In this zero-sum game, Slive and the SEC need Oklahoma

The Big 12 is down to a Lesser 10, and within days it could be reduced to Iowa State and Baylor. Nebraska has joined the Big Ten, which technically numbers 12. The Pac-10 has picked off Colorado and is hopeful of adding five more Big 12 expatriates, flagships Texas and Oklahoma chief among them. But the Pac-10 would seem to have less in common, both geographically and philosophically, with Texas and Oklahoma than would a certain other conference.

The SEC plays better football than the Pac-10. The SEC plays better football than anybody. The SEC includes schools based in the Central Time Zone, which the Pac-10 as yet does not. The “SE” stands for Southeastern,” which could be applied, albeit loosely, to Texas and Oklahoma, neither of which abut the Pacific Ocean.

The SEC with Texas and Oklahoma would be a killer conference. (Not that the SEC isn’t already. Four consecutive BCS titles, you know.) But the Pac-10, which at the moment numbers 11, seems to have stolen a march on the SEC, which might have to make do with Texas A&M. Meaning no disrespect to the proud Aggies, but the thought of all this league-hopping concluding with the nation’s richest conference adding only a road trip to College Station would be cold comfort.

Meaning: Mike Slive needs to get cracking.

As unseemly as all this program-poaching is, it’s better to poach well than to poach poorly. There aren’t many schools that can add to what the SEC already has — again, we’re primarily talking football — but Oklahoma and Texas are on the short list.

Slive is the SEC’s commissioner, and he’s among the brightest men in the industry. He’s also a fretter of the first rank. During games involving his schools, he fiddles with his BlackBerry and pops Life Savers to keep calm. (I know. I’ve sat beside him. I’ve even bummed a Life Saver.)

What’s happening is the ultimate zero-sum game: If you don’t win in this coast-to-coast conference-shuffling, you lose. The SEC became the first mega-league when it added Arkansas and South Carolina, but that happened in 1991. The ACC, the Big East and now the Big Ten and the Pac-10 have all grown bigger and stronger since, and simply adding Texas A&M won’t burnish the ol’ image. If the SEC cannot land either Oklahoma or Texas, it will be seen as having lost.  The SEC rarely loses.

It’s believed Texas wants no part of the SEC. It’s also believed that Oklahoma, which met with the Pac-10 on Saturday, might be amenable to a Slive charm offensive. And if the SEC could snare Oklahoma and Texas A&M, the lure of the Pac-10 would surely be lessened for the Longhorns (The Sooners and the Aggies are Texas’ biggest rivals.)

I used the word “philosophically” above, and Oklahoma would indeed seem more like Alabama and Tennessee than Stanford and Cal. (Meaning: It’s not unfamiliar with NCAA scrutiny.) Barry Switzer coached OU after playing at Arkansas, which is in the SEC. Bob Stoops coaches OU now, and he apprenticed at Florida.

The SEC could live without Texas. It couldn’t live as happily without Oklahoma. If both alight in the Pac-10, that would give the Left Coast League three schools that have won a BCS title. (Although Southern Cal’s grip on the 2004 championship is, owing to NCAA sanctions, slippery.) The SEC has four — Tennessee, Florida, LSU and Alabama — but the SEC prides itself on being twice as good as every other conference.

The SEC has also prided itself on being the first to act. (Its adoption of a football championship game in 1992 became the model.) This time the league appears to have been slow off the mark. But that can change with the right pitch to the right school.

For the SEC, Oklahoma would be that school. If the Sooners come South and the Longhorns follow, all the better. But Oklahoma alone would be enough to offset anything done by any other conference.  The area code for Norman is 405. I’m guessing Mike Slive has it programmed in his BlackBerry, and I’m guessing he’s reaching for the Life Savers as we speak.

410 comments Add your comment

Hillbilly Deluxe

June 13th, 2010
1:08 pm

If the SEC adds Texas and Oklahoma, it might actually make it harder to get a team out of the conference with a good record. The conference is already so strong that they sort of feed off their own. An 8-3 or 9-2 team in the SEC might be a better team than a 10-1 or 11-0, in a weaker conference.

If Texas and/or Oklahoma went to the PAC10 (or PAC whatever), they might have an easier time compiling big numbers.

Be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Woodstock Joe

June 13th, 2010
1:08 pm

Woodstock Joe

June 13th, 2010
1:09 pm

Mark Bradley

June 13th, 2010
1:09 pm

It would be easier to win in the Pac-10, Hillbilly. But the SEC with OU would be a monster.

