The divorce is final.
In 19 months, Oklahoma and Texas will officially play football as SEC members. The 2023 football season will be their last in the Big 12 after the schools, the conference and its television partners reached an agreement Thursday to allow the two schools to exit a year earlier than originally scheduled.
In July 2021, when the original move was announced, few thought they’d have to wait even that long. The teams’ fans, alumni and school officials would have loved to get out sooner than this and not even spend the coming season in a 14-team Big 12, in which Texas must travel to former Southwest Conference rival Houston and Oklahoma makes road trips to BYU and Cincinnati.
However, if making a strong first impression in the SEC is the goal, both OU and Texas should be grateful the move wasn’t made with haste. The truth is, today, neither team is fully ready to jump to the league where “it just means more” and immediately contend for a conference championship. Another year and a half of roster building and preparation will do both programs a lot of good.
Let’s make something immediately clear: Although the SEC is home to the past four national champions and 13 of the past 17, the league is not invincible. Yes, it has the best players, as the NFL Draft confirms each year, and its best teams — Georgia and Alabama — are a cut above everybody in the sport talent-wise.
Too often, the strength of the league’s elite teams is lazily ascribed to the other dozen. Not everyone in the conference is Alabama or Georgia. Don’t put undue weight on the Bulldogs’ spanking of Big 12 representative TCU in the College Football Playoff if you’re not going to also point out Arkansas’ loss to Liberty, Texas A&M’s loss to Appalachian State and so on.