On Wednesday, the Houston Chronicle‘s Brent Zwerneman first reported the breaking NCAA football news. Supposedly the two Big 12 powerhouse schools are looking to join the country’s premier football conference. In fact, Zwerneman’s source is “a high-ranking college official with knowledge of the situation.” Allegedly the source says that the SEC could announce the addition of the two universities “within a couple of weeks.”
Reports suggest that the Longhorns will inform the Big 12 of their plans soon. The University of Texas doesn’t plan on extending their Big 12 media rights deal, which expires in 2025. And supposedly there is mutual interest from the SEC for Texas and Oklahoma to join the conference.
During the 2021 SEC Media Days on Wednesday, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey chose not to address the reports.
“No comment on that speculation,” Sankey told CBS Sports. He later added, “We are only worried about the 2021 season. Somebody dropped a report from unnamed people.”
As for the two universities, they shared statements that mirrored Sankey’s position on addressing the reports.
“Speculation swirls around collegiate athletics. We will not address rumors or speculation,” the Longhorns’ statement said.
“The college athletics landscape is shifting constantly. We don’t address every anonymous rumor,” the Sooners responded.
SEC Could Become First 16-Team Superconference
As of now, there are 14 SEC schools within the conference that is widely considered the most prominent in the nation. According to SEC by-laws, 11 out of the 14 universities would have to vote for the Big 12 schools to join the conference.
About a decade ago was the last round of conference realignment. At the time, Texas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State each were considering moving to the Pac-12 (then Pac-10). Additionally, Texas A&M and Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC. However, each of the other schools stayed put and chose not to join the Pac-12.
After the realignment, the Big 12 decreased to a 10-team league. Since then, the conference has struggled to keep up its prestige among its Power Five rivals. Texas and Oklahoma have been the main draws of the Big 12 for years. If they leave for the SEC, the conference could cease to exist altogether.
Yet not everyone seems to be thrilled about the possible additions to the conference. Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork would prefer for the Aggies to be the only Lone Star State school in the SEC.
“I haven’t read the article. But if you’re asking me to kind of comment on college athletics, it’s changing,” Bjork told CBS Sports. “So what does that look like? I don’t know. … We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas. There’s a reason Texas A&M left the Big 12: to stand alone to have our own identity.”
While Bjork may not be too keen on the move, the additions of the Longhorns and Sooners would make the SEC the first 16-team superconference. It would add even more brand power to the premier college football conference in America.