Oklahoma, Texas jump to SEC has massive ESPN, conference implications
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In the wake of the bombshell information drop that Texas and Oklahoma are exploring becoming a member of the SEC, the billion-dollar faculty sports activities trade is bracing for the potential fallout.
Interviews with athletics administrators, politicians and trade sources reveal myriad ramifications from such a transfer. From the political fallout within the Midwest to the massive ripples in tv with three main conferences in search of new offers to NCAA governance ramifications, it’s not an overstatement to say that the potential of Oklahoma and Texas becoming a member of the SEC will form the following technology of faculty athletics.
“I think it’s going to happen, and it’s the beginning of a lot of dominoes,” mentioned a high-ranking faculty official.
One trade supply predicted that this might be remembered as a seminal second, very similar to the Supreme Court case in 1984 that opened up free market tv for faculty soccer by breaking it away from the NCAA.
“When you look back on the impact of realignment a decade ago, it really was marginal,” mentioned one other high-ranking faculty official. “This is different. It impacts how college athletics is going to be governed and what college athletics is going to be.”
What’s subsequent and what’s the fallout? We study all the foremost points.
When may Oklahoma, Texas jump to SEC occur?
Yahoo Sports bought totally different solutions from totally different individuals on this problem. The Big 12’s present tv contract ends after the 2024 soccer season. It’s extremely unlikely Texas and Oklahoma would need to slog by means of 4 seasons, because it’s a depressing expertise for everybody when groups go away leagues.
A break-up like that is very similar to a divorce – nasty, costly and endlessly difficult. Big 12 guidelines say that for a college to go away, the buyout is 2 years of tv income. That would imply practically $150 million mixed for each faculties. Do they pay that or dealer a deal? Expect an settlement of some form, as SEC commissioner Greg Sankey’s touch upon specializing in the 2021 season has been interpreted that this might occur quickly after that. As traditional, the legal professionals would be the huge winners.
The timeline for Texas and Oklahoma to inform the Big 12 of their intentions might be as quickly as every week from now. The longer issues linger, the extra obstacles may get in the best way.
The Big 12 is at risk of dropping two of its soccer juggernauts. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire by way of Getty Images)
What’s the largest impediment for OU, UT to go away the Big 12?
As traditional in realignment, it’s politics.
Texas A&M’s finest hope for blocking the SEC is the political savvy of Chancellor John Sharp. The overt media leak is extensively believed to have come from Texas A&M as the primary mechanism to cease this transfer from occurring. Sharp’s focus then went instantly to rallying his SEC allies. Could he persuade Arkansas, LSU, Missouri or others to be part of him? He wants three extra “no” votes, and the early really feel across the SEC was that 13 of the 14 faculties had been on board with the transfer.
“He’s got his political machine in motion,” mentioned one trade supply of Sharp.
The politics on the University of Texas middle on Kevin Eltife, the chairman of the board of regents. Eltife is politically wired across the state and has been the important thing determine behind the scenes in maneuvering this. Who has the political muscle: Sharp within the SEC or Eltife within the state? We ought to know within the close to future.
Oklahoma politics are totally different. Texas shouldn’t have the identical drawback within the legislature that Oklahoma may have. In the final spherical of realignment, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State had been a bundle deal. This time, longtime Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder and president Burns Hargis are gone. Oklahoma State has a brand new president, Kayse Shrum, and a brand new AD, Chad Weiberg. They lack the clout of their predecessors, as Hargis introduced a political background. The risk of Oklahoma politics getting in the best way of this has quieted because the story broke.
What’s subsequent for the Big 12?
The league is starting to focus on contingencies Thursday, because it’s apparent that this could be a devastating blow.
Expect the Big 12 to be aggressive in including faculties. It’ll knock on doorways at Arizona and Arizona State. Perhaps it will attempt to lure Colorado again and pry Utah. The Pac-12 is weak now, however the core of USC, Oregon, UCLA and Washington are all extra enticing to be aligned with than any of the Big 12 faculties.
