Teams change conferences. It's a fact of college football life. The more football-obsessed members of the Southern Conference left to form the Southeastern Conference in the 1930s. Conference USA has had almost as many different members at one point or another (24) as years of existence (25). Forty-two schools have called themselves members of the WAC at some point, with a 43rd (Southern Utah) on the way.
Never in the history of college football conference realignment, however, has there been an earthquake the magnitude of what happened on Thursday, when the SEC announced it was officially extending invitations to Big 12 powerhouses Oklahoma and Texas.
There are still plenty of unknowns. We don't know when the Sooners and Longhorns might leave the Big 12. We don't know what the Big 12's remaining programs will do. We don't know for sure how much money will be involved in the departure, how much this superpowered SEC might rake in, or how much remaining Big 12 programs stand to lose.
We should still take the time to reflect on this moment -- what it means and, indeed, what might happen next if the Horns and Sooners are indeed bound for the SEC. Here are eight takeaways, as it relates to everything from the SEC to the Big 12 to Notre Dame and much more.
The SEC could be as strong as it's always thought it was
We've seen plenty of noteworthy moves through the years -- it's been only a decade since the Big 12's original heavyweight, Nebraska, left for the Big Ten, after all -- but this is enormous. In Oklahoma, the SEC is adding the six-time defending Big 12 champion and a team that ranks fourth in average SP+ rating over the past five years. The only way the SEC could have added a better football program than OU is if it had gone after Ohio State or Clemson.
In Texas, the SEC gets a football program that has struggled of late by its own standards. The Longhorns rank 20th in average SP+ over the past five years (behind soon-to-be-former conference mate Oklahoma State, among others), and they've finished better than 19th in the AP poll just once in the past 11 years.
That said, (a) the Horns won the Learfield Cup (awarded to the most successful overall athletic program) for the first time this school year after taking home three team national titles, and (b) their football program still ranks 20th in average SP+ over the past five years. That's not exactly horrible!
This move will give the SEC eight of the top 20 football programs, per SP+ five-year average -- No. 1 Alabama, No. 4 OU, No. 5 Georgia, No. 6 LSU, No. 9 Florida, No. 10 Auburn, No. 15 Texas A&M, No. 20 Texas -- plus another six programs (Kentucky, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee) that have ranked in the SP+ top 25 at least once in that span. Only Arkansas and Vanderbilt haven't done so, and Arkansas was 14th six years ago.