It's been a transformative year in the world of college athletics, particularly when it comes to college football. Over the last 12 months, Notre Dame briefly joined the ACC Conference for the 2020 season, expansion to the College Football Playoff now appears imminent and the new NIL guidelines are officially in effect.
As if all of that isn't enough, another major shakeup is now coming to the world of college football - as Texas and Oklahoma are both officially on their way to the SEC Conference. On Friday, board of regents for both schools announced that they had voted to accept the SEC's invite to join the conference following the 2025 season. The historic move by Texas and Oklahoma puts the future of the Big 12 conference in jeopardy, while other conferences like the Big Ten, Pac 12 and ACC are all looking into the possibility of expansion as well.
For college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, the move by Texas and Oklahoma is disappointing to say the least.
"What's becoming abundantly clear, and I hate to say this because I've always tried to fight it, is people try to stay at the top and try to compete with the SEC," said Herbstreit. "It's all about the money. It's no longer about tradition. It's no longer about the things that I think college football has always kind of tried to stand itself on and on top of and really look at and appreciate rivalries and tradition and things of that nature.
"Right now, I think it's all about money and keeping up with the Joneses. And right now, Texas and OU, they're looking over the horizon to the east and they're seeing that SEC and all that money and they're saying, 'We can't be left behind. We want to go into that neighborhood and we want to join that group of teams.'"
For Herbstreit, the move by Texas and OU signals the end of storied rivalries and traditions within the Big 12 conference.
"I just hate losing the tradition of the sport," said Herbstreit. "I've been, I guess, naïve to it. I've always tried to be the guy that's like, 'no, we're gonna hold onto our traditions. People care about those traditions. They care about those rivalries.' Clearly the decisionmakers don't and we're now in an arms race. It's all about the money."
Back home in the Big Ten conference, the move by Texas and OU has prompted discussions to take place about possible expansion as well. Though expansion is being discussed, Adam Rittenberg of ESPN recently reported that the Big Ten would only be interested in adding AAU (American Association of Universities) schools.
In the midst of so much uncertainty, one thing has become abundantly clear over the last year: the landscape of college athletics is changing at a rapid rate, and it's just getting started.