The Big 12 will soon turn into a “Group of 5” conference when Texas and Oklahoma leave for the SEC. However, there is a lot of speculation about when that move will take place. Join me as I jump into a couple of very realistic timelines for the move.
Before the 2021 season started there was buzz that this might be Texas and Oklahoma’s last season in the Big 12. However, as the season marched on we got the sense that they would remain for 2022 and possibly through the 2024 season. I still think that both universities will eventually buy out their tv deals and leave the Big 12 early and here are a couple of reasons why.
In the wise words of Paul Van Der Merwe “Money makes the world go round” and that same phrase is true in college football. This has been one of the main selling points since the SEC move was announced. The SEC has more money than the Big 12 and its not really close. Add Texas and Oklahoma to that conference and you gain even more revenue. This is the main reason why I believe both schools will leave before 2025.
A little over a week ago the SEC announced how much money it would be distributing to the fourteen schools in the conference. That number amounted to $54.6 million dollars per school. On the other hand, the Big 12 distributed $34.5 million dollars per school in 2021. Now I’m no expert, but I’d imagine $20 million is a lot of money even to these massive universities.
With the addition of Texas and Oklahoma that number will only go up. I’d be very comfortable to say that Texas and OU would receive over $60 million their first year in the SEC. That would almost double what they make in the Big 12. It’s not crazy to see why both of these schools are itching to leave early and head to greener pastures.
Now, this one may hit a nerve for some people, but that’s ok. Recruits see the SEC as an almost guaranteed path to being drafted. If you disagree with that I understand, but it’s the truth. Joining the SEC would give both universities a major recruiting bump from coast to coast. There were several recruits in the 2022 cycle that I know would’ve committed to Texas if they were in the SEC.
Texas even had one committed for a short period, but when the news started breaking that the move wasn’t going to happen next year, that specific recruit decided to chase the SEC dream and I don’t blame him one bit. The SEC has proven to be the best path to the NFL year in and year out. That is something that Texas and Oklahoma can’t sell recruits on. This is yet another major selling point as to why Texas and Oklahoma will leave the Big 12 early.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There is a 0% chance that Texas and Oklahoma stay in the Big 12 until 2025. It makes no sense for those two schools and if we’re being on honest it makes no sense for the Big 12.
It’s like breaking up with your girlfriend, but you still go eat dinner with her family every evening. It’s awkward and time to move on. The most likely scenario in my mind is that Texas and Oklahoma leave for the SEC in 2023. The timeline works and by then the Big 12 will have its four new teams to lessen the blow of the money loss.
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What a whirlwind week it has been for the Texas Longhorns! After beating Kansas State in Austin last Friday, there has been a non-stop flood of news. Unlike this football season, the news lately has been mostly well received by Longhorn fans.
In a time of the year that is usually focused on recruiting efforts, news this past week has included: Bijan Robinson committing to returning in 2022, soap-opera worthy drama unfolding at Oklahoma, and then today two massive Texas Longhorns NIL related news drops today that will impact the present and future of the Longhorn football program.
A Slow Start in the NIL era
This past offseason the NCAA announced that, starting on July 1, student athletes for the first time could profit off of their name, image, and likeness. This was the biggest development in college athletics in decades. It was only a matter of time before it filtered its way onto the 40 acres.
Within the first weeks after the NCAA’s rule change major players such as Spencer Rattler, Sam Howell, DJ Uiagalelei, D’Eriq King announced major deals and many thought the flood gates would open. However there was not many major deals announced at The University of Texas in regards to NIL, other than boasting “The Biggest Brand in College Athletics”.
Specifically, Texas Longhorns NIL then announced on August 31st that they were launching the LEVERAGE program that would educate and help student-athletes maximize their earning potential as a Longhorn. However Texas up to this week has really not gained any national traction in the NIL arms race.
The Modern Face of Texas
Bijan Robinson, since entering the rotation in 2020, has been the brightest star on the field for the Longhorns. He has already amassed 2,321 yards from scrimmage and 21 touchdowns in his first two seasons in burnt orange. Other than possibly Sam Ehlinger as QB1, Bijan is easily the most marketable superstar Texas has had in the Post-Mack Brown era.
