When the University of Texas and University of Oklahoma announced their plans to leave the Big 12 in July for the Southeastern Conference after their contracts expire in 2025, shockwaves permeated college football.
The ramifications of this move are significant for the Big 12, KU and college football for years to come as Oklahoma and UT are known to be within the top tier of Big 12 football. Oklahoma won the last six Big 12 championships and played in the College Football Playoff four times since its creation in 2014. And since 2000, Oklahoma has produced four Heisman Trophy winners and three finalists.
Despite Oklahoma’s recent success, the SEC will be a more challenging conference than the Big 12 because of its skill level. While Oklahoma is used to constant success in the Big 12, the competition in the SEC will be greater, both in terms of recruitment and gameplay — seven of 14 participants in the College Football Playoff are SEC schools. That said, Oklahoma can still be a top-10 program in the coming years.
Though Oklahoma can expect to see similar success while in the SEC as years prior, the same cannot be said for UT. Texas is 49-39 since coach Mack Brown left after the 2013 season, despite having a top-2 recruiting class each of the past 10 years. Further portraying the program’s dysfunction, UT is paying its last two head coaches more than $40 million combined in buyout agreements.
All of this resulted in two Big 12 championships in the past 20 years and zero since 2009.
Unlike Oklahoma, Texas is not moving to the SEC for the competition; rather their departure from the Big 12 a result of notoriety and money. The SEC is known for being the most successful in conference football.
Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Florida and others contribute to the SEC’s reputation as a strong conference internally and on the national scale. UT, however, is notorious for underperforming during inter-conference play and on the national level. So, while their move to the SEC is nonsensical competitively, it fits UT’s reputation of being flashy and constantly seeking the extra dollar.
The bigger question regarding Oklahoma and UT’s departure from the Big 12 is where it leaves KU. With the recent additions of the University of Central Florida, Brigham Young University, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Houston, the Big 12 will retain their title as a power five conference.
KU Football, being the unsuccessful program it is known for, does not have a stake in the realignment. That said, the university’s decision to remain in or leave the Big 12 will be mainly influenced by the basketball program.
The Big Ten seems to be the perfect fit for KU for a multitude of reasons.
While Baylor University, Texas Tech University and Iowa State University have all recently had significant success in the Big 12, they do not have the same notoriety as Big Ten schools like University of Michigan or Indiana University.
With lesser known schools joining the Big 12 imminently, the time is now for KU to join the more well-known Big Ten schools.
Financially, it would be advantageous for KU to join the Big Ten, too, as the conference just generated over $768 million in revenue last year, leading the power five conferences. Over the last three years, KU basketball ranks fifth nationally in total revenue generated and third in average revenue per year over the past three years.
Despite the basketball program’s success, the university’s lack of a strong football program can
be a significant roadblock in joining the Big Ten. As this is the case, another viable possibility for KU is to join the Big East.
The Big East has a historical presence, above average basketball programs and most importantly, they do not care about football. In recent years, the Big East has made national noise in basketball with success from Villanova, Creighton, and Butler. Although KU would not be in a power five conference, they would still play in highly televised games against strong opponents.
Ultimately, leaving the Big 12 for another conference is financially advantageous for KU and will not result in a competitive decline. With the two biggest financial contributors — Oklahoma and UT — on the way out, the Big 12 is a sinking ship and it is time for KU to hop on a lifeboat.
Blake Kraizer is a third year student at the University of Kansas. He is from St. Louis and is studying accounting.