At first, the rumors that two of College Football’s biggest powerhouses, Texas and Oklahoma, were getting ready to join the SEC sounded like a bad joke. But now, only weeks away from when the move is expected to become reality, the College Football world is gearing up for some major landscape changes.
This past Thursday’s meeting of Big 12 athletic directors proceeded without representatives from either Texas or Oklahoma, both of which decided they no longer needed to be present.
The remaining commission made it very clear to the two schools that if they do choose to leave the Big 12, that they must fulfill the remainder of their financial commitments from TV and other contracts that had been previously agreed upon. A total sum that would amount to nearly 77 million dollars. Of course, if the schools do reach a deal with the SEC, then paying off their dues will be of no issue.
So what still has to happen to facilitate a major change like this?
Already, the remainder of Big 12 officials have made it clear that they strongly prefer to keep things the way they are now. They also claim they had no notion that the schools were planning this exodus until just recently. Meanwhile, both Texas and Oklahoma have been in talks with the SEC for a few months.
The programs would first need to inform the Big 12 commission that they will not be renewing their TV contracts, which are set to expire in 2025. After this, the presidents of both schools must formally ask the SEC for entrance into the conference. If they receive a 2 thirds vote, which given the circumstances is practically inevitable, they will officially be the newest members of the SEC.
The move is set to send shockwaves across the College Football landscape. One Big 12 Athletic Director even went as far as to say, "It's seismic. Biggest move in 50 years since football broke away from NCAA. New leadership in three of the five P5 conferences means there's not as much familiarity with schools/presidents. Expect the unexpected. Tense times are upon us".
The Longhorns and Sooners face a series of roadblocks in between them and the SEC. According to Big 12 bylaws, all exiting teams must give an 18-month notice prior to leaving the conference. They must also pay a buyout fee equal to the amount to be paid out to the schools in the final two years under contract.
There’s also the fact that schools like Texas A&M and LSU have long enjoyed the advantage of offering playing in the SEC to potential recruits, something that the Longhorns and Sooners would also be able to do if the move is successful. Will those be willing to forfeit that advantage and not speak out against the addition for the sake of a more lucrative conference?
Texas A&M would have the ability to veto the motion to allow Texas into the SEC since they are from the same state. However this power is only a “Gentlemen’s agreement”, it is not legally binding.
If the move is completed the Big 12 would be left with 8 teams and a tough decision to make. They would either need to attract other big-name teams like Houston and SMU, both of which have expressed interest. Or, they would completely dissolve into the other 4 top conferences and leave the Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12, and SEC as the main powerhouses in College Sports.
Whether or not the move will be finalized is still unknown. But what is certain is that what started as just a rumor is potentially a few weeks away from coming to fruition and that if it does manifest, the college sports world is in for a major shakeup.