Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 for the SEC seems to have just been the start of a monumental shift in conference realignment.
USC and UCLA are reportedly finalizing a move from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten, as the SEC and Big Ten arms race continues. And this might not be it. The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach reports that this could eventually lead to the SEC and Big Ten working as megaconferences with 20 teams each. If that is the case, can Oklahoma State get a spot at the table?
With the pending moves of Oklahoma, Texas, USC and UCLA into those conferences, the SEC and Big Ten would be at 16 teams apiece. Removing teams from conferences seems to be a difficult task. There are schools in worse on-field spots than Oklahoma State already in the Big Ten and SEC but because they’re already there, they’re actually in the best spot. Taking that 20 number literally, that’d leave eight total spots for the remaining teams of the Big 12, ACC and Pac-12 to fight over.
There are a few no-brainers as far as the pickings from the “Best of the Rest” go. Clemson, Oregon, Notre Dame, Miami and Florida State are all big brands. Putting those in leaves three spots for the likes of Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech, Stanford, Arizona State and Arizona to fight over. And does basketball end up playing a role in all this, too? If so, go ahead and add Duke, North Carolina and Kansas to the pool of potential suitors.
A potential bright spot for OSU’s chances likely resides about an hour down I-35 — the Sooners. OU didn’t appear to be much help when leaving OSU in the dark about the Sooners’ move to the SEC last summer, but maybe there is some lobbying to be done to get in the second time.
Other pluses in OSU’s favor include a consistently successful football program, one that’s won 10 or more games seven times since 2010. Mike Holder’s work on building facilities could also be a plus. From continued upgrades to Boone Pickens Stadium to a top-of-the-line baseball facility, OSU passes the eye test.
But only time will tell. If the SEC and Big Ten do continue this arms race and OSU doesn’t get in, there will be enough solid-level universities left out that a third league would emerge. It’d moreso be a matter of how far behind that league would be. But if this is going down this road, it’d be a lot less stressful to be one of those institutions with a ticket to the show.
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