It’s really happening. Mere days after news broke Texas and Oklahoma were considering bolting the conference they helped found in 1994, ESPN’s David Hale reports the Big 12 powerhouses will indeed leave to join the SEC with that transition beginning as soon as next week.
Per Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, Texas and Oklahoma’s reported move has quietly been in the works for over a year. Despite “staunch” opposition from Texas A&M, it’s believed Texas and Oklahoma have enough votes to secure their inevitable SEC membership.
Already decimated by the seismic events of conference realignment nearly a decade earlier, the Big 12 now faces an uncertain future with just eight schools remaining (Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, TCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia remaining). Throughout its existence, Texas and Oklahoma have arguably been the Big 12’s top breadwinners, generating huge revenue through their football programs and “Red River Rivalry.” Despite its pedigree, the mass exodus of schools like Missouri and Texas A&M in recent years have put the ailing Big 12 in an unusually vulnerable position, not even having enough members to stage a conference championship game in football.
Long considered the nation’s premiere football conference with legacy programs like Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Florida, adding UT and Oklahoma to a loaded SEC could have enormous financial repercussions, particularly in the NIL Era with student-athletes now able to profit off endorsements and other branding opportunities. Texas A&M defected to the SEC in 2012 under the pretense that they would be the conference’s lone representative from Texas. The Longhorns’ imminent arrival obviously threatens the Aggies’ monopoly on the Lone Star State.
With Texas and Oklahoma’s bags packed, the NCAA’s “Power Five” is suddenly looking like a Power Four.