Texas, Oklahoma Indicate They'll Leave the Big 12 for the SEC

Sports

The New York Times 26 July, 2021 - 12:40pm 57 views

Did Texas and Oklahoma leave the Big 12?

Texas, Oklahoma leaving Big 12 Conference as college football shake-up begins. Oklahoma and Texas have informed the Big 12 of their intent to withdraw from the conference, the two schools announced Monday, in a move that paves the way for the powerhouse programs to become the newest members of the SEC. USA TODAYTexas, Oklahoma leaving Big 12 Conference as college football shake-up begins

The Longhorns and the Sooners may move to the Southeastern Conference, which could soon have 16 teams. The repercussions would be felt across college sports.

Starting what would be the most consequential reordering of college sports conferences in about a decade, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas told the Big 12 on Monday that they would leave the league in the coming years.

The formal notifications involving media rights were required under the Big 12’s bylaws and opened the way for the schools to move to the Southeastern Conference, which could swell into a 16-team league and sweep up far greater power, wealth and athletic prestige.

Oklahoma and Texas, on-field rivals but tethered to each other in this shift, said in a joint statement that they would not renew their existing television deals after they expire in 2025. The schools said they “intend to honor their grant of rights agreements,” but lawyers and broader forces in college sports could ultimately let them exit those Big 12-connected contracts far sooner.

The universities, which could earn millions more a year if they are part of the SEC’s television package, seemed to allow for that possibility when they said they would “continue to monitor the rapidly evolving collegiate athletics landscape as they consider how best to position their athletics programs for the future.”

Although the decisions by Oklahoma and Texas will have the greatest effects on the Big 12 and, most likely, the SEC, their choices will drive a process known as realignment that can scramble the membership rosters of conferences from coast to coast. Every year brings some shifts inside the sprawling N.C.A.A., which has about 1,100 member schools, but transitions from one Power 5 conference to another are far less common. When they do occur, they carry outsize financial and competitive consequences.

Much like coaching changes and player commitments, plans for conference switches can collapse before they are made final. In 2010, Texas and Oklahoma both weighed moving to what is currently the Pac-12, a central story line in that era’s round of realignment.

But Monday’s notices to the Big 12 are among the strongest possible indications that the universities expect new deals to materialize imminently. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the decisions by the schools left the Big 12’s other members “disappointed.”

“We recognize that intercollegiate athletics is experiencing rapid change and will most likely look much different in 2025 than it does currently,” he added in a statement.

The SEC, the country’s premier college football conference, has been at the heart of what Texas last Wednesday unconvincingly played down as “rumors or speculation” about the futures of the Longhorns and the Sooners. The league already includes some of the mightiest brands in football, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana State, but drawing in Oklahoma and Texas would add two proud, tradition-bound programs.

And it would almost certainly enrich the league, which has declined to comment, in dramatic ways.

In December, the SEC announced a deal with ESPN that will, according to people familiar with its terms, pay the league about $300 million a year. The additions of Oklahoma and Texas would give the conference new leverage for a rights agreement whose value could skyrocket with the arrival of two powerhouses.

Indeed, one of the thorniest subjects surrounding the expected defections of Oklahoma and Texas has been how much the universities might pay to the Big 12 and its schools in a buyout agreement. Like all other Big 12 schools, Texas and Oklahoma agreed to give the conference control of their most lucrative television rights, including football and most men’s and women’s basketball games, which the conference then sold to ESPN and Fox in a $2.6 billion deal that goes through the 2024-25 school year.

Under the Big 12’s bylaws, the schools have to pay tens of millions of dollars each — and forfeit tens of millions of dollars more — if they leave the conference before the rights agreement ends. Negotiations, or abruptly planned exits by other Big 12 schools that would further destabilize the league, could substantially whittle those costs and free Oklahoma and Texas to play elsewhere earlier.

A college sports executive with knowledge of the deliberations said that Oklahoma and Texas had contacted the SEC months ago, but that talks between the league and the schools had accelerated more recently. The SEC’s rules require that 11 of its 14 universities vote in support of a school that applies for membership.

Just one SEC school — Texas A&M — has voiced public opposition so far.

“We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas,” Ross Bjork, Texas A&M’s athletic director, told reporters last week. He said the university should “have our own stand-alone identity in our own conference.”

