The SEC is stronger having gotten Texas and Oklahoma a year earlier

Jerrin Thompson of the Texas Longhorns takes the field during the Valero Alamo Bowl against the Washington Huskies.

Jerrin Thompson of the Texas Longhorns takes the field during the Valero Alamo Bowl against the Washington Huskies.
Picture: Getty Images

The 14-team Southeastern Conference has another year in the open. Baker’s dozen-plus tenures spanned 12 years, when Texas A&M and Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC. Old habits are hard to break, and instead of attacking schools that already felt like outsiders in their own conference, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey oversaw inclusion Two of the Big 12’s strongest brandsTexas and Oklahoma, to bring its league to 16 teams starting in 2024.

That’s right, instead of waiting four years as originally agreed upon two summers ago, the Sooners and Longhorns will be coming to the SEC next year. That’s so fast, but really, who expected him to stick around in a league with secondary firepower? These moves are all about football, and watch the national championship game for proof if you doubt how far ahead the SEC is right now in the Big 12. And that distance is likely only going to widen. It says nothing about the long-term health of a conference in its biggest sport if it has four additions, none of which come from other Power Five conferences. Do you know how bad sure you want to give up the conference for $50 million? With the SEC’s expected annual payouts to schools expected to raise close to $70 million with the new television deal, that price is an oddly large change for those schools and a necessary expense.

The 16-team FBS conference is uncharted territory, especially with a likely national champion among them. Imagine if they can secure Clemson and Florida State in the coming years. The SEC could break away and start its own playoff. It is still unknown how the conference will be divided into divisions, how many conference games each team will play and what guaranteed games we will see each year. Let’s be real, there is no future SEC interaction where the Iron Bowl and Red River showdown do not to be held annually. When the addition of Texas and Oklahoma was originally announced, right in the middle of SEC Media Days, where did it go from the trashy rumors he dismissed With Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork only to acknowledge the fact later that night, speculation ran rampant about how the conference would change. Whether it’s four groups of four, the individual addition of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC East and West, or a complete reimagining of the two-to-eight team divisions, each has its pros and cons to make the future best conference in football and most sports, is shaped.

Geography be damned at the new look conferences

The power shift that comes with Texas and Oklahoma moving to the SEC, along with USC and UCLA moving to the Big Ten, makes for a clear top two in the Power Five Conference system. Geography be damned in college athletics. The Big 12’s addition of West Virginia signaled that a decade ago, but it will look tame compared to a midweek volleyball trip from Los Angeles to New Brunswick, New Jersey. The closest trip for UCLA and USC to each other would be Lincoln, Nebraska. I imagine someone in those sports departments will use a lot of air miles.

The Oklahoma and Texas Conference swaps a year earlier did not It seems like it should change a bunch in college athletics by having different connections for 12 months. That thinking would be wrong. For example, the SEC would appropriate any championship the duo wins. Jocelyn Alo would hit home runs on Women’s World Cup for an SEC school, not one from the Big 12. That thrilling Alabama-Texas football game in September would have added drama because it would be a conference game. And while Texas and Oklahoma didn’t come close to winning a conference championship this season, which doesn’t bode well for winning one in a better, deeper league, Big 12 sports without games in Austin and Norman will be kind of weird Columbia, Missouri and College Station, Texas they cannot be compared. The loss of those brands was difficult, but not irreplaceable. The departure of Oklahoma and Texas will either be the beginning of the end of the Big 12, or a huge blessing in disguise. We will only watch the first part of that journey 365 days earlier. And I’m willing to bet the Sooners and Longhorns won’t be the last to abandon ship.

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