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With OU & UT reportedly eyeing the SEC, are we on the brink of conference realignment 2021?

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Oklahoma players take the field before their game Saturday against Texas in Dallas. The Sooners will entertain Kansas on Saturday.

Oklahoma players take the field before their game Saturday against Texas in Dallas. The Sooners will entertain Kansas on Saturday.

Moments after reading a Wednesday story from the Houston Chronicle that reported that Oklahoma and Texas had been in contact about potentially leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, I went out to mow my lawn.

My how things have changed from the conference realignment days of old.

Back then, when schools moved from conference to conference like some strange game of musical chairs, I was afraid to even leave my computer.

Mowing the lawn or going to the grocery store seemed like crazy ideas in those days, because, even in just 5-10 minutes, major news could come out that could affect any one of college athletics’ power conferences.

Wednesday’s report, which indicates that a decision on whether to add the two Big 12 power programs to the SEC could be made in as little as two weeks, certainly qualifies as major news.

Any time programs like OU and Texas — particularly football programs of that nature — are talking about relocating, you have to at least consider the domino effect that such a move would have on all of college athletics.

The reason this type of talk does not seem quite as desperate and panic-inducing this time around has everything to do with what we’ve seen in the past several months and weeks on the college athletics landscape.

Change is coming. Heck, change is already here. And it seems smart to expect in the not-too-distant future that college athletics will look very different than it has in the past.

That’s not to say that losing alliances with power brokers like OU and UT should be considered a good thing for any of the rest of the Big 12. But if you squint just a little, what appears to be on the horizon in the new era of college sports may provide some comfort for those athletic departments that once believed that their only path to survival was to provide Bevo and Boomer with around-the-clock butler service.

Just last year, a longtime college athletics administrator told me that they thought college athletics as we know it today could be virtually unrecognizable within five years.

That was before the name, image and likeness and changes to the transfer rules passed, and before NCAA President Mark Emmert threw up as close to a white flag as we’ve seen by saying recently that it may be time for college athletics to be decentralized.

Hello, free enterprise. Adios, NCAA?

In the end, as was the case last time, this whole thing is again going to come down to the money.

If OU and UT truly are looking to leave and the powers that be in the SEC believe that adding them to the conference would increase their television deals by enough cheddar to make their additions worthwhile, it may very well happen.

Multiple reports this afternoon noted that 75% of the SEC’s 14 members would need to vote yes on the invitations for anything to happen.

What’s more, other reports pointed out that Oklahoma politicians made it awfully clear last time that OU wasn’t going anywhere without Oklahoma State. So while it’s possible to picture 11 of the 14 current SEC schools voting yes to add the power twosome, you have to wonder if the number would remain as high if the SEC schools were voting on adding Oklahoma State, as well.

The OU and Texas side of this thing only further underscores how much this would likely be about money.

With the college football playoff system headed for some kind of expansion, with the six highest-ranked conference champions likely getting an automatic spot in the playoff in the new system, why wouldn’t those two programs want to stay in the Big 12, where their chances at winning a title are exponentially higher year in and year out than they would be in the dog-eat-dog SEC?

Money talks.

All of this certainly bears watching in the rest of the Big 12, which would find itself in a world of hurt if OU and UT were to leave.

While just about everything was on the table in terms of a response the last time this kind of threat hit the conference, I have to think that it would be much more likely that the reaction to such an upheaval this time around would be much different.

Put a different way: Rather than desperately seeking replacements for OU and Texas, it would make more sense to me for the remaining members to go scrambling for the best landing spots they could find.

For Kansas specifically, the ACC and Big Ten come to mind. Beyond that, KU fans should rest easy knowing there were good options out there the last time this all happened that likely would be options again.

You also have to wonder if all of those past rumors about the Big 12 pursuing Arizona and Arizona State would suddenly have some juice behind them, and whether those additions would be enough to keep the Big 12 alive.

The options are out there. The question now is whether any of them will be needed.

Regardless of the answer, the two-week timeline hardly makes any of this worth getting worked up about just yet. There will be plenty of time for that — and other emotions — if this actually happens.

Right now, I’m headed to get the weed eater to finish up outside.

Comments

Jonathan Allison 1 month, 4 weeks ago

what a bizarre world we live in. I really don't know how I feel about this. I just feel the need to take a page out of Oakville's handbook and make a random bullet point list.

• The Big 12 doesn't exist without OU and UT

• The SEC can't just take every successful football program, can they? How many schools do they want to have?

• Texas A&M may be the real winner, because they can go back to using the old fight song

• Could this lead to KU and Mizzou getting back together? In the Big 10/20?

• How does it feel to be the Cowboys? the Red Raiders?

• Maybe time for the older fans to get back out their Big 8 gear

Matt Tait 1 month, 4 weeks ago

All interesting thoughts, one way or another. I'll address them the way you laid them out, for whatever that's worth!

• I'd be shocked to see the Big 12 "survive" if OU and UT leave. As I noted in the blog, I think it'd be landing spots and scramble mode for the remaining 8 schools rather than them coming together (again) to save the conference.

• The SEC going to 16 schools makes sense. It seems like it's coming to that someday all across the country. Adding OU & Texas could make things even tougher for all of their football programs, but those are pretty powerful brands. Hard to say no.

• I read comments from the A&M AD who is already adamantly against this. He said he wants A&M to be the only Texas school in the SEC. Makes sense.

• I don't see it. Never say never, though.

• It's amazing to me how Iowa State hitting the lottery with Campbell has led to you (rightly) not even including them on this list. That's how big Leipold could be for Kansas.

• I loved (and still love) the Big Eight logo!!!

