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How an Oklahoma, Texas move to SEC could impact other Gators sports

Most of the conference realignment conversation has been about what could happen on the football field. But the Sooners and Longhorns share several other sports with UF.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey speaks to reporters during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days Monday in Hoover, Ala.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey speaks to reporters during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days Monday in Hoover, Ala. [ BUTCH DILL | AP ]
Published Jul. 27

Oklahoma and Texas confirmed the first aspect of conference realignment rumors Monday, and everyone is taking a crack at what profound ramifications could arise from the schools’ decisions to leave the Big 12 for the SEC.

While football has been at the forefront of this potential “super conference” conversation, there are several other sports that the Sooners and the Longhorns would shake up if they slide in with the SEC. All three athletic departments sit comfortably in the upper echelon of Division I. Texas took home the Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup for most dominant department, while Florida came in fifth, Oklahoma 24th, and the SEC had eight of 14 member institutions finish in the top 25.

With all that in mind, here’s a look at how seven Gators/Sooners/Longhorns sports could feel the effects of an even more cutthroat conference:

Softball

Oklahoma's Jayda Coleman celebrates as she runs to home plate following her home run against Florida State in the Women's College World Series in June in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma's Jayda Coleman celebrates as she runs to home plate following her home run against Florida State in the Women's College World Series in June in Oklahoma City. [ SUE OGROCKI | AP ]

Oklahoma and Florida have two of the nation’s top softball teams. Each finished last season at the top of their respective conferences, with Oklahoma taking home the 2021 Women’s College World Series title and earning a “Best Team” ESPYs nod.

In fact, the Sooners have won four of the last 10 WCWS, while the Gators have only won two (the program’s lone titles). Granted, those two Florida championships were won back-to-back, but right after UF got it done in 2014 and ’15, Oklahoma did it in 2016 and ’17. The Sooners have five total WCWS titles behind only UCLA (12) and Arizona (eight) for most-ever won by a single program.

When going head-to-head, however, it’s anyone’s game between the Gators and Sooners. Each team has an all-time 4-4 record against the other, but Oklahoma has won the three most recent meetings. So, it’s safe to say that a Sooner salutation into the SEC would spice up the conference’s softball scene.

Basketball

Florida guard Tre Mann (1) is defended by West Virginia guard Miles McBride (4) during a game in January in Morgantown, W. Va.
Florida guard Tre Mann (1) is defended by West Virginia guard Miles McBride (4) during a game in January in Morgantown, W. Va. [ KATHY BATTEN | AP ]

Moving to the SEC from the Big 12 seems like good fortune for the Sooners’ men’s basketball team but not so much for their women’s program.

Good for the men because they will escape the likes of blueblood Kansas and defending national champion Baylor for a Kentucky squad down on its luck and a bunch of other inconsistent programs in the SEC (Florida included). It’ll be easier for the Sooners to crack this conference’s top tier.

Their women won’t be as lucky. Sure, they’ll be free of 12-time conference champion Baylor, too, but they’ll have more regular meetings with Dawn Staley’s South Carolina team, Texas A&M and Tennessee in the SEC.

Gymnastics

The University of Florida gymnastics team celebrates its win in the 2015 NCAA Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Texas.
The University of Florida gymnastics team celebrates its win in the 2015 NCAA Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Texas.

Oklahoma is a gymnastics powerhouse. The Sooners have either won or finished second in seven of the last 10 NCAA championships. UF and OU actually shared the national title in 2014.

While the Sooners have performed better on the national stage as of late (Oklahoma has finished in the top two for five consecutive years, winning three of those), the Gators own the programs’ all-time record against each other, 17-11-1. Granted, OU has won four of their last five meetings.

Baseball

Texas pitcher Ty Madden throws against South Carolina during a game in March in Austin, Texas.
Texas pitcher Ty Madden throws against South Carolina during a game in March in Austin, Texas.

Texas baseball is the second-winningest baseball program in the country. The Longhorns have appeared in 37 College World Series, compared to the Gators’ 12 berths.

While UT hasn’t won a CWS since 2005, it’s gone to the tournament five times since then and finished this season third in the league (sandwiched between four SEC teams, champion Mississippi State, No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 4 Arkansas and No. 5 Tennessee).

Needless to say, it will be much harder for Texas to replicate its Big 12-leading nine conference championship titles in the SEC. No one else in the Longhorns’ current home comes close to the kind of competition they’d experience in the Southeast. But absorbing Texas baseball would make the sport’s richest conference even richer.

Tennis

Texas and Oklahoma have recently found success in men’s tennis, as has Florida. The Gators are the reigning national champions, but the Longhorns held that distinction in 2019 (while their women’s team won NCAAs this year). The Sooners don’t have a national championship to their name, but they did finish second three years in a row not long ago (2014-2016). UF has 11 SEC regular-season titles compared to Texas’ nine Big 12 titles, but a move to the Southeast would see the Longhorns crawl out from under Baylor’s thumb. For perspective, the Bears have 14 Big 12 regular-season titles and finished just behind the Gators nationally last season.

Volleyball

The Gators have won 24 SEC regular-season titles in volleyball (including five ties) since 1982. Still on the hunt for their first national championship, enter Texas.

The Longhorns finished second nationally last season to Kentucky, another SEC team that’s taken turns with UF sitting atop the conference. They have two national championships in program history (1988 and 2012) and are 7-5 all-time against the Gators. Both teams have split their last four meetings, though, which could portend a hierarchy shuffle within the SEC should Texas join it a few years from now.

Swimming

Bobby Finke celebrates an SEC championship with the Gator Chomp.
Bobby Finke celebrates an SEC championship with the Gator Chomp. [ COURTNEY CULBREATH | CourtneyCulbreath ]

The Gators men’s swimming and diving team has won the last nine SEC Championship meets, posting some of the most consistent team performances in the school’s athletic arsenal. But Florida can kiss its pool deck dominance goodbye if the 15-time national champion Longhorns join the conference.

To put into perspective just how dominant Texas men’s swimming is, the program has won national titles in each of the last five decades (1981, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2010, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2021). In 2021, the Longhorns earned 595 points en route to a title compared to 568 by second-place California and 367 by third-place UF.