But the fury of the Aggies is poised to have only so much of a shelf life. Over the weekend, after Texas A&M’s board called a Monday evening meeting to discuss college athletics, the university’s president, M. Katherine Banks, said the school looked forward to “continued success in our SEC partnership for many years to come.”

The Big 12’s future is less clear, and the planned exits of Oklahoma and Texas, among the league’s founding members about 27 years ago, may prove a crippling blow. The other Big 12 members are Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas Christian, Texas Tech and West Virginia.

Although Baylor and Kansas have marquee basketball programs and Iowa State has been rising in football, Oklahoma and Texas are the conference’s main attractions despite the more than a decade since either won a national title in football. Oklahoma has appeared in (and lost) four College Football Playoff semifinal games since the 2015 season, and Texas, despite a run of gridiron mediocrity, has remained one of the sport’s most prominent teams.

Both schools also have strong records in sports besides football and basketball. Oklahoma is a hub for men’s and women’s gymnastics, and the Sooners won the 2021 national championship in softball. Texas recently won the 2020-21 Directors’ Cup, awarded annually to the country’s top college athletic program, after taking home titles in men’s swimming and diving, women’s rowing and women’s tennis.

Conference and university leaders have been in closed-door discussions in recent days about the way forward for the remnants of the Big 12, and officials from other leagues are watching closely to see whether they might want to expand their own ranks.

Kevin Warren, the Big Ten commissioner, said on Thursday that he and others were “constantly evaluating what’s in the best interests of the conference.” George Kliavkoff, the new Pac-12 commissioner, told The Mercury News that he was not actively recruiting any schools to join the conference, but that “we’d be foolish not to listen if schools call us.”

Bowlsby asserted Monday that the Big 12’s “remaining eight institutions will work together in a collaborative manner to thoughtfully and strategically position the Big 12 Conference for continued success, both athletically and academically, long into the future.”

Read full article at The New York Times

Opinion: Ohio State needs Big Ten to outflank SEC by joining forces with ACC/Notre Dame

Yahoo Sports 26 July, 2021 - 11:06am

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

Andy Behrens, Dalton Del Don, Matt Harmon, Liz Loza, Scott Pianowski

You Pod to Win the Game

The worrywarts have legitimate reasons to fret. Begin with recruiting. The Buckeyes have done well to snatch elite talent out of Texas, including top-rated quarterback Quinn Ewers.

Ohio State’s allure derives from a mix of coaching, led by Ryan Day (head coach/quarterbacks), Brian Hartline (wide receivers) and Larry Johnson (defensive line), and the Buckeyes reputation for producing first-round NFL draft picks — 16 since 2016 alone. Top it off with a record-four consecutive Big Ten titles and five appearances in the College Football Playoff and no wonder Ohio State attracts the best high school players in the nation.

But the recruiting trail gets rockier if Texas and Oklahoma bail on the Big 12. Five-star recruits from the talent-rich Lone Star state want to play against the best, and the SEC with the additions of those two programs would provide that chance more than Ohio State in the Big Ten.

There also is the money issue. Adding Texas and Oklahoma would put the SEC in line for new TV rights deals that, based on an increase in ratings, would at least match what the Big Ten manages. ESPN would be looking at adding another $130 million annually to what is already a $300 million exclusivity contract with the SEC.

Because ESPN also is looking to spend $500 million to secure the proposed 12-team playoff, how willing would the network be to throw crazy money at the Big Ten in future contract negotiations? That’s bad for Ohio State, because less money means having to dig deeper into shallower pockets to keep up with the SEC in everything from facilities to coaching salaries to recruiting to funding name, image, likeness education as NIL compensation evolves.

How to fight back? Three options: The Big Ten could merge with the Atlantic Coast Conference to create a powerful football-basketball force that would match the SEC — and supplant it at No. 1 if Notre Dame could be convinced to go all-in by joining the new Big ACC. For those thinking the Fighting Irish might just join the Big Ten instead? Sorry, but not happening. Notre Dame considers itself more East Coast cosmopolitan than Midwest practical.

That potential merger does seem like a stretch. (For one thing, it’s hard to picture Clemson, Florida State and Miami wanting to play at Wisconsin and Minnesota in November.) If realigning with the ACC is too extreme, then the Big Ten’s next-best option is going after Southern California, Oregon and maybe UCLA.

The Trojans and Ducks (Nike!) have the brand appeal that would help the Big Ten trend upward, unlike with trying to add Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh or West Virginia.