Mark Bradley

June 13th, 2010
1:10 pm

So close, Woodstock Joe. Kudos to Hillbilly.

JS

June 13th, 2010
1:11 pm

Lived in Austin for awhile, and in Atlanta for a LONG time. Texas certainly has a lot more of a Western attitude than the traditional Southeast (AL, GA, FL) when it comes to outlook on life and how they define “conservative” — so I don’t consider it Southeastern, even if it’s closer to the Southeast geographically.

dogbird

June 13th, 2010
1:13 pm

Benjamin

June 13th, 2010
1:16 pm

Top ten finish in my first foray back to the polls?

I think so.

SEC needs to go all out and bring on Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A & M, and West Virginia.

Sonny Clusters

June 13th, 2010
1:22 pm

We was waiting to hear from Doc Rivers and almost went to sleep. It is too hot for Clusters today. We may watch a little World Cup while we are waiting for the Braves. Just kidding. Clusters never played soccer but we understood the game real well. A Clusters would never play a game where the uniform pants are made out of plastic.

Reid Adair

June 13th, 2010
1:23 pm

I think Texas goes to the Pac 10, without or without Oklahoma, because the Longhorns become the “big dog” in that league almost automatically (especially given USC’s recent NCAA issues and their hiring of Lane Kiffin). I’m not surprised that Texas wants no part of the SEC.

Texas A&M alone is not an improvement for the SEC, although they most certainly would have to add at least one more school to keep an even number of 14.

Herbert

June 13th, 2010
1:25 pm

Without a playoff system in college,championship titles such as BCS, has little meaning.

After all thi$ sorts out, we need a playoff championship series.

Brian Scott

June 13th, 2010
1:27 pm

JS, I agree with you about the attitude in Austin being more like the attitude of West Coast schools, but that applies more to politics than it does sports. And, all SE schools aren’t “conservative.” Sure, Alabama, Ole Miss, Auburn, Miss St, and Arkansas are, but Florida (Gainesville), Georgia (Athens), and LSU (Baton Rouge) all reside in relatively liberal towns. Athens is much like a smaller Austin, possessing a huge indie music scene. Further, Football wise, Texas is much more like the traditional SEC schools, emphasizing power and speed and a balance of run/pass. The West Coast emphasizes passing and finesse much more.

GWJ

June 13th, 2010
1:29 pm

Mark Bradley

June 13th, 2010
1:29 pm

I would be disingenuous if I didn’t note that Austin, Texas, is my favorite city.

heyward the new human highlight film

June 13th, 2010
1:30 pm

Hey Bradley, so if a western team comes aboard with a&m, do bama and auburn go to the sec east?

[...] an article today in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Mark Bradley tabs Oklahoma as the must get team for Mike Slive and SEC Expansion.  Here is what he says about the current [...]

Mark Bradley

June 13th, 2010
1:33 pm

I wouldn’t imagine both would, heyward.

Bob in buford

June 13th, 2010
1:33 pm

JS, the point is that Texas is closer to being Southeastern than West Coast, where they don’t know what the word conservative means. Maybe you didn’t understand Bradley’s point?

DP

June 13th, 2010
1:36 pm

Mark, there’s been no suggestion that Texas is willing to consider the SEC. I saw a quote from the Oklahoma AD the other day that said it would be terrible if OU split from Texas. So the chances of getting Oklahoma and/or Texas look to be about zero. I think any expansion that doesn’t include Texas and Oklahoma dilutes existing rivalries in the SEC without any real benefit. Who wants to see Alabama play Texas A&M every year if it means Alabama-Tennessee is no longer an every year game or Alabama only plays Georgia twice every 12 years versus the current four times in 10 years?

Bangkapi Ajarn

June 13th, 2010
1:36 pm

Mark, I enjoy lurking and reading from afar, but it this case I fear I must disagree with you regarding Commissar (or was that commissioner???) Slive’s best course of action (while simultaneously acknowledging that neither Mr. Slive or your own good self will lose any sleep over that).

There seems to be a feeding frenzy stirring up over the weakened Big 12, but sometimes the best action is–inaction! Prudence would appear to be the best path to continued success, as the opportunities for existing schools to reach the promised land (BCS bowl in football for example) would be diluted.

