You can’t spell superconference without “S-E-C.”
The Houston Chronicle spiced up this week’s conference media days with a report that Texas and Oklahoma have reached out to the Southeastern Conference about joining it.
The Longhorns and Sooners issued brief responses but no denials. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey did not comment on the speculation. Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork went on the defensive, and the idea still seems like a long shot given the ramifications for entities ranging from The Longhorn Network to the College Football Playoff.
Still, it’s realignment talk involving two of college football’s biggest brands, and we have been speculating on that for years. Why not fantasize for a few minutes?
What would an SEC superconference potentially look like? Who would be all for it? Who would fight it? Sporting News examines:
What might SEC realignment look like?
Let’s say Texas and Oklahoma join the conference. How would that change the divisions?
Here is a hypothetical guess based on geography:
- Ole Miss
- Mississippi State
- Texas A&M
Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Texas A&M, four charter members of the defunct Southwest Conference, are together again. Missouri, formerly of the Big 12, is tossed back in with some old rivals. LSU adds the necessary SEC flavor along with Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
- South Carolina
Seven of the eight schools are charter members of the SEC, with South Carolina the most recent addition in 1991. This would be the most competitive division in college football, perhaps at any level. Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Florida were in SN’s proposed Super League in the spring, and Tennessee just missed the cut.
Who would love it?
Oklahoma and Texas
Oklahoma has won the last four Big 12 championship games and still has not won a College Football Playoff game. The Sooners would get a chance to prove it every year against a conference it is 0-5 against in BCS championship games and CFP semifinals. Could Texas fold The Longhorn Network into the SEC Network? The Longhorns would also benefit from a spotlight that stretches past the Big 12. The recruiting benefits are obvious.
The idea of a superconference has been discussed for years, and the three biggest puzzle pieces have been Oklahoma, Texas and Notre Dame. If the SEC expands to 16 teams, then the scramble would be on for the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 to also move to 16 teams. At that point, there would be 64 teams in four conferences and a format that resembles the NCAA men’s basketball tournament before the playoff even starts. This would provide more traction for the idea of the Power 5 — or Super 4 — breaking away from the Group of 5.
Open-minded SEC fans
The geographical model is only one form of realignment. Would the SEC split into four pods of four teams instead? Which rivalries would be lost on an annual basis? Divisional realignment has been a topic of conversation in the SEC without Oklahoma and Texas joining the conference. Would SEC fans be open to those changes?
Who would hate it?
The Aggies relish being the lone SEC team in the state of Texas, and coach Jimbo Fisher has the program on the outskirts of the College Football Playoff discussion. Would the Aggies be agreeable to reuniting with the Sooners and Longhorns? “Be careful what you ask for when you join this league,” Fisher said Wednesday on “The Paul Finebaum Show.”
“Be careful what you ask for if you jump in this league…”
-Jimbo Fisher with some early reaction to reports that Texas & Oklahoma could be looking to join the SEC pic.twitter.com/5AWij40jO4
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) July 21, 2021
Texas A&M isn’t the only SEC school that used to play with Oklahoma and Texas that wouldn’t be in favor of the move.
I’m told Texas A&M and Missouri would be a hard no. Only 2 more needed to block an invitation to Texas, OU.
— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) July 21, 2021
Everyone else in the Big 12
This would be catastrophic for the Big 12, and Oklahoma State is one of the schools that issued a strong statement about the Chronicle’s report. Per Associated Press college football writer Ralph Russo:
And what about the College Football Playoff? Conference commissioners just formulated the most inclusive playoff plan yet, one that made room for all the major conferences and the Group of 5. How would the super-conference push mesh with the 12-team playoff plan?
“We don’t need Texas and Oklahoma.” You can hear fans from each of the 14 SEC schools saying that in their own special way. The SEC remains the dominant conference in college football, one that generates the most revenue and has won 13 national championships since the Bowl Championship Series started. The regional pride is second to none. Would the schools be willing to bring in the Sooners, the Longhorns and all that brand power while making concessions to the traditional schedule? That is a stretch.