As Texas and Oklahoma prepare to enter the SEC by 2025, the issue of scheduling in the 16-team era has become a hot topic among athletic directors and coaches this spring. With two models dominating the conversation, Texas A&M’s Ross Bjork made it clear he will not run from the competition.
During an interview with the Houston Chronicle at last week’s SEC meeting, Ross Bjork spoke about his desire to reignite the in-state rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M.
“If we’re going to expand, then let’s embrace the highest level of competition,” said Ross Bjork. “And that means let’s make sure the primary rivalries are protected. … In an eight-game (SEC) model, Texas wants to keep Oklahoma and Oklahoma wants to keep Texas,” Bjork said of the longstanding Red River Rivalry. “So if you have only one ‘permanent’ rival, that leaves us with LSU. We’re fine with LSU, but we want to play Texas (as well) and we want a third permanent rival. That gets you to the nine-game model.”
The eight-game model would only reserve one yearly rival per team, leaving Texas and Texas A&M in the group of 14 other schools which alternate in groups of seven every other year on the schedule. The nine-game model, which has also been widely discussed, would provide three annual opponents with two rotating groups of six.
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As Ross Bjork pointed out in his statement, if Oklahoma and Texas choose to retain the Red River rivalry series while Alabama and Auburn keep the Iron Bowl alive, LSU and Texas A&M likely get paired together despite holding more fierce rivalries across the conference.
Both teams would likely push for the nine-game model in order to protect their brand, although a timeline for this change remains in flux as the SEC waits for the Big 12 to release its two biggest brands after their shocking exit announcement in 2021.
“From an SEC perspective, 2023 is impractical financially,” Bjork said. “Really, the earliest would be 2024, but that’s up to the Big 12 and Texas and Oklahoma. Based on TV contracts, that would be the earliest it could happen. … Everything that we’re mapping out is fall of 2025. Practically speaking with TV contracts, the earliest would be 2024, if (UT and OU) can get out of their entanglements on the Big 12 side.
“We’re not in charge of that and have no say-so in that.”