The SEC’s tagline of “it just means more” carries a little more weight now, as the additions of Texas and Oklahoma make the league the first 16-team super conference in college football. The overall speed of realignment and expansion news out of the SEC came as a surprise after an already newsworthy and chaotic offseason dealing with NIL, the transfer portal, playoff expansion and the Alston case at the Supreme Court. However, regardless of how crazy the offseason has already been, the SEC couldn’t pass up an opportunity to add two of the premier programs in the sport.
You aren’t alone if you have whiplash or your head is spinning from everything that has transpired within the last week. So if you are confused about why the SEC is adding Oklahoma and Texas, we have five reasons why the conference is making this move at this time.
SEC Football: 5 Reasons Why the Conference is Adding Oklahoma and Texas
Oklahoma and Texas are Elite Programs
Sure, a 16-team conference presents a few challenges in scheduling and keeping all members happy, but the SEC isn’t adding just to add. Texas and Oklahoma are two of the biggest and best brands in college football and rank as two of the best jobs in the sport. As evidenced by the Sooners and Longhorns’ titles during the BCS period, and playoff bids by Oklahoma in the CFB Playoff era, both programs are capable of winning at a high level. Elite, top-10 programs in college football don’t hit the free-agent market very often. The SEC isn’t going to add teams just to bolster its numbers. Instead, this is about getting two programs capable of winning the national title and adding heft to the No. 1 conference in college football. Also, adding another team from Texas certainly doesn't hurt for recruiting purposes. For the Sooners and Longhorns, trading out the Big 12 for the stable and lucrative SEC is a huge win.
$$$ from Television and the CFB Playoff
The addition of Oklahoma and Texas will pull in more television revenue with additional eyeballs on conference games and the SEC Network. According to USA Today, the Big Ten brought in $781.5 million in total revenue for the 2019 fiscal year. The SEC is a small step behind at $720.6 million. The Sooners and Longhorns joining the SEC will help the conference close - and potentially surpass the Big Ten - in overall revenue. Also, each conference that has a team in the College Football Playoff gets extra money. With an expanded 12-team playoff coming in the near future, it’s safe to assume the SEC – with Oklahoma and Texas – will get multiple teams in on an annual basis. And that equals more $$$. Just how valuable is the SEC’s television product? ESPN recently acquired the package of games currently on CBS for roughly $3 billion overall, which equals to around $300 million a year. Currently, CBS pays $55 million a season for that group of matchups.
Increased Revenue Through a Better Home Schedule
Moving SEC adds value to the home schedule and increasing interest among fans for season tickets. Hypothetically, Oklahoma fans could essentially trade home games against Kansas, Texas Tech and TCU for matchups versus LSU, Auburn and Tennessee. Administrators in college athletics have looked for ways to fill the stands and bring in more revenue. Better games – non-conference and league play – is one way to do it.
And If the SEC Didn’t Add Oklahoma and Texas…
Another conference would. The SEC couldn’t pass on an opportunity to add Oklahoma and Texas and watch the Big Ten or ACC make a play for either program. Instead, the SEC got stronger and prevented two conference rivals from adding the Longhorns and Sooners and increasing their revenue in the process.
The SEC Leads From the Front
Commissioner Greg Sankey is the most powerful leader in college athletics right now. He’s been at the forefront of the sport for playoff expansion and was a leading voice on name, image and likeness rule changes. Additionally, Sankey has already indicated the need for major reform to the NCAA and more autonomy for the Power 5 conferences (and football overall). Simply put, Sankey is going to make sure the SEC leads the way in college athletics, and the first 16-team super conference with two standout programs is another step in that direction.
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