Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Texas and Oklahoma have “reached out” to the SEC about potentially joining the conference, according to the Houston Chronicle‘s Brent Zwerneman.
Brett McMurphy of Stadium spoke to a source who said there’s mutual interest in the partnership:
Brett McMurphy @Brett_McMurphy
Texas & OU enquired w/SEC about leaving Big 12 & SEC has interest in both schools, sources told @Stadium. “This will take some time but there is interest on both sides,” source said. Added Big 12 source: “This was inevitable.” SEC by-laws require 11 of 14 schools to extend invite
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said that “somebody dropped a report from unnamed people” and that conference officials are only focused on the upcoming season.
A spokesman for the Longhorns was similarly vague, per the Austin American-Statesman‘s Brian Davis: “Speculation swirls around collegiate athletics. We will not address rumors or speculation.”
Oklahoma State said in a statement it “would be gravely disappointed” if Texas and Oklahoma have engaged in discussions with the SEC:
Ralph D. Russo @ralphDrussoAP
Oklahoma State with an assertive statement. pic.twitter.com/BybBf6nCFZ
The situation could evolve fast; a source told Zwerneman an announcement could come within a few weeks.
This isn’t the first time the Big 12 has faced the threat of losing its two biggest member schools.
Oklahoma was “within 30 minutes” of bolting to the Pac-12 when realignment changed the landscape of major college sports in 2010, CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd reported in 2016. Intrigue surrounded Texas around the same time before the Longhorns recommitted to the Big 12.
The timing of this move would be surprising given the College Football Playoff could expand to 12 teams.
Leaving the Big 12 with the four-team playoff in place would make sense given that Oklahoma is the only conference representative to make the event.
The Pac-12 and Big 12 have both been losers in the playoff era because they’re not perceived to be as strong as their Power Five counterparts. But a 12-team playoff might alleviate that problem since it could guarantee every Power Five conference at least one bid.
Jumping ship to the SEC could leave Oklahoma and Texas in the same position they are now:
Pete Thamel @PeteThamel
Any notion of OU and Texas going to the SEC would be news to the Big 12. There’s a feeling it wouldn’t make sense competitively, as there’d be a much more difficult road to the College Football Playoff.
The Big 12’s TV contracts with ESPN and Fox could also be an issue; Zwerneman noted they run through 2024. Exiting would be a costly endeavor, negating some of the financial benefits of playing in the SEC.
Chuck Carlton @ChuckCarltonDMN
One thing to keep in mind is that Big 12 TV contract with ESPN/Fox extends for another four years. So does the grant of rights. Don’t know how Texas and Oklahoma get around that to leave for SEC before then. Sure it’s possible but …
From the SEC’s perspective, adding Texas and Oklahoma would be a no-brainer.
The conference would widen its footprint while getting a perennial playoff contender in the Sooners and one of the most recognizable programs in college football in the Longhorns.
And if the NCAA follows the suggestion of president Mark Emmert and allows conferences to enjoy autonomy, 16-team super-conferences in college football are probably inevitable.
But those who remember the 2010 realignment saga will likely be skeptical about the likelihood that Texas and Oklahoma say goodbye to the Big 12.