Texas and Oklahoma formally began the latest round of conference realignment Monday when they announced they won’t be renewing their media deals with the Big 12.
Officially, the joint announcement said both schools “intend to honor” their agreements with the league through the 2024-25 athletic year. Unofficially, it said they’re ready to begin the official proceedings that will allow them to leave the Big 12, almost certainly for the SEC.
Though much remains unclear about the timing, the financial implications and the ripple effects of this potential seismic shift, here’s what we think it will mean for Florida, Florida State, Miami, USF and UCF.
By adding two brand-name programs, the SEC’s TV money will increase, even if it’s not immediate. Florida will benefit from that, plus more ticket revenue when the Longhorns and Sooners visit Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. There’s a reason why UF and Texas previously agreed on a home-and-home series for 2030-31.
It’s also possible, if not likely, the SEC will add more league games as its membership grows. That means more UF games against Auburn or Alabama and fewer against Florida Atlantic and Charlotte, which will also boost revenue.
The obvious downside is competitive; Texas and Oklahoma are two of only 11 programs to win a national title this century, so UF’s schedule will get tougher. The Sooners just blew out the Gators by 35 points in the Cotton Bowl. Texas’ eternal quest to get “back” is a running joke among college fans, but the Longhorns won’t be mediocre forever.
The recruiting effects are mixed. The Sooners and Longhorns occasionally get players from Florida, including former Texas tight end Andrew Beck (Plant High), ex-Oklahoma star linebacker Eric Striker (Armwood High) and Sooners receiver Mario Williams (the area’s top 2021 recruit, from Plant City). Playing in the SEC will give both schools a chance to expand their recruiting presence here, potentially to the detriment of UF.
But the opposite is also true; UF will be able to tap into talent-rich Texas more if the SEC reaches deeper into Texas. Two of the Gators’ 10 commitments in this class are from the Lone Star State (top-100 cornerback Julian Humphrey and four-star quarterback Nick Evers), as was Kyle Trask. Our guess: the Sooners and Longhorns will be more competitive in recruiting, but the geographic advantages are a wash for UF.
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Never say never with conference realignment, but the Seminoles and Hurricanes seem locked into the ACC. That’s because the conference’s grant of rights runs through 2036, so any school that leaves the league will forfeit its TV revenue until then.
So if the ACC’s membership is going to change, it’s more likely it will add, not subtract, schools. Partial member Notre Dame is the obvious choice, and the Irish are bound to the ACC, if they’re going to join a league. That’s a big if. Notre Dame values its independence and will probably be able to keep it. West Virginia and Cincinnati would be other logical expansion options.
If the ACC does nothing, FSU and Miami will see their financial gap grow compared to UF and the rest of the SEC. The ACC paid its schools $32 million in 2019-20. Compare that to the $45 million the SEC paid its schools, plus the massive raise it’s about to receive from a new ESPN deal, plus whatever boost comes from Texas and Oklahoma.
Like UF, the Seminoles and Hurricanes will have to compete more with Texas and Oklahoma for this state’s prized recruits. Unlike UF, neither Miami nor FSU would be able to take advantage of a bigger conference presence in Texas.
What happens to the Bulls and Knights depends largely on what happens to the rest of the Big 12.
If the Big 12 looks to expand, USF and UCF would be among the top Group of Five targets (along with Boise State, San Diego State, Cincinnati, Colorado State and BYU). If the Big 12 disbands — maybe Oklahoma State and Texas Tech leave for the Pac-12 — perhaps the Big 12 leftovers merge with the AAC.
It’s hard to see USF or UCF adding enough value for the Big Ten, and the Pac-12 becoming a coast-to-coast league doesn’t make much sense. The ACC already has two Florida teams, and any expansion talks there will center on Notre Dame.
Another complicating factor to consider: USF’s leadership is in flux as president Steve Currall prepares to step down Aug. 2. How much will that affect realignment, which is driven largely by school presidents and chancellors?
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