Texas-Oklahoma Still In A Battle To Join The SEC Earlier Than 2025, With Television Rights A Sticking Point

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The ongoing talks between Texas and Oklahoma to join the SEC earlier than 2025 are a bit more complicated than some would’ve hoped for.

It was reported on Friday by Pete Thamel that discussions revolving around the two schools leaving early have hit a bump in the road. Well, some hoped this was going to be the case the entire time, with both schools having to deal with a ‘Grant of Rights’ agreement. Most of this involves lucrative television contracts that are in play for the Big 12.

Right now, Texas and Oklahoma are the allure of the television deal with ESPN and FOX, which has them tied down until 2025. One of the biggest concerns is rightfully coming from the FOX side, with them losing two of the highest profile teams in the country. ESPN is in a very sweet spot, knowing they’ll get the two teams anyway, once they join the SEC and the new television contract goes into place.

So, this leaves us with FOX, who has the rights to a number of games involving both Texas and Oklahoma each year. In short, the schools, along with the Big 12, are trying to come up with an agreement that would offset the loss that FOX would incur from an advertising standpoint. Also, losing these two schools on their channel for at least eight games a year is a tough pill to swallow, which money or some type of agreement with ESPN could help.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 10: Head coach Steve Sarkisian of the Texas Longhorns talks with head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide before the game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

The SEC Is Waiting To Make A Conference Schedule Move

The SEC is sitting back watching these negotiations happen, hoping that a resolution comes quick so that they can start to implement their nine-game conference schedule. If the thinking is that Texas and Oklahoma could join after the 2023 season, this format could be implemented sooner, which the conference would love.

As with all negotiations, the buyout that Texas and Oklahoma will have to pay can be withered down from the $80 million it currently sits at. But, how much wiggle room is the Big 12 willing to give? This will be decided soon enough. Bbut don’t expect the Big 12 to just let both teams off the hook easily.

There is a still a good chance that the Longhorns and Sooners will be playing in the SEC come 2024, but they’ll certainly have to pay. The significant amount of cash that will be circulated to each SEC team once the ESPN deal begins could certainly offset the initial financial hit that Texas and Oklahoma would take.

In the end, this will come down to television networks making some kind of trade of inventory or the Big 12 finally putting an end to this standoff. Either way, the feeling I get when talking to AD’s around the SEC is that nothing is finalized and having both schools in the conference in 2024 is still on the table.

Somebody has to flinch first, which is hard to do with so much money at stake.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

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