Oklahoma and Texas are headed to the SEC, and college football, as we know it, faces a huge landscape change over the next few years. How does this affect Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss? What happens to the old Big 12, which was actually numbered 10 and is not only eight? What other changes are in store?

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Tyler: Hello, welcome to the Crooked Letter Sports podcast with your host, Tyler Cleveland, and his old man, Richie Cleveland, of scorebooklive.com and mississippitoday.org. Welcome to the show. Dad, how was your week? 

Rick: Weekend was fine. It’s a little bit 

Tyler: warm. Yeah, it is. It’s it seems like it’s cute. Finally. We’re finally getting that summer.

We had been waiting on, although it’s a little bit wetter than I would have liked. 

Rick: Yeah. Well, we found out yesterday is too hot to play 

Tyler: golf. I know. I don’t know how many pounds you lost in waterway, but I know I did my fair share of sweating. Out there like Caroline, but you know, really good to get out after all these weeks of rain.

It’s really nice. We welcome everybody into the show. Thanks for joining us. Today we are talking college football realignment specifically the. It looks like Texas and Oklahoma are set to join the sec, as soon as, you know, 20, 25 dad. I mean, it’s just another round of realignment. I mean, your initial thoughts when you, when you heard that news, 

Rick: it just seems more and more to me, Tyler, like we’re moving toward having a, a, a college football version of the NFL, you know, it’s really, really all about.

Money and position in yourself to make as much as you can. And the bottom line on this is a Texas and Oklahoma are, are looked at the dollar signs and see that they can make $22 million a year more now in the sec than they can in the big 12. And, and they see the F that everything points to the future.

That that gap will even be larger. So I think it’s money is what so. Saying money is the root of all evil. Well, I don’t know if you consider this evil or not, but but it’s certainly money is at the root of 

Tyler: it. Well, I know it’s going to be evil. It’s going to be that SCC west schedule, just looking at, I mean, I was looking at it and you know, I was telling you the other day, it’s like, I used to play NCAA football games.

And I remember when you first. Could realign the conferences between seasons. And I would always, you know, I was always playing with Ole miss or state or Southern minister somebody, but I would always create this super conference where I would add, you know, Oklahoma and Texas to the west and like Florida state and Clemson to the east and just have this massive, you know, football conference.

But it’s it’s for me, it’s just, I mean, yeah, like you said, it’s rich getting richer, but man, how much money is too much? And what does it say about the. Is it the say more about the big 12 or the sec? 

Rick: Well, it says, I guess it says a lot about both that it just means more than this sec and it, and you just make more.

And the sec, you know, the big 10 is the closest has the, and in many ways is right there with sec financially. But I don’t think the, the, I don’t think the big Tim was necessarily looking to expand. Actually, I think the sec wouldn’t necessarily look into, but when get a phone call from Oklahoma and Texas.

You know, you got to listen. I mean, those are two of the biggest players in college sports and particularly college football, which, whether it should or not still what moves the needle more than anything else, 

Tyler: right? The big 10 better be looking at expansion at this point, because what we’re looking at is a couple of super league.

That eventually I would imagine we’ll be autonomous from the NCAA 

Rick: moving in that direction. I mean, that’s, that’s where this is all headed and and, and you very well may see. I mean, what’s going to be interesting to there’s so many interesting factors and so much still to be determined. For instance, you met, you mentioned division.

And the sec in that Western division at that might not be what it is. There’s a good chance. They’re going to go to a pod system where you got a 16 team league with four different pods. You send, then you say like one pod would be Ole miss, Mississippi state, Arkansas. LSU. I mean, that’s just for instance, and that, and you would play each other team in your pod and we’re talking football, play each other team.

That’d be three conference games. And then, then I think you’re looking at them going to a six or a nine game schedule, and then you would have six revolving games. Which would mean that every team in the conference would play every other team in a conference during a four year period. So if you came on scholarship to Ole miss in 2025, by the time you graduated, you would have played.

Every every other team in the league 

Tyler: be bad. I mean, you’re telling me a kid can go and know he’s going to play at least one game against Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, or LSU, Florida. I mean, I could just rattle off these names. That’s what keeps getting me about this whole thing is like, you look at these teams that are coming in and now you’re looking at like, you know, we had this pecking order that was established in the sec.

