With Texas and Oklahoma both accepting invitations to join the Southeastern Conference, a 16-team SEC is coming. The only question remaining is when. The Big 12’s television deal and grant of rights agreement expire ahead of the 2025 season, and both teams have indicated that this is the target timeline to join the SEC.
But let’s be realistic. Oklahoma and Texas have no intentions of sitting in a lame-duck conference for the next four seasons while there’s money left on the table in the SEC. In all likelihood, both will find a way to jump ship before the end of those agreements, whether they pay the buyouts themselves or a different stakeholder (like ESPN, who stands to make a lot of money with SEC expansion due to the TV network) fronts the cash.
The two teams could potentially join the conference much, much earlier than that, and though they will certainly remain in the Big 12 at least for the 2021 season, what if they didn’t? Where would the two teams stack up in the SEC?
USA TODAY Sports attempted to answer that question, creating a hypothetical 16-team SEC power ranking for the 2021 season. In this situation, Paul Myerberg has the Gators ranked sixth.
Dan Mullen doesn’t have to look far to find Kyle Trask‘s replacement: Emory Jones is ready for the opportunity and prepared to produce at an all-conference level. What’s separating the Gators from the top third of the SEC are questions about the
health of a defense that under-performed in 2020 and could do so again in 2021.
The Sooners have been consistent contenders for a College Football Playoff spot in recent years, but the Longhorns have struggled mightily in the last decade-plus. Defensive concerns and offensive turnover may have Florida ranked below teams like LSU and Texas A&M in these power rankings, who rank fourth and fifth, respectively, but the Gators have still been more consistent than Texas since Mullen arrived.
Adding two preeminent college football programs to the SEC will only make Florida’s path more difficult (though a 12-team CFP could certainly ease those difficulties). Still, even if they both joined the conference this season, UF would still be expected to finish in the upper half.
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