There have been several tectonic shift in the collegiate basketball world this summer. First, legendary head coaches Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzkewski stepping down from their posts. Second, the passage of NIL legislation to allow athletes to make money of off their own branding. And now, the biggest shock of them all, Texas and Oklahoma forcing their way out of the Big 12 and moving to the SEC.
The reason for the Longhorns and Sooners’ exit can be boiled down to two words: football money. This is the South we’re talking about, where kids are playing tackle football at the age of four and 75,000 people show up to high school games on Friday nights. There are buckets of cash to be made, and the way to capitalize on the frenzied fandom is by putting the biggest brands together. According to Forbes, the SEC now has nine of the 12 most valuable brands in college football. They’ll be making must-see TV almost every fall Saturday.
What completely falls by the wayside in this crazy move is the impact it could have on SEC basketball, which made a meteroic rise in the past year. Alabama, Arkansas, LSU and Florida made major waves in the NCAA Tournament, powered by NASCAR-paced offenses and led by charismatic young head coaches. Don’t forget about Coach Cal and Kentucky as well. Texas and Oklahoma have had great basketball teams in the past couple of years, competing in a very loaded Big 12, and now could certainly pull more prospects out of Georgia and Florida.
If we’re being completely honest, it’s the other eight schools in the Big 12 (yeah, I know) that are going to have bigger problems in the next couple of years if the conference folds. What happens to defending national champion Baylor? Does Kansas head north to the Big 10? Is West Virginia summoned to the ACC? Where do the Oklahoma States and Texas Techs of the world go? These sort of uncertainties will keep players away from schools in the South, sending more talent elsewhere.