As expected, Texas and Oklahoma have filed paperwork seeking their official entry into the SEC and, if permitted by the conference’s other members (the Longhorns and Sooners are known to be facing resistance from Texas A&M), would begin their post-Big-12 tenure in July of 2025. Being arguably the conference’s biggest draws, Texas and Oklahoma bolting for the SEC would cripple the Big 12, causing a ripple effect felt throughout the college sports landscape. Whether that leads the Big 12 to retool by adding more schools (Boise State, BYU, Cincinnati and Houston have each been floated as possible replacements for UT and OU) or disband entirely remains to be seen. Either way, Texas and Oklahoma’s likely departures have the Big 12 on life support amid further NCAA realignment.
The timing of this shakeup isn’t lost on former ESPN personality Dan Le Batard, who discussed Texas and Oklahoma’s defections at length on Monday’s episode of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. “I have found it a bit inescapable that as soon as the players start getting money in a way that allows Alabama’s quarterback to get $1 million in endorsements as a sophomore before he’s even taken a snap, that Texas and Oklahoma are like, ‘Bleep it. Let’s go play in the best of the minor leagues,’” said Le Batard, explaining Texas and Oklahoma’s thirst for new revenue in the NIL age. “Never mind all the tradition, all the things that we’ve held up as mattering for a long time. We’re in a bogus conference and let’s do the Super League thing. We’re just gonna’ do college football Super League and grab the most money.”
Le Batard, of course, is referring to soccer’s proposed Super League that would have included 20 of the best teams in Europe. The idea was scrapped shortly after FIFA announced players competing in the Super League would not be eligible for international competitions such as Euros or the World Cup. While Baylor and Oklahoma State would probably take exception to being labeled “bogus,” Texas and Oklahoma remain the Big 12’s glamour schools, steady cash-cows that, for nearly 30 years, have kept the conference from bleeding out.
Tired of propping up a struggling conference that has been irrelevant in football—far and away the NCAA’s biggest moneymaker—for much of the past decade, Le Batard understands, even if he doesn’t like it, why Texas and Oklahoma would jump ship.
“Texas and Oklahoma have held up a bogus conference for a long time,” expressed Le Batard. “Why is anyone going to care about all of those bottom-feeders in that conference the moment that Texas and Oklahoma leave, all of those teams that exist only to lose to Texas and Oklahoma?”
A member of the show’s “Shipping Container,” producer Jessica Smetana pushed back on that narrative, pointing out that Texas, for all its prestige, hasn’t won a conference title for football in over a decade. Still, Le Batard wonders what the future holds for college football with Texas and Oklahoma essentially taking a hatchet to the conference they helped found. “I feel like what college football is about to become is the SEC, Ohio State and Clemson.”
A decade after conference realignment shook the NCAA to its core, will the shameless commercialism exercised by Texas and Oklahoma—abandoning the Big 12 for what Le Batard describes as “the closest thing we have to the NFL"—usher in a new era of college sports with conferences like the SEC mirroring the Super League model proposed in Europe? We’re about to find out.