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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

AP source: Texas, Oklahoma talk to SEC about joining league

In this Oct. 7, 2017, file photo, a Big 12 pylon marks the end zone at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium before an NCAA college football game between Texas and Kansas State in Austin, Texas.  (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

In this Oct. 7, 2017, file photo, a Big 12 pylon marks the end zone at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium before an NCAA college football game between Texas and Kansas State in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

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The last time Texas got a wandering eye for an alternative conference affiliation it fueled a series of realignment in college sports that nearly killed the Big 12.

Texas is once again exploring free agency, stealing the headlines at the Southeastern Conference media days and cranking up speculation about another round of conference shuffling.

The Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday, citing a source it did not identify, that Big 12 powers Texas and Oklahoma have reached out to the SEC about potentially joining the league.

The newspaper cited a “high-ranking official with knowledge of the situation” and said an announcement could come in the next couple of weeks. Adding two members would give the powerhouse SEC 16 teams, the largest in major college football.

A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to the AP on Wednesday night there have been discussions between Texas and Oklahoma and SEC officials about switching conferences, but no formal invitations have been extended.

The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were intended to be confidential, said officials from Texas initiated the discussion.

Questions about the report were greeted by a series of no comments from the primary parties involved, but no denials.

“I’m talking about the 2021 season,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said as Day 3 of the SEC's four-day football talk-fest in Hoover, Alabama, wound down.

Texas A&M; athletic director Ross Bjork was adamant about not wanting the Longhorns to join the SEC.

“We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas,” Bjork told reporters in Hoover. “There’s a reason why Texas A&M; left the Big 12, to be standalone, to have our own identity. And that’s our feeling.”

SEC bylaws require at least three-fourths (11) of the members to vote in favor of extending an invitation to join.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, whose 10-member league would suffer a major blow with such defections, did not return messages from AP seeking comment.

“The college athletics landscape is shifting constantly," Oklahoma said in a statement. "We don’t address every anonymous rumor.”

A Texas statement offered a similar response: “Speculation always swirls around collegiate athletics. We will not address rumors or speculation.”

Just last week at Big 12 media days in Arlington, Texas, Bowlsby talked about how conference realignment was no longer a top-line issue for the Big 12.

“Not to say it couldn’t happen, but it’s no one of the things that keeps me up at night,” he said.

Any move to leave the Big 12 would be complicated by an agreement its schools made after the last round of realignment to hand their media rights over to league through their current television deals. The grant of rights lines up with the Big 12's contracts with Fox and ESPN and runs through the 2024-25 school year.

Back in 2010, the then Pac-10 — led by new commissioner Larry Scott — tried to woo Texas and five other Big 12 schools into the West Coast-based conference to form a Pac-16.

That failed.

Texas stayed put and instead started its own television network. After another flirtation between Texas, Oklahoma and Scott, Texas A&M; bolted for the SEC in 2012 and Missouri followed the Aggies.

The Big 12, which had already lost Nebraska to Big Ten and Colorado to the now Pac-12, managed to hang on by inviting TCU and West Virginia.

College sports was turned upside down for about three years as conferences jockeyed to fortify themselves and schools scrambled to not be left out.

The Big East was poached right out of the major college football business before finally reconstituting as the American Athletic Conference.

Life without Texas and Oklahoma would be uncertain — at best — for the other schools in the Big 12.

Even an unconfirmed report, prompted an assertive response from Oklahoma State on Wednesday.

“If true, we would be gravely disappointed,” the Cowboys’ statement said. “While we place a premium on history, loyalty and trust, be assured, we will aggressively defend and advance what is best for Oklahoma State and our strong athletic program, which continues to excel in the Big 12 and nationally.”

The mere possibility of adding Texas and Oklahoma to what is already the strongest football conference in the country has to draw the attention of the other Power Five conferences. Especially as the leaders of those leagues look to expand the College Football Playoff from four to 12 teams.

Oklahoma is the only Big 12 team to make the playoff, doing so four times. The road to the CFP would be tougher through the SEC but a bigger field could provide more paths.