Bijan’s production and admiration by Longhorn Nation has not gone unnoticed by companies this season. Since the new NIL rules went into effect in July, Bijan has signed on with multiple different companies. Robinson has signed deals with Pinkerton’s BBQ, has Centre clothing, Raising Cane’s, and Athletic Brewing.
This week Bijan signed what has been the biggest NIL nationwide deal that Texas has seen. He will be serving as a brand ambassador with DAZN, which is one of the premier boxing streaming services in the world. He will be doing media appearances and will also be appearing on live broadcasts to give his thoughts on the programing.
Not only is this beneficial for Bijan Robinson (the financial terms of the deal are not available) but this is a huge marketing win for Texas on two fronts: number one is the media attention that this will give the program on a national stage. Secondly, this shows that becoming a superstar, at Texas can be a pathway to major money.
What About the Rest of the Longhorns?
There are other players that could soon be getting the same national attention that Bijan Robinson has garnered (Xavier Worthy). However these major deals will never be available to the average Longhorn student athlete. The news from Austin today could change that with the Texas Longhorns NIL deal. A band of supporters, former athletes, and marketers are launching what will called the Clark Field Collective.
The purpose of this program will be to help Texas student athletes maximize NIL deals. The group will start with 10 Million dollars to help achieve this goal. In addition, the group has the backing of former Longhorns Kenny Vaccaro and TJ Ford. The Clark Field Collective will help all student athletes link with the enormous alumni base of Texas. In reality if this program is ran correctly and succeeds, it will be a powerful recruiting tool.
What does this mean for Texas Athletics?
This is a massive amount of information to be dropped in a week. It will take weeks, if not months, to fully understand the impact it will have on Texas athletics. However is a great sign showing that Texas is adapting to the new era of college athletics.
Programs that experiment with new avenues will be the programs that benefit the most in the new era. Texas has always had a plethora of cash, but hasn’t used it as a recruiting weapon like its future SEC brethren. Today’s announcement shows that Texas will be playing ball, within the rules, with the likes of our future competition.
Longhorn fans should be optimistic about this week’s breakthroughs (and the ongoing events in Norman). This is the first bit of positive momentum the school has had since early October. This should be celebrated by fans as we head into the offseason. Longhorn Nation, we’re not back, but it seems were on the right path.
The Florida Gators have hired former University of Louisiana head coach Billy Napier to replace Dan Mullen at the helm of their football program.
Napier fits the Gators needs. His recruiting prowess is a massive change for a program going from Dan Mullen, whose biggest weakness was recruiting. This is not an unexpected hire, but it is still a good one. Napier has shown that not only does he recruit well, but he also builds the staff to be able to recruit. Napier will be looking to fix a floundering recruiting class, and has a lot of work to do. However, if there is someone who will be able to do it, Napier appears to be that guy.
Napier has been a head coach for the past four years, but before that was an assistant at a lot of the nation’s best programs. After playing quarterback at Furman, with two seasons as the starter, Billy Napier spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at Clemson.
He spent a year as the quarterbacks coach at South Carolina State before returning to Clemson as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator for the Tigers where he spent the next three years. Head coach Tommy Bowden was fired and Napier was promoted to quarterbacks coach under interim head coach Dabo Swinney.
Swinney was named full time head coach, with Billy Napier as his quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. After a record setting season in his first year, Clemson’s offense struggled in his second season. Napier was then fired as offensive coordinator.
Billy Napier spent a year as an offensive analyst at Alabama. Billy Napier became the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach at Colorado State the following season. Napier followed Alabama assistant and future (now past) Florida head coach Jim McElwain.
Napier accepted a job as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at Florida State. However, he only stayed for a month before accepting the position of wide receiver’s coach at Alabama. Napier spent four seasons at Alabama. He was then hired as the offensive coordinator at Arizona State.
Following a season there, Napier became the head coach at the University of Louisiana. In 4 seasons at Louisiana, Napier led the program to a 39-12 record. This includes one conference championship as well as participating in two more, including one this season.
