The end of the SEC as we know it

Published 2:06 pm Monday, July 31, 2023


Kentucky Today

The landscape of the Southeastern Conference will look different next season.

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The Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners will officially become members of the league, giving the conference two more traditional powerhouse programs.

The SEC has gained a reputation as the top football league in the nation since the turn of the century. In the past two decades, the conference has won 14 national titles, including six by Alabama. Georgia has captured the last two championships and seek a three-peat this season.

But the party is getting bigger with Texas and Oklahoma.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said both programs are a “great addition to the SEC.”

“You have two great programs that have great traditions that have great fan support. I think it just continues to sort of…the map of the SEC, it is stronger than ever,” he said last week. “I think the competition is going to be–it’s always been difficult–it’s going to be even more challenging because you’ve got two really, really good programs who have consistently, if you look at the past, have been, you know, top 10 programs for a lot of years, won national championships. They are going to add a lot to the competition.”

The addition of Texas will renew an old-school rivalry between the Longhorns and Texas A&M. Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher welcomes the return of the rivalry.

“I think it’s great for college football,” he said. “I think it’s great for Texas and Texas A&M. I mean, I think anytime the old rivalries are renewed–I’ve been in a lot of rivalries, been fortunate to be in college football a long time and been in some of the great rivalries in college football, and this one, A&M and Texas, definitely is a great rivalry.

“I think it’s great for us and it’s great for them, and it’s great for college football in general. Very excited for it to happen.”

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has history with Oklahoma. His brother Bob was a longtime coach for the Sooners and led the program to four national championship appearances and won the title in 2000. He also knows current Oklahoma coach Brent Venables on not only a professional level but a personal one.

“When I first heard about Oklahoma and Texas, my immediate reaction was, Wow! already a great conference … going to get better,” he said. “(I’m) excited about that opportunity. You know, it will just make it that much more of a challenge with two great programs and the history of both of those programs.

“I’ve known Coach Venables for a long time, back to his days at Kansas State where he started coaching with Mike and Bob at K-State, and then of course at Oklahoma. Known Brent for a long time. Think the world of him as a person and as a coach, and you know, excited for him because I know he’ll do great things there, and I think he’s a great fit and certainly, very close to my family.”

Already a great league, the SEC will become an even stronger conference with the addition of Oklahoma and Texas.