Recently, a flurry of reports have hit the college football landscape that could send shockwaves through every major conference in the nation. Blue-blood programs such as Texas and Oklahoma have explored departing the Big 12 conference in hopes of potentially joining the SEC.
Both schools did not participate in a call with Big 12 schools on Thursday night as reported by Yahoo!'s Pete Thamel.
The reasons for two of college football's biggest programs wanting to join the SEC remain unknown, although a mixture of greater financial gains and competitive purposes are likely to have played a big role in the two components of the Red River Rivalry.
In short, a mess is brewing among the two universities seeking to leave and the Big 12. Yet, the current situation is about to get a lot heavier, with lawyers expected to get actively involved on both sides when it comes to legally departing, distributions and television deals just to name a handful of many issues that will need to be sorted out.
That mess is sure to send ripples across the rest of the teams/conferences that are innocently standing by, including Arizona State and the Pac-12.
Help Wanted: Apply Within Conference
So, Texas and Oklahoma ditching the Big 12 would simply reduce the conference’s teams, correct?
In a perfect world, absolutely.
Yet, as everyone knows, no such world exists. The Longhorns and Sooners drive a great deal of money to the conference each year, with a portion of those earnings redistributed among all the teams in the Big 12. Losing both of those schools would not only throw off competitive balance along with national recognition, but also important revenue streams such as television deals could be lost with networks losing their two cash cows.
Stay in the Big 12 (Big Ten? That name is already taken. We'll keep working) with an immediate boost in chances to win a conference title? That's hardly on the mind of decision-makers across the Big 12, as many are now trying to find their way out with recent developments.
Jeremy Clark, a TCU insider for 247 Sports, reportedly was told by sources that the Big 12 was "going to blow up" following the news, signaling teams were ready to ditch the sinking ship before it was too late.
This is where the Pac-12 sees its name tossed in the rumor mill.
Welcome to the Pac . . . 16?
In the same report, Clark listed Texas Tech, TCU and Baylor as programs that have already reached out to the Pac-12 about joining the conference.
At least newly appointed Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff has a sense of humor:
The Pac-12 would likely want a fourth team to enter the league in order to properly balance out the divisions, leaving way for programs such as Oklahoma State to also join the conference in a worst-case scenario.
Thamel wrote a superb piece on the potential ripple effects of the Texas/OU move, pointing out how the ACC would likely suffer the most from a move by the two schools thanks to a poor television deal with ESPN and missing out on the possibility of adding heavyweight Notre Dame to their conference to boost viewership numbers and overall revenue.
Thamel writes that as of now, the ACC's best option is either a scheduling arrangement or a flat-out merger with the Pac-12.
"The Pac-12 is last in line to go to market, and there’s a feeling that it needs to do something creative," said Thamel. "There’s still great value in the West Coast, even if the football has been subpar for the past five years. But this move, the Big Ten deal and an upcoming deal for Notre Dame potentially put the Pac-12 in a position of weakness thanks to a lack of suitors."
All of college football may see different arrangements sooner rather than later, thanks to the decision of two powerhouse programs in search of greener pastures. The Pac-12 conference will likely be waiting for the next necessary course of action, as will Arizona State.
ASU: Future Big 12 Champions?
The Big 12 will do everything in its power to remain intact, and that includes the recruitment of other nearby programs that may be looking for new adventures. Count Arizona State in as a possibility, as Thamel name-dropped the Sun Devils and a handful of other teams as potential new additions:
"Expect the Big 12 to be aggressive in adding schools. It'll knock on doors at Arizona and Arizona State. Perhaps it'll try and lure Colorado back and pry Utah. The Pac-12 is weak now, but the core of USC, Oregon, UCLA and Washington are all more attractive to be aligned with than any of the Big 12 schools."
While it's hard to imagine Arizona State simply packing their bags and departing for midwestern football, sometimes promises made in the name of competition and revenue are too good to pass up.
In a crazy scenario where the Sun Devils do indeed part ways with the Pac-12, they would likely be accompanied by fellow schools within the conference as they make their way into the Big 12.
What are the Actual Chances of Oklahoma and Texas Joining the SEC?
At the moment? Very, very high.
As previously mentioned, it will take time for all of the legal cases to sort themselves out, as the Big 12 will fight tooth and nail to ensure neither team wanting to leave their conference will walk away from honoring their deals without significant compensation.
Once the dust settles in the courtroom, the SEC is expected to welcome Oklahoma and Texas with open arms. Eleven of 14 teams in the conference will have to give the green light for the new acquisitions in a vote.
Austin American-Statesman sports columnist Kirk Bohls reports Texas A&M and Missouri would vote a "hard no" on adding new teams, leaving room for just two more teams in the SEC to deny entry for the Longhorns and Sooners.
Could two other schools join the hard movement led by Texas A&M to keep the SEC as it currently is? Possibly, as some of the lower-tier teams in the conference may not want two more huge programs entering an already ultra-competitive league.
Or perhaps they might encourage the increased shared revenue thanks to the added eyes to the SEC. If we've learned anything, money conquers all in the world of professional and collegiate sports.
The Pac-12 and Arizona State, although simply acting as innocent bystanders, will feel those effects in one way or another.
Donnie Druin is a Deputy Editor with AllSunDevils. Follow Donnie on Twitter @DonnieDruin, and AllSunDevils @AllSunDevils. Like and follow AllSunDevils on Facebook, and for more ASU news visit https://www.si.com/college/arizonastate/