In 2011, almost exactly 10 years ago today, OutKick launched as an independent website amid the chaos of conference realignment. It was during the conference realignment that many of you who still read OutKick today became aware of me and this site.
With the announcement a few hours ago that Texas and Oklahoma have applied to join the SEC is again dejà vu.
Confession: These are my guys from 'favorite stories. I love the intricacies of business, politics, sport and the future of varsity athletics all rolled into one complex chess match.
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Another confession, my wife considers the realignment of conferences to be the most boring topic in the history of sport. She won't be reading this, but if she did read it, her eyes are already rolling.
So let's consider the nine biggest questions raised by the Texas and Oklahoma idea to the SEC.
1. The first and most important question is, what would it take for Texas and Oklahoma to join the SEC?
Oklahoma Head Coach Lincoln Riley speaks from the stage at the 12 Big NCAA College Football Media Days on Wednesday July 14, 2021 in Arlington, TX. (AP Photo / LM Otero)
Well, according to SEC statutes, 11 of 14 SEC schools are expected to vote in favor of the extended offer in Texas and Oklahoma.
That means four SEC schools would have to vote no to prevent this from happening.
So how would SEC schools vote? That's a great question. I don't think the SEC commissioner,Greg Sankey, would bring a vote unless he was convinced conference members would vote for expansion.
However, in recent years Georgia, Florida, Carolina South and Kentucky have banded together to agree to vote against any other school in their states to receive an offer. This prevented Georgia Tech, Florida State, Louisville, and Clemson from receiving an offer to join the SEC. Since this quad was formed, Texas A&M has now entered the SEC as a new member. In theory, these five schools could come together and prevent a school like Texas from receiving an SEC invite.
But does this alliance still exist? And Georgia, Florida, Kentucky and South Carolina, seeing Texas A&M start to rise, would they actually prefer the Aggies to have a competition in a football-mad state like Texas? That's a fantastic question.
Plus, what would Texas A &M and Missouri, two schools that left the Big 12 in part due to influence from Texas, the idea of the Longhorns returning to the conference?
There are already reports according to which two schools would vote no, but how could additional funds and the realignment of the SEC change the calculation of the vote?
Which brings us to a second question.
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2. What would a 16-team SEC look like?
If the SEC grew to 16 teams, the conference would drop two
But a 16-team SEC would actually make planning easier, in a lot of ways. While the SEC teams stuck to eight conference games, the teamscould face the three teams of their
In this way, the SEC would ensure that each Conference team plays against all other conference teams, on and off the road, every four years. So, in theory, a football player would graduate by having played in all the stadiums. Right now, the SEC can go 12 years between some schools ending their schedules on the road and at home.
Also, what if the SEC were to fight for automatic offers for each of his pision champions in the college football qualifiers? i'm not sure if that could happen, but if you knew you only had to finish first in a four-team pision, nfl, to make the playoffs, could be hell of a bargain.
3. Texas and the OCan klahoma get out of their Big 12 TV contracts with ESPN and Fox?
Yes, in four years when their existing TV contracts expire in 2025, every school effectively becomes a free agent.
The assignment of rights agreement ceases to exist at this point.
But what about the Texas Longhorn Network agreement?
This agreement works with ESPN until 2031, but ESPN controls the Longhorn Network and ESPN also controls all SEC rights for the next 20 years.
Thus, the Longhorn Network could easily be integrated into the existing SEC rights package. (The payment in Texas for the Longhorn Network is roughly analogous to what every SEC school currently does from the SEC Network.) ESPN could even turn the Longhorn Network into a permanent SEC Network 2.
Yes, ESPN could engage in not one, but two SEC networks.
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4. What can the Big 12 do to prevent this from happening?
Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian speaks during the 12 big days NCAA College Football Media on Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo / LM Otero)
You can expect a fight.
A big deal.
There might even be a lawsuit.
The State of Oklahoma would do its best to exert political pressure on the Oklahoma Legislature to keep Earlier from leaving. Texas Tech, Baylor, and TCU would work as hard as they can on the Texas Legislature to stop the Longhorns from bailing out.
The departure of Texas and Oklahoma would significantly weaken the value of the other eight Big 12 teams .
I'll leave it to better political experts than I to determine the likely outcome, but if Texas were smart they could argue that his departure would likely lift Houston into the Big 12, putting fans in Cougar in their corner. And, remember, a lot of people said it would be impossible for Texas A&M to leave the Big 12 too.
You might recall that a political action committeehe was even trained to advocate for saving Texas college football. .
The Aggies have moved past this opposition to join the SEC.
While the Big 12 can sue galore, in the end, if Texas and the Oklahoma want to leave, I think it would be difficult to prevent them from doing so, in the absence of major actions taken by local state legislatures. And if, say, one of the legislatures tried to prevent this from happening, that legislature could reduce the influence of the other schools.
If Oklahoma left for the SEC, Oklahoma State would like to go to another big school. conference e. The same goes for other schools.
This could quickly turn into a beggar-thy-neighbor situation, with music conference chairs leaving some schools miserable without homes when the music goes down. stop.
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5. What does Texas A&M want and how many allies does it have in the SEC and the Texas Legislature?
Presumably the Aggies would like to remain the only SEC team in the state of Texas. This gives the Aggies a substantial recruiting advantage now and it was. 'one of the main reasons they left the Big 12 ten years ago.
A cynic would point out that Texas suddenly wants to join the SEC as A&M hits new heights under Jimbo Fisher .
