Hey, Texas & Oklahoma: If you're joining a real conference, know these 10 things
It just means more. Money, that is.
And national respect. And the ability to join a super conference instead of staying in the one that has yet to win a Playoff game 7 years into this system.
So, Texas and Oklahoma, you want to come to the big time, do ya? There are lessons to be learned here.
For starters, don’t claim Baylor winning a basketball title makes the Big 12 a “real conference.” It makes Baylor an extremely good basketball team. Congrats, Big 12. You finally captured your first national title in one of the 2 big revenue sports for the first time in 13 years … only to realize your 2 most important members were secretly talking about leaving you as that was happening.
Consider that lesson a free one.
These are 10 things you, Texas and Oklahoma, need to know about the SEC:
1. We cry over losing titles, not getting “Horns Down” thrown in our faces
Yeah. Just, like, be better.
Eli Drinkwitz did us all a favor by asking Greg Sankey if “Horns Down” was going to be a penalty if Texas joins the SEC. The least Sankey and the other league presidents can do is sit in a room and cackle when Texas officials discuss the use of “Horns Down.”
There is no special treatment in the SEC, despite what James Carville and other conspiracy theorists believe. Whether that’s the Longhorn Network or never-ending sensitivity to “Horns Down,” “It Just Means More” does not mean we just get more worked up about petty nonsense like that. If you don’t want to get trolled, get better players and better coaches. It’s pretty simple.
If this is the thing that gets your blood boiling, well, you’ve got your priorities out of whack:
Jim Burrow (LSU QB Joe Burrow’s dad) just did the horns down during the pregame. This game is going to be crazy. pic.twitter.com/6qkB74Buit
— Lawrence Smelser (@LawrenceSmelser) September 7, 2019
There’s a time and a place to get upset. It’s when you see your title window close that you should shed a tear.
Or when that 5-star quarterback turns your school down and commits to Georgia because they must’ve dropped the bag.
2. Our mascots go after players … not other mascots
If Bevo thinks he’s about to waltz into the SEC and go after Uga again, boy, I tell ya. That steer has another thing comin’. I would never insist on letting Mike The Tiger defend Uga in any future Bevo attacks, but … wait a minute.
Nah. That’s not how things are done in the SEC.
Despite what you might think about the SEC when you make your jokes during Cupcake Week, being SEC means picking on teams and challenges our own size. If our mascots start a fight, it’s a fair one. It isn’t a steer going after a bulldog; it’s a bulldog going after a player.
— 960 The Ref (@960theref) April 23, 2019
Now that takes toughness. Don’t tell me that Bevo attacking a bulldog 1/10 its size is “tough.” And you better not tell me that Bevo’s A&M inspired poop bucket is also coming to the SEC. I know that Bevo likes his Oklahoma poop bucket, too.
So to recap, Bevo’s mascots that he likes to go after are dogs and wagons. Soft.
I dare ya to charge Mike the Tiger, steer.
3. Speaking of mascots, a wagon? Wagons are for toddlers and pumpkins
Is it too late for a rebranding in Norman?
I don’t want to dig into the issues some have with the Native American-based origins of “Boomer Sooner.” I do, however, want to discuss the significance of watching Sooner Schooner ride onto the field like some high-speed parade.
I mean, what are we doing here?
Honestly, it’s amazing that doesn’t happen more often. Goodness gracious. With tens of millions of dollars coming into that program, you’d think they’d have found a way to build a wagon with a next-level turn radius.
Nobody is saying Oklahoma needs to do with all of its traditions to join the SEC. But, um, why don’t we talk about just ditching the wagons and letting the 2 ponies do their thing? Have them sprint from 1 side of the field to the other after every OU score — no more sharp turns — and I promise the Oklahoma faithful will still get fired up.
4. Our national championships aren’t non-Playoff New Year’s 6 bowls
I know that 2018 Sugar Bowl and 2020 Cotton Bowl were pretty massive for Texas and Oklahoma, respectively. Like, they were so big that we had the infamous Sam Ehlinger “we’re back” moment in the postgame celebration.
Here’s the thing, guys.
Being “back” means more than winning a single New Year’s 6 bowl.
In the Playoff era alone, 8 of the 14 SEC schools went to New Year’s 6 bowls (including both Playoff and non-Playoff New Year’s 6 bowls). Six of those SEC teams — nearly half — won New Year’s 6 bowls. To win a New Year’s 6 bowl in the SEC just guarantees that you’re in the top half of the league in a given year.
Watching an SEC team claim to be “back” after a 4-loss season would be like watching Alabama fans call into “The Paul Finebaum Show” to react rationally on Monday after a loss.
5. Even our 2-win teams can still turn a stadium into an 80,000-fan furnace
Shoutout to South Carolina. As our Chris Marler always says, Columbia, South Carolina, is the hottest place on earth.
You know what’s a guarantee? Assuming that stadiums are allowed to have full capacity this fall, the Gamecocks will have 80,000 fans screaming and sweating their faces off for the start of the Shane Beamer era. What 2-win season? What rebuild? Nah. This is the SEC, where half the league ranked in the top 12 in average home attendance in 2019.
