A week’s worth of rumors were confirmed on Tuesday as Texas and Oklahoma officially applied for SEC membership in a letter to the league — but it is likely that these talks have been going on for much longer than the rumors suggest.
At Big 12 Media Days earlier this month, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby was quite cavalier when asked about the prospect of conference realignment. In the time since, reports of Texas and Oklahoma’s intentions began to trickle out, before they were confirmed on Tuesday — causing Bowlsby to change his tone.
“The events of recent days have verified that the two schools have been contemplating and planning for the transition for months and this formal application is the culmination of those processes,” Bowlsby said in a statement on Tuesday.
The exodus leaves the commissioner and his league in an awkward position as its two highest-earning programs grab hands and jump ship. Although Texas and Oklahoma stated they wish to leave in 2025, the general sense among insiders is that the SEC will utilize various avenues to incorporate them as soon as 2022, leaving the Big 12 with just eight teams that year (should nobody else leave or join the league).
In fact, it is difficult to tell what the Big 12 could look like as soon as 2022, especially since it is likely that Big 12 member schools have already begun reaching out to new leagues for their own future moves. Pac-12 commissioner George Kilavkoff said that they aren’t actively looking to grow past 12 teams, but the league is open to examining the prospect of expansion.
“The fallout from Texas and Oklahoma gives us an opportunity to once again consider expansion, and we have already had significant inbound interest from many schools,” Kilavkoff said.
He did not, however, reveal which schools may have reached out, or which conferences they belong to.
“We expect these decisions to take some time, and we will not be sharing any further information today about ongoing expansion discussions,” he added.