The SEC has officially invited Oklahoma and Texas to join the conference. Moving into a new 16-team conference will be different for all SEC programs, but the biggest adjustment will come from the two newbies. However, the SEC has added four programs, Arkansas, South Carolina, Missouri, and Texas A&M, in the last 30 years and they have all fit in quite well. Here are five things both Oklahoma and Texas and their fans should do before joining the conference.
5. Embrace Paul Finebaum
This is a two-step process. First, add the SEC Network to your cable package. The good news is that it is easier to subscribe to and better than the Longhorn Network. Once you have it, make it a priority to watch "The Paul Finebaum Show," which airs Monday through Friday from 3-7 p.m. ET and is simulcast on ESPN Radio. Finebaum’s knowledge of the SEC is vast, and he is one of the best interviewers in broadcasting with the guests to prove it. Plus, when the most rabid Alabama fans call in, you will feel better about your own fan base.
4. Accept that "it just means more" in the SEC
Yes, you do have 11 national titles between you, but it is unlikely you have experienced the pride SEC programs have. Keep in mind, this is a conference that has not lost a school since Tulane left in 1966 and whose fans generally cheer for the conference as a whole come playoff time. To give you an example of fan base dedication, South Carolina’s average attendance for home games in 1999 was more than 78,000. That season, the team went 0-11.
3. If you’ve got any unclaimed national titles lying around, think about claiming them
Speaking of national titles, SEC schools of late have been claiming any awarded to them by selectors other than the AP or Coaches Poll. From the outside, this may seem like revisionist history, but before the 1970s, many teams would finish undefeated and national championships would be awarded to a number of schools. SEC schools were the first to decide to begin claiming some of them. For example, five of Alabama’s 18 national titles are from selectors other than the AP or Coaches Poll. Oklahoma and Texas could easily make arguments for claiming a few more. For starters, the Sooners should consider the 1949 national championship awarded by the College Football Researchers Association for a team that went 11-0 and beat LSU 35-0 in the Sugar Bowl. Texas should consider accepting the 1914 title given by the Billingsley Report to a team that went 8-0 and held all its opponents to a combined 21 points.
2. Act like you belong
There is a difference between carrying a chip on your shoulder and being petty. Some programs, most notably Oklahoma, have a tough time walking that fine line. Just check out this video that played on the jumbotron at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium before the Sooners played Tennessee in 2014; definitely stick around to 1:10 for a snarky comment saying, “Ask Nick [Saban] how much we care about [the SEC],” referencing Oklahoma’s win over Alabama in the 2014 Sugar Bowl.
That video may have produced cheers, but it reeks of an inferiority complex that SEC fans will needle. Oh, and since then, Saban and Alabama have won three national titles. The Sooners have won zero.
1. Relax. Your history will still be celebrated and new traditions will form
Both Oklahoma and Texas have rich histories that will be embraced by fans and not just to reinforce the dominance of the conference. Many SEC fans now consider Texas A&M’s 12th Man to be part of the conference’s legacy and LSU and Arkansas now play for a golden boot. The Sooners and the Longhorns will fit right in, and I can imagine "SEC Storied" producers are excited about the number of documentaries they can make highlighting these two programs.