Geographically it makes little sense, but college football is changing so fast that travel issues are of secondary concern, especially if millions of dollars can be made flying west of the Rockies.

Now, to address the "Nothing to see here" crowd bothered by what it views as an overly-panicked Buckeye Nation.

It is true that at a base level, nothing really changes for Ohio State if Texas and Oklahoma join the SEC. It’s not like the Buckeyes’ schedule becomes more difficult or their odds of winning the Big Ten and making the four-team playoff diminish. It’s fair to argue the opposite, that the Longhorns and Sooners joining the SEC weakens the Big 12 to an extent that its conference champion is less worthy of a playoff spot, and that helps the Big Ten.

It should be noted that within the SEC, powers like Alabama and LSU might regret adding Texas and Oklahoma if it means more regular-season losses.

In the end, however, the SEC comes out ahead, if only because adding two football factories — even if Texas is more a phony than a factory these days — focuses America’s college football attention to the South. And more eyeballs equal more power.

Day isn’t sure what to make of it all.

"I honestly can’t tell you which way is up," Day said Friday during Big Ten media days in Indianapolis. "To sit here and tell you, with the one-time transfer, with name, image and likeness … CFP expansion, realignment, it’s like, ‘Wow,’ there’s just so many things right now. We may wake up in five years and not recognize college football. All of these things can affect (Ohio State), but to know what those things are going to be? I can’t answer right now."

Fair enough, but here’s one clear answer: Time for the Big Ten to be more proactive than reactive. For a change.

One SEC source believes that Oklahoma and Texas will join in 2022.

The schools did not specify which conference they intend to join, but all signs point to the Southeastern, which would swell to 16 teams.

The Horned Frogs have weighed in on OU, UT leaving the Big 12

The Longhorns and Sooners have all but left the Big 12 for the SEC. Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel take you inside the meetings this past weekend between the two schools and their scorned conference members. Is this move bad for college football? Which schools would we target if we ran the Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten and the ACC?

The Big 12 is likely losing the rest of their teams if Texas and Oklahoma go to the SEC. Where will they go?

The question of whether Aaron Rodgers is leaving Green Bay may finally be answered. The QB reportedly told people close to him he plans to play for the Packers in 2021.

Barring some type of legislative or governmental Hail Mary, this is expected to sail through and be voted on by the SEC sometime this week, sources told Yahoo Sports.

Many colleges across the country are telling students a COVID-19 vaccination is required if they want to attend classes on campus during the upcoming academic year. Rolovich declined to explain, citing ''reasons which will remain private.'' But the lack of clarity coupled with Washington State's requirement for students and staff to be vaccinated prior to the start of the school year - with certain exemptions - has set off a firestorm around the Cougars program and will make Rolovich the center of attention during an event that he'll be attending virtually. ''Anybody in a leadership position in the state of Washington, I believe, has an obligation to lead and use their leadership position to save lives,'' Gov. Jay Inslee said last week.

There are reports that Oklahoma State has expressed interest in becoming a new member of the Big Ten

The idea of the Oklahoma Sooners to the SEC seems less about Big 12 leadership and more about a money grab.

As the landscape of college football shifts and the Big 12 looks to be on the brink of collapse, can the AAC add members of the Big 12?

Talking season is underway! SEC Media Days, league predictions, a look at the non-conference and more this week.

Texas and OU said Monday they’re not sticking around after the Big 12’s current media rights contract expires in 2025

Big 12 Conference releases statement after meeting with University of Oklahoma President Jay Harroz.

If the SEC expands to 16 teams, would the ACC and Big Ten be better off working together instead of expanding?

Daily College Football Cavalcade: Texas and Oklahoma might leave for the SEC, but there are a few key things missing in the speculation.

Both schools issued a joint statement saying they do not intend to renew their grants of media rights following the expiration in June 2025.

Eyeing the SEC, Oklahoma and Texas Plan to Leave the Big 12

ESPN 26 July, 2021 - 09:42am

The Longhorns and the Sooners may move to the Southeastern Conference, which could soon have 16 teams. The repercussions would be felt across college sports.

Starting what would be the most consequential reordering of college sports conferences in about a decade, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas told the Big 12 on Monday that they would leave the league in the coming years.

The formal notifications involving media rights were required under the Big 12’s bylaws and opened the way for the schools to move to the Southeastern Conference, which could swell into a 16-team league and sweep up far greater power, wealth and athletic prestige.