I am perfectly ok to see Alabama, Florida, Ga (my preference), Auburn, LSU, or whoever play Texas or Oklahoma for the national championship rather than the SEC championship. Pac10, Big12, Big10, Big East, Bigmama for that matter – doesn’t matter, they are all still chasing the SEC in football at least, and the SEC is right up there (usually) in gymnastics, baseball, mens and ladies Basketball, and pretty much everything except lacrosse and rugby (props to the big east and Ivy league).

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The SEC regularly competes for championships, has its own national TV contract, and should not mess with success. Don’t care where OK or Texas lands, all respect to their success, but lets play them in the BCS championship and not the SEC championship.

Brian Scott

June 13th, 2010
1:37 pm

I could see Auburn moving to the SEC East. They are actually east of Vanderbilt geographically. Further, they could switch their lock from Georgia to Alabama obviously. And, it could potentially mean Auburn and Alabama could meet in the SEC Championship, which would be huge.

Resign or Resign?

June 13th, 2010
1:38 pm

Don’t judge the entire state of Texas by what you experience in Austin; the liberal “capital” of the state.

Supes

June 13th, 2010
1:38 pm

Mark, Texas wants no part of being in the SEC…they would love the “Pac 10″ with a down USC for the next 3-4 years, they would dominate. In the SEC they are not guaranteed anything. In a down Pac 10 where your main opponent would be the Sooners (which they contend with every year), they’ll be able to win more and get west coast exposure).

in short…Texas are cowards, they would rather join a mickey mouse conference where they can be the BULLY rather than join the SEC, where they’ll have to play Bama, LSU and others every year in the SEC west.

sc ace

June 13th, 2010
1:39 pm

Let OU bring OSU along with the Aggies. Round it out with Va Tech (strong program that will pull a strong tv market). That looks like a juggarnaut to me.

Let the ACC snag UConn to replace va tech.

I gotta wonder if texas might consider going independent and setting up their own network and such. They like to be the big fish and don’t like to share the spotlight or the money. Wasn’t that the issue in the big 12 to begin with?

Pac10Sooner

June 13th, 2010
1:42 pm

Problem is Oklahoma really gains little by going to the SEC. We would play a more difficult schedule making National titles more difficult for us as well as other SEC programs. We likely gain more dollars in the PAC 10 because the tv contract that conference would garner would supplant the SEC TV deal substantially. We would also still be playing most of the current teams on our schedule. Pac 10 is a win-win. Joining SEC only benefits the SEC.

Beast from the East

June 13th, 2010
1:43 pm

Mark,
I think the SEC has no shot at Texas. Texas demands too much control. If you look at it, they are a major factor in why the Big 12 is probably going to fold up. Nebraska and Colorado surely did not enjoy getting treated like second class citizens. They may have been “family”, but only “in-laws”. Can’t see Slive letting any part of his power/decision making being given away. He’s the undisputed king in SEC athletics and everyone knows that. Urban found that out last year…..as did Kiffen.

sesame street fire you Mark?

June 13th, 2010
1:44 pm

yeah the SEC is so weak it needs Oklahoma….sure Mark…..the AJC needs Terrence Moore back too…even though he was a racist, he sometimes made as much sense as you do

Lenny

June 13th, 2010
1:45 pm

I disagree with you Mark that Texas A&M would not be a sufficient enough addition to the SEC. Yes, it would be an amazing coup if Slive can bring in Oklahoma or amazingly enough, A&M, OK, OkSt, and the sips. A&M is a great fit for the SEC and fits in beautifully. Many of the SEC fans are wary that Texas doesn’t do anything except for Texas and that just won’t fit in with the collegiality that the SEC fraternity shares. Free A&M and Gig ‘em.

not so fast

June 13th, 2010
1:45 pm

I realize no contracts have been signed but I was in Oklahoma as well as Texas this week on business and all sportstalk stations as well as the newspaper commentarys are saying it is a done deal with the Pac 10 for Texas, Tex A&M, Ok and Ok St.

Me

June 13th, 2010
1:50 pm

Any new Southeastern Conference team should actually be located in the southeast.

John Smith

June 13th, 2010
1:57 pm

You want Texas? Match the Pac-10’s willingness to take the whole Texas-Oklahoma-Texas A&M-Texas Tech package deal.

ryan

June 13th, 2010
2:05 pm

From what i am hearing is that Pac 10 is having a problem convincing Texas and A&M because reason 1 the SEC has more money than the Pac 10 reason 2 SEC would play big in the Houston and Dallas markets reason 3 and this is the big one the SEC already has a big mega T.V. deal. Plus Pac 10 only plays to Denver and L.A. markets.

