Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby revealed Wednesday that he felt a sense of "personal betrayal" over Texas and Oklahoma leaving the conference.
“Being, to use your term pissed off about it, I can’t allow myself that,” Bowlsby told the Austin American-Statesman. “I have to get over the sense of personal betrayal and do what’s necessary for our eight continuing members. And that’s what we did.”
Texas and Oklahoma plan to join the SEC in 2025, a move that shook the Big 12 to its core and briefly caused concern over the conference's future.
Bowlsby instead went to work saving the conference, adding BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF—strong schools that nevertheless lack the national cache of Texas and Oklahoma.
The Red River rivals have been the backbone of the Big 12 since its inception in 1996. Bowlsby said neither school has given a reason for its departure.
“You’ll have to ask them that,” Bowlsby said. “I’ve asked repeatedly, and they never made us aware of any concerns in advance. When we’ve asked the question since then, we’ve gotten no response.”
The answer, of course, seems to be pretty clear: money. The SEC is one of the top football conferences in the nation. It is set to make $300 million per year in rights fees from ESPN beginning in 2024, with each member of the conference expected to receive around $68 million annually.
Texas and Oklahoma are also set to rake in millions of dollars in additional revenue by making the move, along with creating the single greatest football superconference the sport has ever seen.
It's hard to imagine a scenario where the Big 12 could have offered a similar package and enticed Oklahoma and Texas into sticking around.