Arkansas Razorback Media Days

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE –  Seems impossible to upstage Alabama Coach Nick Saban at SEC Football Media Days in Hoover, Ala. but a Houston Chronicle story about the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners might have done it.

The Houston Chronicle Wednesday afternoon reported that the University of Texas and University of Oklahoma have expressed interest in abandoning the Big 12 to join the SEC.

Citing “a high-ranking college official” it did not publicly name,  the Chronicle reported the  SEC could announce eventually adding  the Longhorns and Sooners “within a couple of weeks.”

Asked Wednesday in Hoover by Dennis Dodd of CBS on the OU and UT to SEC report, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey responded, “No comment on that speculation. We are only worried about the 2021 season. Somebody dropped a report from unnamed people.”

The NCAA allowing players to profit off their NIL (name, image and likeness) just adds to the appeal of playing in college sport’s highest profile, 14-team league while the Big 12 has only 10 teams and lost Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC, Nebraska to the Big 10 and Colorado to the Pac 12.

Texas A&M Athletic Director Russ Bjork apparently would not  warmly welcome old Aggies rival Texas to the Big 12.

“We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas,” Bjork was quoted Wednesday in Hoover.  “There’s a reason Texas A&M left the Big 12: To stand alone to have our own identity.”

Texas A&M Coach Jimbo Fisher addressed Media Days shortly after the Texas and Oklahoma report broke but  offered little comment other than boosting the SEC.

“I bet they would,” Fisher said to laughter when apprised of the report that the Longhorns and Sooners are interested in joining the SEC.

Anything else on the subject?

“I’m just worried about A&M, you know what I mean?,” Fisher said.  “Listen, we’ve got the greatest league in ball. That’s the choices they (Texas and Oklahoma) make or what they do, I don’t know, but I don’t know how I feel about it. I’m just worried about A&M. I control what I want to control here.”

The possibility of the Longhorns and Sooners eventually joining the SEC led Wednesday’s late afternoon news cycle, but Saban previously dominated the SEC Media Day stage not only when he spoke Wednesday morning in Hoover but Tuesday while addressing the Texas State High School Football Coaches Association.

In Texas where Alabama’s Crimson Tide recruits extensively, Saban let it be known  Alabama No. 1 but not yet starting a game unproven quarterback Bryce Young already has NIL deals worth nearly $1 million.

Young last year backed up Alabama Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback/ current New England Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones. 

“Certain positions, probably, enhance opportunities to create value, like quarterback, and [Young] already has approached ungodly numbers,” Saban said.  “I’m not going to say what they are — and he hasn’t even played yet. Hasn’t even started.  It’s almost seven figures. And it’s like, the guy hasn’t even played yet. But that’s because of our brand.”

Wednesday in Hoover Saban was asked  about Young’s deal and “Maybe the good  and bad of that affects the locker room and the chance for any player who comes to Alabama maybe to earn that.”

Saban explained before summer school was included in athletic scholarships that players could have summer jobs

“All we’ve done is create an opportunity for players to work,” Saban said. “The only thing is it’s not going to be equal, and everything that we’ve done in college athletics in the past has always been equal. Everybody’s had equal scholarship, equal opportunity. Now that’s probably not going to be the case. Some positions, some players will have more opportunities than others. And how that’s going to impact your team, our team, the players on the team, I really can’t answer because we don’t have any precedent for it.  It will be opportunity for our team’s success that people are not looking over their shoulder at what somebody else does or doesn’t do.”

Beyond that?

“Any other comments that I would make about this, with no precedent, no experience, would probably a year from now not be looked on or viewed on as very smart,” Saban said.

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