By Otis Kirk
FAYETTEVILLE — The SEC has long been considered the elite league in college sports and adding Oklahoma along with Texas only makes it stronger.
As of now those two schools are slated to make the official jump to the SEC on July 1, 2025. Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark created a little hope that date would be moved up last week at media days when he said he was open to an amicable breakup.
But when the Big Ten added UCLA and USC from the Pac-12 rumors started flying the SEC would possibly raid the ACC for such schools as Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia. However SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey doesn’t feel the need to respond to the Big Ten adding two schools.
“There’s no sense of urgency, no sense of panic,” Sankey said Monday. “We’re not just shooting for a number of affiliations that make us better. Could they be out there? I would never say they’re not. I would never say that we will. We’re going to be evaluating the landscape. I’m not going to speculate. And I actually am watching a lot of this activity operating around us more so than impacting us directly.”
With the Big 12 losing two elite programs to the SEC and the Pac-12 seeing a pair of its key schools exit for the Big Ten reports had the Big 12 trying to expand or enter into a partnership with the Pac-12. First reports had the Big 12 trying to land Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State. Another had the Pac-12, still with schools such as Oregon, Washington and Stanford in addition to the four rumored for the Big 12 and others partnering with the Big 12. Now that is seemingly off at least for now.
At this time, USC and UCLA are slated to join the Big Ten on Aug. 2, 2024. That is about just short of a year ahead of the Sooners and Longhorns officially becoming SEC members.
One thing certain is Yormark isn’t sitting idly by while the SEC and Big Ten become stronger and stronger. It wouldn’t be a shock if the raid on the Pac-12 continued with Yormark adding some schools from there according to his comments at Big 12 media days.
“We’re open for business,” Yorkmark said last week when talking about schools from the Pac-12. “And optionality is good. And we’re vetting through all of them. I think it’s fair to say I’ve received a lot of phone calls, a lot of interest. We’re exploring those levels of interest. Nothing is imminent.”
Yormark, representing the Big 12, is actually to be commended as he has not let losing its two highest profile members to the SEC dampen the outlook for the league. The Big 12 media rights can’t be renegotiated though until 2024 it removes the desire and motivation for the Pac-12 schools to make the jump at this time.
Sankey reiterated on Monday the SEC feels confident where it is with OU and Texas heading to it.
“There’s no sense of urgency in our league, no panic and reaction to others’ decisions,” Sankey said. “We know who we are. We’re confident in our success. We’re really looking forward to the expansion of 16 teams and don’t feel pressured to operate at a number, but we’ll watch what happens around us and be thoughtful, but be nimble.”
Lots of questions remain in college football including what will the Pac-12 do after losing its grip on the Los Angeles market? What will Notre Dame do? Will the SEC eventually raid the ACC? What happens to Oregon and Washington? Will Florida State and Clemson join the SEC?