Bradley’s Buzz: Texas and Oklahoma pay big to join the one big league

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Texas and Oklahoma will arrive sooner than expected. Perhaps not coincidentally, Texas and Oklahoma will begin SEC play in 2024, the year the College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams. Expect that first dandy dozen to include no more than 11 emissaries from the realm where It Just Means More.

OK, OK. So 11 of 12 wouldn’t be allowed – at least not yet. The leagues where It Just Means Less will be sending a champion to the CFP, not that anyone will notice. As you’ve doubtless noticed, the almighty SEC is on another of its streaks. It has won the past four national championships in the only sport that matters.

The last time the SEC wasn’t represented in the CFP title game was Jan. 12, 2015. The next time will be … oh, never.

OK, OK. I hear you naysayers. You’re saying, “When last did Texas and Oklahoma do anything of importance?” Your point is taken. Texas has won 10 games in a season once since 2009. (The once came when the Longhorns won a Sugar Bowl that Georgia no-showed.) The Sooners just graced the Cheez-It Bowl, in which they fell to Florida State and slipped to 6-7. The next CFP game either of the SEC newbies wins will mark its first.

Here’s the thing, though. Conference-raiding is a zero-sum game. If you don’t win, you lose. Texas and OU are coming to the SEC. If you were listing the 10 biggest programs by brand recognition – apologies for sounding like Geoff Collins – they’d qualify. They could have gone to the Big Ten, which had just landed USC, a big deal, and UCLA, a middling deal. They joined the SEC instead. At his conference’s latest week of media days, Greg Sankey said: “This is a super-league.”

By way of comparison, the rest of the Power 5 is puny. The Big Ten has won the CFP once. The Pac-12 has won one playoff game. The Big 12 just won its first playoff game and followed that stirring triumph with a 58-point loss. Clemson propped up the ACC for a while, but the lads of Dabo have gone off the boil. The rest of the ACC better pray FSU’s apparent rise isn’t a false dawn.

Of the SEC in expanded form, eight programs can claim national titles in the BCS/CFP era. Only four members of the other four biggish leagues can say the same. That’s not fair, but fairness has little to do with college football. Is it fair SEC coaches – even Jimbo Fisher – are eight-figure earners, give or take? Is it fair 10 of the top 17 recruiting classes for 2023 were landed by schools that, as of 2024, will be SEC members?

Jerry Glanville, noted philosopher, once said, “If you’re not sleeping in Atlanta, you’re just camping out.” If your conference title game isn’t the one decided in Atlanta, you’re not relevant, college-football-wise. Texas and Oklahoma were so eager to expedite their Big 12 departure they agreed to pay $100 million for the privilege of leaving.

There was a reason the SEC commissioner lobbied at length for the playoff to expand – and expressed indignation when lesser leagues dragged their corporate feet. No fool, Sankey knew a bigger bracket would benefit his conference above all others. For a giddy minute, the Big Ten believed the championship game in SoFi Stadium would match Michigan against Ohio State. It included neither. Georgia made it, though.

There’s a part of me – the part that’s a fan of, you know, fairness – that wishes college football wasn’t a one-league show. Had Ohio State held a two-touchdown lead or made a 50-yard field goal as 2022 became 2023, the SEC wouldn’t be riding so high. But the SEC became the SEC because it rarely loses, unless it’s to a conference brother, when titles are being handed out.

Of the past 17 national championships, 13 were taken by SEC teams. In three of those finals, the runner-up was also from the SEC. Only once since 2005 has a title game not included an SEC school. That’s ridiculous, but that’s reality. And just wait until you hear the whining when the first 12-team bracket is unveiled and Texas and/or Oklahoma are among the invited.

The above is part of a regular exercise, written and curated by yours truly, available to all who register on for our free Sports Daily newsletter. The full Buzz, which includes more opinions and extras like a weekly poll and pithy quotes, arrives via email around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

FAQ: How do you sign up? Go to the home page. Click on “newsletters” at the top right. Click on “Sports Daily.” You’ll need to enter your email address. Thanks in advance, folks.