Texas, Oklahoma joining the SEC is an impending disaster for the Big Ten
The bombshell story of Texas and Oklahoma potentially joining the SEC is great for a whole lot of folks — mainly the SEC, the media and Twitter. It’s obviously an awful development for the Big 12 and anyone associated with the league.
Next in line for the hardest hit by this news? The Big Ten.
This would be an abject disaster for the Big Ten, which has worked to solidify itself as the No. 2 conference in college football through media deals that have widened the league’s pockets and enriched its coaches to absurd levels. (How else would you describe Purdue, a school with no recent history of success in football whatsoever, making its head coach among the top 10 highest-paid coaches in the country just a few years ago?)
The SEC already is a super conference, producing 11 of the past 15 national champions. Add two of the biggest brands in college football, and well, it’s a super duper conference — times 10. If you thought ESPN and the rest of the media only cared about the SEC now, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
And most importantly, that’s how recruits are going to see it, too. It’s the SEC and then everyone else. Maybe they already do, to an extent, but right now the other Power 5 conferences at least have one other heavy hitter on the recruiting trail, with Texas and Oklahoma being the main ones for the Big 12. Add those to the SEC, and it’s easy to see why any top recruit is going to want to play in that conference. All eyes will be on the SEC every single week, and with good reason.
Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz admitted during SEC Media Days that he tells recruits how everyone wants to play in the SEC. That will be the pitch from every SEC coach from here on out. Even if Oklahoma and Texas wind up staying in the Big 12 or pick another league, this rumor will have done its damage, like, “See, everyone wants to play here!” As Drinkwitz said, “It’s an exclusive club and not everyone gets in, so good luck.” What recruit isn’t going to want to hear that?
This wouldn’t be great for Ohio State, especially. The Buckeyes have made a killing in Texas in recent years. Quarterback Quinn Ewers, the No. 1 player in the 2022 recruiting class and an Ohio State commit, is from Texas, along with two other top-50 recruits committed to Ohio State in that class. Jeff Okudah, JK Dobbins, Baron Browning, Garrett Wilson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Donovan Jackson are all top-50 recruits who the Buckeyes lured away from Texas in the past 5 years. If Texas is in the SEC, does that happen? Maybe, but probably not. There’s a reason Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher is against Texas joining the SEC.
Ultimately, what hurts Ohio State hurts the rest of the B1G. There is a trickle-down effect that would weaken everyone else. For example, look at the Pac-12 when USC is down. Every league needs an alpha.
The Big Ten, now more so than ever, needs Michigan to get back to being Michigan. It needs Penn State to get back to being Penn State. It needs Nebraska to get back to being Nebraska. It needs those big brands to play like it on the field to continue establishing itself as the No. 2 conference in the sport. (Sorry, Pat Fitzgerald, but the Big Ten is definitely not the best football conference in America.)
Sidenote: I know it’s been a rocky relationship with Nebraska and the Big Ten and it hasn’t always seemed like a good fit, but don’t the Huskers look smart now? Texas is a perpetual wildcard, and Nebraska was wise to rid itself of that mess and get off the sinking ship that is the Big 12 well in advance.
If the Big Ten’s power players can’t dig out of this hole in the next few years, the Big Ten risks becoming a basketball-dominant league. Basketball is great, but football pays the bills for everyone. If Texas and Oklahoma leave the Big 12 and other schools decide to abandon the league because there would only be 8 members left, maybe the B1G can absorb Kansas. But that won’t help in football — it will actually hurt the league’s credibility in that sport. (But gosh, that would sure make for a fun basketball season!)
Maybe the Big Ten snatches up Iowa State, but will the Cyclones be the same when Matt Campbell inevitably takes another job? The Hail Mary, no pun intended, would be to get Notre Dame to join the Big Ten, but that will probably never happen.
This is far from over, but all in all, this is terrible news for the Big Ten. There’s no good way to spin it.