So where does it go now? Like, I mean, it’s all bad. Like, I mean, we’re getting to a situation where like, Auburn could be like a second T you know what I mean? Like that seem like Auburn could be in that second. I mean, they may not be in the top half of the league anymore and that’s 

crazy 

Rick: somebody. Yes, it is going to be, it’s going to be tough, but here here’s something.

And I was reading this morning. The Texas has record against all the sec schools, right? And you’d never guess in a million years, which SCC school has the best record against Texas who is Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt. What is their record? They’ve played 12 times in history and Vandy has won eight, Texas three.

And there’s been one tie. 

Tyler: When is the last time there? It’s gotta be a long 

Rick: time. So, you know, Even even, ah, am too young to remember, but Vanderbilt used to be a powerhouse football program. 

Tyler: Well, they, it those days are gone Bubba and. But I think there’s a sink there. And ultimately, like I was going to ask you about this.

You mentioned Vanderbilt. Is there a, I mean, I guess Vanderbilt is kind of a legacy member of the sec at this point, but is there going to be room for them in this mega colossal football conference that they’re building long-term, I mean, will their facilities get better? Will they keep getting better or where they, I mean, you know, 

Rick: that will be, I mean, I actually, I think that’s going to be for Vanderbilt to determine I don’t, I don’t, I mean, They could at some point decide that maybe this just isn’t for them.

Right? 22 million reasons. I don’t think any of them regular, the traditional SCC members are going to be forced out. No, I can’t imagine. No, but Vanderbilt, they may have to determine if this is the path they want to go on, man. How many times can you get beat 50 to nothing. 

Tyler: I mean, I mean, we were looking at a center where if they go to a nine game season, me Vanderbilt, I mean, nine games.

Conference schedule, they could end up, I mean, they can end up with like 30, 35 wins in a decade. Like that’s, that’s not out of the realm of possibility. That’s 

Rick: kind of where they are right now. And it’s not going to get any better with Texas and Oklahoma coming in now, you know, we all talk. We’re the two of us right now.

We’re, we’re talking about football, but this is, you know, it’s going to have some major effects otherwise as well. You don’t Vanderbilt is, I mean there, right. There’s being the Alabama of college baseball right now. So I mean, they, they bring something to the table there they’ve been pretty good in basketball in the past, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be in Nashville with the facilities they had that they ought to be pretty good in basketball.

But football is the driving factor in all this. There’s no question. So what happens to the big toy? Which is actually. Was 10 and now would be down to eight, 

Tyler: right? Well, I told them and just to catch, if you haven’t been following the story, Texas and Oklahoma had informed the big 12 that they don’t want to be a part of any TV contract past 20, 25.

And the next step they’ll have to apply for admission to the sec. And then they got to get 11 out of 14 schools in the sec to approve it. Appears to that. They’ve had the votes and that this is the direction they’re going. And that’s why we’re talking about it as if it’s a done deal. Although, as we’ve talked about, the situation remains fluid.

I did see a report that Kansas, I believe it was. And you said Iowa state are looking at jumping ship to the big 10. I think 

Rick: that that would be, I think that’s the natural next step because both of them, the big Tim preferred. I think are 13 out of the 14 teams in the big 10 that are a use certified colleges that which has to do with their academics.

They’re division one, triple a, and academics. They’re very good academically and both Kansas and our. Fit that model. Right. 

Tyler: And then the other big, I mean the other two glaring remaining schools, there takes a second Oklahoma state, which are, you know, big time football programs that are just kind of left out there.

So I’m guessing they’ll have to find a home as well. Yeah. 

Rick: And it’s as strange as it sounds. If they can’t hold the big 12 together, then, then you’re looking at the pack 12. For Texas tech for Texas tech and perhaps Oklahoma state. 

Tyler: Wow. I don’t know Lubbock’s way over there, but Oklahoma is not really in their geographic footprint.

I wouldn’t think. 

Rick: It’s not, but where’s West Virginia and the big 12 footprint. 

Tyler: No, you know, and that was really funny. I saw a meme on the Twitter sphere about the realignment and it was it was a guy looking really chill and a noose. And he’s standing on the blockade, you know, looking over to his shoulder and it’s said, West Virginia fans are saying, oh, is this your first time?

