Oklahoma and Texas Officially Request to Join SEC

So it is official: Oklahoma and Texas have formally told the Big 12 “Later, bitches✌️✌️” and asked the SEC if they can join the college football cool kids’ club:

Oklahoma and Texas have formally notified the SEC they are seeking “an invitation for membership” beginning July 1, 2025, according to a joint statement from the flagship programs of the Big 12.

According to the release, OU and Texas sent SEC commissioner Greg Sankey their request Tuesday morning.

“The two universities look forward to the prospect of discussion regarding the matter,” the statement read.

Sources said the SEC presidents and chancellors are meeting Thursday to consider OU and Texas for official membership in what would become the first 16-team superconference. In spite of the formal notification from the Big 12 schools, a source familiar with the process cautioned that it still doesn’t guarantee the SEC will vote at that time. A three-fourths majority vote of SEC presidents and chancellors (11 of 14) would be required for invitations to be extended.

Sources previously told ESPN that it’s believed enough SEC schools will vote to add the two new members.

A few thoughts:

  1. No shit the SEC is going to approve them. You think OU and Texas would leave the Big 12 without knowing they’d be accepted by the SEC? They’ve apparently been working on this for six months. It’s all been figured out. There is no uncertainty here. They’re just trying to pretend like this hasn’t been in the works since the season ended in January.
  2. Hold on: we have to wait until fucking 2025 for them to start playing football in the SEC?! WTF?! This is bullshit! This is so unbelievably stupid, who the hell wants to wait that long? Certainly not OU and Texas; certainly not the SEC; and certainly not the 8 schools left in the Big 12 that OU and Texas have left in the dust. You really think Baylor and Texas Tech and Iowa State want to deal with OU and Texas for the next 4 years? And vice versa? That’s like if your girlfriend breaks up with you for another guy but you guys live together and you still have to live together because you have an apartment lease together. Fuck that, just break the lease and go your separate ways. The other 8 schools probably hate OU and Texas at this point and want nothing to do with them.
  3. The idea of the Big 12 being a “lame duck” conference for the next four years is not appealing to anyone, other than maybe Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who probably just wants to hang on to his job for as long as he can.
  4. Well, it’s expected that OU and Texas will make their move to the SEC a lot sooner than July 1, 2025. The reason they’re using that date is because that’s when their media contract with the Big 12 expires. What they actually did here was inform the Big 12 they’re not going to renew that contract, meaning that when that contract expires, they will no longer be part of the Big 12. But why do it in 2021 if you’re not going to actually get to leave until 2025? Well, because they’re going to leave a lot sooner than 2025. Possibly as early as the 2022 season.
  5. In order to break that contract early, Texas and Oklahoma would each have to shell out $76 million to buy it out. That’s a lot of money, and until they pay up, they’re still bound to that contract for the next 47 months. There’s talk that OU and Texas will pony up the cash to buy out their contracts, and as two of the richest, most prestigious programs in college football, they both certainly have the funds to do so. Plus, they’ll more than make up for it with the increased revenues that will come from playing in the SEC.
  6. However, OU and Texas are probably banking on the Big 12 dissolving well before July 1, 2025, in which case they would be released from their contracts because the Big 12 won’t exist anymore. Then, they’d get to leave early and not pay $76 million. It would actually be pretty stupid of them to pay that $76 million to leave the Big 12 early, because them leaving would basically guarantee the conference folds. And then they’d have just wasted $76 million apiece.

So Texas and Oklahoma are just going to wait until the Big 12 dissolves, and then they’ll join the SEC. That’s the smart move. And it’ll probably happen a lot sooner than 2025. Because while the Big 12 is apparently talking about going after AAC schools to try to get back up above 10 teams, at this point it’s more likely the AAC picks off a few Big 12 schools than the other way around.

The Big 12 is a gravely wounded animal, and the other conferences smell blood in the water. Not only that, but the remaining 8 teams in the Big 12 also fully recognize that the Big 12 is a dead conference walking and are all probably working the phones as we speak trying to get the hell out of there. Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Kansas, Baylor and the rest: they all know they’re on a sinking ship, and they’re all looking to save themselves.

Once the next team announces its plans to exit the Big 12, it’s basically over. It’s already over right now, but if one more school leaves the Big 12, then it’s truly, officially over. That’s the moment all the other schools will begin scrambling and trying to find new conferences.

