If you think 'Horns Down' in the Big 12 is bad, wait until Baton Rouge or College Station finds out.
By now, it has been confirmed that Texas and Oklahoma plan to leave the Big 12 following their current contracts in 2025. The Austin American-Statesman's Kirk Bohls reported Friday that a Big 12 source believed talks between the SEC and the two schools had been ongoing for more than six months.
Also being reported? Texas A&M was left out of all conversations regarding the moves.
There's a difference between trying to renew a rivalry and doing what's best for all involved. Fans have clamored for the game to return since A&M's departure of the Big 12 in 2011.
Ross Bjork, Texas A&M's athletic director, does not see it that way.
"We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas," Bjork said. "There's a reason why Texas A&M left the Big 12 -- to be standalone, to have our own identity."
When former A&M president R. Bowen Loftin announced the Aggies were departing the Big 12 for the SEC in what he called a "100-year decision," fans were not happy. Media outlets called it a "terrible move" and one that would "sour" the legacy of Aggie football.
Almost a decade later, the Aggies are now a contender in a conference where its slogan is 'It just means more.' A&M is coming off a 9-1 campaign in the third year of Jimbo Fisher, finishing 4th in the AP Poll for the first time since 1939.
Entering the season, voters believe the Aggies will finish No. 2 in the SEC West, just behind the likes of Alabama for a second year. Fisher thinks if they treat every game like the Crimson Tide, this could be the year where A&M takes control.
"Kent State is Alabama. Colorado is Alabama. New Mexico is Alabama," Fisher said Wednesday at SEC Media Days in Birmingham, Ala. "You play at that standard all the time. You play big games is how we had such success at Florida State. The bowl games, the National Championship games, that's the standard you play."
Fisher was asked about the report on the Longhorns and Sooners joining the SEC. A simple 'who wouldn't' was the general response.
"I bet they would," Fisher said. "I don't know. I'm just worried about A&M, you know what I mean?"
Fisher later commented on The Paul Finebaum show how the SEC is the staple of college football, meaning if Texas were to join, they best meet the standards.
“Listen, it’s the best league in ball and I’m sure they would like to be here,” Fisher said Wednesday on the SEC Network. “That’s something commissioner Sankey and (others) will have to gauge and see if that’s something the SEC wants to do. … I’ll say this, though: Be careful what you ask for in this league.”
What do you wish for? Does A&M wish to not play Texas?
Loftin, an A&M graduate, reportedly said that there is a "gentlemen's agreement" between SEC schools that gives conference members "absolute veto power" over the addition of another school from their state. This means if Texas were to join, the two schools would breaking the deal.
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Do you think the SEC is going to care over a handshake?
Like everything in life, it comes down to money and an agreement for the conference as a whole. For both schools to join the conference, 11 members must vote yes in favor of the decision.
One can only imagine, it'll be 13 teams or fewer voting in favor of the move.
This should come as little surprise that eventually, Texas would join a conference such as the SEC. Three states -- Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee -- have two SEC schools each. At one point, Georgia also has two representatives with Georgia Tech prior to their departure in 1963.
Money talks, and both programs bring in a massive revenue each fall. According to Forbes.com, Texas comes in as the No. 2 most profitable franchise with an average annual revenue of $147 million. Oklahoma is No. 6 with a $129 million average annual revenue.
The SEC generated a mere $729 million in total revenue during the 2020 fiscal year. The payout? Roughly around $45.5 million. Those numbers are expected to expand with the new TV deal with ESPN after CBS' contract runs out in 2023.
Should the Longhorns reunite with the Aggies in another league, the longtime rivals likely would again meet annually on Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving weekend.
But it's the principle: Texas A&M does not believe they are in the same boat as Texas. It's part of the reason they left the Big 12 to begin with.
Keep in mind that Texas still has a TV deal for Longhorn Network all the way through 2031. Could that play a role in recruiting? Most certainly thanks to the NIL ruling.
That's a loss for A&M, which has ranked higher in recruiting for the majority of the last decade.
A 16-team conference has been in the works well before the news broke Wednesday. Several years ago, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech nearly joined the Pac 12.
Oklahoma is a six-time defending Big 12 winner. Texas brings in great numbers in both revenue and recruits.
Basically, Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC is something that always seemed on the cusp of happening. The opinion of fans wanting or not wanting the rivalry to return was never a thought in the mind of those making the final call.
It's not personal Texas A&M, it's just good business.
CONTINUE READING: Texas A&M's Isaiah Spiller Named Doak Walker Award Preseason Candidate
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