Sport Texas and Oklahoma's Inquiry Into SEC Stuns Conference Media Day, Texas A&M
A 16-team SEC would need at least $134 million more central revenue annually, with ESPN likely throwing in most of that
With Texas and Oklahoma reportedly close to joining the SEC, and discussions of ESPN’s role in making this happen and the benefits they could see from it, it’s worth looking at why they might make that move and why the SEC (barring Texas A&M, which appears likely to vote no) would be willing to accept Read more The post A 16-team SEC would need at least $134 million more central revenue annually, with ESPN likely throwing in most of that appeared first on Awful Announcing.
The news that the Big 12's top schools were interested in an SEC move stunned Texas A&M Athletic Director Ross Bjork and the conference media day.
HOOVER, Ala. – Ross Bjork appeared at SEC media days on Wednesday with intentions to support his two football players and his football coach.
Maybe he’d lurk in the shadows, greet league staff members and say hello to media members he hadn’t seen since before the pandemic.
Instead, the Texas A&M athletic director found himself directly in the spotlight, embroiled in a frenzy of media attention as a report emerged that Texas, the Aggies’ hated in-state rival, and Oklahoma were interested in joining the SEC.
Even in the SEC, Texas A&M Can't Escape the Longhorns
Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC nearly a decade ago with plans to become the dominant athletic program in its state. So much for that. On the night of Sept. 7, 2012, Texas A&M officials hosted Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive for a lavish dinner in an on-campus reception hall. The occasion: the Aggies would play their first football game as an SEC member the next day. I had accompanied Slive on this trip for an all-access story, but was politely kicked to the curb when it was time for him to dine with the A&M power brokers.
So much for the quiet day. What followed was a bevy of interviews where Bjork publicly advocated against any expansion that would include the Longhorns. He even approached SEC commissioner Greg Sankey with a similar message.
We aren’t for this.
“We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas,” he said to reporters.
And just like that, off we went into one of the most bizarre, hectic two hours in SEC media days history, when conference expansion buzz swept through the league’s kickoff event within the bowels of the Hyatt Regency hotel.
The news is true, sources confirmed to Sports Illustrated: Texas and Oklahoma have made serious inquiries with the SEC about joining the conference; the schools have both delivered to the league a clear message that they are exploring an exit strategy from the Big 12.
Texas and Oklahoma's Inquiry Into SEC Stuns Conference Media Day, Texas A&M
The news that the Big 12's top schools were interested in an SEC move stunned Texas A&M Athletic Director Ross Bjork and the conference media day. View the original article to see embedded media.HOOVER, Ala. – Ross Bjork appeared at SEC media days on Wednesday with intentions to support his two football players and his football coach.Maybe he’d lurk in the shadows, greet league staff members and say hello to media members he hadn’t seen since before the pandemic.
“How can you not listen when they say, ‘We’re leaving?’” says an industry source.
But there are plenty of impediments standing in the way, such as TV contracts and political pressures. There’s another high hurdle as well: Would SEC membership add a team against the vehement wishes of one of its other members?
Officially, the league could. Expansion calls for a vote of three-fourths of the conference membership, or 11 of the 14 teams. But, for such a significant move, would the league not want a unanimous decision?
In multiple interviews Wednesday, while parading around the Hyatt, Sankey declined to answer questions about the report.
“I do not respond to anonymous sources,” he said in a scheduled interview with SI. Asked if the league was interested in expansion, Sankey said, “I'll refer you to my previous answer.”
Oklahoma and Texas both released statements, neither of which denied the report. Oklahoma State released an assertive response to the story, describing the school as “gravely disappointed” if the report is deemed true.
With Texas, Oklahoma on board, SEC should target these schools next
Oklahoma and Texas are in. Should the SEC continue its shopping spree? SN takes a look at more options.That took 10 days to go from rumor to reality, a blockbuster move that gave the Southeastern Conference more brand power than any other FBS conference. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has the 16-member conference out in front, and it's a good bet the Sooners and Longhorns will join the conference before the 2025 agreement.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told SI that he knew nothing about the issue.
Bjork, meanwhile, went on an anti-Texas campaign, boldly politicking against any move that brings into the conference their archrival and encouraging the league to look for a more “broad” approach to expansion. Bjork’s appearance at media days was a surprise and a historical rarity here. SEC athletic directors do not normally attend media days.
During his interviews Wednesday, Bjork said that SEC athletic directors have not discussed expansion, but league administrators, he says, know how the Aggies feel.
And now, after Wednesday, so does Sankey.
“I talked to the commissioner and I expressed the same things I told you, about our feelings and perspective,” Bjork told SI. “Those perspectives haven’t changed since A&M joined the SEC. Those are the reasons A&M joined the SEC. … That’s why we left, to have our own identity. We’re a flagship university. We have the size and scale. It’s been a great fit and we want to maintain that moving forward. Everybody in the SEC knows that.”
The SEC's Most Significant Question in Expansion: Who Plays Who, Where and When?
With Texas and Oklahoma's impending entrance into the conference, there has been little discussion among administrators on a new scheduling format. View the original article to see embedded media.Pods or divisions?Two permanent opponents or three?Eight games or nine?Texas and Oklahoma’s impending entrance into the SEC leaves the league in a scheduling pickle, with many more questions than answers.While conference executives have indeed studied the options (more on that later), there has been little serious discussions among administrators on the topic.
One college athletic source told SI that high-level conversations at Texas and Oklahoma “have been going on for a while,” and that—in the midst of a transformative year with an impending NCAA shakeup and playoff expansion—have incited the move.
“You knew disruption was coming,” says one college administrator. “At the end of the day, it’s all going to be about money.”
The report stunned Bjork, he says.
In fact, as The Houston Chronicle’s story published at about 2:40 p.m. local time, Bjork was speaking to two reporters, shooting the you-know-what about everything in college athletics (oddly enough, much of the conversation centered on the long-running feud between the Aggies and Longhorns—they haven’t played since A&M left the Big 12 in 2012).
In the middle of the conversation, Bjork’s phone buzzed and up flashed the caller ID: It was school president Katherine Banks.
“I’ve got to take this,” Bjork said, “it’s the boss.”
Banks, his own president, informed Bjork of the story in a 10-minute phone call that unfolded just before his head football coach, Jimbo Fisher, took the main stage for his appearance at SEC media days.
Minutes later, the AD stepped into a dimly lit hallway here, smiled and delivered an unmistakable message to a group of reporters, jump starting one of the more bizarre days to ever transpire at this event.
“What’s the broader approach nationally that’s got to happen?” he asked. “Those are the things I’m interested in nationally. What’s the evolving nature of college athletics and how would we lead in that process? What does adding two teams get you? Nobody has that answer."
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Matthew McConaughey's message after Texas joins SEC .
You can count Matthew McConaughey among the Texas football fans who are excited about the Longhorns' upcoming move to the SEC. After the Southeastern Conference extended invites to the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners on Thursday, both UT and OU have formally accepted and will be lea ving the Big 12 for the greener pastures of the SEC in the future. And as it turns out, Matthew McConaughey is among the folks who are looking forward to his favorite college football team finding a path to a considerably more stable and more prestigious conference.