OPINION: Oklahoma, Texas and the SEC's changing landscape

Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian walks on stage behind mannequins wearing Texas and Oklahoma uniforms during the NCAA college football Big 12 media days Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian walks on stage behind mannequins wearing Texas and Oklahoma uniforms during the NCAA college football Big 12 media days Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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The rumors began last week. They became true this week.


Texas and Oklahoma announced Monday they wouldn’t renew an existing grant of rights contract that expires in 2025, adding fuel to a fire that ignited during Southeastern Conference Media Days a week ago. Speculation began circulating that both schools had been in negotiations with SEC officials about joining the league in the future.


That means both schools are one step closer to leaving the conference, paving the way to what may become super conferences. Although Texas and Oklahoma have announced plans to leave, both schools intend to honor their current deal with the Big 12. The SEC invited Texas and Oklahoma to join the league on Tuesday.


The SEC is among one of the top leagues in the nation when it comes to money and resources, giving the conference the upper hand when it comes to expansion and more more power and eventually wealth to spread among its members.


If Texas and Oklahoma opt to join the SEC - and it is becoming a matter of when - both schools will add a wealth of tradition to the conference, especially in football. The Sooners and Longhorns are traditionally among the top national title contenders in football and the addition of both schools, combined with Alabama, Georgia and Florida, enhance the league’s chances of winning a national championship on a yearly basis.


It appears Kentucky would remain aligned in the SEC East, while Texas and Oklahoma likely would switch places with two schools in the Eastern division and be part of a revamped Western division. In addition, a 10-game league schedule is a possibility, eliminating a schedule of four non-conference foes.


If that happens, Kentucky will need to make a decision on how to proceed with its future non-conference schedule. An easy fix would be keep the rivalry with Louisville iand play one in-state program, such as Eastern Kentucky and Murray State, alternating on a yearly basis.


Unlike the past, the NCAA won’t have a firm grip on college athletics with the recent name, image and likeness decisions, giving conferences such as the SEC more power to govern their own institutions freely without stipulations from a higher power.


“The SEC is in a position to lead in whatever this transformation is in college athletics,” Texas A&M athletics director Ross Bjork told the Associated Press Sunday. “And so that's why you're seeing the interest of others wanting to join.”


The future of college athletics is now and moving at a high rate of speed.


KEITH TAYLOR is sports editor for Kentucky Today.

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