BIRMINGHAM — Just as Jimbo Fisher stepped to the podium at SEC Media Days on Wednesday, a surprising report dropped, and spread across the hushed rows of reporters seated at the media circus in Hoover.
It wasn’t long before it got to Fisher at the microphone.
The Houston Chronicle on Wednesday afternoon reported that Texas and Oklahoma had inquired about joining the SEC in the future, publishing the story during the ongoing press conferences at the Wynfrey Hotel.
The news seemingly caught Fisher off guard — and hit close to home back in College Station. But he only chuckled.
Texas and Oklahoma are asking about joining the conference, a reporter told him. “I bet they would,” he laughed.
Where else, and when else, than SEC Media Days?
“I don’t know. I’m just worried about A&M, you know what I mean?” Fisher went on. Texas A&M’s separation from Texas and the Big 12 famously spilled out in front of the public eye when Texas A&M left for the SEC in 2013. “Listen, we’ve got the greatest league in ball. That’s the choices they make or what they do, I don’t know, but I don’t know how I feel about it. I’m just worried about A&M. I control what I want to control here.”
SEC Media Days have run since Monday. Auburn is set to conclude the press event Thursday.
A jump for Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC would make for another seismic shift in college football, not unlike the realignment that brought Texas A&M and Missouri to the conference.
Coaches always play up their respective leagues, but Fisher’s position that the SEC is the place to be stands with merit. The SEC and ESPN announced last December a $3 billion deal paying the conference $300 million annually over 10 years to wrestle away TV rights from CBS.
Moments after stepping off the podium, Fisher joined Paul Finebaum’s broadcast from the Wynfrey.
“It’s the first time I heard it,” Fisher said. “Listen, it’s the best league in ball and I’m sure they’d like to be here, but that’s something commissioner [Greg] Sankey and them have got to gauge — if that’s something the SEC would want to do. That’s still hard to say because you’ve still got so many other conferences and other teams in that league that you’re going to leave a lot of teams out if you’ve got those teams coming in. That’ll be something for someone bigger than me to decide. I’m just glad that we’re in it and very happy we’re in the SEC.”
The hypothetical move would bring two more power programs into the conference fold, and reunite longtime rivals Texas and Texas A&M.
“Well, kind of like it always was, like it was years ago, which is when you had another one of your great rivalries,” Fisher said. “Again, we’ll have to wait and see where we’re at right now. Like I said, we’re very happy about where we’re at, I know that. We’re developing the culture and getting this program to where we think it can go. Being in the SEC, in my opinion, is a big advantage to do that.