Last time Texas had a wandering eye to attend another conference, it fuelled a series college sports realignments that almost killed the Big 12.
Texas is once more exploring free agency. This has grabbed the attention of the Southeastern Conference media days, and sparked speculation about a new round of conference shifting. The Longhorns are not the only ones looking.
According to a source familiar with the matter, there have been talks between Texas officials and Oklahoma officials regarding switching conferences. However, no formal invitations were extended.
According to the person who spoke under anonymity as the discussions were confidential, officials from Texas started the discussion. The Houston Chronicle first reported the discussions.
The SEC 16 powerhouse teams would be strengthened by the addition of two more members. This is the largest number of major college football teams. Two schools losing would be devastating for the Big 12, which is now made up of 10 members.
Questions regarding the report were met with a series of non-commentary responses from the principal parties, but no denials.
Greg Sankey, SEC Commissioner, stated that he was referring to the 2021 season at SEC football media events.
Ross Bjork, Texas A&M’s athletic director, was insistent about not wanting the Longhorns in the SEC, which was once the school’s biggest rival.
Bjork stated to reporters that Texas A&M wants to be the only SEC state program. “There is a reason Texas A&M quit the Big 12 to be independent, to have our own identity. That’s what we feel.
To extend an invitation to join, at least three-fourths (11) of members must vote in accordance with the SEC bylaws
Oklahoma stated in a statement that the college athletic landscape is changing constantly. “We don’t address every anonymous gossip.”
Texas responded with a similar statement: “Speculation always swirls about collegiate athletics. Rumours and speculation will not be addressed.
AP reached Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 Commissioner. He did not respond to messages. He spoke last week at Big 12 media events in Arlington, Texas about how conference realignment is no longer a major concern for the Big 12.
He said, “Not saying it couldn’t happen but it’s certainly not one of my concerns.”
A deal its schools reached after the last round in realignment to transfer their media rights to the league via their existing television contracts would make it difficult for them to move out of the Big 12. This agreement is in line with the Big 12’s agreements with Fox and ESPN, and will continue through the 2024-25 school years.
In 2010, the Pac-10 attempted to lure Texas and five other Big 12 schools to the West Coast-based conference in order to create a Pac-16.
Texas decided to stay put and started its own television network. Another flirtation between Texas and Oklahoma, and the then-Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott led to Texas A&M moving for the SEC in 2012. Missouri was next.
After losing Nebraska to the Big Ten, Colorado to the Pac-12 and Colorado to Colorado respectively, the Big 12 managed to hold on to their position by inviting West Virginia and TCU.
For three years, college sports were turned upside-down as schools and conferences scrambled for attention. Before finally reorganizing as the American Athletic Conference, the Big East was taken out of major college football.
For the Big 12, life without Texas and Oklahoma would not be possible.
Oklahoma State responded strongly to even an unconfirmed claim.
The Cowboys stated that if true, they would be “gravely disappointed”. “We place a high value on history, loyalty, and trust. But, rest assured that we will vigorously defend Oklahoma State and our athletic program which continues to excel nationally and in the Big 12.
The mere idea of Texas and Oklahoma being added to the nation’s strongest football conference will be noticed by the Power Five conferences. These league leaders are keen to increase the College Football Playoff’s number to 12 teams.
Oklahoma, the only Big 12 team to reach the playoffs, has done so four times. Although the CFP path would be more difficult through the SEC, a larger field could offer more options.
The SEC has signed a new TV deal with ESPN, which gives all rights to the cable TV sports company. The SEC is unsure if Oklahoma and Texas would allow it to increase the value and not just cover additional members at the current rate.
In a statement earlier this year, the SEC stated that it had distributed approximately $45.5 million to each of its members. The conference gave $10 million less to the Big 12 schools.
Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M’s coach, answered a question about Oklahoma and Texas being interested in joining the SEC during a session in Hoover. He said that he believed they would.
Fisher stated, “Listen, We’ve Got the Greatest League in Baseball.” “That’s their choices or what they do. I don’t know. But I don’t know how it feels.