Column: Texas, Oklahoma joining Southeastern Conference makes perfect sense for everyone involved

Carter Yates, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the July 26 flipbook.

The Southeastern Conference prides itself in its slogan: “It just means more.” Judging by the stranglehold the SEC has on College Football Playoff success, it’s damn right.

Since the College Football Playoff’s inception in 2014, the SEC has placed at least one program in the four-team tournament every year, and an SEC team has been crowned national champions in four of those seven seasons. Now, the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners are looking to get in on the action and apply for SEC membership. The schools informed the Big 12 Conference of their intentions to not renew their grants of media rights following their expiration in 2025. Despite the chaos that erupted after the Houston Chronicle originally reported Texas and Oklahoma’s intentions, the conference move makes perfect sense for all parties involved.

With the new 12-team playoff format proposed by the College Football Playoff working group  June 10, many college football analysts are preparing for the formation of three to four “super conferences” that will attempt to maximize playoff slots and, therefore, generate more revenue. This means the existing Power Five conference structure of the Big Ten, Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference and Pac-12 would effectively dissolve. Texas and Oklahoma’s defection from the conference they were founding members of is merely the first step in that inevitable process. 

As college football morphs into super conferences, Texas and Oklahoma, two of the biggest brands in college sports, could not risk being on the outside looking in at a changing landscape.

For starters, the Big 12 is the smallest Power Five conference with only 10 teams. Unlike other Power Five conferences, the Big 12 does not have its own conference network to bring in additional revenue. This is in large part due to the Longhorn Network, which was formed in 2011 and currently holds Texas’ third-tier television rights that would normally be reserved for a conference-owned network.

In the long run, these factors have hurt the Big 12 as a whole. According to a USA Today report written in 2020, the Big 12 generated the least amount of revenue out of all Power Five conferences for the 2019 fiscal year. At the top of the list was the 14-team Big Ten Conference, which generated $781.5 million in total revenue compared to the Big 12’s $439 million. The SEC came in at second with $720.6 million in total revenue and equal dividends of $45.3 million to each member school.

These elevated revenues have directly correlated to more lucrative TV deals. For instance, the SEC announced a 10-year, $3 billion (yes, you read that correctly) television deal Dec. 10 with ABC/ESPN under the Disney umbrella. Conversely, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported  May 25 that ESPN and Fox declined to discuss an early extension of their contract with the Big 12 following the conclusion of the agreement in 2025. 

Texas and Oklahoma can now jump ship to earn more television revenue than they were previously getting in the Big 12 while staying on the cutting edge of college football realignment. On the SEC’s side, the conference adds the two programs who rank first and seventh, respectively, in monetary value according to the Wall Street Journal. Unless you’re Texas A&M or one of the eight teams remaining in the Big 12 with no clear plan for the future, this is a win for college football.