AD Ross Bjork on news that Texas and OU could be coming to the SEC: “We want to be the only SEC team from the state of Texas.”— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 21, 2021
So Texas A&M is already on record opposing the additions, fearful of losing the recruiting advantage they’ve gained in the state of Texas since joining the SEC and intent on remaining out of the long shadow cast from the state capital to College Station.
Administrators at Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State are surely scrambling as well — none of those schools have the right profile to gain acceptance in an expanded Big Ten and the languishing of the Pac-12 on the national stage over the last decade has made that move much less appealing.
Expect political pressure from those Texas institutions to align with Texas A&M in attempting to hold the Big 12 together one more time.
If the report is true, one thing is now clear — the leadership in Austin and Norman aren’t content with the status quo in the Big 12 and old considerations about how those institutions align with SEC schools academically matter less than they did a decade ago.
Buckle up, folks.
[7/21 3:43 p.m. Central update]:
We have a non-denial from Texas.
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
[7/21 4:02 p.m. Central update]:
Was wondering how the SEC might shift the divisions and adding Missouri to the West while moving Alabama and Auburn to the East makes the most sense. From a competitive standpoint, I think that’s appealing to Texas and probably to the other SEC West schools, as well. But with A&M opposed and only two other votes against the expansion necessary to stop it from happening, I wonder if Florid and Georgia would be opposed to the East getting much more difficult. That would be enough to nix it.
[7/21 4:20 p.m. Central update]:
Some additional reporting from AL.com, including confirmation about the buzz surrounding the interest from Texas and Oklahoma, as well as an important note about the unofficial policy of the SEC only expanding with unanimous support.
[7/21 5:01 p.m. Central update]:
A source w/ direct connection to discussions tells me Texas and OU to the SEC has, "a lot of momentum."— John P. Lopez (@LopezOnSports) July 21, 2021
Texas administrators approached the SEC and it was discussed at length at the last SEC meetings.
"They (Texas/OU) know the Big 12 never is going to last."
Also, the Oklahoma State Pucker Factor probably doesn’t match the A&M Pucker Factor, but it’s probably not far off, either.
Oklahoma State with an assertive statement. pic.twitter.com/BybBf6nCFZ— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) July 21, 2021
[7/21 5:20 p.m. Central update]:
Missouri still big mad a decade later?
I'm told Texas A&M and Missouri would be a hard no. Only 2 more needed to block an invitation to Texas, OU.— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) July 21, 2021