Texas and Oklahoma's move to the SEC was one of those things that we instantly knew would rearrange college sports for the next 50 years ago or longer.
To put that in perspective: A week ago today we were living our lives, and now there's talk that USC and UCLA may be targets to join the Big Ten.
Given that we're all still sorting through the earthquake of the summer, it's worth pausing and reflecting on how this story will affect the other holy-crap-is-this-really-happening? story of the summer -- the College Football Playoff's planned expansion from four teams to 12.
According to The Athletic's Stewart Mandel, Texas and OU to the SEC is very likely to slow down playoff expansion until 2025:
The CFP’s 12-year contract runs through the 2025 season, but the surprise announcement of a 12-team proposal last month led many to assume the four-team format would be blown up sooner than that. Now, momentum to make the change to the format before the contract runs out may be grinding to a halt.
Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff told the site: "Everybody who has a say should have a say, and everybody should be operating with the same information.”
To be clear, the people running the CFP never promised us the new field would start before the current contract expires after the 2025 postseason. "That will come later," CFP executive director Bill Hancock said in a June 18 teleconference when asked about moving to the new format in 2023 or 2026. "The first step is determining whether this new format is even feasible or something that the people on campus want to do. So that implementation – that important implementation matter is still to be discussed."
In short, we were a group of kids told by Mom and Dad we'd go out for ice cream after lunch or dinner and naturally assumed that meant lunch.
Again, that quote came before any of us knew the Red River rivals were on their way out of the Big 12, and well people started suggesting USC and friends become conference mates with Iowa and Rutgers. Simply put, it's going to take some time to unwind all this.
And, truth be told, slowing down is probably a good thing for everyone involved, even if it's a bummer for the pro-expansion crowd in the short term.
Pressing pause not only provides ample time for cooler heads to prevail and the realignment carousel to stop spinning, it could also make everyone involved a lot more money.
The original 12-year contract expires after the 2025 season, at which point a new, 11-game property would hit the open market. Allowing Fox, ESPN and -- who knows? -- Amazon and Apple to bid against each other only drives the price up. Perhaps someone plunks down $2 billion a year to keep all 11 games to themselves, or maybe the conferences can make more money by splitting the property up among multiple partners.
Either way, waiting three more years to take the CFP to open market gives the system a level of flexibility it wouldn't have in starting in 2023.
What is already clear, though, in Week 2 of the New Realignment Era is that anyone who was already on board with a 12-team Playoff when Texas and OU were in the Big 12 should be even more in favor today.
-- Texas, Oklahoma and the SEC likely never even discuss joining forces if not for a 12-team Playoff and the increased at-large bids the new system will provide. A 16-team SEC is likely to get four or five of the 12 bids year-in and year-out; in a 4-team field, the league is still fighting uphill to get two bids.
-- The Big 12 office is likely pitching the Remaining 8 on sticking around and expanding by arguing that their Playoff chances go up with no OU and Texas. The league as it's presently constructed would need extreme good fortune to even sniff a 4-team field. In fact, since 2014 only one team -- 2017 TCU -- has finished in the committee's top 10. But in a 12-team field where half the invitations are reserved for conference champions, the Big 12 champion still has a seat at the table.
-- The other leagues still processing their next move -- namely, the Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC and American -- can take solace in the fact that a conference championship likely reserves them one seat at the table, comforted by the fact that a 16-team SEC won't take two of the four bids should the structure remain the same.
Again, Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 likely increases guaranteed access for everyone else. The winners of six straight Big 12 titles just forfeited their de-facto auto-bid by joining the SEC. The Sooners will be annual favorites to earn an at-large bid, sure -- those at-larges were key to getting the SEC's support remember -- but if you're in the Pac-12, the Big 12 or the American, your competition to be among the top six conference champions just went down.