Chris Oestreich 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Matt, is it possible that the new AD (from NW in the Big10) was already working on this? I would hope we haven't been sitting on our hands knowing this topic seems to come up each year. I believe KU will have a landing spot but Tech, Baylor, TCU, OSU, KSU and ISU may be left? Could be a mad scramble to get into a P5 conference which is quickly looking like it may be the P4 conferences. ND holds a key as well if they choose to go ahead and jump into the ACC that takes a spot. TCU and Baylor may have the most difficult time with their religious affiliations and fundamental beliefs/teaching.
Seems logical for the Pac12 to want to get a couple of schools in the central time zone to expand its footprint. Academically Tech, Baylor, OSU, KSU and ISU don't fit their profile. Would they sacrifice academic profile for expansion? Lots of other questions if this really happens. Athletics as we know it may be changing again!!!!

Joey Meyer 1 month, 4 weeks ago

We’ll said Matt. Always appreciate your take.

I really had hoped we bought ourself more time to get the football program back before it came to this. Hopefully, hopefully the Big Ten would give us a healthy look. If not, the ACC or Big Ten would still keep our basketball program at the forefront.

Fingers crossed that our AD still has good Big Ten ties…

Randy Bombardier 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Won't happen. Texas will get buried. Oklahoma will be just another of the top 6 teams in the conference and put themselves in danger of sliding to the second tier. Makes no sense for either. Now OU could rule the PAC 12 and Texas could rule the Mountain West.

Brian Skelly 1 month, 4 weeks ago

I think the best we can hope for is hoping the Big 10 will want to take us on because of our basketball history.    And to be fair, KU is academically inline with most of the Big 10 already, and if im correct, the lone AAU school in the Big 12.   But I could be wrong there.

Regardless, I hate this.    But UT is going to push until they get what they want.   And then they'll push more.

 I'd also point out that there's no way A&M, Mizzou, Arkansas votes for this.    That means only 1 of the remaining 11 has to say no to stop it.   Im pretty sure there are lots of reasons most of those teams would say no.

  And I don't know how much more $$$ that will actually induce.

  Don't forget ESPNs place in all this.   Im sure they'd love to dismantle the Longhorn Network.   And easy slide to the SEC network could be in order.

Spencer Goff 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Matt, do not take this the wrong way as I enjoyed the read, but ten to fifteen years ago I would be glued to Flightaware seeing where planes were headed, and today it barely moves the needle.

Maybe it’s a god thing it matters less? Maybe it’s a good thing if the “big boys” consolidate and eat each other? I don’t know, to be honest. What I do know is that OU and UT currently have it made. High individual incomes, low comparable overhead, and always an undeserved, overrated invite to the table simply because of fanbase. And yet they keep flirting? Allegedly?

Look, if you were dating a woman that had this level of wandering eye my advice would be to help her pack her things and find a relationship that works. It is no different here.

Goodnight sir.

Robert Brock 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Welp, those two big ‘uns may leave for the SEC (and the riches) but they will not command that conference like they have the Big 12. And they can forget about making the College Football Playoff.

Matt Gauntt 1 month, 4 weeks ago

I think it would be a horrible move for both schools.

OU - by my count 47 of their football players come from the State of Texas. What happens to their recruiting if they are no longer playing 4 games a year against Texas teams? They should call Nebraska and find out how that worked for them moving to the Big 10 and never going to Texas again.

Texas A&M left because of Texas. Would they vote to admit them? Probably not. Missouri left because of Texas. Would they vote to admit them? Probably not Is there anyone around at U. of Arkansas that will remember the SWC days? While I am guessing most schools will want Oklahoma, will they really want Texas and their attitude that comes with them?

Barry Weiss 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Kansas to the Pac 12, you heard it here first!

Ted Adams 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Never going to happen. No one, and I mean NO ONE, wants to be playing games in the Pacific timezone let alone the Mountain Timezone. You just can't get anyone to watch the games out West outside of the two teams playings own fans. Anyone joining the P12 from Central time is digging their own grave. It's more likely that the AZ schools look to move IF the merry-go-round starts up again. The losers are a plenty if UT/OU go to the SEC (although the SEC will eventually end up with a power struggle on their hands with Texas for sure). P12 goes without saying as they are already a distant 5th in TV revenue. ACC is treading water with nowhere to go outside of adding WV and one other football also-ran. The B12 leftovers will be scrambling to land somewhere that makes reasonable sense. I suppose the one winner might be the AAC as they could swallow up the 6 teams left assuming KU and ISU go to the B10 based on AAU status.

Paul Brittain 1 month, 4 weeks ago

In re: AAU issue, Texas is an AAU university as well as ISU.

Steve Hillyer 1 month, 4 weeks ago

If KU didn’t get an invite back in 2010 when we were two years removed from a basketball natty and orange bowl victory why would we get an invite now with our only relevant program looking at sanctions in the near future? KU is in trouble, there is nothing on the horizon that suggests this isn’t a big deal as stated earlier in this article, if that was truly the case then why are OU and UT considering relocating?

Glen Miller 1 month, 4 weeks ago

This is all about money, because there is zero chance that Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, LSU and the likes will let those teams just trapse in and have any kind of say about anything. They will be treated as if they should feel lucky to have been allowed in. How about staying in your region with the folks you've battled with for so long and strengthening our conference...... but why do that when money is all that matters. Pretty sad that there are no loyalties or trust anymore. Dog eat dog out there.

Eliott Reeder 1 month, 4 weeks ago

OU and UT are just scared of what’s coming with the Lance Leipold era at KU and trying to run… ;)

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