Report of Sooners, Longhorns reaching out to SEC hijacks Media Days event

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Jul. 22—HOOVER, Ala. — Texas A&M football coach Jimbo Fisher was at the podium Wednesday afternoon at SEC Media Days when he was asked about a Houston Chronicle report that Texas and Oklahoma had reached out to the Southeastern Conference about joining the league.

"I bet they would," Fisher responded.

The Chronicle report put the media in Media Days, upstaging a third day at the Wynfrey Hotel that led with defending national champion Alabama and also included Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Texas A&M. The newspaper cited an anonymous college official who claimed that an announcement could transpire as early as next month, with the bombshell followed by statements from the two longtime football powers that have combined for 10 Associated Press national championships.

Neither statement came across as overly strong.

"Speculation always swirls around collegiate athletics," a Texas spokesman said in a statement. "We will not address rumors or speculation."

Said Oklahoma in its statement: "The college athletics landscape is shifting constantly. We don't address every anonymous rumor."

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey was surrounded by reporters on radio row following the report and quickly said, "We're talking the 2021 season," before hurrying away.

Texas A&M and Missouri became the SEC's 13th and 14th members before the 2012 football season, having left their respective spots in the Big 12. The additions were the first for the SEC since Arkansas and South Carolina joined before the 1991-92 basketball season and the 1992 football season.

"The reason why we left the Big 12 back in 2011 and started July 1, 2012, was that we wanted to have a stand-alone identity in the state of Texas," Aggies athletic director Ross Bjork told the SEC Network. "The SEC has been a perfect fit for us, and we believe that we want to maintain that same identity."

Since Texas A&M joined the SEC, the Aggies have watched Alabama claim six Western Division football titles, Auburn two and LSU one. Texas A&M went 6-2 in SEC play during its inaugural season and was 8-1 last year but went 28-28 during the seven seasons in between.

"Be careful what you ask for if you jump into this league," Fisher told the SEC Network.

Missouri won SEC East titles in the 2013-14 seasons but lost to Auburn and Alabama in those league championship games.

Multiple media outlets reported Wednesday that Texas and Oklahoma signed an agreement with the Big 12 in which the conference has their first- and second-tier media rights in football and in men's basketball through June 2025.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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