There is an old saying in sports and in life: “Money talks and (that other stuff) walks.’’ It surfaced again last week in college sports.
Armed with a $3 billion broadcast contract and six national football championships in the last decade, the Southeastern Conference caught the attention of schools lusting for a piece of that pie.
After a generation of hating each other because geography placed them in the same neighborhood, the Universities of Texas and Oklahoma brushed aside their rivalry and marched together out of the Big 12 conference to look for greener pastures, like those in the Southeastern Conference.
Why are we not shocked?
The All-American dollar was the attraction for the Longhorns and Sooners and it left the Big 12 (formerly the Southwestern Conference) holding the bag, So much for partnership.
This not unprecedented. The once flourishing Southwestern Conference evaporated in 1996 when Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M and Texas Tech migrated to the Big 8 to help create the Big 12. Then Missouri and Texas A&M departed for the SEC, reducing membership to 10. Teams kept coming and going. Nebraska bailed out to the Big 10 and Colorado to the Pac 12. With Texas and Oklahoma departing, eight schools remain in the Big 12 and one of those, West Virginia, is flirting with the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Now about the Big 10. It became the Big 11 when Penn State signed on a few years ago, And then Rutgers and Nebraska joined up, making it the Big 10 with 13 schools. This is not to be confused with the Big 12 which is down to eight schools.
Got all that?
It is a head spinning business but not for Texas and Oklahoma. They put aside old animosities and offered themselves in one neat little package to the SEC, clearly the nation’s most powerful football conference with Florida, Georgia, Alabama and LSU among its powerhouse members. Why sure, the SEC responded. Step right up. There’s always room for a couple of more schools. Sixteen members seems like just right number for this good ol’ league.
There was one dissenting voice.
Texas A&M, previously of the Southwest Conference and previously of the Big 12 Conference, said it wanted to be the state’s lone SEC member. The Aggies were sweet-talked down from the cliff and persuaded to sign on to the new partners. And so all is well in SEC-land.
One question remains in all this shuffling of schools.
What the heck is Rutgers doing in the Big 10?