A decade ago, Texas mocked and ridiculed Texas A&M’s move to the Southeastern Conference, a seismic shift in the college football landscape that eventually kicked off the seismic shift of last week. The impending move of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC is all about the game plan laid down by the Aggies, even if the Horns and Sooners can’t admit it.
You now need the SEC more than the SEC needs you. Sure, no conference is going to turn down two programs with the financial and cultural footprints of Texas and Oklahoma. In the never-ending arms race of TV money, influence, and playoff positioning, adding those two behemoths makes all the sense in the coming age of super conferences.
But the SEC didn’t need to make this move. It’s the Big Boy on the Block without UT and OU. What gets lost is the Big 12 defectors needed the move in order to stay relevant in what’s to come in Big Boy college football.
The Orange and Crimson can conceivably make more money in the Big 12. The eight remaining leftovers also offered up a share-and-half of revenue to Texas and OU, pushing the yearly compensation to more than $55 million. Heck, the Big 12 would likely happily give up half or more of the $400 million-plus it currently generates yearly to the Red River Rivals.
If you’re TCU or Baylor or Kansas State, you’ll take the financial haircut because there’s not a better option out there. Taking a cut to, say, $25 million in the Big 12 is a lot more palatable than $7 million in the American.
So, this move isn’t really about money. It’s about righting a wrong a decade in the making, realizing Texas A&M had the foresight to join the most powerful football brand this side of the NFL and what that means.
It means better recruits, better games for fans, better access to the playoffs. It just means more.
Texas can print money in the Big 12 and on its own. What the Horns can’t do alone is precisely why they need the SEC. UT can’t afford to fall further behind in a league that offers nothing more than a paycheck. Leaving the Big 12 – a league that bends over backward to cater to every whim – says it all.
However they spin it, at its core, this smacks of desperation by Texas and OU. These blue bloods were green with envy at not only what was happening in College Station but across their newly adopted conference home.
A whining DeLoss Dodds upset he couldn’t broker a deal with the Pac-10, deridingly said the SEC had “a sliver down the Eastside” of Texas with A&M’s arrival. The former UT AD was miserably wrong.
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The Aggies weren’t running away scared, which was a popular narrative at the time. You don’t “run away” to a league with Alabama and LSU and Florida and Georgia. Texas A&M chartered a new path with an eye on the future, and along the way, the state of Texas became SEC country.
SEC schools welcomed the invitation to the Lone Star State’s pipeline of high school talent. The Aggies obviously benefited on the recruiting front, selling the chance for Texas kids to stay home AND play in the league that by far sends the most players to the NFL. The Horns and Sooners saw that as much as anyone, and didn’t like sharing.
They better get used to it. The SEC is a one-school, one-vote league. Revenues are divided equally by all programs. Texas is joining a conference it can’t kill. Unlike the Southwest Conference and Big 12, burnt orange power plays will elicit nothing more than a giggle in Tuscaloosa and Gainesville.
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As for winning on the football field, well, Jimbo Fisher said it best to Paul Finebaum: “Be careful what you ask for if you jump in this league.” Since the Big 12 won its last national championship in football (Texas in 2005), the SEC has won 11.
And that absurd take, mostly from Big 12 fans (you know who you are), that the SEC is overrated and a one-team (Bama) league has suddenly gone the way of the iPod. Yes, Alabama owns six of those titles, but LSU and Florida (two each), and Auburn have also bathed in confetti. And Georgia has played for the title in that stretch.
The Big 12 remains the only Power 5 without so much as a playoff win. Oklahoma, to its credit, has accounted for the Big 12’s four visits (0-4) in the seven years of the CFP. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
As for the outpouring of new SEC affection from the outposts of Norman and Austin, well, it’s comical. Plan those trips to The Grove and between the hedges. You’ve always loved the SEC, right?
Welcome to the party. Even if you’re late.
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