Opinion: It is a money grab, not failed leadership that is leading Oklahoma to the SEC

·3 min read

Plenty more opinions and reports are circulating daily in the ongoing Oklahoma to the SEC saga.

There are plenty of theories as to why such a move is suddenly on the table for both the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns. Is the Big 12 Conference dying? Are the two schools looking to jump ship before it sinks? Is it lost faith in leadership? Is it tied to money?

Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman (subscription required) writes that it is lost faith in the Big 12’s leadership that is leading both Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC.

Since the Houston Chronicle broke the story Wednesday afternoon, the process has been expedited, and the only apparent opposition is coming from SEC member Texas A&M and political factions in both Oklahoma and Texas.

The OU source said the decision is a result of university administrators’ diminishing belief that the Big 12 is a viable and sustainable conference.

“It’s pretty clear there’s not a long-term future in the Big 12,” the source said. “This is not personal. This has to be a singular focus: what’s best for the University of Oklahoma.”

While that could be a piece of the pie, it is ultimately about the money when it comes to conference realignment. The conference’s TV deal is set to end in 2025, and it doesn’t appear any negotiations are ongoing. According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal back in May, Big 12 TV partners declined early negotiations.

This could be a huge factor in why both Oklahoma and Texas are looking to bolt for greener pastures. The SEC recently signed a new deal with ABC/ESPN that will be a ‘significant increase’ from their current deal with CBS. Each school earned $45.3 million in payouts during the 2019 season. The new contract that begins in the 2024 season will be upwards of $55 million to each of the conference’s 14 members.

That number with the addition of both Oklahoma and Texas should only increase. According to the Wall Street Journal, Texas is the No. 1 college football program in terms of value. They are worth north of $1 billion and Oklahoma is No. 7 with a value of roughly $885 million. They would join a conference that has the No. 3 most valuable team (Alabama), No. 6 (Georgia), No. 8 (Auburn), No. 9 (LSU), and No. 10 (Tennessee).

Having those schools in place with the two teams looking to leave the Big 12 could give the SEC a lot of leverage to increase those numbers to the $75-80 million range in payouts per season. That is significantly more than the $38 million from the Big 12 Conference.

Rather than state that it is failed leadership, let’s call it what it is. Leaving doesn’t necessarily give them the competitive advantage that the Sooners currently have. Sure recruiting could be better, but there will be more funds to enhance facilities that could entice more high-level recruits. Their path to the CFP is easier through the Big 12 but money talks.

It could very well mean that isn’t so much that they believe the conference isn’t sustainable but more they don’t believe leadership could get them the amount of payout they desire.

Related

Report: Big 12 discussing a decrease in revenue for schools to pay Oklahoma and Texas

The Oklahoma Sooners football team wants to be the best in the nation. To be the best you have to beat the best. In the SEC they will get that opportunity.