When the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns will join the SEC, how could that affect the Missouri Tigers?
The Missouri Tigers escaped the Big 12 in 2012. Now it seems the Big 12 is coming to Missouri. With Oklahoma and Texas set to join the SEC by June 30, 2025, the conference adds two of the most prominent athletic schools in the country and certainly the top two in what’s left of the Big 12 Conference.
Texas is arguably the school the caused Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, and Texas A&M to leave the Big 12 originally. Between favoritism in public perception, financially, and more, Texas seemed to be the golden child of the Big 12.
This was warranted to be fair.
Texas was, and still is, the most valuable athletics department in the nation. In a conference paired with lower-tier financial schools such as Oklahoma State and Kansas State, it does make sense that the Longhorns could ask for a bigger piece of the pie. But, their greed drove four quality schools to other conferences in a two-year span.
All that is for another day.
Now that the move is official, where does this leave the Missouri Tigers? It likely lands them, with a division realignment, in a division with Texas and Oklahoma. Keeping the divisions as geographically standard is key and still preserves traditional SEC rivalries.
In comparison, here is the current division alignment:
Current SEC Division Line Up
|South Carolina||Mississippi State|
Then, here is where realignment could take schools:
(My) Proposed SEC Division Line Up
Going from 14 to 16 members, Oklahoma and Texas stay in the same division while causing some schools to shuffle around.
Many marquee rivalries, such as Georgia-Auburn and Tennessee-Alabama become yearly division games while opening the door for fresh cross-division matchups. Possible matchups like Oklahoma-Georgia or Texas-Tennessee are strong points to a schedule.
The prospects are endless and very enticing.
Another big change would come with how a schedule is structured for SEC teams.
In the past, an SEC schedule will include eight conference games and four non-conference games. Those conference games include six divisions games, one cross-division permanent game (Missouri-Arkansas, Auburn-Georgia, etc.), and one non-division game that changes each season.
This leads to the other four non-conference games. Granted, nothing wrong with these games. A team usually needs some warm-up games before the conference schedule starts. One of the four games usually features a “marquee” matchup, such as Alabama-Miami (FL) or Ohio State-Oregon in 2021. The other three? Bought wins, for the most part.
For example, while Alabama will play the Hurricanes, their other three opponents are:
- Southern Miss
- New Mexico State
Hardly competition or upsets.
These games are a win-win for both schools though, as the clear favorite gets an easy win while the underdog receives a huge paycheck. For example, Florida A&M received $700,000 for a matchup against the Arkansas Razorbacks. While the Rattlers lost handily, that money is key for the overall athletic budget.
Again, these games against low-tier FBS or FCS schools are bought wins.
While SEC schools like Vanderbilt and South Carolina may not be much better than some mid-major schools, even they can handle business. The historically bad 2019 Vanderbilt Commodores split the non-conference games 2-2, with losses to Purdue and UNLV and wins against Northern Illinois and East Tennessee State.
This is in contrast to other Power 5 conferences who have nine conference games and three non-conference games. One of those three still usually includes a quality opponent and two mid-majors or FCS schools.
Adding two more schools to the SEC brings the conference to 16 members. All 16 members should not be expected to play each other each football season, that is crazy. However, they should keep the same format: play all division opponents, one permanent cross-division rival, and one rotating cross-division game.
The SEC teams would be on a similar playing field when it comes to playoff evaluations as well. Better conference competition could mean a better playoff portfolio, while also increasing the chance of a conference loss. If the SEC is truly the dominant conference, then there should be no issue having that upper-tier competition throughout the season’s schedule.
Adding Texas to your schedule looks better than beating Florida A&M by multiple scores.
While the new additions to the SEC are primarily football moves, the ramifications for a basketball or baseball schedule would be similar: fewer non-conference games, more conferences games, better competition.
After this becomes the norm, more eyes will be drawn to the SEC games, enticing sports fans in general rather than just SEC fans.
Fans and analysts can talk about games and the competitive positives of the new teams. It may not be fun, but the real reason for this move has to be money. Oklahoma and Texas look to nearly double the annual conference money they receive.
For example, the two schools currently get about $34 million from the Big 12. Under the current TV deal, SEC schools get more than $60 million each year. That is not factoring in increasing TV and radio fees, with the SEC-CBS deal set to expire in 2023.
Adding the Texas and Oklahoma brands to the SEC will only drive those fees and media payouts up, possibly to the highest on college sports.
The fan reaction to the news was all over the place. Some were sad, some were mad, many were confused. Now that the plan is set and it is not rumored anymore, it is time to look forward to the SEC of the future and see what it holds for the Missouri Tigers.