From there, the Big 12 will determine how huge it desires to get. It has to determine whether or not to add two, 4 or six faculties. Four looks as if probably the most affordable quantity, with Cincinnati, UCF, USF, BYU and Boise State the probably candidates from exterior the state of Texas. The potential addition of Houston and SMU turns into difficult, as Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech wouldn’t have a lot curiosity in additional in-state competitors.
Remember, it’s streaming subscriptions, not cable containers, that matter most. BYU would seem to have the best choice for that, with its nationwide following. But BYU is at all times difficult, which prevented the Big 12 from including it in 2016 when the Cougars’ difficult LGBTQ historical past grew to become an element.
UCF and USF have nice markets, however would the Big 12 need two Florida footholds? Cincinnati is a preseason Top 10 workforce that has been working exhausting behind the scenes to construct for this second. It additionally brings a giant market and fertile recruiting space.
This is all sub-optimal for the American Athletic Conference, because it’ll be a well-known trickle-down. In an analogous meals chain fallout that adopted the ACC cannibalizing the Big East a decade in the past, the Big 12 will go after probably the most enticing AAC candidates. The AAC will do its finest to maintain on to its prime packages however a reconstructed Big 12 with out Texas and Oklahoma ought to provide a extra enticing monetary touchdown spot than the present AAC.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby is likely one of the most revered leaders within the house. But it’d be a shock if Bowlsby, 69, is round for quite a lot of years. One factor that would assist the Big 12 recalibrate is that the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten wouldn’t have a lot curiosity in any of the remaining faculties. Oklahoma State isn’t a cultural match wherever, Kansas soccer is an abomination thanks to Les Miles and Jeff Long, and TCU is in a pretty market however lacks nationwide cache. Baylor is damage by its market.
What’s subsequent for faculty athletics?
This is the place issues get actually attention-grabbing. Conference commissioners Kevin Warren of the Big Ten, Jim Phillips of the ACC and George Kliavkoff of the Pac-12 all are about to endure a baptism by blowtorch.
All are new sufficient to their jobs the place they haven’t achieved a school sports activities tv contract. The Big Ten’s contract runs by means of 2022-23. The Pac-12’s goes by means of 2023-24. The ACC is buried by the untenable take care of ESPN that retains it frozen in what’s already a second-tier deal till 2036.
This impacts all of these leagues in vital methods. ESPN goes all in on the SEC, because it’s anticipated to pay sufficient to get Oklahoma and Texas complete with the remainder of the SEC, which is north of $60 million yearly after 2023. That eats up cash, stock and the most effective tv time slots for the SEC. The SEC wouldn’t be including this with out the additional $120 million a 12 months for OU and Texas, and it’s affordable to assume there’d have to be a bit extra sweetener to assist the opposite SEC faculties really feel good.
“What happens if all of a sudden ESPN isn’t a bidder and Fox has less competition,” mentioned an trade supply. “The ripple effects are … PHEW!”
The ACC is in a tough spot as a result of it ate a nasty deal from ESPN to get a linear community. Now it’s frozen for 20 years in an antiquated settlement, because the ACC offers faculties greater than $32 million per 12 months.
Phillips wants to do one thing dynamic to blow up that deal and get again to the bargaining desk. Those choices are restricted, and ESPN isn’t going to be keen to quit a sweetheart deal on its finish.
The lack of Texas as an choice is a big blow to the ACC’s ambitions, as a number of sources indicated that the ACC was caught abruptly Wednesday. The ACC’s different huge play was Notre Dame, however the league failed to use any leverage it had on Notre Dame as a quasi-member the previous few years. The new College Football Playoff proposal doubles as a safety blanket for Notre Dame’s independence, which suggests little incentive for it to discover a league house. Especially with its personal profitable TV deal coming.
The finest remaining choice for the ACC can be some kind of scheduling association or merger with the Pac-12. And that hints at one other potential ripple from this transfer – is that this going to be remembered because the pivot level towards tremendous conferences?