The SEC recently signed a new television deal with ESPN that gives the cable TV sports giant all of its rights. It is unclear if adding Texas and Oklahoma would create an opportunity for the SEC to increase the value of those contracts for all its members and not just provide enough to cover additions at the current rate.

The SEC announced earlier this year it distributed about $45.5 million each to its members. The Big 12 schools received about $10 million less from its conference.

When Texas A&M; coach Jimbo Fisher was asked about Texas and Oklahoma reportedly being interested in the SEC during his session with the media in Hoover, he said: “I bet they would.””

“Listen, we’ve got the greatest league in ball,” Fisher said. “That’s the choices they make or what they do, I don’t know, but I don’t know how I feel about it.”


AP Sports Writer John Zenor in Hoover, Alabama, contributed to this report.

Tale of the Tait reaction

Proactive approach critical for KU if Oklahoma and Texas really do leave the Big 12 Conference

With OU and Texas eyeing the SEC, are we on the brink of conference realignment 2021?

Comments

Dale Rogers 2 months, 1 week ago

So, A&M left the Big 12 because they were second fiddle, in Texas, to Texas. So, if Texas moves to the SEC, they will once again be second to Texas in their conference. So, would A&M want back in the Big 12 or maybe the PAC 12? Poor A&M, always someone's little brother.

Randy Bombardier 2 months, 1 week ago

Highly doubtful. OU has an easy track to the playoff. Why mess that up? And Texas? Get used to .500 seasons every year.

Dirk Medema 2 months, 1 week ago

The SEC gets about $10M more, but don’t the Big12 schools retain the 3rd tier TV rights?

Benny Armstrong 2 months, 1 week ago

Texas would probably have to kill off the LHN which would cost them a ton of money that wouldn't be offset by the increase in revenue from the SEC.

Chris Oestreich 2 months ago

The LH network will go away in 2025. ESPN has already said that they have no interest in renewing that contract.

Len Shaffer 2 months, 1 week ago

I didn't think it would be possible, but it's official now: I hate UT even more than I hate Misuse.

Jeff Coffman 2 months, 1 week ago

I still think that if this were to occur the other conferences would race to get to 16. KU is still an attractive brand and the Big Ten and ACC will call KU.

Historically OU and OSU were a package if that is off the table, then hopefully KU and KSU dont package. KC market is sought after.

If they go to 64. KU will be setup nicely. KsU ISU and OSU dont bring in TV markets. Baylor TTU and TCU have Texas going for them, but are not the brand's and markets of the state of Texas.

KU might even have a play to go to the PAC.

The key for KU is that conferences need to go to 16, so across the board there is 64.

Lucas Town 2 months, 1 week ago

If Texas does in fact go to the SEC I could see Texas A&M coming back to the Big 12. Then I think the Big 12 would make a move to pick up Louisville or another school to stay at 10. Unless things have changed I thought KU and K-State were always a package deal as the Kansas Board of Regents wanted to keep the schools competing together. Oh how I hate the Longhorns now!

Mike Barnhart 2 months, 1 week ago

4 conferences with 16 teams each. OU and Texas to SEC - done. W Virginia - ACC makes sense. So ACC needs 1, B1G needs 2 and PAC needs 4. Okie St and Iowa St to B1G, Leaving KU, KSU, Baylor, Tech and TCU fighting with BYU for 4 spots out west.

Bville Hawk 2 months, 1 week ago

Last time around the schools being sought were AAU members. Currently in the Big 12 the AAU schools are KU, ISU, and UT. I think the B1G would offer KU and ISU immediately.

Robert Brock 2 months, 1 week ago

Texas and Oklahoma are a perfect fit in the Confederacy.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 2 months, 1 week ago

I think (and hope) if the Big 12 dissolves, KU makes its way into the Big 10. Geographically and culturally, it seems like the best fit. I'm not sure the Big 10 would be excited about adding Iowa State, but since their football team is showing serious prowess they might get the nod also.

I also agree with Matt - I'm not losing sleep about it this time around. Texas is never happy, even when they get everything they want.