For crying out loud, Tennessee hasn’t beaten a top-10 team since the George Bush administration and nearly 90,000 fans still show up to Rocky Top to bleed orange on a given Saturday.
That’s not a dig at Texas or Oklahoma fans. We know they fill it up. That’s why the SEC even answered their late-night text that read “you up?”
That’s a warning that when you come to this league, you’re going to see packed houses nearly every week. You’re no longer the only programs in the conference that rank in the top 20 nationally in average home attendance. The SEC had 8 teams in the top 15 alone, and that didn’t include a place like MSU, where 56,000 fans sound a whole lot louder when the cowbells are rockin’.
This ain’t the Big 12, where 80% of the teams averaged less than 60,000 fans per home game in 2019. Mock “It Just Means More” or just look at the attendance figures and realize that unless you’ve got a trip to Nashville on the schedule, sleepy road games don’t exist in the SEC.
6. Coach buyouts are paid with Monopoly money so don’t tell yourself that 7-5 is acceptable
Oh, wait. Texas already knows this. My bad.
As for you, Oklahoma, you haven’t had to live in this world of 21st century buyouts. You’re more worried about whether the Dallas Cowboys are gonna poach your head coach, not whether you’re gonna have to fork over $20 million to your coach after a 7-5 season. I gotchya.
Just know this. I get Lincoln Riley is the golden boy, and his buyout was a hair under $31 million in 2020 (USA Today). But soon, Oklahoma will be swimming in so much SEC cash that it can actually entertain the thought of overreacting to a mediocre season.
That would be the best way for Oklahoma to fit in with its new conference.
7. In-state rivalries are meant to be epic battles on the field, not petty “he said, she said” grudges
(Sorry for the crossfire A&M.)
The A&M-Texas grudge is 1 of 1. At least in the current landscape of the sport. It’s hurt feelings, it’s big egos, it’s petty. Go figure that it took moving mountains — AKA Texas joining the SEC — for these 2 teams to finally get back to facing each other on the field instead of in the media.
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) July 23, 2021
Here. We. Go.
It’s about darn time this rivalry had a new chapter. No more “we’d love to explore the possibility of playing each other again” statements from athletic directors who could hop on a phone call and bury the hatchet if they really wanted to.
Good. The Iron Bowl isn’t decided on Twitter. Even the Cocktail Party doesn’t get decided on Twitter. It just continues there (or in Jacksonville parking lots).
8. We do believe in the church of defense … even if 2020 was a sinful year for that
I know, I know. Oklahoma’s defense is legit now. The Sooners were excellent in the latter half of 2020, and they could easily be a top-20 unit in 2021 with Alex Grinch at the controls.
But the whole “Big 12 doesn’t play any defense” narrative exists for a reason. Watching 3 separate SEC teams show up to a Playoff semifinal game and treat Oklahoma’s defense like a Group of 5 team only continued that.
Now, I can admit something else. As much as any SEC purist loves to preach defense, the league needs some forgiveness after 2020. Only 3 SEC teams finished in the top 30 in scoring defense, and nobody finished in the top 10. Was it just a product of COVID shifting the balance of power to the offense? Perhaps. We’ve seen plenty of coaches discuss the difficulty of reacting, especially when live tackling was so rare last offseason.
Don’t get it twisted, though. That didn’t make it acceptable. You think LSU fans were content with watching receivers get more separation than when they run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine? Nope. And ask any Alabama fan about last year’s defense, which was No. 13 in FBS in scoring and No. 1 in the SEC. They’ll tell you that was far from the gold standard of excellence. At least in the Nick Saban era.
And look. It’s still the conference that cranked out 57 first-round defensive players in the 2010s compared to 15 for the Big 12. During that same stretch, the SEC had 23 top-10 defenses compared to 3 for the Big 12. By the way, the Big 12 hasn’t had a defense finish in the top 10 in scoring since TCU in 2014. That’s why that narrative exists.
So, as I said, welcome to the church of defense.
9. Don’t bother wasting time wondering how many years Nick Saban has left
It’ll just make you frustrated. It’s far different from hoping Bill Snyder sticks around at Kansas State for a few more years. Waiting on Saban to stop coaching football is the equivalent of hoping an ocean dries out. He’s coaching until the robots take over, and knowing Saban, he’ll probably find a way to outlast them, too.
As for beating Saban, that requires one (or several) of the following things:
- A miracle play in the final minutes/seconds
- A season-ending injury to the starting quarterback
- An all-time great team
- A revolutionary offense that the college football world will soon copy
Oh, and if you’re not a top-15 team and you play in the other division, forget about it. It’s been a decade since Saban lost to one of those.
My guys at SEC Shorts provided a better example of that new daunting task:
Your best bet to reach a title is probably following the 2017 Georgia plan. Avoid Alabama all year, win the SEC and pray that the selection committee doesn’t find a way to sneak Saban and Co. into the field. Or if the selection committee does put the Tide in, just veer from the 2017 Georgia plan and properly execute a Cover-2 when the season is on the line.
Easy enough, right?
10. You don’t have to be “back” if you never leave
Yeah. Just, like, be better.