SCREAMING FROM THE CHEAP SEATS – JULY 25
By Leo Haggerty
BIG 12 EXPLODING
Normally, Sunday is reserved for our POLL Question but I’m going to call an audible on that one. That’s because there was a bombshell dropped in the world of college football and it was a direct hit on the Big 12 Conference.
The University of Texas at Austin along with the University of Oklahoma have decided to pull out of the Big 12 Conference. In a joint statement issued by both institutions, “The University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin notified the Big 12 Athletic Conference today that they will not be renewing their grants of media rights following expiration in 2025. Providing notice to the Big 12 at this point is important in advance of the expiration of the conference’s current media rights agreement. The universities intend to honor their existing grants of rights agreements. However, both universities will continue to monitor the rapidly evolving collegiate athletics landscape as they consider how to best position their athletics programs to the future.”
Neither school has officially declared in what direction they will be heading. All expectations are that the Sooners and the Longhorns will apply for entry into the Southeastern Conference.
So, that leads to two huge questions. The first is why is this happening and the second is what will the Big 12 do in response to these two defections.
Here’s my opinion on both. The first I believe is an easy one to answer. With the NCAA seriously considering expanding the College Football Playoffs from the current four team format to as many as 12 participants, both UT and OU believe they would have a better chance making the field as the third or fourth place team in the SEC as opposed to the runner up in the XII. It’s all about the money.
The second one is a little tougher. With only eight member schools after 2025, look for one of two scenarios to occur. The first is to approach other universities in Power 5 Conferences (Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, Iowa, Texas A&M, Utah) or in non-Power 5 groups (San Diego State, South Florida, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Houston, Tulsa, Southern Methodist, Memphis) to come aboard. The good news is that Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby has some time to make that happen but not as much as you would think.
The second is the inevitable one and it’s not pretty picture for the XII. The departure of Oklahoma and Texas may be the first salvo in the breakup of the Big 12. The other members (Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Texas Christian, Baylor) will have to start looking seriously as to whether they Big XII has been torpedoed and it’s time to abandoned a sinking ship.
I wrote years ago that it would be logical to create four 16-team conferences and, this may surprise you, not for football but for the other sports. That way the conferences could divide into two 8-team divisions which would cut down travel expenses especially for the non-revenue sports.
Look for a whole bunch of back room discussions and maneuvering in the next 12 to 18 months. The only thing I can guarantee you, my loyal readers, is that something has to happen. I just can’t definitively state to you what that will be so stayed turned as this plays out because it will be, as Arty Johnson said on Laugh In, very interesting.