With the expansion of the College Football Playoff on the horizon and the sport as a whole undergoing a radical change, another conference reshuffle may be on the horizon. Texas and Oklahoma have reportedly “reached out” to the SEC to join the league if the two major 12 power plants choose to leave their home conference.
Quotes “a senior official with college with knowledge of the situation,” Houston Chronicle‘s Brent Zwerneman reported first that the SEC could announce the addition of Longhorns and Sooners “within a few weeks.”
Texas initiated the conversation, according to a source. Horns is expected to inform the Big 12 that they do not plan to extend their media rights deal with the conference, according to stadium Brett McMurphy, who also reports that there is interest on both sides of the conversation. The Big 12’s rights allocation agreement expires in 2025.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey would not address the reports while attending the 2021 SEC Media Days on Wednesday.
“No comment on that speculation,” he told CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. Sankey later added: “We are only concerned about the 2021. season. Someone has lost a report from unnamed people.”
Texas and Oklahoma released similar statements refusing to acknowledge the reports.
“Speculation is swirling around collegiate athletics. We will not address rumors or speculation,” Longhorns said.
“College athletic change is constantly changing. We do not address every anonymous rumor,” Sooners said.
Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork made it clear to total media on Wednesday that he wants the Aggies to be the only Lone Star State team in the conference. Texas A&M and Missouri were the two teams that left the Big 12 for the SEC in the final round of conference rescheduling nearly a decade ago.
“I have not read the article, but if you ask me for some kind of commentary on college athletics, it will change,” Bjork told Dodd. “So what does it look like? I do not know … We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas. There’s a reason Texas A&M left Big 12: to stand alone to have our own identity.”
There was talk at the time that Texas and Oklahoma were potentially leaving the Big 12 for either the Pac-12 (then the Pac-10) or the SEC, but nothing came of these discussions as both ultimately remained with the league they have been members of since 1996. Oklahoma was already part of the Big Eight when it transitioned to the Big 12 in 1996 by adding Texas as one of four programs from the defunct Southwest Conference.
However, the Big 12 was reduced to 10 teams during this rematch round, and it has struggled to regain its footing among its Power Five peers. Texas and Oklahoma have supported the league since its reduction in size, and if they left it, it would put the Big 12 on the brink of collapse.
The addition of Longhorns and Sooners would make the SEC the first 16-team super-conference – a development that has long been discussed as an option should there be a new conference reshuffle – while adding massive firepower to a league that is already seen as the best in college sports.
However, Oklahoma and Texas will face opposition within the Big 12 and beyond. Oklahoma State officials made it clear they were not supporting their potential departure for yet another conference.
“We have heard unconfirmed reports that OU and UT are addressing officials from the Southeastern Conference on Accession to the SEC,” OSU said in a statement. “We gather information and will monitor closely. If that is true, we would be seriously expelled. While placing a prize on history, loyalty and trust, rest assured, we will aggressively defend and promote what is best for Oklahoma State and our strong athletic program that continues to excel in the Big 12 and nationally. “
As for the SEC, its statutes say that 11 out of 14 institutions must vote in the affirmative to invite new members to the conference. There may be some current SEC teams – in addition to Texas A&M – who are reluctant to accept additional league members for countless reasons, including concerns about future expansion in their states. However, Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reports that “getting 11 of the 14 votes does not bully to be a problem.”