Nick Savage is beloved as a strength and conditioning coach. Florida also has some young position coaches that he could look to retain. He will almost certainly go elsewhere for coordinators and recruiting staff.
Napier has a lot of work to do in terms of recruiting. The current recruiting class is ranked 31st by 247sports and 39th by Rivals. He will have a lot of work to do to turn the class around in a short amount of time. The early period for national signing day is December 15-17. The regular national signing day is February 2.
With how Napier wants to play, he will need an influx of offensive line talent. He will also need to add more to a defense that is losing a lot of talent. There were a lot of players who decommitted under Mullen, and he could possibly flip them back. The transfer portal will also need to be used due to the lack of time to recruit normally.
The Florida Gators head coach position is once again up for grabs. There are a few different types of head coach candidates the Florida Gators could go with. They could go with a power five head coach from a lower-end or mid-level school, a strong group of five head coach, a coordinator from a high-end power five school, a NFL assistant, or a retired head coach.
The rumor mill for this coaching hire has a variety of coaches, some of which should never be considered, while others should only be worst-case scenario hires, and some won’t even be interested.
Power Five Head Coaches
Dave Aranda: Baylor, 2nd Season, 11-9 career, 9-2 season
Dave Aranda has done really well in his second season at Baylor. His first season they won just two games, but this year they have only lost twice, including beating Oklahoma.
Aranda has SEC experience, as he was the defensive coordinator at LSU for four years, including their National Championship season. Baylor’s recruiting class is ranked just five spots lower than Florida according to 247sports and eight spots higher according to Rivals.
Lane Kiffin: Ole Miss, 2nd Season, 10th overall season, 75-41 career, 14-7 @ Ole Miss, 9-2 season, 2 years in NFL, 5-15 record
Lane Kiffin has had a lot of success at four different stops in his career. He has shown the ability to succeed in the SEC, with a 7-6 year at Tennessee and also going 14-7 thus far at Ole Miss, including 9-2 this year. Kiffin currently has the 38th ranked recruiting class according to 247sports, after having the 17th ranked recruiting class the previous year.
Both of these are slightly below Florida’s rankings. While that does invite concern, the better quality of program could allow Kiffin to do better than he is at a mid-tier SEC program currently.
Mark Stoops: Kentucky, 9th Season, 57-53 career, 8-3 season
Under Mark Stoops, this Kentucky program has steadily climbed, and is currently sitting at 8-3 and 2nd place in the SEC East. They currently have 247sports 16th ranked recruiting class. Mark Stoops has been able to recruit at a consistent top 35 ranking for the past few years despite a relative lack of resources as compared to Florida.
Stoops has also proven himself to be a quality defensive mind, and could be the answer to fix that side of the ball that has struggled under Mullen except for 2019. Stoops is not a top choice, but should be on the long list.
Unlikely to Be Interested
Mario Cristobal: Oregon, 4th season, 10th overall season, 61-59 career, 34-12 @ Oregon, 9-2 season
Mario Cristobal would bring a lot of what the Florida program needs: offensive line competence and a great recruiter. Cristobal’s worst recruiting season was his first, where he finished 13th in the country.
For comparison, Mullen’s best seasons recruiting were 2019 and 2020, where he finished 9th both years. If they were able to get him, it would be a very good hire, but it would take a lot to pull him away from a good job with great facilities and a much easier path to the College Football Playoff. However, Cristobal does have a lot of roots in the south, and particularly Florida.
Cristobal played in college at Miami, was a graduate assistant there, and later a tight end and offensive line coach. He spent six seasons as FIU’s head coach, and before he went to be an assistant at Oregon, spent four years as an assistant head coach for Alabama.
Matt Campbell: Iowa State, 5th season, 9th overall season, 76-48 career, 41-33 @ Iowa State, 6-5 season
Iowa State has been a solid program under Campbell. However, he hasn’t had as much success as a lot of the other coaches in terms of recruiting, and that is a must for whoever Florida hires. He turned around a very bad program, but he just is not the best option for Florida.
