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College Football Conference Realignment Rumors and SEC Expansion News

Tracking everything regarding rumors, college football realignment and SEC expansion
Oklahoma Football: Sooners' 2019 Schedule Analysis

Oklahoma could make a move from the Big 12 to the SEC.

College football conferences could look very different in the near future, as the hot-button topics of expansion and realignment are back in the news with Texas and Oklahoma reportedly exploring a move to the SEC. This offseason has been filled with several massive changes and seismic news within the sport, and the Sooners and Longhorns potentially joining college football’s best conference is another significant shake-up with major implications for other leagues and teams.

Athlon Sports is monitoring the latest news regarding college football expansion and conference realignment. This post will be updated with the latest news throughout the offseason.

The latest updates involving the SEC, Big 12, Pac-12, Texas, Oklahoma, college football realignment and expansion:

College Football Conference Realignment Rumors and SEC Expansion News

* Tuesday, August 3

* Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff met with his Big 12 counterpart Bob Bowlsby on Tuesday to discuss the potential for the two conferences to work together in the future. A partnership, merger or scheduling alliance have all been mentioned as potential paths for the two conferences to work together. Of course, this is all very early and nothing may materialize between the two leagues. But with the SEC expanding to 16, the other power conferences are certainly looking for ways to keep up with the top league in college football. 

* Monday, August 2

* During a hearing at the Texas state legislature on Monday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby indicated there is no timetable for expansion into the conference to replace Oklahoma and Texas. 

* Rumors circulated all over social media on Monday that Florida State and Clemson had reached out to the SEC about membership. However, as expected, there's no truth to those rumors. According to The Athletic's Grace Raynor, a Clemson spokesperson indicated "there is no truth to the report that Clemson University has been in contact with the Southeastern Conference regarding membership." 

* Sunday, August 1

* Will the Bedlam rivalry between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State continue even though the two teams will no longer be in the same conference? Right now, the answer appears to be TBD. Oklahoma State president Dr. Kayse Shrum indicated, "right now, there are too many unknowns to determine what the future holds."

* According to the Star-Telegram's Drew Davison, the state senate of Texas will hold a meeting on Monday regarding the outlook and future for college sports in Texas. 

* Could the proposed expansion to the College Football Playoff be placed on hold? According to CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd, that's a real possibility due to the SEC's move to add Oklahoma and Texas, along with the general uncertainty of conference realignment. According to Dodd's report, several administrators believe "the entire proposed structure and access to the CFP must be reevaluated as a result of forthcoming conference realignment as triggered by the moves of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC."

* Saturday, July 31

* Texas Tech is one of the programs looking at its options with Oklahoma and Texas moving from the Big 12 to the SEC. The Red Raiders would be a key part of any revamped Big 12, but a move to another conference isn't out of the question. Coach Matt Wells isn't too worried about realignment and expansion going into the 2021 season, however. "Tech will land in a great spot because of the power of the Double T," Wells said in an interview with EverythingLubbock.com. "It’s a great brand, academically, research institution, all of our athletic programs."

* Could the SEC's recent additions of Oklahoma and Texas slow the path to expansion in the College Football Playoff? SEC commissioner Greg Sankey had some interesting comments on the Paul Finebaum Show in regards to other conferences wanting to slow the process to a 12-team playoff:

Friday, July 30

* Oklahoma is officially headed to the SEC. The program's board of regents voted to depart the Big 12 in favor of the SEC beginning on July 1, 2025. However, it would not be a surprise if the Sooners joined prior to that date. 

* As expected, the board of regents at Texas unanimously voted to accept the invitation to the SEC. Officially, the Longhorns plan to enter the SEC on July 1, 2025. However, as other moves in realignment have showed in previous years, that shift to the SEC could come earlier. Check out the full release from Texas here

Thursday, July 29

* Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby released a statement on Thursday night reacting to the move of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC. "Today's SEC announcement reaffirms that these plans have been in the works with ongoing discussions between the parties and television partner for some time," Bowlsby said. "We are disappointed these discussions went as far as they did without notice to, or inclusion of, other Big 12 members. Despite our concerns for the process and for the overall health of college athletics, we will do everything possible to make sure that the student-athletes at both universities enjoy an excellent experience throughout the remaining four years of their participation and competition in the Big 12 Conference."

* It's official: The SEC has invited Oklahoma and Texas to become the league's 15th and 16th members. According to a release from the conference, the two programs will join on July 1, 2025. The Sooners and Longhorns are expected to accept invitations on Friday.

* ESPN has responded to commissioner Bob Bowlsby's claims the television network was attempting to steer current Big 12 members to other conferences and overall interference with the league. "The accusations you have made are entirely without merit," ESPN president Burke Magnus commented in a statement. The letter also indicates "ESPN has engaged in no wrongful conduct and, thus, there is nothing to "cease and desist." Read ESPN's full response here

* CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd reports Big 12 athletic directors will meet on Friday to discuss the league's next steps.

Wednesday, July 28

* AL.com's John Talty reports SEC presidents and chancellors are expected to extend invitations to Texas and Oklahoma to become the 15th and 16th members of the league on Thursday.

