With College Football Playoff expansion in the works and the NCAA as a whole undergoing numerous NIL changes, a conference realignment may be soon in the making.
The Houston Chronicle published an article saying that the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners have approached the Southeastern Conference (SEC) to possibly join the conference. Surprisingly, a decision on their potential addition to limk up with the SEC could come in a few weeks.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey declined to comment on the report at SEC media day and stated an announcement could come in the next couple of weeks.
Adding the likes of Texas and Oklahoma would give the powerhouse SEC 16 teams, the largest in major college football.
When asked at media day if the SEC has had any discussions with Texas or Oklahoma, Sankey stated: “I’m talking about the 2021 season.”
Texas A&M seemed to push back on the idea at SEC media day. “We want to be the only SEC team from the state of Texas,” said athletic director Ross Bjork. “There’s a reason why Texas A&M left the Big 12, to stand alone and have its own identity. That’s our feeling.”
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
This should set up to be an interesting dilemma for the Big 12 conference. College Football is now in the business of money and this latest move is testament.
In past years, the Big 12 was a prominent power figure in the world of college football with Texas and Oklahoma serving as the face of the conference and the Red River Rivalry between the two schools serving as the Big 12’s annual spectacle for all football fans to witness.
The river 𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙡𝙡 runs red.
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) October 10, 2020
The Texas Longhorns was once a dominant powerhouse in college football, mostly remembered for their mid-2000s run under the leadership of legendary and current North Carolina Head Coach, Mac Brown.
4 National Championships, 32 Conference Championships in its program’s history and a host of Texas Longhorn football legends that graced football fields in burnt orange and electrified fans such as Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Vince Young, and the late Cedric Benson allow the Longhorns to market themselves as the ‘ideal powerhouse program’.
Texas became large enough to stand on their own – recruiting and financially, leading to their own TV deal with ESPN, the Longhorn Network.
According to AL.com, the Texas Longhorn Network deal runs through 2031. ESPN, starting in 2024 will own all SEC rights. If Texas were to join the SEC, then both parties could work out a compromise regarding the Longhorn Network component, but FOX has Big 12 rights and presumably do not want to lose two of its biggest stars: not even including the Red River Rivalry.
With the landscape of college football shifting seemingly daily, many different options could be on the table for discussion. From power-conference realignments to potential 16 team playoff formats – such changes should massively alter the entire college football business model.
A new era of college football is upon us which could bring consistent alterations and major alignemtn shifts for future years to come.