Happy Saturday, all.
The imminent move of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC has already provided all kinds of offseason entertainment, and the hits just keep on coming.
The SEC currently is hoping to vote to offer invitations to Texas and Oklahoma as soon as "sometime next week," an SEC source tells me. "The vote will be 13-1."— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) July 23, 2021
While it should be noted that Bohls covers the Longhorns, it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out where the “no” vote would be coming from.
Over the last couple of days there were conflicting reports around whether Texas A&M was kept in the dark during negotiations. This nugget would lead one to believe that they may have been.
The Texas A&M Board of Regents will meet on Monday at 5 pm CT, "for discussion and possible action on contractual and governance issues relating to Texas A&M University and the Southeastern Conference."— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) July 24, 2021
Call me silly, but I don’t believe they would be calling an emergency meeting had they known for months that this move was likely to happen.
Ross Dellenger reported that the Aggies may have heard about the plan from a leak within the Texas Board of Regents. Pat Forde believes that the Aggies then, in turn, leaked the story to the Houston Chronicle in hopes of derailing things.
The Aggies have done what they can to slow the train that is prepared to run them over, refusing to let this stealth power play unfold behind closed doors. It seems highly likely that the school leaked the initial bombshell to the Houston Chronicle, igniting a furor that has at least put all involved parties in an awkward position.
When the story broke, athletic director Ross Bjork was near all the microphones at SEC media days to voice A&M’s desire to remain the only Texas member of the league. Football coach Jimbo Fisher issued a warning: “Be careful what you wish for if you jump in this league.” And former school president R. Bowen Loftin, who was in charge when A&M made its SEC move, declared that Texas joining the league would violate a “gentleman’s agreement.”
LOL at “gentleman’s agreement” when billions are at stake.
Pete Thamel put out a fairly comprehensive piece last night. He sees little resistance from legal challenges or legislatures, essentially calling it a done deal. He also touched on the TV angle.
Some skeptical observers say ESPN going all-in on the SEC and potentially the playoff could weaken the negotiating position of the other leagues. ESPN values live rights significantly, but is there a feeling with long deals with the ACC and SEC and potentially owning the postseason it may not need as much investment elsewhere?
This is an interesting point. With college football’s ratings so heavily concentrated in the South, would ESPN need to pony up to keep its stakes in the other conferences with Texas and Oklahoma in the SEC? Talk about something that could take any semblance of a level playing field completely off the table.
Andy Staples succinctly pointed out why the Aggies won’t be going anywhere, regardless of the outcome.
Here’s the relevant bylaw. The league is basically like “Sure, leave. Half the country will crawl across broken glass to replace you.” pic.twitter.com/9q4mM86mSQ— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) July 24, 2021
Meanwhile, the rest of the Big 12 is left scrambling, as noted by Bruce Feldman and Sam Khan, Jr. of The Athletic.
“I’m shellshocked,” a Big 12 athletic director told The Athletic on Friday morning, relaying what has been a mind-blowing 48 hours chock full of confusion, angst and a chilling feeling of betrayal.
Reaching out to the Pac-12 about a potential 20-school merger was discussed during Thursday’s Big 12 leadership call. Such a move seems to be a more favorable alternative for the Big 12 than bringing in new members, which might involve raiding the American Athletic Conference, to lift its membership back into double digits.
“Bringing in a Cincinnati and UCF doesn’t bring any eyeballs,” the AD said.
A second league AD said, “There is no combination of Group of 5 members we can add that will garner our same TV deal, but it’s all on the table right now,” then added, “I don’t think (Texas) A&M has been very successful in blocking this.”
We should know much more this week about whether this deal is indeed going to happen and when the two new schools will start play if it is. Most fans of current SEC schools aren’t particularly thrilled about the idea, but at least we’ve been able to enjoy some hilarious Texas sized drama to help get through the summer doldrums.
We’ll keep you updated with any new developments.