There has lengthy been a notion in faculty athletics that the Big Ten and SEC had been pulling away from all the opposite leagues due to the monetary success of their networks and the corresponding success on the sphere. Now, the Big Ten will go to market with out the adrenaline jolt that the SEC bought in its deal. The solely corresponding transfer the Big Ten may make could be a play for Notre Dame, however that continues to be unlikely due to how safe Notre Dame’s future is within the new soccer playoff.
The problem for the Big Ten could be that Ohio State is remoted because the league’s energy. Could the Big Ten leverage the potential of its subsequent take care of a transfer to reply, including Virginia, Georgia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina and Clemson to cowl the league’s Eastern flank and fortify the Interstate 95 hall? There can be stress on Warren to be daring. But the ACC is protected by a grant of rights by means of the size of its TV deal.
“It’s about combining forces now,” mentioned a high-ranking faculty official. “Who teams up with who? Do we end up with four leagues? Do we end up with three? Or do we go to a 32-team NFL model. This is going to be earth-shattering.”
Kliavkoff joked on Twitter about his energetic first month as commissioner getting extra attention-grabbing. The Pac-12 is final in line to go to market, and there’s a sense that it wants to do one thing artistic. There’s nonetheless nice worth within the West Coast, even when the soccer has been subpar for the previous 5 years. But this transfer, the Big Ten deal and an upcoming deal for Notre Dame doubtlessly put the Pac-12 able of weak spot thanks to a scarcity of suitors.
The ripples of this potential SEC deal can be felt from coast to coast. And it’s not excellent news for any of the opposite leagues due to how a lot ESPN oxygen this sucks up. As one trade supply put it: “The current schools in the SEC wouldn’t agree to this if all of a sudden their games are relegated to ESPNU. It’s not just money, it’s exposure.”
NCAA president Mark Emmert is in scramble mode after dropping a major Supreme Court case on amateurism guidelines. (Photo by Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos by way of Getty Images )
What does this imply for the NCAA?
As a lot as this transfer is a soccer flex, the fact is that it’s additionally an influence transfer by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey that can assist dictate what the following iteration of presidency construction appears to be like like in faculty athletics.
The NCAA has been weakened to the purpose the place president Mark Emmert is publicly strategizing across the NCAA’s irrelevance. How a lot say do the conferences have sooner or later? Well, Sankey is the last word coverage and course of wonk. He couldn’t have thought by means of this with out a full understanding of how this could assist the SEC wrestle a few of the decision-making underneath its personal umbrella. The stronger the SEC will get, the extra probably it’s to envision some kind of break from the NCAA. Sankey has been annoyed with Emmert and the NCAA for years, and that each one performs into the sort of transfer.
Sankey was already probably the most highly effective individual in faculty sports activities. This transfer would solely amplify that, and the SEC would have a fair a much bigger voice in determining how the following technology of faculty sports activities are ruled. Emmert’s normal weak spot as a pacesetter started revealing itself round realignment a decade in the past, because the NCAA has no management over what occurs.
The final conference energy seize would solely lead to extra energy within the conference places of work, because the SEC would develop into, in some ways, the axis of faculty athletics.
Does this alteration the faculty soccer playoff?
It’s not anticipated to change the 12-team playoff mannequin, however we may even see the primary huge reverberation from the expanded discipline. The attraction of the SEC with a four-team playoff would imply a way more tough path to the CFP.
With a 12-team mannequin and the multitude of alternatives for marquee wins, it’s probably that the SEC grew to become much more enticing to Texas and Oklahoma. The Big 12 would provide a neater path for each, however there’s nonetheless a path accessible within the SEC with CFP enlargement.
What about basketball?
This isn’t day for Bill Self and Scott Drew. Those two nationwide championship-winning coaches must be nervous. As we’ve been reminded previously, faculty basketball will get little consideration within the grand scheme of realignment.
The Big 12 in some reinvented kind would nonetheless be basketball league. But that is an instance that the fortunes of basketball packages, even elite ones, are an afterthought within the huge image. The billions of soccer cash dictates these selections.
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