It's really happening. According to multiple reports, Texas and Oklahoma have reached out about joining the SEC. After the original report was published yesterday, I stated my stance on realignment rumors:
"Realignment rumors should not be taken seriously until multiple reliable outlets are reporting the same news."
Only hours later, nearly every national outlet was reporting the same news. This isn't just smoke, this if fire. Will Texas and Oklahoma end up in the SEC? Maybe, Texas A&M is already doing what they can to keep Texas out. Whether Texas leaves for the SEC or not, however, their days in the Big 12 are likely coming to an end.
A Texas-Oklahoma departure for the SEC has the potential to shake up the college football landscape once again. Obviously, shifts in the college football landscape could impact BYU either directly or indirectly. Today, let's break down the best-case and worst-case realignment scenarios for BYU.
In the best-case scenario, BYU would join a relevant power conference.
What would the relevant power conferences look like? Conference realignment is driven by money. If the other power conferences want to keep financial pace with the SEC, they could expand to 16. In this scenario, the 'Power Five' conferences that we know today would likely turn into a 'Power Four' consisting of the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, and PAC-12. Most of the abandoned Big-12 teams would find a home with one of those power conferences in this scenario.
In the best-case scenario, BYU would be invited to one of those relevant power conferences. That conference would have to overlook BYU's quirks and invite them based on their national brand and following.
SI's Pat Forde reported yesterday that "Everything could be on the table, from the long-theorized four Super Leagues to a power-conference breakaway from the NCAA." If the power conferences broke away from the NCAA, BYU could be left on the outside looking in. This would be the worst-case scenario: the power conferences form a league of their own and exclude the non-P5 schools.
According to Forde, that is on the table. That seems unlikely, however, given the recent initiatives to expand the playoff to 12. A 12-team playoff has the potential to accommodate both the power five and the group of five.
Between the best-case scenario and the worst-case scenario, there are dozens of potential realignment scenarios for BYU. Perhaps the Big 12 looks to rebound by inviting BYU and Boise State, maybe the AAC expands West to get to 16 schools, or maybe the Mountain West picks up a few of the abandoned Big 12 schools and BYU. What is the most-likely scenario? I still think the most-likely scenario for BYU is independence.
In this scenario, BYU would be in a solid spot after the realignment dust has settled. Nothing beats an invitation to an autonomous conference in today's college football landscape, but BYU has created a solid foundation for themselves as an independent.