First time going through this. Cause they, I mean, it’s gotta be old hat for them. I mean, they were, you know, they’ve been a part of the deal, a couple of conferences, 

Rick: You know, there was talk. Years ago that they were coming into this, they see, well, they 

Tyler: certainly fit the profile. I mean, they’re in the, you know, they’re a little far north, but I mean, they based fits the profile and the program fits the breath, thought it made sense.

And I thought eventually the sec would add some teams in the east. And so just kind of shifting over and Missouri’s in the east now. I mean, it’s ridiculous the way the geography set up. 

Rick: Yeah. If nothing is the biggest positive that could come from this as that finally, Missouri may be in the, have to fly over about half the sec west to get to play games in the eighties.

It 

Tyler: would make more sense, but I don’t know what you, how you’d change that though. If you keep adding teams in the west, where are you going to move Alabama and Auburn over to them? East. I mean, how old are you? You know, do you graphically 

Rick: if, if, if they go two divisions than Auburn and Alabama definitely we’ll go.

The east Ole miss and Mississippi state most likely would be in the west. And, but that, that, that just points up several different things. I mean, like the traditional rivalries that like Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida, Georgia. There, they’re going to try to keep those, but they might not necessarily, it might not necessarily work out that way.

I think personally, I think it’s more likely toddler that, that that they’ll go to a pod system rather than a division system and you’ll have 14 pods and, and Or are you going to have to have a lot of tie brokers to decide who goes to this who see championship game? 

Tyler: Yeah. And you’re going to have to come up with a better name than pods.

We’re gonna have to call them divisions or something. I mean, just it, pods sounds terrible, but I liked the idea. I mean, I liked the idea of having, you know, four D I mean, it’s a lot like the NFC or the AFC at that point, you’ve got in pro football, which is what you started by saying, that’s where this is headed.

But I mean, that would be cool though, to have divisions and actually play, but at some point. You know, that’s going to be the super bowl the sec, you know what I mean? You’re playing four divisions at some point, the sec championship is going to the super bowl. And I would rather see if we’re going to go to four divisions.

That’s much rather have just like a playoff, but now we’re talking about a playoff for the conference and a playoff for the G you know, the championship it’s just, and then. If we ultimately do go to like an 18 playoff in college football for the national championship, which I think would be a lot more fair.

I’d love to see it go to 16 games. But I, you know, I’m not playing the games. I’m not the one that has to strap them on 15 times a year or whatever it would take to get to that point. But I mean, we get to that point. Is the sec champion. I mean, is it almost a foregone conclusion or, you know, will they have to play more games because there’s so many conference teams and then you got a conference championship and yeah.

Rick: There’s so much to be decided. I’ll tell you who’s in for the biggest culture shock in all of this is Texas. Yeah, of course. Texas has ruled the roost in the big 12. They’ve been, you know, they’ve got their own network. They’re all pat, even now the rest of the big 12 teams, or trying to figure out a way to keep them keep Oklahoma and Texas by offering them huge or shares than they already get.

I mean, it would be like, you know, Kansas state and our state. Yeah. One share while Texas and Oklahoma get two or one and a half, something like that. But Texas is in for culture shock. Cause it ain’t going to be that way in the sec. 

Tyler: No, and I mean, they’re willing to not, they’re going to come in and certainly not from a competitive standpoint, they’re not fixing to come in and.

Push each other around, I mean, Texas is the proverbial teenager that keeps crashing. Dad’s Ferrari. They have this big, expensive car and they’re just, you know, they’ve stripped all the gears and they’re just riding down the road and just crap flying off the car. I mean, you know, they, every year they underperform, I mean, it’s been that way for like a decade.

So I don’t think anybody, any sane person thinks that Texas is fixing to come in the sec and rule the roost. Oklahoma could be a major player right off the bat. I feel like. You know, I think, but you know, I think Texas Boulevard, I think this is really going to help them in terms of recruiting, where it takes is a and M and made up a little bit of ground by moving to the sec, they thought they were going to be the chalk about losers in this situation, Texas a and M they thought they were going to be the predominant school in Texas, that, that moved to sec, eight years ago would make them that program.

And now here comes Texas. Just, they just can’t. I’ve read a great story is that they just can’t outrun, Texas. There’s just so much 

Rick: money. Right. And we’ve we’ve already established, this is all about me. So and, and Texas has, what’s interesting. Another interesting facet of all this is what’s going on right now in Texas politics.

