Extra Points: Why it makes sense for everybody if Texas, Oklahoma join the SEC ASAP
Each week, college football insider Matt Hayes tackles the biggest topics in the game, in and around the SEC:
The SEC and Big 12, at odds since Texas and Oklahoma left the Big 12 this summer for the SEC, could eventually work together to help each other in the immediate future of college expansion, multiple industry sources told me.
The SEC would like Texas and Oklahoma before 2025. The Big 12 wants a future with Autonomous 5 status.
“It’s a clean way out of the situation they’re both in,” one industry source told me.
How does it work? They both agree to do something they don’t necessarily need to do.
The Big 12 lets Texas and Oklahoma leave earlier than 2025 with a mitigated buyout – possibly as soon as next year – and in return, the SEC clears the way for the Big 12 to retain its A5 (Power 5) status.
The A5 status is critical to the Big 12 because it allows the conference to continue earning an equal College Football Playoff revenue share as the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC, and not a significantly less share as a Group of 5 conference.
The A5 status is also critical in future media rights deals for the Big 12. Any future Playoff will likely include guaranteed spots for the champions of the A5 conferences, a strong selling point in media rights negotiations for the newly reorganized Big 12.
The Big 12 believes its 4 new schools – Houston, Cincinnati, UCF (Orlando), BYU (Salt Lake City/Mountain West Time Zone) – are in television-friendly markets that can drive ratings and help the conference demand more in media rights negotiations.
There are 6 votes among the A5 conferences and Notre Dame, votes that determine A5 status. The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 have formed their alliance – and left out the Big 12 – and the SEC is alone on the other side.
It is believed that Notre Dame will vote with the SEC on organizational issues because the SEC backs Notre Dame’s access to the CFP despite its independent status.
There’s no financial reason for any of the remaining A5 leagues to keep the Big 12 within their exclusive group. They’ll make more money without another mouth to feed. That’s what makes the SEC (and Notre Dame’s) backing of the Big 12 critical.
Big 12 officials believe the 4 new schools have “unlimited” potential with an influx of cash, both from the CFP and a new media rights deal.
Another reason the Big 12 is willing to deal: There’s nothing they can do about Texas and OU leaving. Why not get what they need long-term before it happens – instead of being left with nothing.
They could force Texas and OU to stay to 2025 and not get a dime, or they could deal and get buyout money and long-term stability.
“It’s in (the Big 12’s) best interest, and they know it,” another industry source said. “They’re not happy with Texas and OU. But at the end of the day, they have to retain that (A5) status. That’s everything.”
Ducks treading water
There is concern growing among Pac-12 officials that the CFP trendline doesn’t look good for Oregon, the conference’s biggest CFP threat.
Specifically, how the CFP selection committee handles the annually controversial argument of head-to-head.
“We’ve seen in the past how head-to-head only means something until the final rankings,” one Pac-12 AD told me. “Here we are again. Only this time, I fear all the polls – the media, the coaches – have forgotten what happened in Columbus, and that helps form a narrative two months later when the committee votes for the first time.”
Oregon won at Ohio State in Week 2, in a game that wasn’t as close as the 35-28 final score. The Ducks dominated Ohio State on the road in the best win of the season for any team (Texas A&M beat No.1 Alabama in College Station).
The current AP poll has Ohio State (5-1) at No. 6, and Oregon (4-1) at No. 9. Oregon is No. 10 in the coaches poll.
Since losing to Oregon, Ohio State has beaten Tulsa, Akron, Rutgers and Maryland.
Since beating Ohio State, Oregon has beaten Stonybrook and Arizona and lost at Stanford in overtime. You see where this is headed, right?
The media and coaches polls believe Oregon’s loss at Stanford – without OC Joe Moorhead, who was hospitalized with an illness – is more impactful than Ohio State losing at home to Oregon. Or they believe Ohio State is not the same team, which then completely negates head-to-head.
“You can’t tell me it doesn’t affect the way the committee thinks,” another Pac-12 AD told me. “If an SEC team went into Columbus and won that game, dominated that game, it’s all we’d hear about throughout the first two months of the season and every week of the (CFP) poll. But because it’s Oregon, because it’s the Pac-12, it’s a blip on the screen.”
There are 13 unbeaten teams remaining in the FBS, with the possibility of 9 unbeaten teams on championship weekend in the first week of December.
Georgia (6-0) and Kentucky (6-0) play this weekend, and one will be eliminated. The other remaining head-to-head matchups among the unbeaten:
— Michigan (6-0) at Michigan State (6-0) Oct. 30.
— SMU (6-0) at Cincinnati (6-0), Nov. 23.
— Oklahoma (6-0) at Oklahoma State (5-0), Nov. 27.
By championship weekend, there could be as many as 9 unbeaten teams: the winners of the above games, and Coastal Carolina (6-0), San Diego State (5-0), UTSA (6-0), Wake Forest (6-0) and Iowa (6-0).
The only potential head-to-head of unbeatens on championship weekend would be Michigan/Michigan State winner vs. Iowa, which could leave 9 unbeaten FBS teams at the end of the day.
The odds of that happening are slim, but imagine the carnage – and the demand for an immediately revamped Playoff (within the sport and outside it) — if it did.
A move back to Power 5
SMU coach Sonny Dykes is quickly becoming a hot commodity for potential openings at the end of the season.
Dykes has won everywhere he has coached, at both the Power 5 (Cal) and Group of 5 (Louisiana Tech, SMU) levels. In 3 seasons at SMU – after he was fired by Cal a year after given a contract extension – he took over a struggling SMU program and by Year 2 won 10 games for the first time since the renegade era at SMU (1984).
The Mustangs are unbeaten this season, and Dykes is 28-13 since taking over a program that had lost 74 games the previous 10 seasons.
Dykes was fired at Cal, a year after winning 8 games and leading the Bears to a bowl game for the first time in four years. He was fired shortly after interviewing for the Baylor job, which eventually went to Dave Aranda.