Saturday, May 13, 2017

How Oklahoma Can Leave Big 12 Now, Despite Grant of Rights

Paul Finebaum, college football's resident SEC expert and no nothing about just about anything else, has stirred the Big 12 destruction pot once again in the last week by claiming that Oklahoma is searching desperately for a way out of the Big 12, with all signs indicating interest in joining the SEC. I don't always agree with Finebaum, and many don't, but in this case, I absolutely agree that nothing has changed from the last several months, and that the Big 12 is absolutely heading for complete destruction, and that destruction will hurtle towards a fiery demise with the immediate departure of the Sooners.
There has been some unstable peace in the Big 12, but let's be serious, nothing has really changed in the fortunes of the conference other than they have added a title game with a ten team structure. By the way, this was a title game that many in the league never wanted in the first place, and Bob Stoops has been very clear about that mindset for a long while now. There is no movement in the expansion market, and Texas still has their own sweetheart deal outside of the conference structure with the Longhorn network.
Oklahoma may very well want out sooner than later, and that part sounds true when you ask around and read between lines. The issue that many people are bringing about is one of the Big 12 Grant of Rights deal that prevents any team from leaving the conference without paying exorbitant fees to do so. That may not be so much of a problem if events unfold as many have seen them doing. The current Grant of Rights deal runs through 2021, meaning that if OU wanted to leave without a fee, in practice, they would have to wait five years to do so. The Sooners will likely not have to do this at all, even if they left tonight.
The way this works is that there is a clause in the Grant of Rights deal that strictly states that should a majority of members leave within a prescribed period of time of each other, that time frame being loosely 12 months, the Grant of Rights deal dies with the league. Not one member that leaves the league, if a majority of members follow suit, would owe the remaining members not one cent.
Will this happen? You can bet your sensible stetson it would. If Oklahoma leaves the Big 12 for the SEC, or PAC-12, or Big 10, as has been rumored in every mentioned conference listed, The Sooners would be required to take a partner with them in all cases. That partner would naturally be Oklahoma State, as the state legislature, and more importantly T. Boone Pickens, would never sit still for the Sooners leaving OSU behind. Now the Big 12 is down to eight members. The latest round of rumors states that Kansas, TCU, Texas Tech, and Texas, would all  receive an automatic invite from either the Big 10 or the PAC-12, if OU and OSU go to the SEC. That leaves the league with just four members, and there you have your majority, and the GRant of Rights fees are dead in the water. Baylor, Kansas State, Iowa State, and West Virgnia are on the outside looking in, but we all know that West Virginia would likely take an invite with the ACC over night.
How realistic is this scenario? Eventually, very much so, and I would say that in five years, it is a certainty that this scenario plays out, but does it play out sooner? Well, that is all up to OU, OSU, and who offers the best deal. The reality is that this is coming like a freight train at some point of time, and the leftover programs had better start looking out for themselves in a hurry.

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