* According to The Athletic's Chris Vannini, the American Athletic Conference won't issue a comment on Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby's claims of interference by the league. Bowlsby alleges the AAC was working to get three-to-five Big 12 members to depart the conference to join the American, which also had the support of ESPN.

* The Star-Telegram reports officials from TCU, Texas Tech and Baylor met with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday.

* The SEC appears headed for a 14-0 vote to accept Oklahoma and Texas as members. The Texas A&M System Board of Regents recommended school president M. Katherine Banks to support conference expansion in the SEC:

* CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd reports Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby indicated to him "that ESPN has active engaged the American Athletic Conference (AAC) to pursue "3-5" Big 12 members join the league, suggesting it would be rewarded with "future television proceeds." Read the full report on CBS Sports here

* ESPN has responded to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby's claims of interference by the television network in realignment and expansion discussions involving teams from the Big 12, American and SEC. “The claims in the letter have no merit.”

* Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger has obtained the full letter from the Big 12 to ESPN (we've linked the letter below). There's a notable passage in this letter, where Bowlsby indicates, "I am aware that ESPN has also been actively engaged in discussions with at least one other conference regarding that conference inducing additional Members of the Big 12 Conference to leave the Big 12 Conference."

* The Austin American-Statesman reports (as expected), Texas does not anticipate it will have any trouble reaching the necessary 11 votes for SEC membership. A Texas source told the paper "I feel like we have the votes."

* Sun Belt commissioner Keith Gill released a statement on Wednesday, indicating the conference is monitoring the landscape and developments in college football realignment and expansion. 

* Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel reports the Big 12 sent ESPN a cease and desist letter on Wednesday. According to Thamel, the letter demands ESPN stop "all actions that may harm the conference and its members and that it not communicate with the Big 12 Conference's existing members or any NCAA conference regarding the Big 12 conference's members, possible conference realignment or potential financial incentive or outcomes related to possible conference realignment."

What this letter means for the Big 12 is unclear. Is this an attempt by the conference to begin the process of rebuilding membership and ensuring no other team leaves the Big 12? Or is this letter hinting other teams could already be in discussion to pursue another conference? 

* Thursday could be a massive day of news for college football. According to Jason Whitely of WFAA, SEC presidents are slated to meet on whether or not to invite Oklahoma and Texas into the conference. The Sooners and Longhorns need 11 of the league’s 14 members to approve their addition. All signs point to Oklahoma and Texas receiving the necessary votes to join the SEC.

* New Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff discussed expansion and realignment at media days for the conference on Tuesday. During Kliavkoff’s opening address, it was clear the Pac-12 feels it doesn’t have to expand just because the SEC is going to 16 teams. But what if the league decides to add members? Athlon Sports takes a look at the best candidates for expansion.

* Want to catch up on the latest news in college football realignment and expansion and look at what could be coming in the next few days? Check out the Athlon Sports’ Cover 2 Podcast to get a quick recap on all of the latest in college football.

Tuesday, July 27

* There’s a decent chance this round college football expansion and realignment could have an impact on most of the Group of 5 conferences in the near future. Similar to the Mountain West yesterday, Conference USA released a statement indicating the league is keeping an eye on the happenings across the sport. “Conference USA continues to monitor the ever-changing landscape of collegiate athletics,” said commissioner Judy MacLeod in the statement. Our Board of Directors met Monday morning and will remain engaged, discussing recent developments and evaluating opportunities to strength and best position our member institutions collectively.”

* Former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops released an interesting op-ed column in The Oklahoman on Tuesday. The former coach signs off on the program’s move to the SEC, stating “I believe this is a good and necessary move for the future of our school and football program.” Also, Stoops took aim at rival Oklahoma State’s comments from Monday. “I disagree with any claims asserted that OU’s decision is “to the detriment of the State of Oklahoma,” and that OU made it without “engagement and transparency.” You can read the full article here

* Baylor is one of the eight remaining Big 12 members facing an unsettled future in the conference. The Bears are the reigning national champions in college basketball, and the program has improved significantly on the gridiron over the last 10 years. However, if the Big 12 falls apart, it’s uncertain where Baylor might be able to finding a landing spot. School president Linda A. Livingstone released a statement on Tuesday afternoon, indicating “Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack B. Rhoades IV and I have been on the phone and in meetings non-stop since last Wednesday, when news of the potential departures of Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 initially came to light. We, along with the leadership of our Board of Regents and many others, are working actively and tirelessly to put our athletics programs and University in the best possible position now and into the future.” You can read the full statement here

* Oklahoma and Texas officially applied for membership in the SEC this morning, so it’s no surprise the Big 12 is still assessing the fallout from the departure of conference’s two best programs. This afternoon, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby released a statement acknowledging the move, as well as what’s to come for the conference. “The Big 12 Conference has learned that the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas have submitted formal requests to the SEC to be considered for membership beginning with the 2025-26 athletic year,” Bowlsby said in the statement. “The events of recent days have verified that the two schools have been contemplating and planning for the transition for months and this formal application is the culmination of those processes. We are unwavering in the belief that the Big 12 provides an outstanding platform for its members’ athletic and academic success. We will face the challenges head-on, and we have confidence that the Big 12 will continue to be a vibrant and successful entity in the near term and into the foreseeable future.”