Texas to the SEC is a game-changer ... in baseball
Look, we’ve all pondered and dissected the news of likely SEC expansion, particularly from Texas and Oklahoma. Will Alabama move to the East? Will football go to a 9-game conference schedule? But maybe all of this minutiae is missing a key component of the potential move. Texas boosts the already strong SEC — maybe not in football, but in baseball.
Texas Longhorns baseball was an NCAA baseball powerhouse when the SEC was still trying to figure out the sport. Texas won 4 College World Series titles before the entire SEC won any. Texas’ 37 College World Series appearances are the most in the sport — more than double SEC leader LSU’s 18 appearances. Overall, UT remains the second winningest program in the history of the sport (3,649 total wins, second only to Fordham), and boasts an astonishing 79 regular-season conference titles.
This isn’t to say Texas is just ancient history. While UT hasn’t won a College World Series since 2005, the Horns have returned to Omaha 5 times since, including 2021, when the loaded SEC field (Mississippi State, Vandy, UT) would now become a half-SEC College World Series with Texas included in the conference. With Texas at the forefront, the Big 12 finished the season No. 1 among conferences in RPI in 2017 and No. 2 between 2018 and 2021. And now, the SEC not only can identify its best competition, it can pick off its power team.
Perhaps the more intriguing angle is how UT aligns with the rest of the SEC. Texas is a power … but it hasn’t had the recent success of Vandy. They didn’t show the power of Arkansas, they lack the gorgeous new stadium of Florida, and hey, it might be a stretch to have Austin envying Starkville, but that 2021 CWS trophy that eluded the Longhorns is some pretty nice swag.
Texas entering the SEC would be like Kansas basketball entering a super conference or UConn women’s basketball somehow willingly playing home-and-home conference series with all the teams that have won a title since they last did. If the SEC looks bold for adding Texas, Texas looks downright audacious for considering locking horns with the SEC.
More than victory totals or CWS appearances, Texas potentially adds to the SEC with the general element of pizazz. It’s the late Augie Garrido and Disch-Falk Field. It’s Roger Clemens pitching in an alumni game (still looking oddly strong in his late 50s). It’s Ty Madden in 2021, who may have been as good as MSU’s now-legendary Will Bednar. It’s Hook ‘Em Horns and Austin and Tex-Mex food and great music and craft beer.
It’s baseball, and if it’s in the SEC, might as well just lock the sport down entirely. A few old legacies like Southern Cal and Florida State might battle on, but it’s completely futile with an SEC including Texas. If you thought it already meant more, it’s about to mean even more if Texas is onboard.