Red River Showdown

Oklahoma, right, runs a play against Texas in the first half of the 2019 Red River Showdown football game in Dallas. One of the biggest annual games on the Big 12 calendar could instead become an Southeastern Conference showcase if the teams eventually were able to join the SEC.

HOOVER, Ala.

I’ve covered SEC events before where a bomb goes off, and suddenly the conversation shifts from months of planning for orchestrated topics to current events.

Wednesday that bomb was Texas and Oklahoma.

That’s when news broke from the state of Texas that the Longhorns and Sooners have reached out to the SEC about membership opportunities.

It’s a topic that has sucked the air out of the room since.

Inquiring about membership is a long way from Mississippi State or Ole Miss packing up for a football weekend in Norman – but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere.

There are other events playing out right now that bring a little clarity.

One, Big 12 Conference media rights deals expire in 2025.

The Big 12 recently reached out to its primary media partners, ESPN and Fox, to begin early negotiations. The networks politely declined. Read into that what you will. The expiration date is still four years out, and a lot can happen in the media industry in that time. Maybe the networks’ response isn’t a reflection on how it feels about the Big 12’s future.

On the other hand, the SEC in 2024 leaves CBS to strengthen its relationship with ESPN and begin a new one with ABC.

The 10-year deal has been estimated at more than $3 billion.

The SEC already pays its members more than the Big 12. Soon it will get more cash – a lot more – from one of the Big 12’s primary partners.

Texas and Oklahoma are the richest schools in a league that will soon have fewer riches.

The weakened state of the NCAA also plays into this potential shake-up.

The Power Fives would like more autonomy; you put those two power brokers in the SEC, and the league shakes an even bigger stick as the nation’s first 16-team super conference.

Thinking locally

How does this affect Ole Miss and Mississippi State?

It will make the spring meetings in Destin a lot more interesting. Texas has a lot of resources and doesn’t have the reputation of playing nice in the sandbox.

It will upset some traditional rivalries, it will change some recruiting tactics. It could mean my travel plans point west more than east.

Would it make it more difficult for MSU and Ole Miss to reach the college football playoff? Not necessarily. There would still be eight or nine conference games. Maybe one of them isn’t Alabama, and the playoff is likely to expand.

Before they’re shouting “S-E-C, S-E-C” in Austin and Norman, eleven SEC schools would have to vote yes. Former Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork – now the AD at Texas A&M – will not be one of the yes votes.

In the end, don’t expect our Mississippi entries to balk at this move.

What benefits the SEC benefits MSU and Ole Miss.

PARRISH ALFORD is the college sports editor and columnist for the Daily Journal. Contact him at parrish.alford@journalinc.com.

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