But would a new
The Houston Chronicle revealed this story, specifically a beat Texas A&M writer, Brent Zwerneman.
And it was interrupted on very day of Texas A&M 's appearance in Birmingham, just in time for them to address the largest possible media contingent of the year.
It ' s terribly convenient , don't you think?
So that sounds like a targeted intentional leak as opposed to a story that just happened by chance. Which brings us to the next question: Was this a targeted leak designed to make Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC more or less likely?
My reading here would be that the leak was designed to make it less likely.
Keeping a story like this silent until the last possible moment isthe best way to make such a move happen. Leaking a story like this leaves time for political pressure and the opposition to organize. Silence is the trump card of the stealth movement.
So my bet would be that the leakers are in favor of the status quo and don't want Texas or Oklahoma heading to the SEC.
7. Why would Texas and Oklahoma want to leave the Big 12 for the SEC?
The answer is quite simple, the money. And the prestige. And more money based on a massive increase in potential ticket sales with the SEC's annual competition. I know many of you are already arguing that Texas and Oklahoma would have a harder road to the SEC playoffs, but I don't necessarily believe that's true.
Because now conference champions don't get automatic auctions in ath elimination round extended to 12 teams. Plans call for the six highest-ranked conference champions, then the next six highest-ranked teams.
An SEC with Texas and Oklahoma could claim half of the annual playoff bids in a few years. And that would probably lead to a reshuffle in the number of conference champions offered.
Okay, that could even lead to an argument in favor of 16 teams in the playoffs.
And n Also, don't forget the idea of a
But that would all be in the future.
In the meantime, at what point is SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey seeking to advocate for the widest possible playoffs? The bigger the playoffs, the less Texas and Oklahoma have to lose by joining a new conference.
Finally, Texas and Oklahoma by contacting the SEC implicitly recognize that branding is important and that the Big 12 brand is not strong enough. The best rookies want to play against the best competition. This is the SEC.
8. What about other conferences, could they run errands after Texas and Oklahoma?
This is where things get even more fun.
Could Texas and Oklahoma have run away from this news in an attempt to create a public auction war between the SEC, the Big Ten, the Pac-12 and the ACC against each other in an effort to obtain their services? Of course.
Rather than quietly maneuvering behind the scenes, these schools may have speculated that a leak increases their purchase price. Or allow them to extract a massive ransom / extortion payment from the other Big 12 schools.
And if the Big 12 finally implodes, what could happen elsewhere with the other teams?es? You can see a move where West Virginia and Kansas could make sense for the ACC, for example, to bring the ACC to 16 teams as well. What about Notre Dame and Kansas as full-time additions to the ACC? The chances of the ACC standing still are slim, I think, if the Big 12 implodes.
Meanwhile, could the Big 12 try to expand and add BYU, Boise State and Houston in an effort to protect themselves? Definitely.
Could the Pac-12 race Kansas, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas Tech to reach 16 teams on its own? What about BYU and Boise State at Pac-12? And how would the academic standards of the Pac-12 play out here?
And what about the Big Ten, the real competition from the SEC? Could the Big Ten go after Texas and Oklahoma and bid against the SEC? What if the Big Ten went after Notre Dame and Texas? Or what aboutBig Ten trying to take over Kansas and Notre Dame? Who knows what the Big Ten's backlash might be to the SEC's punch.
Finally, don't rule out the idea of Texas becoming completely independent, or the less threat to do so.
9. What does ESPN want?
Remember, ESPN is pouring the money here. This is the reason why Texas and Oklahoma might want to go to the SEC.
ESPN is going to have to pay a royal ransom to make the SEC even more powerful than it. is not today. The reason the SEC isn't always with CBS in the years to come is because CBS refused to reward the SEC for adding Texas A&M and Missouri. There is no way the SEC would make this move without everyone making a lot more money.
And that money would come mostly from ESPN since ESPN controls all of the SEC's rights to it. 'future.
In fact, you might even see an argument in which ESPN suggests that the SEC create its own digital network and start charging for additional premium content on ESPN +, UFC style.
A big change since the SEC network launched in 2014 In an era post-cable, brands matter more than new markets.
Previously conferences wanted new states to increase their network earnings, now they need better brands to cut the noise. Texas and Oklahoma are two leading brands that would increase SEC membership as a premium product.
A 16-team SEC with Texas and Oklahoma wouldn't primarily compete with the rest of college football anymore, it would compete with AFC and NFC.
This is why the Big 12 's best asset if the Texas and Oklahoma were running away would be ESPN's potential legal liability. If ESPN has a TV deal with the Big 12,how can this also be the primary financial reason for Texas and Oklahoma leaving?
This would appear to violate the network's good faith fiduciary obligations to its existing contractual partner. This is why I think it is entirely possible that ESPN may have to pay substantial money to the remaining members of the Big 12 in an effort to prevent these conference members from suing them.
Remember, this is what happened the last time around when the Big 12 seemed to be on the brink. Colorado, Texas A&M and Missouri all left the Big 12 and despite losing three total teams the Big 12 was able to secure a big TV deal from ESPN and Fox.
Because ESPN had potential legal liabilities if the other Big 12 schools sued.
This situation is still relevant today.
Which means the Big 12, a dead conference that has been running for some time now, could still have a future, albeit more tenuous, even without Texas and Oklahoma in a post collegiate landscape. 2025.
Buckle up, there are a ton of legal intricacies here that are going to be fun to watch unfold.
Can't wait to see it all.
Realignment madness is back, baby! And OutKick will be everywhere, just like we were ten years ago when this site was launched.