By: Federico Compañ.
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Today, Monday, July 26, 2021, the universities of Oklahoma and Texas sent an official statement to the Big 12 conference (the conference to which they currently belong) to inform them that they will not extend the broadcasting rights that the conference has over the universities. , and which ends on June 30, 2025.
With this, what is expected to be a long divorce process between universities and the conference begins, and with this same act, the SEC conference can begin to issue a formal invitation to both universities.
The news that Oklahoma and Texas intend to leave the Big 12 to join the SEC only became public knowledge last Wednesday. In less than a week everyone is losing their minds. It is not for less the exit of Oklahoma the most competitive program at the national level of the conference and of Texas the most historic program of the conference, they suppose that it is the prelude to an inevitable collapse of the Big 12 conference as a whole.
Reasons for Texas and Oklahoma’s exit from the Big 12.
The Big 12 conference has already survived the departure of several programs in the past, such as the case of Nebraska when it joined the Big 10, Colorado to the Pac 12 or Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC, but losing to Oklahoma and Texas it’s too much. If you wonder why Texas and Oklahoma want to get out of the Big 12 and join the SEC, the answer is the same as always for money.
The Big 12 as a conference has been displaced by the rest of the Power 5 conferences in almost every category. Since the creation of the playoff format in the FBS they have had 0 national titles and 0 victories in playoff games (being the only Power 5 conference with that dishonorable distinction). Their teams have notably lagged behind in the recruiting process, such as developing players to become future draft picks.
But the main reason why they have been beaten and why Texas and Oklahoma are looking for a new home is in television contracts. In 2020 each member of the Big 12 received $ 37.7 million for broadcast rights, that number is going to drop this year to $ 34.5 million.
Well below the $ 45.5 million SEC members received for their broadcast rights with CBS in 2020. The figure is expected to rise considerably when the contract with CBS expires and between the new one signed with ESPN.
In these days an athletic director of the Big 12 told Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, that if the problem is of money the eight remaining teams in the conference are willing to reduce their income from broadcast rights and increase those of Texas and Oklahoma with as long as they stay. But that is giving more power to some universities that already control the decision-making of the conference at will, apart from the fact that it seems that nothing will change the opinion programs.
Texas and Oklahoma’s decision to leave the Big 12 and join the SEC seems logical on monetary issues, not so much on competition issues. Matt Miller today in his article for his personal blog (The Draft Scout) questioned whether Texas was really doing the right thing to increase its revenue by joining the SEC.
Texas in recent years has failed to compete and reach the Big 12 championship game, and in the last decade alone in 2018 they had a season with more than 10 games won. In the SEC with programs like Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Florida the hope that he will become a serious contender in the conference is further weakened.
If the ultimate goal is to increase the income of the program, Miller wonders why an independent team like Notre Dame or BYU doesn’t better become an independent team, control their own broadcast rights (like Notre Dame and its deal with NBC) with this they can schedule in their schedule games against Oklahoma and Texas A & M annually and in turn schedule winnable games with small universities that allow him to reach 10 victories year after year.
Miller says that if Texas is a winning program again, the money will come as it does with Alabama and believes that the best way to do so is if they become independent. I’m not sure that’s the case, but Miller’s theory doesn’t sound crazy at all.
For its part, the Oklahoma change doesn’t make much sense either. The Sooners in the Big 12 are guaranteed to make it to the Big 12 championship game. The question is often who are they going to face in the championship game, rather than what the championship game is going to be. If there are no upsets in the regular season, Oklahoma is guaranteed a spot in the college playoffs.
Oklahoma has the level of recruiting and coaching necessary to be a force in the SEC, so of course they can make it to the championship game, but not as regularly as they do in the Big 12, no, and to be honest the conference is from Alabama. The years Alabama under Nick Saban have not won the SEC either are because the team is historically good (LSU 2019) or because Alabama had a bad year (by his standards) or a bad game, rather than the other team’s merit.
What’s next for the remaining Big 12 teams.
Now the next thing to see is what will happen to the eight remaining teams in the conference, despite the fact that everything indicates that Texas and Oklahoma will not leave the conference until they fulfill their contract in 2025, otherwise they will face legal and monetary consequences. they must have an action plan; not having it can cost the universities dearly.
First of all, they have been guaranteed that even losing to Texas and Oklahoma the Big 12 will retain its Power 5 conference status. Rumors have started to fly that they will invite “big” teams from the Group of 5 conferences to join. to them. AAC teams like Cincinnati, Memphis, SMU or UCF have sounded like candidates. Boise State from the Mountain West conference and BYU independent team have also been linked as potential invitation candidates.
Here the first question is whether some of these teams will really want to join a conference whose collapse seems to be written and even more so with the imminent extension of the playoffs in College Football, where Group of 5 teams have a real chance of catching them.
The second question, regardless of the combination of teams that end up joining (we speak of two if not four), in truth, it will be possible to reach a television contract that is worthwhile for the universities.
The ACC conference distributed $ 30 million to its teams for the 2019-2020 season, of which $ 23 million came from broadcast rights, a very low figure for a Power 5 conference. There are many people who believe that figure is optimistic. for the Big 12 after losing to Oklahoma and Texas.
A very popular option and a favorite of many people from what I have come to see on social networks, is that the remaining eight teams from the Big 12 join the Pac 12 teams and a super conference of 20 teams is created.
Another large number of people believe (I am one of them) that although the remaining eight teams have promised to stay in the conference, it is most likely that they will end up abandoning it and with this the disappearance of the Big 12 (although also if join Pac 12, the conference disappears). There are already many analysts who are beginning to play with the idea of where the remaining teams will be.
In fact, rumors have already started to sound that the Big 10 has already started talking with Iowa State and Kansas to join its conference (although Iowa State does not seem an ideal option for the Big 10), the same is said of the ACC with West Virginia.
But what about the remaining universities: Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech. Some like Baylor I see joining the Pac 12, but there are other universities that I think may lose their place in a Power 5 conference and have to settle for going to a Group of 5 conference. As we said before with the expansion of the playoffs, it is not as strong a demotion as it would be in other years.
A little over a month before the start of the College Football season, the news of Oklahoma and Texas leaving the Big 12 undoubtedly creates a before and after, implies a possible disappearance of a big conference. Now most likely there are only 9 conferences in the FBS division and instead of being Power 5 it becomes Power 4. But the ones that are going to feel the effects the most are the remaining teams from the Big 12, as a Big 12 manager told Max Olson these days, Oklahoma and Texas burned a house knowing there are eight people trapped.