ATHENS — The pending additions of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC has sent shockwaves across the collegiate football landscape this week, with one more swiftly following another as it becomes more of a reality.
Columnist Berry Tramel, of the Oklahoman newspaper in Oklahoma City held court on Monday night via the Ingles On The Beat Show and provided in-depth background and observations as to how the Sooners and Longhorns got to this point, and what could lie ahead.
“Things were going great for Oklahoma, for the athletic department, it’s the golden age,” Tramel said, pointing out the Sooners have made four of the last six College Football Playoffs, won the 2021 Women’s College World Series and have been a national power in gymnastics.
Indeed, even the Oklahoma basketball team is having moderate success, with a 2016 Final Four run, a win in last year’s NCAA tournament and former Sooner Trae Young an emerging NBA superstar with the Atlanta Hawks.
“But some of the events of the last year, with the Supreme Court (NIL) ruling, some television results with the ESPN contract the SEC has and then Fox and ESPN telling the Big 12 they did not want to open early negotiations, and that set off alarms in Normal (Okla.) and Austin (Texas).”
Tramel shared that he does not believe Oklahoma would have left the Big 12 — as the Sooners and Longhorns announced on Monday — had Texas not made the move.
The dynamics are such that the schools are rivals on the field but partners off it, and they are aware of the value they bring together.
“They’ve had a collaboration in the last year,” Tramel said, a concept that was much to the chagrin of Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and the eight remaining Big 12 schools that must now scramble for their athletic departments’ lives.
“These are two schools that have their whole lives been the top dog of wherever they have been: Southwest Conference, Big 8 and together in the Big 12,” Tramel noted. “And they have been able to ramrod a conference with whatever type of policies they wanted to push through.
“That turned off some people. turned off Texas A&M, it turned off Nebraska, and they know it’s not going to be that way in the SEC.”
The SEC Presidents meet on Thursday, at which time they could vote on whether to include the Longhorns and Sooners in the league in 2025, per a statement released earlier today from commissioner Greg Sankey.
The SEC is expected to vote to bring Oklahoma and Texas into the league, even if Tramel said he expects three current schools won’t be seeing eye-to-eye with the Sooners and the Longhorns.
“You can’t count on Missouri and Arkansas and A&M for old connections,” Tramel noted.
Fans will be counting on Oklahoma for an explosive offense on the field, the Sooners’ double-overtime game with Georgia in the Rose Bowl following the 2017 remains a classic.
Tramel said that was Oklahoma’s best team in recent history, and he put the loss to Georgia into perspective and how some Sooners’ fans still second-guess a call the head coach made in the game.
Texas, meanwhile, has just one 10-win season since losing to Alabama in the BCS Championship Game following the 2009 season. The Longhorns have had only the sixth-best Big 12 Conference mark since then, too, per Tramel.
This, despite Texas having the most athletic department revenue of any program in the country per the USA Today’s pre-pandemic financial table.