- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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Wednesday morning, Texas A&M made it official. The Aggies notified the Big 12 Conference they will be applying to join the SEC.
What does this mean for Oklahoma?
Bob Stoops said recently that the Sooners "have a strong hand to play."
And he's right.
If OU wants the Big 12 to survive, it will. But if the Sooners decide the Big 12 is not worth salvaging, the league will quickly dissolve.
This time around, Texas does not hold all the cards and the Sooners have fewer obstacles in their path to another conference.
In reality, Brigham Young is the only viable candidate capable of keeping the Big 12 together. BYU would expand the Big 12 footprint and bring a national TV audience to the table, because of its Mormon following.
Yet if BYU turns the Big 12 down, the league could begin to dissemble quickly.
But should that happen, the Sooners have options.
The SEC, which invited OU to join its league last year, would likely come calling again. The league would love to make the Sooners its 14th member along with the Aggies.
But for OU, that's a last resort.
Instead, the Sooners first will wait and see if Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott makes another move.
OU president David Boren is charmed by the idea of aligning OU's law school with Stanford and Cal-Berkeley; its fine arts school with UCLA and USC. Academically, the SEC can't compete with that.
On the field, Stoops called the idea of expanding OU's recruiting base to California "pretty cool" last summer.
With Texas A&M opening the doors even wider to the SEC recruiting Texas' high school talent, it would be prudent for the Sooners to have another recruiting pipeline.
The Sooners were all set to go to the Pac-12 with the Longhorns last summer, until the Texas state legislature reportedly stopped the deal at the final hour.
The agreement was in place. Schedules had already been worked out, with the conference football championship rotating between the Rose Bowl and Cowboys Stadium.
This time, the Sooners may not wait around for Texas to make up its mind.
Expansion may not be as attractive to the Pac-12 without Texas. But with college football headed inevitably to superconferences, it's worthwhile. If Scott was willing to add Utah and Colorado, he would surely be willing to add OU, Oklahoma State, and some combination of Kansas, Missouri and Texas Tech.
Heck, the Pac-12 and Texas may even be able to work something out. The Longhorns don't really want to be left out as an independent, do they?
Either way, the Sooners have a strong hand to play.
The future of the Big 12 is on life support. The future of Oklahoma surely is not.
Jake Trotter covers University of Oklahoma football for SoonerNation.
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