Oklahoma and Texas, on-field rivals but tethered to each other in this shift, said in a joint statement that they would not renew their existing television deals after they expire in 2025. The schools said they “intend to honor their grant of rights agreements,” but lawyers and broader forces in college sports could ultimately let them exit those Big 12-connected contracts far sooner.

The universities, which could earn millions more a year if they are part of the SEC’s television package, seemed to allow for that possibility when they said they would “continue to monitor the rapidly evolving collegiate athletics landscape as they consider how best to position their athletics programs for the future.”

Although the decisions by Oklahoma and Texas will have the greatest effects on the Big 12 and, most likely, the SEC, their choices will drive a process known as realignment that can scramble the membership rosters of conferences from coast to coast. Every year brings some shifts inside the sprawling N.C.A.A., which has about 1,100 member schools, but transitions from one Power 5 conference to another are far less common. When they do occur, they carry outsize financial and competitive consequences.

Much like coaching changes and player commitments, plans for conference switches can collapse before they are made final. In 2010, Texas and Oklahoma both weighed moving to what is currently the Pac-12, a central story line in that era’s round of realignment.

But Monday’s notices to the Big 12 are among the strongest possible indications that the universities expect new deals to materialize imminently. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the decisions by the schools left the Big 12’s other members “disappointed.”

“We recognize that intercollegiate athletics is experiencing rapid change and will most likely look much different in 2025 than it does currently,” he added in a statement.

The SEC, the country’s premier college football conference, has been at the heart of what Texas last Wednesday unconvincingly played down as “rumors or speculation” about the futures of the Longhorns and the Sooners. The league already includes some of the mightiest brands in football, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana State, but drawing in Oklahoma and Texas would add two proud, tradition-bound programs.

And it would almost certainly enrich the league, which has declined to comment, in dramatic ways.

In December, the SEC announced a deal with ESPN that will, according to people familiar with its terms, pay the league about $300 million a year. The additions of Oklahoma and Texas would give the conference new leverage for a rights agreement whose value could skyrocket with the arrival of two powerhouses.

Indeed, one of the thorniest subjects surrounding the expected defections of Oklahoma and Texas has been how much the universities might pay to the Big 12 and its schools in a buyout agreement. Like all other Big 12 schools, Texas and Oklahoma agreed to give the conference control of their most lucrative television rights, including football and most men’s and women’s basketball games, which the conference then sold to ESPN and Fox in a $2.6 billion deal that goes through the 2024-25 school year.

Under the Big 12’s bylaws, the schools have to pay tens of millions of dollars each — and forfeit tens of millions of dollars more — if they leave the conference before the rights agreement ends. Negotiations, or abruptly planned exits by other Big 12 schools that would further destabilize the league, could substantially whittle those costs and free Oklahoma and Texas to play elsewhere earlier.

A college sports executive with knowledge of the deliberations said that Oklahoma and Texas had contacted the SEC months ago, but that talks between the league and the schools had accelerated more recently. The SEC’s rules require that 11 of its 14 universities vote in support of a school that applies for membership.

Just one SEC school — Texas A&M — has voiced public opposition so far.

“We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas,” Ross Bjork, Texas A&M’s athletic director, told reporters last week. He said the university should “have our own stand-alone identity in our own conference.”

But the fury of the Aggies is poised to have only so much of a shelf life. Over the weekend, after Texas A&M’s board called a Monday evening meeting to discuss college athletics, the university’s president, M. Katherine Banks, said the school looked forward to “continued success in our SEC partnership for many years to come.”

The Big 12’s future is less clear, and the planned exits of Oklahoma and Texas, among the league’s founding members about 27 years ago, may prove a crippling blow. The other Big 12 members are Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas Christian, Texas Tech and West Virginia.

Although Baylor and Kansas have marquee basketball programs and Iowa State has been rising in football, Oklahoma and Texas are the conference’s main attractions despite the more than a decade since either won a national title in football. Oklahoma has appeared in (and lost) four College Football Playoff semifinal games since the 2015 season, and Texas, despite a run of gridiron mediocrity, has remained one of the sport’s most prominent teams.

Both schools also have strong records in sports besides football and basketball. Oklahoma is a hub for men’s and women’s gymnastics, and the Sooners won the 2021 national championship in softball. Texas recently won the 2020-21 Directors’ Cup, awarded annually to the country’s top college athletic program, after taking home titles in men’s swimming and diving, women’s rowing and women’s tennis.