Bill

June 13th, 2010
2:06 pm

Welcome back Mark…hope all is well.

Bob in SF

June 13th, 2010
2:06 pm

I live in NorCal and I can tell you Californians don’t think of Texas as being “western”. That being said I think it will be an nightmare logistically for these schools to play in the Pac10; does A&M or OK State really want schlep their women’s volleyball team to Pullman or Corvalis? Colorado makes some sense as it’s biggest alumni base outside of Colorado is in California but the Okie and Texas schools will be making a huge mistake. The PacWest 16 would be coming apart just like the Big12 within 10 years as the TX and OK schools started absorbing the travel costs both for their fans and teams. I honesty think they would be best served by reforming the old SWC; bring SMU, TCU, Houston and Rice back into the fold and just crown the champ the King of Texas.

playmeortrademe

June 13th, 2010
2:07 pm

I see this going one of two ways

1) The SEC gets Texas, A&M, Oklahoma, OSU in an eleventh hour deal. Bama and Auburn go to the east, and the SEC seals the deal by alternating the SECCG and basketball tournaments to Jerryworld, and making an under the table deal to bring Texas Tech into the league in the future and possibly booting out South Carolina, who has never fit in the SEC and belongs in the ACC. Not saying I like it, but that SEC would almost annually have a team in the BCS championship plus another team, maybe two in the BCS.

2) The above four and Texas Tech go to the Pac 10, which will eventually blow up in their faces. The original Pac 8 never liked Az and AzSt being added, and I think if Texas and OU come in and dominate and get all the pub, and the northwest and NorCal schools start losing recruits to a stronger MWC because those schools can’t compete in the conference, Az, AzSt, and Colorado can’t even sniff a division title, and USC/UCLA/Oregon get their butts handed to them every year in the championship, there will be a bigger rift and animosity toward Texas and Oklahoma than there ever was in the Big 12.

Mark Bradley

June 13th, 2010
2:10 pm

Thanks, Bill.

thomas

June 13th, 2010
2:17 pm

I really do not think the SEC needs to expand. It is the premier conference in the nation, and nobody is really close to catching them. Herbstreit made a good point recently, stating if you put the rest of the conferences in the nation together, the SEC is still better. The only thing I would like to see happen is somehow drop Arkansas and South Carolina. Potentially add Clemson and Florida State, or Oklahoma and another Big 12 team. But honestly I do not see the SEC changing. Everyone else is playing catchup, the SEC does not need to do that.

Danielle

June 13th, 2010
2:18 pm

What a hilarious lap dog piece. Fist of all, anyone who knows UT knows they would never have anything to do with the academic TRAILER PARK that is the SEC. Sorry, but the SEC is for players who have to sign their name with an X. Even the Big Ten would be a better fit for Texas than the SEC. Oh, and by the way I have to counter your propaganda with some facts. The Big Ten is BY FAR the richest conference. Not only in sports (thanks to the Big Ten Network) but their research money is in the BILLIONS, dwarfing the value of the entire SEC. Please stop lying about the SEC. They are certainly the best Football conference, no doubt, but that’s where their superiority ends.

heyward the new human highlight film

June 13th, 2010
2:19 pm

Hey bradley,
on a different note, do you think you can contact john smoltz’s old dr with the red sweater to give kawakami a call to change his luck for the 2nd half of the season…….memories of 91!

Bigstack19

June 13th, 2010
2:20 pm

I believe all of this shuffling is horrible for college football where a bunch of conference commissioners and university presidents usually whine about tradition yet have no issue leaving their conference and traditional opponents behind for money. If you are a fan of Oklahoma how often do you make the trip to Seattle to see them play the Huskies or Berkley to see them play Cal? Sure Texas has fans everywhere. I know because I live in Tennessee and there are Texas fans here. I seem to be one of the few Georgia backers here btw. The point being all of this spreading everything out may be good for the schools already money lined pockets, but for fans who travel and families of the players who now have to go twice the distance to see their kids play it just plain sucks. How did the Incredibly Shrinking XII let this happen? They could have locked these teams down and added TCU plus Houston and SMU and made a play for Notre Dame. Heck, even Arkansas might have been convinced to jump because they don’t fit in the SEC. Instead they sat on there hands and let it happen. Kansas, Baylor, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State are left to suffer. Maybe they can get with TCU, SMU, Houston, Southern Miss, New Mexico, Tulane, and Colorado State and form a little conference of their own.