Rodney Crain 2 months, 1 week ago

So, the Houston Chronicle, citing a source it did not identify, says that Oklahoma and Texas asked about joining the SEC. I would like to go on record, here in this post, that my uncle was the source they did not identify. Although I do not have any uncles alive anymore, I challenge the Chronicle to disprove my claim. Name the Alum, sorry source. Also, Via the grant-of-rights agreement both schools signed, their broadcast rights for basketball and football are tied up till Jube of 2025. Even if they leave and force a payout to go that is going to be messy. I would like to go back to the source city for a moment. Houston (the school) was being heavily considered to join the Big 12 back in 2016. When that did not happen, Houston was not happy. There is one other reason this is out now. Finally, to get into the SEC they need no more than 3 no votes. GA and FL have a rumored handshake agreement with A&M, and Missouri would vote NO too. There is one other reason this is out now. These two Big 12 schools want a bigger share of the media pie. Money, more money makes sense. This is about money, like most things are.

Jeff Coffman 2 months, 1 week ago

I personally think this is further down the path than most people think. With the NIL and talks of the NCAA losing ground, this will accelerate the transformation of the conferences. This year is already Big XII, but there is only 3 years left of football on that contract. In all of the previous exits, there was payouts for 1 or 2 years, which begins the negotiations. It will be much harder to continue to recruit players, when the SEC is paying their players more money then the Big 12 (or more marketable).

Technically speaking, Oklahoma State is more valuable to a conference that OU is not in. They share the TV market and if you are trying to get viewers, you get one team and you get the TVs in Oklahoma; hence if they are in separate conferences both conferences see the benefits. Same with KU/KSU and Iowa/ISU. Texas is a little different because of its size and distribution. Texas rightfully has a market base higher than others. OU has OK City, but also a strong foothold in Dallas. KU has a strong presence in KC, but also has a wide basketball following across major cities (not as valuable as football). However, KSU, ISU, and OSU do not have the TV markets and therefore will struggle to sell themselves independently. They will have to hope of fulfilling a 16 team combination. Then you throw in Texas teams, TCU, Baylor, TTU (and maybe Houston), all of these will be viable, but none are the TAM or UT of the state and therefore, they need to likely go to a conference that doesn't have a current Texas team.

I love these discussions, as long as KU ends up in a power conference. I think the Big Ten will make a power move and pickup KU and Texas, after losing Notre Dame, they have to go big. I think the ACC will just add WVU. Then OU and one other to the SEC (not OSU). Three teams and BYU will go to the PAC. The rest will build up some teams like Tulsa, Houston, Louisville, Cincy, to keep it afloat, but will drift to a non-power 5.

Bob Strawn 2 months, 1 week ago

OU and Texas may be negotiating with Fox. Either get this contract fixed or we're leaving for SEC/ESPN.

Ted Hume 2 months, 1 week ago

No problem. Welcome back BIG 8. We already have a logo and everything

Marc Frey 2 months, 1 week ago

Ask Nebraska how it's worked out for them.

Bryce Landon 2 months, 1 week ago

Am I in some kind of time warp? I may need to check my calendar; is it 2021 or 2011?

Timothy Grillot 2 months, 1 week ago

In hindsight, I wish we wouldve done the Pac 12 deal. Either Texas is already on it's way out or it's just another ploy to rearrange their share with the Big 12. I've always been anti-Nebraska, but Dr. Tom's comments were instructive when they left the Big 12. A conference should be equals, share and share alike. UT prefers to be the big bully demanding more than its fare share of revenue. He also commented that member schools shouldnt be asking them to stay all the while negotiating their exit (a la Missouri). Our problem is the sad state of our football program which makes us not attractive to football conferences like the SEC. The Pac 12 would be a better fit but so would the Big 10. Good riddens UT.

