Few things in college sports get America talking like conference realignment does, especially when the biggest brand in college sports is the one on the move. According to reports, Texas and Oklahoma leaving for the SEC could come true.
On Wednesday, the Houston Chronicle reported that Texas and Oklahoma had reached out to the SEC about potentially joining the conference after FOX and ESPN told the Big 12 that they would rather wait to structure a television contract with the conference until their current deal concluded.
Essentially, what the television networks told the Big 12 was that the conference isn’t valuable enough to lock a deal up prior to the expiration of the current contract, which is slated to end in 2025.
As a response, Texas and Oklahoma approached the SEC about potentially being the 15th and 16th members of the conference in an effort to better secure themselves in the long-term picture that exists for the two programs.
Should Texas and Oklahoma decide to leave the Big 12 in favor of the SEC the landscape of college sports is likely to — again — change forever this summer. It’s possible that the Power 5 conference turns into a Power 2 with a couple of other conferences still holding large amounts of power in college sports.
While this may seem like a bad thing on the surface for big-time college sports, it is actually a good thing Texas and Oklahoma leaving for the SEC, and here’s why.
Get Rid of The Pretenders
Should Texas and Oklahoma decide to join the SEC it’s possible the Big 12 conference gets swallowed up by the Big Ten, ACC, and Pac-12. While losing the Big 12 might seem like a bad thing on the surface it would help filter out schools in major college sports that don’t bring much to the table that are currently able to hold a place in their conference despite not deserving it.
Part of being a valuable college program to any conference is the school’s ability to bring brand awareness to the conference. No school in the country does this better than Texas. The Longhorns have their own television deal with ESPN.
Oklahoma doesn’t bring in the same amount of revenue as Texas does — nobody brings in the revenue that Texas does — but as of 2018-19, the Sooners were the eighth-most valuable college athletic department in college sports.
Since the most recent major round of conference realignment in the early 2010s, Texas and Oklahoma have been supporting the Big 12 on their own. The rest of the conference is filled with a bunch of schools that don’t bring nearly as much fiscally as the two powers of the conference have.
If Texas and Oklahoma were to leave the Big 12 for the SEC they would be joining a conference that already has five of the top 10 most revenue-generating athletic departments in the country.
Instead, the two schools are helping support the likes of Kansas State, a school barely in the top-50 of revenue generation. NCAA President Mark Emmert said last week that it’s time to move away from the idea that all schools, sports, and entities are equal. Kansas State isn’t Texas and they aren’t Oklahoma. The Wildcats have one of the worst basketball and football programs on a yearly basis, and they are in a small market in Manhattan, Kansas.
It’s not just Kansas State that is a pretender. The Big 12 is full of pretenders. Texas Tech is another one. West Virginia doesn’t bring any connections to a market that is large enough to resemble a city. The Big 12 is a conference filled with schools that don’t attract a big market to support them.
Many of these schools don’t bring much of a brand to the Big 12 and that’s why many think that the conference could simply dissipate without the mainstays of Texas and Oklahoma. Yes, seeing schools lose some of the attention they get on a national scale is hard to grasp — especially for fans — but if we get to the point where our best program and most identifiable brands are the ones carrying all the weight in college sports, we will be in a much better place.