Earlier this week at SEC Football Media Days, Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman said he wasn’t worried about Texas and Oklahoma defecting from the Big 12 to join the SEC.
He may want to start now.
With reports on Friday that the Sooners and Longhorns will be declaring independence from the Big 12 by early next week, the move now seems imminent. There is different speculation on to how quickly the move may happen.
If the two schools left before 2025, they’d have to pay what essentially amounts to a fee of $80 million to the Big 12 for leaving before the expiration of the current TV right contract. So, that could be a deterrent, but Oklahoma and Texas could also be playing football in the SEC in the 2022 season.
That should worry Pittman because Arkansas would see the effects of that on the recruiting trail immediately. The one advantage the Hogs have recruiting Dallas and other Texas markets is the allure of the SEC.
Now, two other major schools that already have a lot of clout in Texas would could brag about that affiliation. That’s the main reason Texas A&M would be opposed to the addition. They currently they have the Lone Star State cornered in the SEC.
Texas Football: Wildly Overrated
Texas football is a prestigious program that is also wildly overrated many years.
They haven’t been truly relevant on the national scene since Mack Brown left, and even as Pittman tries to pull the the Arkansas football program out of the muck of the two worst seasons in school history, the states of the two programs are a whole lot closer than the UT faithful would like to think.
New Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian and Co. are in for a rude awakening when they travel to Fayetteville to take Pittman’s squad on Sept. 11. I’m betting it will be the signature win Pittman is looking for after making a great deal of progress a season ago.
Still, if Texas lands in the SEC, the Longhorns will 1) automatically garner more respect, especially nationally, than Arkansas and 2) their recruiting stock will skyrocket. Sarkisian can certainly find a way to foul it up like others have. But that isn’t a chance Arkansas should take lightly.
For Arkansas, playing Texas football every year as the level it is now would be an OK proposition, but the Hogs can’t compete with Oklahoma … yet. And OU would only be stronger in the SEC, too.
Maybe if Auburn and Alabama were moved to the East, and OU and Texas replaced them in the West, it would be a little better for the Hogs. However, with their luck, Arkansas will still be stuck the Tide and one of the Big 12 defectors, which won’t help the rebuilding process.
At least 11 of the 14 SEC schools must approve the move. The scuttlebutt is that the Aggies will draw a line in the sand and try to recruit others, but Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reported on Wednesday that “getting 11 of the 14 votes doesn’t appear to be an issue.”
Arkansas Football to Rebel Against SEC Expansion?
Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek doesn’t seem to be the kind that is intimidated, but if SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey wants Oklahoma and Texas, it may not be advantageous for schools to rebel.
Arkansas already gets no respects in the SEC. If an SEC expansion block attempt backfires, they can forget the small chance of ever getting a call in a big game again.
Yes, money does talk. It’s possible that Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC is inevitable. If so, perhaps Yurachek would be better off endorsing the move in hopes of getting a better deal in realignment such as a pod format that could include Arkansas, OU, Texas and Missouri.
That’s no cake walk, but is is better than the SEC West has been when the Tide, Auburn and LSU are all at full strength.
There is a reason I’ve written almost an entire column on this matter and haven’t mentioned other sports. The reason – it really doesn’t matter. Eric Musselman, Dave Van Horn and Mike Neighbors couldn’t care less about Oklahoma and Texas. The Longhorns and Sooners could add spice to the men’s basketball, sure, but that sport is not near the magnitude of football.
Plus, Musselman is on the verge of a Final Four run. His team is peaking. Arkansas baseball is also riding high, and the Longhorns pose little threat to a difficult schedule that the Hogs ran through with little difficulty this season when winning the SEC regular-season and tournament titles.
No, football is the real trouble issue here. And if Sam Pittman isn’t worried, he should at least be paying attention and adding his input as Yurachek formulates a stance. This move, after all, will affect his football team the most of any athletic program at the University of Arkansas.
Check out the latest on Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC here: