ATHENS — Texas and Oklahoma set the wheels in motion on their anticipated move to the SEC on Monday, notifying the Big 12 they will not renew their “grants of media rights” after their expiration in June of 2025, per multiple reports.
The schools indicated in a statement they intended to honor the existing contract, but added, “both universities will continue to monitor the rapidly evolving collegiate athletics landscape as they consider how best to position their athlete’s programs for the future.”
That statement would seem to indicate that Texas and Oklahoma might consider paying a reported penalty of $75 to $80 million for leaving early, which would require 18 months per the league’s bylaws.
Monday’s transaction — the first domino to fall — triggers many thoughts, here are three that jump to the front:
The next step for Texas and Oklahoma is to make a formal statement of their interest to join the SEC. The SEC, in turn, would need a supermajority vote of 11-3 from the schools’ presidents and chancellors to extend an invitation for the Longhorns and Sooners to join.
The SEC is expected to get the necessary majority for approval, welcoming the Longhorns and the Sooners -- and padding their respective bank accounts with an additional $15 million annually ($45 million to an estimated $60 million-plus) via a new television contract.
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But when? This week, next month, next year?
Having four 16-team conferences seem to be the most logical progression from here, with the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC picking up the pieces from the Big 12 and perhaps other established programs from Group of Five leagues.
Of course, it’s early and there’s still plenty of time for a change of direction. One thing that seems certain is that money will continue to be key in whatever direction college football heads. Television networks will throw high dollars at schools to manipulate the college landscape in an effort to make it as profitable as possible.
3. New football world
It has been an incredible summer of change with one-time transfer legislation, Name Image Likeness approval, expanded playoff proposals and now this seeming inevitability of conference’s growing.
It seems like college football is trying to be a lot like the NFL. While pro football is a popular product, there’s something about the nuances of the college football game that’s worth preserving.
The question is, at what cost? The global pandemic put many athletic departments in a financial crunch and led many to look closely at how feasible the current college model really is with football footing almost all of the bills for other spots.
UGA athletic director Josh Brooks likes to say that “change is inevitable, but growth is optional,” and that would certainly seem to be the case in this instance. Changes did need to take place for collegiate sports to maintain a workable model amid all the other changes to the landscape.
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Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC is neither the start nor the end of this most recent college football revolution.