Get ready for 2010-2014 all over again. That was the time span that saw conference realignment nearly spin out of control.
If the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma apply for and are accepted into the SEC (likely beginning play in the 2025 season), you can look for other conferences to follow suit.
The SEC was actually a fairly small player in the realignment game 10 years ago when Texas A&M and Missouri joined the conference. It was the first additions for the SEC since 1992 when Arkansas and South Carolina joined the league, setting the SEC up for two six-team divisions and a conference championship game in football. That was definitely VERY forward thinking for the 1990s and college athletics.
If the move takes place there is no way other conferences won’t make changes as well. At the very least the remaining eight teams in the Big XII will either be looking for teams to add or conferences to escape to themselves. One of the most interesting scenarios is a possible merger between the PAC 12 and the Big XII.
One thing I don’t see, at least at this point, is the SEC adding more teams. It would seem logical that Oklahoma State would want to be paired with Oklahoma, but I never thought Nebraska and Oklahoma would be in separate conferences, which most definitely happened with the Cornhuskers bolted for The Big 10 in 2012.
I once thought that eventually we would see four 24-team conferences, with each broken down into four six-team divisions. This would have set up a 16-team playoff system of sorts as each of the division champions played for the conference championships leaving four teams standing for the National Championship.
But, the way the playoff system has progressed since the playoff expansion began in earnest in 2010, that’s not a likely scenario.
So the really big question is what will happen to the rest of the Big XII should Texas and Oklahoma hit the road.
It is possibly the conference could add teams such as Houston, Memphis, University of Cincinnati, Tulane or SMU out of the American Athletic Conference. BYU, an independent, could also be a target. The problem is that conferences are all about money this days and none of those schools would come close to adding to the TV market and appeal that the league lost in Oklahoma and Texas.
So then comes the next question, how many of the remaining Big XII schools would jump ship and where would they go?
The ACC currently has 15 football playing teams, when you consider Notre Dame. If that conference were to add one team to make it 16 it would likely be West Virginia, mostly due to Geography.
Notre Dame has a deal to play an average of five ACC opponents (that portion of the schedule has already been released) through the 2037 season. It is not likely they would be willing to become full football playing members, but the upcoming shift may change the attitude of the Irish.
As far as the remaining Big XII teams go, Oklahoma State may be a candidate for the SEC, but what school would follow to make it 18? It doesn’t seem like the SEC would add another Texas school, that being Baylor, Texas Tech, or Texas Christian.
As far as the Big 10 goes, it could surely add two teams to go to 16, but which two would it be? It seems Iowa would fight adding Iowa State, which would be the most logical addition. You would think Kansas and Kansas State would want to go together. TCU and Baylor are both private schools, which might fit better into the Big 10’s perceived academic mindset, but is a poor geographic fit.
It is possible that the Big 10, should it choose to add Iowa State, would bring Oklahoma State along as its partner or perhaps even add West Virginia?
The most talked about possibility is all eight of the remaining Big XII members uniting with the Pac 12 to form the first super-conference with 20 football playing members.
The one thing you are not hearing much about (which means not at all, Nada, ain’t gonna happen) is one of the SEC schools bolting for another conference. There is just way too much money involved.
Another thought would be an ACC team exiting for the SEC to join with Oklahoma State to make the Southeastern Conference an 18-team league. But, who would it be? There had previously been some talk about the University of North Carolina.
Traditionally it has been thought that Georgia would fight the addition of Georgia Tech, South Carolina would be against Clemson getting in, Kentucky would say no to Louisville, and Florida would be opposed to Florida State. But, as things develop, who knows.
The SEC has never felt compelled to add schools, at least since 1992 when it expanded to 12 teams, so there is no reason to think it would now.
The only true place in the “South” or “Southwest” for the conference to truly expand its footprint would be North Carolina, or perhaps Virginia. Everything else is covered.
The most all of us can really do at this point is sit and watch. And should Texas and Oklahoma make the move to the SEC it most certainly will set off a string of events that will be worth keeping an eye on.
Austin Bishop, AKA The Old Sports Dude, has been covering high school, college, amateur and professional sports since 1975. He is currently pastor of Great Commission Assembly of God in Philadelphia, Miss. He may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.