Mallory Briggans 2 months, 1 week ago

I hate the university of Texas They have always had this sense of entitlement that the old Big 12 revolved around them . This whole conversation is driven by foorball and there has been giggles and chuckles when the KU football has been mentioned because as one guy said on ESPN today Kansas is " a one trick pony " that being basketball . Nebraska and Texas a&m both left BECAUSE of Texas then we lost Missouri and Colorado . This also has to do with the payout that Big12 gives each school ......and then we talk about television networks You have the SEC , ACCN , Big 10 and Pac 12 ...........we have ????................Texas and the Big 12 Bob Bowlsby and his 4 million dollar salary ............oh now that the conference may go away so will his job. Texas" greed and power grab Bowlsby not expanding and be shortsided now we will have to wait and see where we land

Spencer Goff 2 months ago

Bowlsby is so close to retirement, I don't think he cares about his salary.

Spencer Goff 2 months ago

I need to get it out there:

This entire thing could easily be a dog and pony show by UT and OU to gain even more leverage over the other eight schools and they have no intention of leaving. Castiglione, in particular, has played dirty leverage for that school, both in football and basketball and he was mad that their Nebraska game is no longer prime time television. Somehow that is the rest of the Big 12s fault, and not theirs or Nebraska?

I keep using the example of the bad relationship where the one partner always reminds the other partner they "have options" so as to maintain control over the other. It will not shock me at all if that is all this is.

In light of that, while I am no fan of Mizzou, and hate that Nebraska, A&M, and Colorado play elsewhere, I absolutely do not blame any of those schools for leaving. Osborne said it best in his address to the State of Nebraska legislature, they did not have wandering eyes first. Any school among those eight (KU, KSU, any of them) that are given a solid offer to get away from those two universities should do so.

Shannon Gustafson 2 months ago

Those of you that prefer the Pac12, keep one thing in mind. All of the games will be VERY late and get over well past the bedtime of most of you.

I'd prefer the B1G for a number of reasons (geography and timezone included), assuming the B12 can't figure out how to keep it all together.

Rodney Crain 2 months ago

Oh Oh! OU and TX skipped an emergency meeting of the B12 to discuss the article in the paper. The meeting was yesterday, July 22nd. If they leave, they have to give 18 months’ notice, pay $76 million each and would forfeit their media rights till June 2025. The B12 paid each school $38 million last year the SEC paid each school $45 million. The B12 would still own the media rights till June 2025 when they leave, Still might only be a ploy to get a bigger share of the current deal, but it also might be the start of them leaving the conference. They still have to be invited, and survive the SEC vote with no less than 3 no's.

Doug Wallace 2 months ago

Im not fond of the thought of going to the Big 10 or ACC.

With the Big 10 you have to kiss the ring of Ohio State and the Michigan teams kinda like how it is with the Big 12 with Oklahoma and Texas.Plus big10 isnt really exciting or alot of parity.

Same goes with the ACC You got to kiss the Rings of Clemson, North Carolina, and Florida State like Oklahoma and Texas in the Big 12.same thing no parity.

Personally I wish KU KSU and Texas Tech could go to Pac-12 There is no team that usually just wins almost all the time like the big 10 or acc! Pac 12 is just run better.

Yes I know we have lost 4 teams but this is not the same.You know this seems like a bullying tactic done kind of like sports teams who say they will move to another town if they dont get a new stadium. Just wait and see

Shannon Gustafson 2 months ago

I don't want midnight games...and Pac-12 pays less than any other P5 conference by a substantial margin.

Randy Bombardier 2 months ago

I've been skeptical about the report because its a short sighted move but then when you're desperate at feeling relevant and can't beat K-state and Iowa State i guess it makes sense when your ego needs a boost. Ou has lost to both of them 2 years running. Ouch.

Spencer Goff 2 months ago

The Pac 12 pays less because they screwed up their TV contract, and they fires the guy that did it. So my guess is their money will get better.

Spencer Goff 2 months ago

Seriously, ESPN reporting that Big 12 execs met with Texas and OU to discuss what they are after. We know what they are after, this meeting is a waste of time (neat how ESPN magically knows all this...).

This is an abusive relationship. It has to end at some point. Do these execs honestly think that this would never happen again if they just appease them this time? What about last time? What about next time?

Their "brand" literally involves bullying all the schools around them and telling people how awesome they are in comparison to "those schools." Stop fueling it. I would take a healthy Mountain West or AAC at this point just to be away from this garbage every 5-10 years.

Have some pride, move on.

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