Right? You gotta be 

Tyler: happy about 

Rick: this. You got a lot of Baylor on a TCU on a Texas tech legislators in Texas who are, are, are mad as hell. And they’re, they’re trying. Figure out a way that the state can prevent Texas from going into the sec. 

Tyler: Well, I know when a and M joined, I think the consensus was that Oklahoma would have come, but Texas wasn’t there yet.

Rick: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I mean, I’ve talked to several. Industry sources who confirmed that Oklahoma wanted to come before, but Texas was the hold out. And a lot of that had to do with the fact that was the Texas politics and the fact that Rick Perry, who’s a big Texas, a and M guy was the governor in Texas.

Tyler: She loves it. When the politicians get involved in college football. 

Rick: Well, when college athletics is one of the main. Moving forces that got a flag to change. 

Tyler: Definitely does. It definitely has its place. I like it when, when that side influences the other side, not the other way around. Yeah. 

Rick: Well there’s a little tail wagging the dog.

Yeah, 

Tyler: that’s right. Yeah. Well, I mean, like you said, it’s all about money. It doesn’t, you know what I mean? It doesn’t have to do with competitive balance. It doesn’t have to do with bragging rights. I mean, at the end of the day, it is. Stone cold cash. And speaking of that, let me ask you this, does this, if you are a, a fan or an administrator or whatever at a group of five school, like Southern miss, or, you know, any of these other schools, UAB four-day now, or Florida.

Atlanta. And you’re looking at these moves. What are you thinking in terms? I mean, cause it looks like the rich are getting richer here and they’re gonna, if they’re going to their own autonomous league where they’re all playing each other and crown and a champion and all that, I mean, is there going to be obviously nine games scheduled in conference would cut out one of those, you know, money games for the school like that.

I mean, what are you thinking if you’re looking at that you got to be really 

Rick: worried. You got to be really scared about. What’s your place in all. This is going to be, we could end up with an NCA that involves over 300 or teams and then another organization yet to be named. That will be the super 50, super 48, whatever.

I mean, that’s, that is where this is headed and money is driving every bit of, 

Tyler: but I wouldn’t, I mean, I would argue that it’s already set up like that. It’s already like that. I mean, what real possibility does. Let’s say a kid who goes to two lane, right? He goes to two lane to play football. What possibility does he have of winning a national championship in 40 

Rick: zero?

Tyler: Right. And, but the almost is the, is the kicker there, 

Rick: but you can still recruit saying that, you know, we’re going to be, there’s going to be a spot for a group of five team and the new playoff system. We can be that team, right? I mean, when you look at a Tyler outside of Alabama and Clemson, Who really has won the national, I mean, it’s, it’s allow state or how our state Alabama Clemson in Oklahoma, Oklahoma.

Yeah. But, but you’re, you’re talking about a pretty select group grouping 

Tyler: here it is. But then you’ll have somebody like Florida state jump up there and jump in the mix, you know? You know, it’s been years, but Texas, one of the, with Vince, you know, I mean, it’s just, I, I can see that, but there are big programs that you expect to come back and compete.

I mean, USC, you know, Oregon, I mean, schools like that, do you expect to see them compete? Whereas like, I guess where I’m coming from as if I’m. Trying to recruit to a school like that, or if I’m running that athletic program, like I would like to be included. And if not, you know, w what does that mean for me and our program?

Do they band together and try to create a bigger conference of other teams that are like, is that that’s what you’re headed 

Rick: toward? Yeah. I think you’re headed toward that. Let’s just go look at the Mississippi schools and how they will be affected almost and state. It just gets harder to compete. I mean, this, this makes it harder.

Is there any doubt or no, there’s no 

Tyler: doubt about it. I mean, there’s no way to cut that word. You add imminent powers like Texas and Oklahoma to your league and it makes it easier. I mean, it was already brutal, so it’s just, it feels like, you know, one of those things like, oh no, our schedule is going to be hard now.

I mean, it was already just ridiculous. 

Rick: And again, we’re talking about football because Mississippi state, no, Ms. Can compete with any of those James and we’ll. Yeah. But basketball, it doesn’t make it that much harder or that it just makes you make more money, which is again, get back to money for Southern miss.

