Horns Down to Texas, Oklahoma joining SEC

Scooter Hobbs

HOOVER, Ala. — Texas and Oklahoma moving to the Southeastern Conference might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.

So it will probably happen.

But it’s not a done deal. Not yet, anyway. Probably still very much in the exploratory stage.

Still, the bombshell that woke up SEC Media Days with a jolt, sending reporters scurrying for vague, useless quotes and non-denial denials Wednesday, wasn’t grabbed out of thin air.

No doubt Texas and Oklahoma have been talking about the possibility of maybe one day jumping on board with the most powerful conference on earth.

As Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher — no coincidence, I’d guess, that he was the podium when the news broke — said: “I bet they would.”

Maybe sooner than later.

Hopefully not.

But it woke me up, for sure.

Up until then, it had been a pretty uneventful two and half days with way too much coach-speak.

In fact, only moments before the chaos began, I’d remarked to a colleague that what this party really needed was a good, quirky story line like the “Horns Down” controversy that hijacked Big 12 Media Days last week.

The Big 12 seemingly spent their entire week sorting out whether the upside-down hand-signal to mock the familiar “Hook ‘em Horns” sign would constitute an unsportsmanlike penalty when flashed by Texas opponents.

Oh, those were much simpler days. Turns out the Big 12 might have far bigger issues, such as, oh, will it exist?

Texas suddenly barged onto the SEC stage, with an Oklahoma chaser.

SEC commissioner has issued polite no-comments for over 24 hours now.

Learned minds have been peering into the television cameras with furrowed brows to explain, in serious tones, the startling news that:

“What this all comes down to is … money.”

Well, duh.

Figured that out all by yourself, did you?

Of course it is.

I don’t know what the filthy-rich SEC will do with more cash, but I’m sure the schools will find a way.

Athletic departments are a lot like defense departments — no matter how astronomical the budgets are, they can always prove where they need more, more, more for the arms’ race.

Fine.

But let me be the get-off-my-lawn codger who’d like somebody to think outside the cash box. And I’m not naive enough not to realize that college athletics is, at its sis-boom-bah heart, big business.

Two more teams would put the SEC at 16. As if 14 wasn’t so bulky that it’s taken the league the whole decade since just to figure out how to construct a workable schedule.

But back then the conference had to have Texas A&M to make the then-looming SEC Network viable — all those, uh, eyes of Texas as part of the cable packages.

Missouri got to come along to even it out, no matter the logistical challenges. But now 16? Sorry.

That’s not a conference, it’s a whole battalion, maybe poised to wipe out all competition.

More likely it’s a move to force others to follow along, to jump-start the move to re-shape the college football landscape into four 16-school super conferences — first vaporizing the Big 12, some of whom will get scarfed up by scavengers.

Another domino would fall as the big schools push for even more autonomy.

No doubt it would be hard to match that kind of SEC for talent and cash flow.

Still, I can’t imagine 16 will “feel” like a conference, certainly not the kind that SEC fans like to keep up with and, whether they admit it or not, feel some sort of kinship with even their most bitter rivals.

Maybe that’s the plan.

Maybe it’s coincidence, but 16 is the number of NFL teams in its two conferences.

Some in the college game, with a perfectly good product, seems to want to drift closer and closer to the NFL model.

But in this proposal, Florida and Oklahoma would seem to be no more related than the Saints and Seahawks.

Me, I always savored the differences in the college game.

Some people love college football because it’s NOT the NFL.

So I say … Horns Down!

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at scooter.hobbs@americanpress.com””Scooter Hobbs updated

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