With the 8 teams remaining, the Big 12 is no longer a Power Five conference. It is not powerful at all. Even if they poached a few schools from the AAC–which is highly unlikely–they’re still not back to Power Five status. Plus, there’s really only two schools in the AAC that would be natural fits in the Big 12: Houston and SMU. Adding either or both of those teams does not help the Big 12 at all. They would still be miles behind the other Power Five conferences.

Even if the Big 12 somehow poached Cincinnati–the best team in the AAC right now–that still doesn’t turn them back into a Power Five conference. When Luke Fickell eventually leaves Cincinnati, that program will suffer mightily anyway.

The Big 12 is fucked. They’re done. There’s nothing they can do to save themselves. No marquee program in the country will actually want to join the Big 12.

Even if by some miracle they do stay afloat as a conference with 8 members, or poaches a couple schools and gets back up to 10, there’s no way they’ll actually be included in the Power Five anymore–the other four conferences will not allow it. I guess that’s the only way I see the Big 12 surviving: if the remaining 8 schools decide to stay united and accept that they’re all taking a demotion to Group of Five Status. The Power Five will become a Power Four, and the Group of Five will become the Group of Six.

But even this is highly unlikely: what if, say, Kansas and Oklahoma State work something out and are allowed to join the Big Ten? They’d much rather be part of the Big Ten than be in a second-tier conference. And if they bolt, then the Big 12 is dead. You can’t be a 6-team conference–that’s not even as big as one division in the SEC or the Big Ten. Hell, I’d say you can’t even be an 8-team conference. With OU and Texas gone, the Big 12 is now the smallest conference in the FBS. No other conference has fewer than 10 teams (Sun Belt conference has 10).

I’d say what’s going to happen is some Big 12 remnant programs will find new homes in tier-1 conferences, but some won’t. Some will have to take the demotion down to tier-2 status. Kansas will probably find a home in the Big Ten purely due to basketball, Oklahoma State will probably either follow OU to the SEC (unlikely) or go to the Big Ten along with Kansas (more likely, imho).

Maybe Texas Tech gets picked up by the Pac-12. Baylor and TCU, though, probably can’t join the Pac-12 because they’re religious institutions. I don’t think the Pac-12 allows that, because if they did, BYU would be a member of the conference.

Could the Pac-12 grab Kansas State then? Sure, I guess. But big whoop. No disrespect to K-State, but they’re not a marquee football program.

What about Iowa State? Everyone keeps saying Iowa State will end up in the Big Ten because the Big Ten already has a presence in Iowa. Honestly, though, I don’t think the Big Ten wants Iowa State. Iowa State is not a great football program. They’re a good program lately, since they got Matt Campbell in 2016, but prior to his arrival, Iowa State was a perennial bottom-feeder in the Big 12. In Campbell’s first season, they went 3-9, but since then, they’d had four straight winning seasons. Prior to 2017, Iowa State’s last winning season was 2009. This is not a program that will make the Big Ten a football powerhouse. Once Matt Campbell leaves for a better job–and he will, eventually–Iowa State will probably go right back to bottom-feeder status.

Iowa State is not the answer for the Big Ten. They just aren’t. People are assuming they’ll jump to the Big Ten just because Iowa is in the Big Ten, but Iowa is a way better football program than Iowa State. Iowa State is ranked 109th out of 130 FBS teams in terms of all-time win-loss record. That’s worse than Rutgers, which is ranked 93rd.

Adding Iowa State doesn’t bring the Big Ten any closer to the SEC in terms football power. The Big Ten does not become a “Super Conference” by adding Iowa State; it’ll just be a conference with 15-16 teams (depending on if they add Kansas and/or Oklahoma State as well).

The SEC is a Super Conference because it has both quantity and quality–Bama, Georgia, Florida, LSU, Auburn, and now OU and Texas. It’s not about having the most schools; it’s about being absolutely stacked with great football programs.

In other words, I don’t really see the Big Ten wanting to add Iowa State. Iowa State might have to end up taking a demotion down to tier-2 status.

Hey, if the Power Five becomes a Power Four–and that’s the way it’s looking right now–then inevitably some schools that are currently Power Five will be left out.

I also don’t see the ACC wanting to take West Virginia, either. There are 65 teams in the Power Five: 14 in the SEC, 14 in the Big Ten, 14 in the ACC, 12 in the Pac-12, 10 in the Big 12, plus Notre Dame makes 65. Of those 65 programs, West Virginia ranked dead last in revenue. 65th out of 65 schools. The ACC probably doesn’t want them. The Big Ten probably doesn’t want them.

