Jealousy is a spiteful b*tch, isn’t it?
Jealousy drove Texas A&M to the SEC, where they’ve finished above .500 in conference play just three times, but have raked in the cash and the five star recruits. Just ask Ross Bjork, who said “There’s a reason Texas A&M left the Big 12 — to stand alone & have our own identity. That’s our feeling.”
Now, it appears that jealousy might be driving the Longhorns to follow their most bitter rival, as rumors began swirling (again) Wednesday that both Texas and Oklahoma are having hot and heavy conversations with the Southeastern Conference ahead of expected realignment when TV contracts come do in 2025.
It’s an interesting decision for one of the country’s wealthiest universities; with seemingly an endless supply of cash. Money doesn’t feel like the main motivating factor for the Horns, and with just one double digit win season in their last 11 tries, it can’t be because they want a raised competition level. It likely comes down to recruiting; when it comes to the battles between the Longhorns and Aggies, dangling that SEC carrot has helped A&M land the better recruiting class in each of the last two years as Jimbo Fisher has begun to pick up steam in the Lone Star State.
Chris Del Conte got TCU to the Big 12. Now CDC might be slamming the door on their future. Oh, the irony.
For Oklahoma, the SEC has always been the golden ticket. Under Lincoln Riley, the Sooners are in or at least in the conversation for the College Football Playoffs annually, and though they haven’t broken through for a win, they have no reason to be scared. They probably look around the state of the SEC as currently constructed and feel like there are really only 2-4 teams annually that they would really have to gear up for, which isn’t much different than what they’re facing in the Big 12.
As far as the SEC side? They definitely are willing to listen.
Finebaum on the SEC side of things…— Ruf / Writers (@OUupdatedSB) July 22, 2021
“The SEC is about to enter into one of the biggest television deals with ESPN. The college football playoff expansion is on the table. So I think the SEC is sitting here, got the call . . . and I think this thing is pretty far down the track”
But, we will let the Longhorns and the Sooners worry about what they are going to do if/when they get there, the real question is what does this mean for the rest of us?
The first question is, can the Big 12 be saved?
Should the remaining eight programs band together and try and reconstruct the conference, their first calls would likely be to SMU, Houston, and some combination of Memphis/Cincinnati/UCF/USF. The Mustangs couldn’t be thirstier for a Power Five invite (don’t let their fanbase tell you otherwise), but there might be some hurt feelings amongst the rest, who have tried, and failed, to secure an invite to the Big 12 multiple times over the last several years. Ultimately, if the conference can go to ESPN/FOX/Bally whatever/whoever else and sell them on a deal that pays each member school upwards of the $20 million annually they’re getting, well, that’s a lot more than the $7 million AAC teams currently receive. Maybe the TV deal won’t be quite as fruitful without the carrots of Texas and OU, but it’s still going to be eight figures, and more than the AAC. And if you count in the markets that Houston, SMU, and Memphis bring? It’s attractive-ish.
They’ll take the money if it’s offered, period.
But what if the Big 12 can’t be saved?
Just a few years ago, TCU was in a great position, a university with several sports that would be attractive to other power conferences. But with a football program that’s slogged to barely .500 records the last three years and a basketball team that had more transfers this past season than they have postseason wins in the last ten, it’s hard feel super confident that someone like the Pac 12 or Big Ten is going to leap in and save the day. TCU fits in the PAC 12 in some regards — hell, half their freshmen classes seem to come from CA at this point. Geographically it’s not a terrible fit, and it would be easy to develop some natural rivalries in short order. I could see a scenario where the Horned Frogs and Baylor go west as a package deal, forming a division that features the two Arizona schools, Colorado, USC, and UCLA. That’s fun. Or maybe the conference decides to bring in the Texas version of ASU in Tech and Oklahoma State because they feel sorry for them, and become a 16 team super-ish conference that would be well positioned both fiscally and geographically.
Or maybe they tell us to eff off and let the Big 12 die on the vine so that they’re no longer the misfit of the Power Five.
Iowa State fans seem pretty confident that the Big Ten will save them — the Cyclones and Kansas boast AAU designations academically that will qualify them to land North. We don’t know, but ISU to the B10 makes sense on paper. West Virginia should have been an ACC school from the start, and could easily land there if they decide to expand. But for the schools in the middle — especially the small private universities — the fear is real.
If, as it’s rumored to be, both Texas and Oklahoma inform Bob Bowlsby next week that they have no intention of resigning with the league, we will spend the next two years — or more — in a space of suspended animation, wondering what our future as Frog fans will look like.
After so many decades in the desert and just a few short years enjoying the promised land, the thought of being nomads again is anxiety-inducing to say the least.
Big 12 ADs and CEOs meeting at 5 pm today to discuss Texas, OU situation.— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) July 22, 2021
And to add insult to injury? Don’t forget that Gary Patterson’s current contract is set to expire after the 2024 season, something sure to factor in when the interview process for realignment begins.
It’s going to be a long four years friends. Buckle up.
(and let’s take it out on Texas, again, come football season)