Here we go again.
With a midweek blinder of a Tweet, the Houston Chronicle has thrust the Big 12 back onto the brink of realignment madness with the report that Oklahoma and Texas have reached out to the SEC to potentially join the conference.
The report doesn’t stop there, suggesting the unnamed source believes an announcement could be made “in the next couple of weeks”.
If this is your first time on the realignment roller-coaster, know this from an old veteran: this doesn’t mean OU and Texas are SEC bound. Not yet, anyways.
As the very minimum, this is a warning shot to the Big 12 from the two power brokers of the conference to get it together. Oklahoma in particular has had a rocky relationship with the conference recently with tension peaking after the Big 12 and Fox placed the massive Game of the Century reunion with Nebraska at an 11 AM time slot.
This could be a ploy for OU and Texas to have a greater say in television deal negotiations, perhaps wanting a bigger slice of the pie or more control.
However, I think this is actually what it looks like: the brands of OU and Texas have just outgrown the Big 12.
Sure, Texas is window dressing, a team that sells shirts and gets TV sets on with no real on field success since 2009. Oklahoma though, is ready to graduate to a tougher league.
Back when the Big 12 actually had 12 teams, the conference actually made sense. But with Nebraska, Colorado and Missouri gone, the only thing that remained from OU’s ancestral conference home was their former middling rivals in Oklahoma State, the classic midwestern punching bags, and the Southwest Conference refugees, minus the other Texas school.
Is the SEC the best landing place for OU and Texas? Academically, they are not quite the best, with a move to the Big Ten potentially being more lucrative on that front. However, the travel makes more sense with the SEC.
Assuming you move Auburn and Alabama to the East and move OU, Texas and Missouri to the West, you create a division that is relatively easy to travel. Away games with Arkansas, Missouri and Texas A&M are all doable, with Oxford and Baton Rouge being mammoth destinations. Plus, Red River can stay at the Cotton Bowl.
Could Oklahoma win in the SEC? While the days of six straight titles would certainly be over, I wouldn’t count out the Sooners just yet. The last two newcomers to the SEC, Texas A&M and Missouri, did fairly well entering with Big 12 talent. A&M had the Johnny Manziel years and took out Bama in Tuscaloosa, while Missouri won the SEC East in two of their first three seasons in the conference.
No matter what happens next, the only thing Oklahoma should do is what is best for the school. The past decade has shown that the Big 12 just isn’t enough for the Sooners. The conference has gone stale. While it did well enough to survive that first wave of expansion, it appears the knockout punch is coming.