FAQ: The Oklahoman and the Statesman answer Reddit questions on Big 12, SEC shakeup
On Thursday, The Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson and American-Statesman writer Brian Davis took part in a Reddit AMA in regards to the now-sealed move of UT and OU to the SEC.
Here are some of the best questions and answers from Reddit users on the subject from the hour-long conversation. For the entire AMA, head to Reddit.
Do you have any comments that have aged badly about Texas, Oklahoma, and the SEC?
Brian: Do I have any comments that have aged badly? Eh, probably. Not that I can remember any of them, though.
Jenni: I don't personally, I don't think. I have enjoyed seeing OU and Texas in the Big 12, but I guess there was always the thought in my mind that they might move somewhere else at some point. The SEC has been the best football conference in the country for several years now. That's a fact. Can't argue that, really. Can some fans, players, coaches, etc., be annoying? Sure. But that doesn't change the fact that the football there is really, really, really good.
What was y'all's office like the day the news broke?
Jenni: I can't say -- I wasn't working in the office that day. :) I don't think any of our sports staff was in our newsroom; we've all taken to doing the work-from-home thing, and even though we are allowed in, few of us are going in.
But the conversation electronically was intense. Trying to figure out what was going on. Was the report from the Houston Chronicle correct? Were OU and Texas serious? What did we need to write, who did we need to call ... just lots of moving parts.
Brian: Well, I can tell you things were quiet. Nobody knew about this -- not the reporters, not most school officials and definitely not Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. He was blindsided, we've been told.
What are the odds that Texas and/or Oklahoma get out of the B12 and into the SEC before 2025?
Brian: Jenni can answer this, too. But I still think it's going to be before 2025. Last night's news that Bowlsby was taking a machine gun (and his lawyers) to ESPN was quite stunning. But I really think it's in ESPN's best interest to help these other eight schools find a landing spot/more teams for the Big 12.
Jenni: I assume very high. It would require a buyout that's been reported of $80M per school, but it sounds like OU and Texas could do that. And I have to assume the current SEC teams would be in favor of bigger conference payouts starting as quickly as possible.
Was the SEC the only conference OU and UT looked at or did they explore moving to other conferences as well?
Jenni: Our reporting hasn't turned up anything that would suggest OU and Texas were looking at other conferences. Perhaps they did, but geographically, the SEC makes the most sense. Its profile is also highest, so makes the most sense. The Big Ten has a pretty huge conference payout out, like the SEC, so maybe there was a glance there, but again, we haven't heard anything from anyone official to my knowledge that it was anything other than the SEC.
Brian: It's my understanding from Texas sources that moving to the SEC was the only legitimate play that was available. There's no other league that makes sense to them. Having made the trip to Cal (2016) and then the trip to USC (2017), getting home at 5 or 6 a.m. Central time turned a lot of Texas administrators off from going to the Pac-12.
Do you think Oklahoma will still try to play Oklahoma State or Texas will still try to play Texas Tech annually as an out of conference match up?
Brian: Having seen the Texas-A&M rivalry go away for a decade, I can attest that bad feelings will lead to a stoppage of any football game. I think it'd be a shame if Bedlam went away. But I don't know if Texas will play Texas Tech. If they did, it would be an early season non-conference game. Then again, after what Texas has done to Tech recently (stealing Chris Beard, blowing up the Big 12), my guess is Tech would pass on that, too.
Jenni: I can't speak to the Texas side of things, but we have heard from OU officials that they would like to continue Bedlam. Not just football but all sports. Obviously, Oklahoma State would have to agree to that, and comments from its new president Kayse Shrum lead me to believe that people there are pretty angry right now.
But I hope they can work something out. OU and OSU aren't coming at this time with long-standing, deep-seeded animosity like Texas and Texas A&M had when they stopped playing (and still have to this day). Maybe that helps save Bedlam.
When the story first broke from the Houston Chronicle, how much did you buy into it? Did you doubt it? Lean to believe? 50/50?
Jenni: I didn't doubt the reporting -- the reporter who broke it has been covering Texas A&M for a long time and is great at what he does. I didn't doubt the news.
But how far along it was? I didn't have any sense of that. That's largely because things get leaked so quickly anymore. People are ALWAYS going to talk. But OU and Texas both kept this to such a limited number of people -- and then those people kept quiet! -- that it didn't leak. I never anticipated that the process had been going for months (almost a year) when the news came out last Wednesday.
Brian: My first thought was, "Whaaaaaat is this?" It probably took us a couple of hours working the phones to get it confirmed that the wheels were in motion. Again, I give kudos to Texas and OU administrators for keeping this quiet. They widely believe it was an A&M person who leaked it, not that it matters now.
How well do you feel this move works out for OU and UT given that the Playoffs seem likely to expand? Would they be better off dominating their own conference than fighting a dog fight to reach top 4 in a very competitive conference?
Brian: I firmly believe the 12-team playoff is going to happen -- after some serious finger wagging at the SEC by everyone else. There's too much money to be made. Let's say the Big 12 added Louisville and Cincinnati when A&M/Missouri left. Would that have changed things today? I'm still not sure.
Jenni: For OU, the Sooners aren't going to win as much in football as they have. Their record won't be as impressive. But an expanded playoff gives them every opportunity to play for national titles. I mean, if OU can't make a 12-team field, that's not a problem of conference affiliation. That's a problem with OU. That plus the extra $20M or so they stand to make every year is why OU goes instead of stays.
Brian, one of your colleagues (Kirk Bohls) at the Statesman previously tweeted that Texas A&M was kept in the dark during Texas and OU's secret negotiations with the SEC. Can you or Jenni speak to the veracity of that statement or shed any light on that subject? Thanks!
Jenni: Brian can speak to what they reported/know, but it sure sounds like A&M was kept in the dark because frankly I think most SEC schools were kept in the dark. I don't think OU and Texas wanting to join the league was something that was talked about openly -- because everyone knew even if a rep or two from each school knew, the news would likely leak. That's the nature of things nowadays. As the schools were fact-finding, it sounds like only a small handful of SEC folks knew. It wasn't just A&M that didn't know.
Brian: I know that Texas A&M's Board of Regents were kept in the dark. At least, that's what a high-ranking A&M source told me a few days ago. Now, how much did John Sharp know and when did he know it? That's the main question. But yes, it's my belief that top A&M administrators were out of the loop until the very end. I'm still not sure how much AD Ross Bjork did/didn't know when he appeared at SEC media days that Wednesday.