Sources close to and within the University of Texas and the Southeastern Conference’s office in Birmingham have confirmed to Dawg Sports that Texas and Oklahoma have reached out to the SEC about conference membership.
Brent Zwerneman of The Houston Chronicle first reported Texas and Oklahoma’s potential exodus from the Big 12 this afternoon.
The recent progress towards a 12-team College Football Playoff has served as the catalyst for this move according to a source within the league office. “With an expanded playoff, the addition of Oklahoma and Texas to the conference would create more premier regular season games without threatening the potential for the SEC to get multiple teams into the playoff,” said the source.
The television contract for a 12-team College Football Playoff could be worth as much as 1 billion dollars. The addition of Oklahoma and Texas to the league could result in increased playoff berths for the league, which would mean more revenue from playoff shares for the league’s institutions.
Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC would reset the league’s television contracts. That would result in “an increase in revenue of at least 10 million a year for each of the league’s member institutions,” from revamped television contracts alone according to one source.
The SEC’s current scheduling model is on a twelve-year cycle. That cycle started when Missouri and Texas A&M joined the league and ends in 2025. The Big 12’s contract with ESPN and Fox also expires that year. Conveniently, the current College Football Playoff contract expires in 2025 as well. That timing creates what sources within the league office called, “a unique opportunity.”
As for Texas, sources tell Dawg Sports that the university has been considering a move to the SEC at least since late last year.
One potential hurdle to the move is the Longhorn Network. The contract between Texas and ESPN runs through 2031, and the university earns approximately 15 million dollars a year under the current agreement. Sources believe that any move to the SEC would be dependent on the dissolution of the cable channel.
Sources close to the University of Texas have told Dawg Sports that Texas “would be willing to scrap it, and believe the move to the SEC would ultimately result in more money for the university.”
In 2020, the SEC distributed 45.5 million to each of its 14 schools. The Big 12 distributed 34.5 million each to the 10 member institutions. The shuttering of the Longhorn Network would serve as a gesture of goodwill after Texas previously demanded unequal revenue sharing in the Big 12.
ESPN lost 48 million on the Longhorn Network during the first five years of the deal, and it has long been speculated that the company would love to find a way out of the deal. The Longhorn Network could easily be folded into another ESPN property like the SEC Network.
It is believed that Texas A&M would block any attempt by the Longhorns to join the SEC, but a vote by 75% of the conference’s 14 institutions would result in the SEC becoming a 16-team league.