Kentucky Wildcats watching with keen interest as Oklahoma, Texas move unravels

UK head football coach Mark Stoops greets the fans at Cat Walk
UK head football coach Mark Stoops greets the fans at Cat Walk /

The Kentucky Wildcats will never shy away from any team, anywhere at any time. Big Blue Nation is everywhere and there are no more die-hard fans anywhere. Thus players and fans are simply just sitting and watching as Texas and Oklahoma’s potential move to the Southeastern Conference unfolds.

On Monday it all but became official after meetings within in the Big12 that the move was all but now a done deal. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby released a statement confirming the intent of the Longhorns and Sooners intention to explore other options outside the Big 12.

Bowlsby’s statement confirmed he had received notices from University of Oklahoma President Joe Harroz and University of Texas President Jay Hartzell that their universities do not intend to extend their Grant of Rights when the current agreement expires on June 30, 2025.

"“Although our eight members are disappointed with the decisions of these two institutions, we recognize that intercollegiate athletics is experiencing rapid change and will most likely look much different in 2025 than it does currently. The Big 12 Conference will continue to support our member institutions’ efforts to graduate student-athletes and compete for Big 12 and NCAA championships.   Like many others, we will use the next four years to fully assess what the landscape will look like in 2025 and beyond.  The remaining eight institutions will work together in a collaborative manner to thoughtfully and strategically position the Big 12 Conference for continued success, both athletically and academically, long into the future.”"

This finally put an end to any and all speculation and rumors that had been swirling the past week.

So what does this mean for the University of Kentucky athletics and its fans?

Business as usual.

As in any business move and decision, there are advantages and detractors. University presidents, athletic directors, and coaches take these in stride and will do what they need to simply plan and budget a little differently.

For fans it simply means more talking points about who is better, reviving some old rivalries namely Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma.

One school that doesn’t get as much discussion is Missouri.

Fans should recall that before joining the SEC in 2012, the Tigers were a charter member of the Big 12 Conference, which came to be with the merger of the former Big Eight Conference and four schools from the former Southwest Conference that included one named Texas A&M.

In 2012 during the last crazy swapping of conferences both Texas A&M and Missouri bolted for the  SEC. Texas and Oklahoma flirted with the Pac 12 but chose to remain in the Big 12.

According to ESPN  on Tuesday SEC presidents and chancellors have scheduled a meeting for this Thursday with expansion on the table and whether to add Texas and Oklahoma. It would take 11 of the 14 current SEC schools to agree to this in order for invitations to the two schools to be offered.

Board of Regents from both Texas and Oklahoma are believed to be meeting this Friday.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey received a letter from Texas and Oklahoma requesting membership.

Keep in mind there are a lot of legal issues, television deals, and other details to iron out before any of this could even remotely take place and is a couple of years away before a reality on the field and court.

But is it?

From a purely technical standpoint, the Grant of Rights agreement runs till the end of the 2024-2025 school year, but as in any business, a buyout could be an option.

It’s been hinted at this move has been in the works behind the scenes for over six months. If the SEC agrees I think this happens very quickly with the two schools ponying up the buy-out.

Meanwhile, in Lexington, the focus for Mark Stoops, John Calipari, Kyra Elzy, Craig Skinner, and all the other coaches is all about their respective upcoming seasons.

Would they welcome these moves?

Would they embrace them?

Why not they don’t make the schedules they just play the games and the hands they are dealt.

Whether it’s good for the bank accounts of the universities is left up to President Eli Capilouto and Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart to wrangle with.

Barnhart has been eagerly watching 20 of his athletes represent Kentucky and their respective nations in the Olympics going on in Tokyo with three medals already won as well as a UK medical student Lee Kiefer.

Capilouto is preparing for classes to begin in just 3 weeks.

Calipari is ready for the 2021 NBA Draft and has Isiah Jackson in the green room and Brandon Boston’s name to be called as well. Cal and his current roster have had a great summer in camps and gelling. He won’t care who’s in the conference.

Then there is Stoops, who just finished SEC Media Days and is focused on camp to begin and the Wildcats opening game on September 4 with his team picked to finish 3rd in the SEC East.

He would be the least happy out of most all coaches you would have to believe based on just how a complete conference shake-up and realignment could affect his incredible building effort of the Wildcat program.

It’s always a brutal road to haul for the football program and two more Godzillas joining the party would not make Stoops very enthused.

Skinner and his volleyball Wildcats just finished knocking off Texas to win the NCAA Volleyball Championship. Having the Longhorns in the conference would be just another tough opponent they would play regularly.

None of Kentucky parties has broached the subject publicly of conference expansion and it’s doubtful any would until anything becomes official.

In the Bluegrass, we just take them as they come. Boomer Schooners and Horns. It doesn’t matter.

In the end, it all comes down to a business decision, and in business money talks. The first 16 teams super conference would bring an incredible amount of more money to the bottom line.

Next. Media picks UK football 3rd in SEC East. dark