Conference and university leaders have been in closed-door discussions in recent days about the way forward for the remnants of the Big 12, and officials from other leagues are watching closely to see whether they might want to expand their own ranks.

Kevin Warren, the Big Ten commissioner, said on Thursday that he and others were “constantly evaluating what’s in the best interests of the conference.” George Kliavkoff, the new Pac-12 commissioner, told The Mercury News that he was not actively recruiting any schools to join the conference, but that “we’d be foolish not to listen if schools call us.”

Bowlsby asserted Monday that the Big 12’s “remaining eight institutions will work together in a collaborative manner to thoughtfully and strategically position the Big 12 Conference for continued success, both athletically and academically, long into the future.”

Opinion: It is a money grab, not failed leadership that is leading Oklahoma to the SEC

Sooners Wire 25 July, 2021 - 07:41am

Plenty more opinions and reports are circulating daily in the ongoing Oklahoma to the SEC saga.

There are plenty of theories why such a move is suddenly on the table for both the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns. Is the Big 12 Conference dying? Are the two schools looking to jump ship before it sinks? Is it lost faith in leadership? Is it tied to money?

Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman (subscription required) writes it is lost faith in the Big 12’s leadership that is leading both Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC.

Since the Houston Chronicle broke the story Wednesday afternoon, the process has been expedited, and the only apparent opposition is coming from SEC member Texas A&M and political factions in both Oklahoma and Texas.

The OU source said the decision is a result of university administrators’ diminishing belief that the Big 12 is a viable and sustainable conference.

“It’s pretty clear there’s not a long-term future in the Big 12,” the source said. “This is not personal. This has to be a singular focus: what’s best for the University of Oklahoma.”

While that could be a piece of the pie, it is ultimately about the money when it comes to conference realignment. The conference’s TV deal is set to end in 2025, and it doesn’t appear any negotiations are ongoing. According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal back in May, Big 12 TV partners declined early negotiations.

Notable story @AJ_DonWilliams wrote back in May. Seems everyone is bringing this up.https://t.co/uazopXbKKZ

— Carlos Silva Jr. (@cmsilvajr) July 22, 2021

This could be a huge factor in why both Oklahoma and Texas are looking to bolt for greener pastures. The SEC recently signed a new deal with ABC/ESPN that will be a significant increase from its current deal with CBS. Each school earned $45.3 million in payouts during the 2019 season. The new contract that begins in the 2024 season will be upward of $55 million to each of the conference’s 14 members.

That number with the addition of both Oklahoma and Texas should increase. According to the Wall Street Journal, Texas is the No. 1 college football program in terms of value. They are worth north of $1 billion and Oklahoma is No. 7 with a value of roughly $885 million. They would join a conference that has the No. 3 most valuable team (Alabama), No. 6 (Georgia), No. 8 (Auburn), No. 9 (LSU), and No. 10 (Tennessee).

Having those schools in place with the two teams looking to leave the Big 12 could give the SEC a lot of leverage to increase those numbers to the $75-80 million range in payouts per season. That is significantly more than the $38 million Oklahoma gets from the Big 12 Conference.

Rather than state that it is failed leadership, let’s call it what it is. Leaving doesn’t necessarily give them the competitive advantage the Sooners currently have. Sure, recruiting could be better, but there will be more funds to enhance facilities that could entice more high-level recruits. Their path to the CFP is easier through the Big 12, but money talks.

It could very well mean that isn’t so much that they believe the conference isn’t sustainable, but more they don’t believe leadership could get them the payout they desire.

The Oklahoma Sooners football team wants to be the best in the nation. To be the best you have to beat the best. In the SEC they will get that opportunity.

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The Big 12 and commissioner Bob Bowlsby have released a new statement following Oklahoma and Texas' letter to indicate an exit of the (...)

Under Alex Grinch, the Oklahoma Sooners' defense has gotten much better over the last several years. Heading into 2021, the Sooners' defense could be even better. Two players who were a big part of Oklahoma's defensive resurgence in 2020, Nik Bonitto and Brian Asamoah, return for their junior season and will help take Grinch's defense to another level.

Bonitto has already found himself on the Bednarik Award watch list and is a preseason first-team All-American selection by the Sporting News and Walter Camp. He also was a Big 12 first-team All-Conference selection as well.

If the season goes like many expect...

One SEC source believes that Oklahoma and Texas will join in 2022.

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