On page 15 of the SEC bylaws, under the heading of article 3.1.2 “Granting of Membership,” it reads that “Membership may be granted by invitation of the Conference at a meeting of the Chief Executive Officers. A vote of at least three-fourths of the members is required to extend an invitation for membership.”
With the membership now standing at 14 schools, a 3/4ths vote means 11 ‘yea’s. With the news coming out that Oklahoma and Texas are knocking on Greg Sankey’s door (presumably way before Sankey would have liked), the SEC commissioner’s mission seems to be to corral those 11 votes and solidify the first bullet point on his legacy: the creator of the first Super Conference.
Will he be able to do so? Texas A&M, which presumably brought this issue to light by sourcing a story to Texas A&M beat reporter Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle, stands as a hard ‘no’ right now. Athletic director Ross Bjork was at SEC Media Days on the day the story was published (coincidence?), and issued strong statements against Texas joining the SEC.
But what about the rest of the league?
Here is a team-by-team look, without the benefit of seeing the to-be-determined TV contracts, of how each school might vote should they need to cast a ballot immediately.
Alabama – You think the Crimson Tide is scared of Oklahoma and Texas? The more prestige for the league the better, and when the time comes for Nick Saban to be replaced, you may as well be the boss of the biggest, bestest conference in the land.
Arkansas – The Razorbacks were thrilled to get out of Texas’ shadow (sound familiar?) when it left the Southwest Conference in 1992. That, however, was 30 years ago. Re-igniting that passionate but dormant rivalry would give the program a jolt. Texas is visiting in September for the first time since 2004 and there is plenty of buzz for that game. It would be a circle-the-calendar event every time the Horns and Hogs hook up.
Florida – From a competitive standpoint, Florida may have some hesitation. SEC championships will become even more difficult. But from a recruiting perspective, bumping up the league’s cache even further helps the in-state battles with Miami and Florida State for the top Florida prospects.
Georgia – See Alabama when it comes to the fear factor. Georgia rightly sees itself as a national championship contender, and adding Texas and Oklahoma isn’t going to change that. Bulldogs say, bring ‘em on.
Kentucky – Kentucky doesn’t necessarily need any more football hurdles in its climb to relevancy, but the fact that it has never reached the SEC championship game in the 29-year history of the event tells us the Wildcats are not on the doorstep. Hoops-wise, UK would welcome Oklahoma and especially Texas, which is finally primed to take off under Chris Beard.
LSU – Another superpower who wouldn’t be particularly concerned with the additions. Just two seasons ago, the Tigers beat both Texas and Oklahoma on the way to the national championship, so LSU would be happy to have increased recruiting access to neighboring Texas and the extra revenue the Big 12’s Big Two bring.
Missouri – Surprised to see the Tigers on this list? Missouri’s athletic department could use the extra cash. Unlike Texas A&M, Missouri left the Big 12 more out of necessity than any animosity with Texas. Nebraska, Colorado and Texas A&M had all left. Texas and OU were flirting with the Pac-12. The SEC offered a lifeboat and Missouri jumped at it. If Texas and OU want to come along 10 years later, and bump up revenues, I think the Tigers say yes.
Vanderbilt – Needless to say, the Commodores are not one or two wins from getting over the hump on the football field. Two more powerhouses joining the SEC won’t change Vanderbilt’s fortunes all that much, and if the annual check from the SEC has a chance to get bigger, why not?
Auburn – For Auburn, this is a win-loss situation, and the Tigers do not need two more behemoths wandering around in the SEC. Auburn fans expect national championships or the coach hits the hot seat. It’s not the most realistic outlook, but that’s the way it is on the Plains and the financial benefit would not outweigh the added strength of schedule.
Texas A&M – We already know where the Aggies stand. It has taken them 10 years to finally reap the full benefits of leaving Texas behind for the SEC. They are poised to be an elite team nationally and do not need Texas and Oklahoma stealing their thunder on the recruiting trail in the Lone Star State and giving them more hurdles to clear to winning the SEC and possibly the national championship.
Ole Miss – The Rebels like to win. The school has had its record adjusted by the NCAA for violations in 10 different seasons, most recently in 2016. Do they want to bang their heads against the Texas-OU wall? Do they want the pool of recruiting targets in Texas to shrink? On the flip side, according to the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, Ole Miss athletics operated at a deficit in 2018 and 2019. A larger check from the conference would be helpful.
Mississippi State – The Bulldogs are another program that is constantly fighting uphill in the rugged SEC West and is in no hurry to add more bluebloods to the schedule. Everything has to go right for Mississippi State to win, but there is proof it can happen, as Dan Mullen had the Bulldogs ranked No. 1 in the nation for five glorious weeks in the 2014 season. Sure, the extra revenue might be nice, but MSU still holds out hope it can be an SEC champion, and it would be easier without Oklahoma and Texas in the neighborhood.
Tennessee – Another program that, rightly or wrongly, sees itself among college football’s elite nationally even though it has trouble getting out of its own way. Visions of Peyton Manning and Phil Fulmer and orange confetti still dance in its head. Two more mountains to climb will not speed the rebuilding process. First-year AD Danny White isn’t afraid to be brash, though, claiming a national championship for UCF in 2017 when he was in Orlando. Maybe he welcomes OU and Texas with open arms.