Got questions about the potential Southeastern Conference expansion to include Texas and Oklahoma? Your friendly neighborhood sports columnist has at least a few answers:
How likely is the expansion to happen?
Quite likely, though politics in the states of Texas and Oklahoma could make the moves sticky. Oklahoma State has powerful allies, as do Baylor, Texas Tech and TCU, who don’t want to see their schools left behind.
What has to happen for the SEC to expand?
The conference’s CEOs (presidents and chancellors) must vote by a three-fourths margin to approve any expansion. In the current 14-member SEC, that means a vote of at least 11 schools.
Will LSU support the expansions?
There is no indication LSU will oppose. At this point, the general expectation is that expansion would be approved by at least a 13-1 vote, with Texas A&M being the only holdout. And even the Aggies might be strong-armed into voting yes to create at least the appearance of a unified front.
HOOVER, Ala. — It takes a lot to eclipse Nick Saban Day at Southeastern Conference football media days.
Why do Texas and Oklahoma want to leave the Big 12?
UT and OU probably see the SEC’s new television deal with ESPN and its networks coming online in 2024. That deal is probably worth more than the next TV deal the Big 12 can make, even with Texas’ Longhorn Network (more on that later). The SEC will reportedly get $300 million per year and over 10 years compared to its current deal worth $55 million per year with CBS and ESPN. It’s probable the coming ESPN contract would be worth more if the SEC adds Texas and Oklahoma. Plus, UT and OU are each other’s best annual game on the schedule — a neutral-site game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. It would make tickets easier to sell if LSU and Auburn and Georgia were visiting Austin and Norman on a regular basis.
How soon could this happen?
Several news organizations reported Friday that UT and OU could announce this weekend that they are leaving the Big 12. An announcement on where they are going would come later. As for when they could make the jump: Both schools would have to pay a $70 million penalty for leaving the Big 12 before 2025. That said, the Big 12 let Texas A&M and Missouri leave early in 2011, when those two schools bolted for the SEC.
Speaking of the Aggies, they sound … miffed, don't they?
Slightly. Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork, speaking Wednesday at SEC Media Days, said flatly his school wants to be the only SEC member from the state of Texas. A&M won’t be happy at first, but it would be a lot easier to fill the 102,733 seats in Kyle Field when the Longhorns and Sooners come calling than when they play South Carolina or Kentucky. And the SEC would get one more salty blood feud between Texas and Texas A&M.
Would Texas get to keep the Longhorn Network?
It is impossible to imagine that happening. The SEC has long prided itself on equal revenue sharing. Vanderbilt and Mississippi State get the same share of the pie as LSU and Tennessee. That is something I’m sure UT and OU have been told up front.
What would expansion mean for SEC football divisions and scheduling?
No one really knows. But it would be a golden opportunity to change the divisional alignments or scheduling or both. You've read suggestions (including in this column) of two eight-team divisions with UT and OU joining the West, along with Missouri, and Alabama and Auburn moving to the East. CBSSports.com writer Dennis Dodd disagreed slightly, saying Thursday he thought competitive balance would be more important than geography in a two-division format. Other suggestions have included four-team divisions, or “pods,” looking very much like NFL divisions. That would likely mean the SEC Championship Game gets the teams with the two best records. Could cross-division permanent opponents go away in favor of a non-divisional or non-pod rotation? One can only speculate at this point, but the opportunity exists for a clean slate.
Wouldn’t two more traditional powers like Texas and Oklahoma would make it harder to win the SEC?
Of course, but the strength of college football’s first superconference would make it easier to get in the College Football Playoff. As Dodd speculated, if the CFP expands to 12 teams as proposed, six of them could regularly come from the SEC. In that case, finishing third in the West would be a lot more palatable if it meant LSU still had a first-round playoff date with, say, Oregon.
HOOVER, Ala. — A media scrum crowded Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey as he removed his headphones on radio row at the league'…