I just, you know, there’s no way you look at this in any positive way. Right. 

Tyler: No, unless it’s, unless there’s an outcome that is good for them possibly in the future, that this is a step towards, I mean, you know what I mean? They may end up in a different if they end up in a different league and can compete for a championship of some type, that’s not tied to.

The sec and it’s $22 million welfare check for these programs every year. You see what I’m saying? I mean, if they could get to a point where they’re competing for something and they don’t have to beat Alabama to get it, then at that point, that may be a better situation for them depending on what it is.

Yeah. 

Rick: Well, that’s been an argument that a lot of people have made for years and, and, and it, it, you know, what makes it so hard for Southern miss fans is that. Even you are old enough to remember when they competed with Ole miss Mississippi state beat Alabama. You know, I mean, this is, this is in a fairly recent history that, and that’s what’s, that’s what makes it so hard for Southern miss fan.

To adjust to this new world where they are 

Tyler: separated. Oh, Bubba. I remember him knocking off number four, TCU down at Hattiesburg on like a Thursday night when I I would love to, I would love to have been there to see all that, you know, and we talked a lot about Southern miss, but they are the program that’s closest to us.

Is the one that is gonna ultimately get the shaft every time when it comes to money and college football. Yeah. They just, it’s just you know, and it’s a, it’s a shame because we care about it so much, but it’s just it’s just, you know, it’s, it’s sad, but at the same time, like man would have, I mean, it’s still such a promising program.

It could be, it should be a part of any college football landscape in the future. It’s just a matter of what it’s going to look like. Well, let me ask you this. Since you were looking at records, however, Ole miss and Mississippi say it against Texas and Oklahoma over the years. Well, they hadn’t 

Rick: played Oklahoma much, but Ole miss is.

One in six against Texas and Mississippi state is two and two against Texas. And of course, both of those wins were Jackie Sheryl, who, the first thing he told me when he took the job at Mississippi state was I know how to be Texas, 

Tyler: which didn’t come back and go and come in handy much back then. 

Rick: No. Well, they beat them the only two regular season games.

They’d beat them first and start rolling in in and, and then in Austin one of which he famously brought in a a small bull. To, to fire up his team. Do you remember that? Turned him into a steer, turn a turn, a bull into a steep right there on the practice. That’s probably a note where we should close this down for 

Tyler: sure.

I want to, I wanted to say one more thing is when you just said that it’s today, if Ole miss or Mississippi state beat Texas and football. I wouldn’t be, I wouldn’t bat an eye. And that’s what being in the sec has meant to Ole miss and Mississippi state that’s it has completely even the playing field.

And so now we’ve kind of come full, circle them coming into the league. Like, I mean, you know, Oh, miss beat, Texas. I mean, they split the last two. I mean, but if they win, that’s not that big of a deal. I mean, it is a big deal, but it’s not as big as it would have been, say 10 years ago. And that’s the difference of being in that seat?

Rick: Yeah. What about Ole miss beat in Oklahoma? Yeah, 

Tyler: I don’t know. I don’t know. I think it’s fun. It’s like having another Auburn or LSU or, you know, Alabama it right there in the mix. 

Rick: It’s like that another Alabama. To the mix. That’s what it is. And. Back to the original point. Yeah. 

Tyler: You know what, I’m going to be entertained by this.

So I’m kind of okay with it. I mean, I’d like to see it go to a more equitable system for everybody, but at the end of the day, we’re going to have this super conference and it’s going to be appointment viewing every Saturday. Pardon me. Pardon me? Can’t wait for it. Class triple life for the NFL. You know, there’s lots of good ballplayers at AAA.

Yeah, I appreciate it. Dad’s been a great discussion guys. Thanks for tuning in again, this is a crooked letter sports podcasts with your host Tyler and Rick Cleveland. Make sure to stay up on all the latest and Mississippi high school sports@scorebooklive.com and all the latest in Mississippi news at Mississippi today.

Dot org special. Thanks to Casey and the good folks at blue sky podcasting who produced the show every week. Thanks for joining them guys. Have a good weekend.

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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.

Tyler Cleveland

Tyler Cleveland is a senior reporter for Scorebook Live and the co-host of Mississippi Today's Crooked Letter Sports Podcast.