The biggest news ahead of the upcoming college football season has had, well, little to do with the upcoming season as reports about how Texas and Oklahoma plan to join the SEC within the next few years swirl out of control.
As Sportico reveals, ESPN has been very hands-on and vocal with regard to the Longhorns and Sooners' imminent defection from the Big 12, despite both schools still being locked into an agreement with the conference.
ESPN is expected to air over 1,000 regular-season games in the upcoming season, Sportico said, with SEC games being some of their biggest draws. Adding big-name programs like Texas and Oklahoma to the mix would of course benefit the broadcast company, not to mention serve as a rise in revenue for both schools. Each school received $34.5 million from the Big 12 last season, "the bulk of which was generated by the conference’s rights deals with ESPN and FOX," Sportico said. When ESPN's new deal with the SEC kicks in in a couple of years, those schools could collect upwards of $66 million.
Again, Texas and Oklahoma are still locked into Big 12 agreements through the 2024 season. Plus, breaking said agreements would result in hefty fines. However, there is no guarantee they don't make an early break for the SEC -- especially if ESPN is willing to pick up the tab.
“The universities intend to honor their existing agreements,” Texas and Oklahoma said in a joint statement. “However, both universities will continue to monitor the rapidly evolving collegiate athletics landscape as they consider how best to position their athletics programs for the future.”