Report: Texas and Oklahoma have reached out to SEC about joining conference

·4 min read

Is college football headed for another round of conference realignment? The answer to that question may not be an unequivocal "no" after a Wednesday report from the Houston Chronicle. 

The paper reported that Big 12 stalwarts Texas and Oklahoma had reached out to the SEC about possibly joining the conference. 

The Big 12 currently has 10 teams and the SEC 14. The addition of the two Big 12 schools would put the SEC at 16 teams and likely force a shuffling of its current East and West division format given that both Big 12 schools are further west than any current SEC school. 

The report broke as SEC Media Days are taking place in Hoover, Alabama. Commissioner Greg Sankey repeatedly declined to comment on the report to multiple reporters. A spokesperson for Texas didn't shoot down the report — or confirm it for that matter — to the Austin American-Statesman.

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An Oklahoma spokesperson generally echoed Texas' sentiment, saying in a statement, "The college athletics landscape is shifting constantly. We don't address every anonymous rumor."  

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A move from Oklahoma and Texas would also likely lead to the dissolution of the Big 12. The conference would be unable to attract replacements on the scale of either team as football is the prominent revenue producer in college sports. 

The SEC went to 14 teams in 2012 when Texas A&M and Missouri joined the conference from the Big 12. The Big 12 previously lost Colorado to the Pac-12 and Nebraska to the Big Ten. The Big 12 replaced those four schools with TCU and West Virginia. 

Will this happen?

The Chronicle report said an announcement regarding the schools joining the conference "could come within a couple of weeks." If that announcement happens and it's about OU and UT leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, a lot of things will have been already sorted out.

The Big 12's media grant-of-rights contract currently runs for another few years. The schools would have to get out of that contract to make the move. They would also have to work with the SEC on revenue distributions going forward to make sure the move was financially beneficial. And there would also be an entry date already settled. 

There's also a complicating factor in the Oklahoma state legislature, per CBS. 

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Texas A&M also doesn't seem to be a big fan of the idea. Aggies athletic director Scott Woodward said at SEC Media Days that his school wanted to be the only one in the state in the SEC. How would the SEC go about adding a rival against a current member's wishes?

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Why would Texas leave?

It's easier to rationalize Oklahoma's decision to leave the Big 12 than it is Texas. The Longhorns have top billing in the Big 12 and their own cable network as the Big 12 is the only Power Five league without its own cable network. What would happen to the Longhorn Network? And why would Texas follow in the footsteps of Texas A&M?

There's also competitive reasons to think about for Texas. Oklahoma has owned the Big 12 in recent years as Texas is now on its third coach since Mack Brown. The Longhorns haven't won the Big 12 since 2009 and would immediately be behind Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, A&M and maybe even LSU in this new-look SEC barring a drastic improvement under new coach Steve Sarkisian. 

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