Daily College Football Cavalcade: What if Texas and Oklahoma leaving for the SEC – if it happens – doesn’t turn out to be that big a deal?
Because the possibility of Texas and Oklahoma going to the SEC is all anyone wants to talk about right now, this week will feature a series of Daily Cavalcades with different views on what could be a seminal moment in college sports.
Sorry if this take sucks, it’s not my fault …
I’m still mentally preparing for what’s sure to be a Missouri vs. Texas A&M SEC Championship, all while holding my breath for that first Florida State vs. Miami ACC title game.
Oh, by the way, Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and TCU have won Big 12 football championships since Texas last got one in 2009
Of course it would be a big, giant, hairy deal if Texas and Oklahoma go to the SEC.
OF COURSE it would.
But what if it’s not? What if it turns out to simply be two college football programs joining a conference full of other college football programs – as has happened from time to time?
I know, I know, the Big 12 is hosed, the world of college sports is about to blow up, and the SEC will roll its expansion army over and through the woefully ill-prepared conference landscape, but that was supposed to happen in 1997, too.
1996 was the last year of the Southwest Conference, comprised of Baylor, Houston, Rice, SMU, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech in the final stages, with Arkansas bolting for the SEC in 1991.
Houston left for Conference USA. Rice, SMU, and TCU went to the WAC – sky point – and Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech were off to join the Big 8 to create the supposedly unstoppable new Big 12.
That was it. Tradition was gone, rivalries were over, and obituaries mourning the death of the college sports charm were printed far and wide in these things they had back then called newspapers.
And then everyone moved on, enjoyed the Big 12, and 92% of all those who just read that first part have led fulfilling lives loaded with purpose having never heard of the Southwest Conference.
The Big 12 went through several twists and turns, Oklahoma eventually grew into the conference’s biggest force, and things changed and adapted as conferences often do. And if the two anchor tenants leave, things will change again as the Big 12 keeps on rolling. If it doesn’t, that just means all those schools left behind will play football in some other configuration and designation.
But assume the Big 12 will still be a thing.
Remember, Nebraska and Kansas State were the early national title-level superpowers of the new Big 12 in the North division, and then the power was truly up top when Colorado reemerged as a force. Meanwhile, Texas went 4-7 in its first season and Oklahoma went 4-8.
As time went on, Missouri and Texas A&M left for the SEC. Colorado bolted for the Pac-12, Nebraska left for the Big Ten, and the Big 12 brought in TCU, who was kicking butt in the WAC, and then Conference USA, and then the Mountain West, but it was just some lower-conference program that wasn’t going to do anything on the bigger stage.
Texas and Oklahoma in a ten-team Big 12? Oh that was it. How boring would it be when those two dominated every year, and …
Nope. Oklahoma might have rocked over the last six years, but 2014 TCU and lowly Baylor were both THIS close to getting into the first College Football Playoff.
So let me throw out this possibility. Let’s say Texas remains just above-average after joining the SEC. It’s good, it wins a few big games here and there, but it’s still 8-4ish tough with an occasional flirtation with the conference title game.
Let’s also speculate that Oklahoma in the SEC loses a few games it wouldn’t have in the – we’re all adults here so we can speak freely – lighter Big 12.
Welcome to the SEC, where you can be really, really, really 10-2-great and get a fat load of jack squat for it.
Meanwhile, if Texas and Oklahoma leave, that means others – like Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Kansas State, West Virginia – would and could rise up and fill the empty void at the top of the standings, even if they’re not at the same level program-wise as the two big boys who bolted. That’s before getting into the expansion possibilities, too.
And let’s also dispense with the notion that a 12-team College Football Playoff would be overrun by SEC programs. Six conference champs would be in, and no, there wouldn’t be seven SEC teams to go along with the other five.
So do this. Don’t get your undies into a twist quite yet, see how this all plays out, and let the history of the sport be your guide.
Maybe – just maybe – Texas and Oklahoma join the SEC, and college football and all of its conferences keep right on going.