James Franklin: Penn State, 8th season, 11th overall season, 91-47 career, 67-32 @ Penn State, 7-4 season
James Franklin has had a successful tenure at Penn State after having relative success at Vanderbilt. However, it looks like Franklin has peaked and can’t get over the hump that is Ohio State. He is a good recruiter, but just is not a very good game day manager. It’s hard not to feel that if he were to come to Florida, he wouldn’t face similar issues with Georgia as he does currently with Ohio State.
Jeff Hafley: Boston College, 2nd season, 12-10 career, 6-5 season
Jeff Hafley has had moderate success given his circumstances, and was a quality assistant coach. However, he just does not have the experience or the track record to justify Florida hiring him.
Dave Clawson: Wake Forest, 8th season, 22nd overall season, 139-126 career, 49-47 @ Wake Forest, 9-2 season
Dave Clawson has been .500 or better at all four schools he has coached at. However, he has just barely hit that mark. While his teams have improved year-over-year and eventually hit their peak as a program, he just hasn’t shown the ability to recruit at a higher level. The best path to a high-end job would be to take a minor step up (say a Virginia Tech or Miami) and then prove himself there once again.
Group of Five Head Coaches
Luke Fickell: Cincinnati, 5th season, 6th overall season 52-21 career, 46-14 @ Cincinnati, 11-0 season
Luke Fickell struggled in his one year as interim head coach at Ohio State, but after spending six additional seasons as the defensive coordinator there, he has turned around a Cincinnati program that was struggling to replace Brian Kelly. After going 4-8 his first season, they have won double digit games every year except for the COVID-shortened 2020 season where they only lost one game.
On top of that, they are currently undefeated and look to be in playoff contention. While he doesn’t have experience in this part of the country, he would still be a good hire.
Billy Napier: Louisiana, 4th season, 38-12 career, 10-1 season
Billy Napier looks to be the favorite in the clubhouse as the end of the season nears. Napier has been a very successful coach in his four years at Louisiana. He has had the top recruiting class in the Sun Belt the past three years. Prior to Louisiana, he spent a year as Arizona State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and before that was Alabama’s wide receivers coach for four years.
Not only has he been a great recruiter, but he has had offensive success at multiple schools. On top of this, he was able to change the way the program was built at Louisiana to help with recruiting due to a larger staff. He would be a great hire if they chose him.
Jamey Chadwell: Coastal Carolina, 4th season (1 interim), 12th overall season, 88-54 career, 28-19 @ Coastal Carolina, 9-2 season
Chadwell has had mixed success over the years at multiple stops. As of late, Coastal Carolina has been successful and Chadwell has recruited well, including being projected to have the top recruiting class in the Sun Belt. However, inconsistencies and a lack of experience at a high level make it a very risky hire for anyone at a large program.
Power Five Assistants
The assistants will probably be discussed and possibly given a look, but it is very unlikely that Florida goes this route unless they miss out on several of their top options.
Mike Elko: 4th season as Texas A&M defensive coordinator, no head coaching experience
Bill O’Brien: 1st season as Alabama offensive coordinator, two seasons at Penn State, 15-9 career, seven seasons w/ Houston Texans, 52-48 career
Todd Monken: 2nd season as Georgia offensive coordinator, three seasons at Southern Miss, 13-25 career
Pete Golding: 3rd season as Alabama defensive coordinator, no head coaching experience
Dan Lanning: 3rd season as Georgia defensive coordinator, no head coaching experience
Holmon Wiggins: 3rd season as Alabama WR coach (1st as assistant head coach), no head coaching experience
Both NFL assistants with a background at Florida, it is unlikely that either of them wish to make a return to the college ranks. If one were to do it, Brian Johnson would be more likely, but probably not at Florida.
