This afternoon’s report that Texas and Oklahoma may leave the Big 12 for the SEC as soon as this summer has the college football world buzzing. And, for their parts, the Longhorns and the Sooners aren’t really shooting that rumor down. Both schools issued statements this afternoon that read more like non-denials.
A Texas spokesman has this statement about the SEC rumors: "Speculation swirls around collegiate athletics. We will not address rumors or speculation."
— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) July 21, 2021
Just got a statement from Oklahoma. There's no denial in this, as it fails to mention the Big 12. "The college athletics landscape is shifting constantly. We don't address every anonymous rumor."
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) July 21, 2021
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey was equally as coy about a potential 16-team mega-league, telling Brett McMurphy, “We are only worried about the 2021 season. Somebody dropped a report from unnamed people.”
Hmm. You know who isn’t being coy about this potential monumental shift? Oklahoma State.
“We have heard unconfirmed reports that OU and UT approached Southeastern Conference officials about joining the SEC,” OSU officials said, via Ralph d. Russo of the AP. “We are gathering information and will monitor closely. If true, we would be gravely disappointed. While we place a premium on history, loyalty and trust, be assured, we will aggressively defend and advance what is best for Oklahoma State and our strong athletic program, which continues to excel in the Big 12 and nationally.”
Oklahoma State with an assertive statement. pic.twitter.com/BybBf6nCFZ
— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) July 21, 2021
The spokesman might as well have said they’re not mad, they’re just disappointed that the Longhorns and Sooners may flee for greener pastures — emphasis on green. In the 2019 fiscal year, the SEC generated $720.6 million in total revenue, with an average payout of nearly $45.3 million to its schools. In the same fiscal year, the Big 12 generated $439 million in revenue and distributed $38.2 to $42 million to its schools.
When you look at TV deals, the SEC inked a 10-year, $300 million contract with ESPN back in December that’s scheduled to go into effect in 2024, while the Big 12’s current deal with ESPN and FOX expires in 2025. Texas’ station, the Longhorn Network, is currently contracted with ESPN through 2031. Money talks, especially with the NCAA looking weaker and weaker as an organization, to the point even Mark Emmert is talking about decentralizing college sports.
For any of this to happen, three fourths of the SEC’s 14 members would have to approve Texas and Oklahoma joining the league. You have to think that Texas A&M is a no, as are other schools in the west like Missouri and Arkansas. How does the rest of the group feel?