DP

June 13th, 2010
2:21 pm

Bob in SF, the Pac 16 figures to effectively be 2 conferences, the 6 coming from the Big 12 plus Arizona and Arizona State on one side, the original Pac 8 on the other. I doubt there would be much competition in minor sports between Pac 10 divisions other than conference championship tournaments.

John Smith, you left Oklahoma State out of the package deal and the SEC is not going to take 5 new teams. They’re joined at the hip with Oklahoma and Texas, as noted here:

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/stories/061210dnospookstate.922100d7.html

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione told the Tulsa World that the Sooners’ position is that it’s going to stick with Texas wherever the Longhorns go because of the long history between the two schools.

“I think it would be a horrendous decision for OU and Texas to break up,” Castiglione said. “We’re going to stick together if it’s at all possible.”

That’s exactly what Oklahoma State is thinking.

In an e-mail to University of Texas system regent Robert L. Stillwell last week, OSU athletic director Mike Holder wrote: “We just want to be with Texas when the dust settles!”
Stillwell is linked to Oklahoma State through longtime associate T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire alumnus who has donated millions of dollars to both schools.

Pickens provided the lion’s share of the funding for a $286 million overhaul to the Cowboys’ football stadium, including new weight rooms and luxury suites. He also promised $100 million to two University of Texas medical centers in 2007, with the caveat that they must grow the donation to $500 million in 25 years or else send any interest on the initial gift to OSU.

Gordon Gekko

June 13th, 2010
2:22 pm

Think BIG, grasshopper. Move Bama, Auburn, Ole Miss and Miss. St. to the eastern division, leave Ark and LSU in the western division and add Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Baylor, Oklahoma, Ok. State, Kansas and Kansas St to the new SEC western divison. 20 team conference full of good teams. Pac 10 and Bid 10 can die on the vine.

Top Dawg

June 13th, 2010
2:26 pm

ALL of the other conferences and teams could expand to include all teams not currently in the SEC, and the SEC would still be the premier conference in college football.

matt r

June 13th, 2010
2:28 pm

Adding two and moving Auburn to SEC East makes the most sense to me. If any change comes.

Atlanta Gator

June 13th, 2010
2:29 pm

Danielle—-

You are no doubt as lovely as you are misinformed. Vanderbilt and Florida are both ranked as academically equal or better compared to Texas (and both have tougher admissions standards than Texas). Moreover, Vanderbilt, Florida, Georgia, Auburn and Alabama are all ranked ahead of eight or more of the members of the proposed new Pac-16. Bet you also weren’t aware that the new Pac-16 will have more so-called “Tier 3″ schools than the SEC does?

So, enjoy the “trailer trash” of the new Pac-X!

Delbert D.

June 13th, 2010
2:33 pm

In this decade, being connected by cable or satellite is what counts.

If Oklahoma or Texas A&M join the SEC does “Equestrian” count as an equivalent to “Rodeo?”

Atlanta Gator

June 13th, 2010
2:33 pm

Danielle—-

Oh, by the way, you’re television revenue numbers are wrong, too.

Last year, the Big Ten network generated $165 million for the 11 conference members ($15 million apiece). The SEC’s new contracts with CBS and ESPN will generate $205 million for the 12 SEC members ($17 million apiece).

Please do your homework before attempting to speak ex cathedra.

Atlanta Gator

June 13th, 2010
2:34 pm

Delbert D.—-

An interesting, but previously uncontemplated question regarding the unanticipated consequences of conference realignment. Now, I have to try to stop laughing.

Atlanta Gator

June 13th, 2010
2:37 pm

BTW, while we are discussing academic “trailer trash” in the new Pac-X, can we discuss Oklahoma State, please? Sure, OSU is a Tier 3 school, but they spent more on their new football facilities than the school’s academic endowment. Good to see ol’ T. Boone has got his priorities straight.

Atlanta Gator

June 13th, 2010
2:38 pm

Damn. It’s tough to be an academic snob when you’re typing your pronouncements too quickly.

Danielle—-”You’re” >>>> “your.”