Dan Quinn: 1st season as Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator, six seasons as Atlanta Falcons head coach, 43-42 record
Brian Johnson: 1st season as Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach, no head coaching experience
Bob Stoops: 18 years as head coach at Oklahoma, 190-48 career record
Head Coach Hire Tiers
Tier One: Home Run Hires
Mario Cristobal: Head Coach, Oregon
Billy Napier: Head Coach, Louisiana
Luke Fickell: Head Coach, Cincinnati
Tier Two: Good Hires
Dave Aranda: Head Coach, Baylor
Lane Kiffin: Head Coach, Ole Miss
Tier Three: Decent Hires
Mark Stoops: Head Coach, Kentucky
Bob Stoops: Retired, Former Head Coach, Oklahoma
Tier Four: Shaky Hires
James Franklin: Head Coach, Penn State
Jamey Chadwell: Head Coach, Coastal Carolina
Dave Clawson: Head Coach, Wake Forest
Bill O’Brien: Offensive Coordinator, Alabama
Matt Campbell: Head Coach, Iowa State
Tier Five: Bad Hires
Jeff Hafley: Head Coach, Boston College
Dan Quinn: Defensive Coordinator, Dallas Cowboys
Mike Elko: Defensive Coordinator, Texas A&M
Todd Monken: Offensive Coordinator, Georgia
Pete Golding: Defensive Coordinator, Alabama
Dan Lanning: Defensive Coordinator, Georgia
Brian Johnson: Quarterbacks Coach, Philadelphia Eagles
The Gators had a close loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide, 31 to 29. Florida missed an extra point, and then subsequently had to go for two. If they had simply made both extra points, they would have been tied. Obviously, other factors led to the loss. Most notably, giving up 21 points in the first quarter. After that, the defense really tightened up significantly. Alabama finished the game averaging just 6.9 yards per pass attempt and 3.3 yards per carry. Florida’s offense also ran for 245 yards on 43 carries for an average of 5.7 yards per carry, which is extremely impressive against Alabama. However, they threw for just 195 yards. That is not a recipe for winning, especially when you go down big early. The absence of Anthony Richardson, who looks to be back for this game, was a big factor in their struggles. Richardson provides a much higher level downfield passing game than Emory Jones.
What to Watch
Florida’s Quarterback Rotation
With Anthony Richardson expected to be fully available for this game, it will be very interesting to see how often Dan Mullen uses him. Throughout the first two games of the season, Richardson looked like the better quarterback. Emory Jones played well against the Crimson Tide, but struggles with ball placement leave concerns about whether or not he is the answer at quarterback. Richardson gives an added dynamic as a passer while also being a superior running threat. Richardson has the skill to eventually overtake Jones if Mullen sees fit, and a game against an inferior opponent is the perfect opportunity to test it out.
Florida’s Run Defense
Florida has yet to give up more than the 3.3 yards per carry average in a game that they gave up to Alabama. The Gators will looks to continue this trend in this game. Tennessee’s top two running backs from last year transferred out, and they haven’t had the same level of talent come in to replace them. The Gator defense is still without linebacker Ventrell Miler, but played well despite not having him last week. The defensive line is very deep, and has three studs along it in Zach Carter, Brenton Cox Jr, and Gervon Dexter. They are a threat to any offensive line. The Gator’s will look to have to stop a running quarterback as well this week.
Keys to Success
Emory Jones has thrown at least one interception in every game so far this year. That has to stop, or he simply cannot play anymore. If the Gators can not turn the ball over, they are a superior team in terms of talent, and can rely on that to easily win this game. Turnovers in small numbers could be overcome in this one, but is something they really need to focus on going forward.
Corner Two Play
Again, if this is one of their few issues, they can still probably win this game. However, to be totally effective as a defense both in this game and going forward, they must get solid play out of whoever is corner two. My favorite for the position is Jason Marshall, who as a freshman has flashed his skill and athleticism, but lacks much consistency in his play. If he can prove to be a consistent player in this one, he can win the job going forward. If they do get good play out of corner two, they can shut down any and all hopes of offense from the Volunteers.
The Gators have dominated everyone they have faced on the ground offensively. They have a large stable of talented running backs, and a powerfully built offensive line that is best going forward. The quarterbacks both are tremendous runners. Anthony Richardson being back adds explosion in the running game. Jones, is a consistent runner who is good on read options. Having a backfield made up of Dameon Pierce, Malik Davis, Nayquan Wright, and Demarkus Bowman is just downright unnecessary. If they can continue their previous performances, they will be able to control time of possession and dominate both field position and on the scoreboard.
Gators 45 – Volunteers 24
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