Don’t you think it’s odd that West Virginia currently plays in the Big 12? They’re nowhere close to any of the other schools in the conference. They’d be a much better fit in the ACC or the Big Ten, right? Well, when everyone was jumping ship from the Big East back in 2011, West Virginia saw the writing on the wall and realized they had to get out as well. The only option for them was the Big 12, and the Big 12 at the time was desperate: they had just lost Nebraska, Texas A&M, Colorado and Mizzou. Oklahoma and Texas were on the verge of leaving as well.

The Big 12 desperately needed somebody, anybody, to join, and West Virginia was willing. But there’s no doubt it would have been a better fit–geographically, logistically, culturally–for them to join the ACC or the Big Ten. But they didn’t. More likely, they couldn’t. They weren’t asked to join by those conferences. The Big 12 was their only option.

I don’t think the Big Ten or the ACC wanted West Virginia in 2011, and I don’t think they’ll want WVU in 2021. Nothing against West Virginia, but they’re ranked dead last in revenue in the Power Five. And they definitely would not make either the Big Ten or ACC materially better football-wise: while they’re a superior program historically than Iowa State, outside of that run they had in the 2000s with Rich Rodriguez, they’re not a powerhouse. I was surprised to find out they’re ranked 27th overall in winning percentage all-time, which is not only respectable but well above average. But they’re only 72-52 over the past 10 seasons. They’re not going to help the Big Ten or ACC close the gap with the SEC.

West Virginia is another program I think might have to end up taking a demotion. I could be wrong, and I hope I am because WVU is a great party school, but a lot of teams are going to be on the chopping block in terms of inclusion in the Big Boys Club, and West Virginia, being both in the dying Big 12 and ranked dead last in terms of revenue… I don’t know. They might get left out.

Again, the SEC isn’t just trying to get bigger; it’s trying to get bigger and better. That’s the key, and in order to keep pace, the other conferences will have to do the same. It won’t be enough to just add more teams and get up to 16 schools in your conference.

This is why ultimately I say we need a 48-team Super League with four regional divisions and the possibility of relegation and promotion. I don’t think we’ll get the relegation/promotion feature because no school that is a part of the 48-team Super League will vote in favor of it, but we’ll probably get some sort of automatic playoff berth for the highest-ranked non-Super League school in a given season, which is acceptable.

Look, the SEC is just way too good. They’re pulling away from everyone else. We’re almost at the point where it’s impossible for any other conference to make additions and catch up to the SEC, because the SEC has so many of the top programs already. Other than Notre Dame–who I guess is content remaining Independent–who else is out there for the Big Ten, Pac-12 or ACC to add to close the gap with the SEC?

Even if the Pac-12 and Big Ten somehow merge, or at least the Big Ten gets USC, Oregon, UCLA and the remaining best programs in the Pac-12, Ohio State is still the only top-tier level program in that conference.

Even if the ACC gets Notre Dame, Clemson is still the only top-tier level program in the conference. Notre Dame is a good program, but they’re not quite on the Clemson/Bama/Ohio State level. We saw what happened when Clemson played Notre Dame in the ACC Championship and actually had Trevor Lawrence available to play: it was a 34-10 beatdown. Then Notre Dame went on and got stomped by Bama in the playoff.

The only thing I could see competing with the SEC is Clemson and Notre Dame both joining the Big Ten, and then the top programs from the Pac-12 coming to the Big Ten as well. USC would then really have to get their act together in order for that conference to be able to credibly go toe-to-toe with the Super SEC. Michigan, too.

Point is, the Big 12 is fucked either way. If they somehow stay together, they get demoted down to Group of Five status. But what’s more likely to happen is a few programs get picked up by other conferences, while the others will have to find new homes in the tier-2 conferences. OU and Texas really screwed over the other 8 teams, but then again, OU and Texas propped that conference up for at least a decade longer than they should’ve.

Now begins the mad scramble by the remaining 8 teams in the Big 12 Conference to find new homes in the Power Five. There isn’t room for all of them, so some will be left out in the cold.

Once the remaining 8 schools start to bail on the Big 12, the conference will fold and then Oklahoma and Texas will be free to join the SEC a lot sooner than 2025.

Austin Frank

Sports blogger

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