16 Thoughts, Predictions From Texas and Oklahoma Joining the SEC

Christopher Walsh makes some observations and breaks out his crystal ball for how adding the Longhorns and Sooners will change the Southeastern Conference.
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For years, I've said that the best way to compare conferences isn't with the teams or programs at the top, or the bottom, but the ones in the middle. 

What's considered an average program in that league?

For Southeastern Conference football, my thinking over the past few years was Texas A&M fit that mold. It took the Aggies some time to adjust after joining, but when measuring the program's all-time success, everything from the number of national championships, the big-name coaches and players who have gone on to the NFL, seventh out of 14 seemed about right. 

With Texas and Oklahoma also in the mix, though, that thinking has to change. 

The Longhorns and Sooners don't just have a lot of history, they're in an exclusive club at the top of college football in terms of all-time success. That top tier has to include Alabama, obviously, along with Notre Dame, Southern California, Ohio State, and we'll be generous and say Michigan. 

The second tier has Nebraska, Penn State, Florida State, plus a host of SEC schools. We're talking Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee (again, being generous despite recent woes).

That's already half of the SEC.

That's a brutal conference.  

Here are 16 other thoughts and predictions on the SEC with Oklahoma and Texas in the mix: 

Thought: An aspect of the timing that no one is talking about is that the University of Texas bolted at a unique time that completely took the state legislature out of the equation. With numerous Texas House Democrats out of the state, preventing a quorum to block a controversial elections overhaul bill, there's nothing the legislature could do to block the schools from leaving the Big 12. 

You know the saying about too many chefs in the kitchen? Texas is notorious for that, and one of the reasons why the school wasn't able to successfully lure Nick Saban away from Alabama. 

It's not so much that the lawmakers object to joining the SEC, but many are obviously concerned about the other state schools left behind, including Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech. 

Prediction: The league crumbles with the next school to jump ship. 

Thought: Although the other Big 12 schools are playing like they've been stabbed in the back, don't be surprised if Texas and Oklahoma help them land in other conferences. It would prevent them from having to wait until 2025 to start SEC league play.

Prediction: The Big 12 lawsuit that ESPN was trying to destabilize the league will quickly go nowhere, especially since those behind it admit that they have no proof. Nevertheless, the big loser in all this will be Fox, at least for now. 

Thought: Playing a grueling SEC schedule will take its toll on Oklahoma. 

Prediction: The Sooners may have the better overall program now, but with Steve Sarkisian at the helm Texas will adjust quicker and be the first of the two programs to win an SEC football title. 

Thought: Remember what Dan Mullen said at SEC Media Days? This will suddenly become very popular:

"I don’t know how you’d ever do it, but if the league ever wanted to go to a nine-game schedule, which I don’t think anybody’s jumping up and down about right now, but I guess what you do is play four home, four away, and a neutral site game, and you could find different ways or matchups that everybody got to do that. That would be one interesting way to do it."

Prediction: Look for the SEC to seriously consider going to a four-division format, with Texas and Texas A&M not in the same division. Texas could be grouped with Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Texas A&M would be with LSU and the Mississippi schools.  

Thought: Oklahoma softball and gymnastics. Texas baseball. The SEC is about to get even tougher in a lot of sports besides football. 

Prediction: The SEC, which had seven first-round selections in the 2021 NBA Draft on Thursday, will become the top basketball conference in the nation. 

Thought: The SEC will stretch from Athens, Georgia, to Austin, Texas, which means even better road trips for fans. The bigger games it can schedule, the more people they'll be able to attract.  

Prediction: Atlanta will soon no longer be the only home of the SEC Championship Game in football. Also, having outgrown its current home, the league office will move out of Birmingham.  

Thought: The Sugar Bowl will no longer have any interest in a Big 12 tie-in without Oklahoma or Texas (unless the league does something radical like land Notre Dame). Other bowl affiliations will also be severed. 

Prediction: Think of the game Jenga, in which the move that finally causes the tower to fall often happens well before the final piece is pulled. Something like the Sugar Bowl ending its agreement with the Big 12 will be the one to finally scatter the remaining schools. 

Thought: Bigger tournament brackets for the conference championships.

Prediction: Remember this line from Alabama gymnastics, because it's about to become a staple with nearly every other Crimson Tide sport: It's tougher to win the SEC championship than the national title. 

Bonus Thought/Prediction

Look for the SEC growing into a superconference to cause the College Football Playoff expansion to slow some until everyone has a better grasp for how things will play out. There will be a lot of talk and maneuvering about possibly limiting the number of teams from one conference that could qualify for a 12-team playoff, but don't expect it to happen. 

Why? 

Because the better the teams are in the playoff, the better the ratings and the more money the playoff will make. Remember, money is the underlying cause to all of the changes in college football.   

CFP executive director Bill Hancock had said the soonest expansion could be implemented was 2023. There will be some fussing, and a lot of frustration, but as SEC commissioner Greg Sankey noted it was the other conferences that were pushing for playoff expansion all along.  

The guess here is that it'll still happen as soon as possible. 

Alabama wins big in draft 

The second-best reaction I saw to Joshua Primo being selected 12th overall in the 2021 NBA Draft had nothing to with Alabama having back-to-back lottery picks for the first time in program history, or that it was the first time in 25 years that the Crimson Tide had first-round selections, dating back to 1995.  

It was a tweet that Primo was the first Canadian selected in the draft. I laughed, but did you know that Canada has been the second-most represented country in the NBA behind the United States for seven consecutive seasons?

Primo going so early in the draft was huge for Alabama coach Nate Oats, who can now brag about the program having three lottery picks over the last four years. 

“It’s certainly going to help in recruiting,” he said Friday morning.

Herb Jones also went early in the second round to New Orleans, another good fit, making the Crimson Tide one of the few programs to have multiple selections.  

But the biggest winner of the night was Primo. The over/under pick selection for the youngest player in the draft was 28. Not only did he go to the team that he wanted, but one that has a strong reputation for developing players. 

Plus, he'll get a contract worth $15.3 million, including $6.7 million guaranteed. So the best reaction was his: 

Quote of the Day 

“This is how ya’ll do it, ya’ll just outscream each other?”

– QB Jalen Hurts, about halfway through his first in-person press conference since being drafted last year as reporters do what they always do during press conferences, shout out questions then either yield to another question or keep pressing forward and hope someone else yields, per Eagles Maven

Did You Notice?

2021 NBA Draft: Grades For Every First-Round Selection  

Steve Spurrier on Texas Moving to SEC: 'They Can’t Win the Big 12 Anyway'

Now Is Not the Time for Deshaun Watson Trade Speculation

Christopher Walsh's notes column All Things CW appears weekly on BamaCentral 

For years, I've said that the best way to compare conferences isn't with the teams or programs at the top, or the bottom, but the ones in the middle. 

What's considered an average program in that league?

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