UT accepting SEC invitation caps 7 amazing months for Texas athletics

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Chris Del Conte holds up the Hook’em sign at a news conference where he was introduced at the new vice president and athletics director for the University of Texas, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two days into 2021, there was a huge change in the Texas Longhorns athletic department when head football coach Tom Herman was fired in the morning, and Steve Sarkisian was hired that afternoon.

That, however, was just the start of one of the most amazing stretches in the school’s athletic history.

In March, Texas won its first-ever Big 12 Conference men’s basketball tournament, only to be shocked by Abilene Christian in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Eight days later, head coach Shaka Smart did something that rarely happens — he left Texas for another job — becoming the head coach at Marquette. On April 1, Texas was able to pry one of the hottest names in coaching, Chris Beard, away from Texas Tech to return to his alma mater.

In the middle of all that, the Longhorns men’s swimming team won its 15th national championship under head coach Eddie Reese, then just days later, Reese announced his retirement. But it didn’t last long and Reese was back as head coach July 1.

Then the real shocker came. On July 21, the Houston Chronicle reported that Texas and Oklahoma were beginning the steps to join the Southeastern Conference. Five days later, the two schools informed the Big 12 that they would not extend their grant of media rights when it expires in 2025.

Not even a week after the initial report on July 27, the schools then sent their request seeking an invitation to join the SEC. The 14 SEC schools voted unanimously Thursday to accept Texas and Oklahoma into the conference, and on Friday morning the UT System Board of Regents voted to officially join the SEC effective July 1, 2025. Oklahoma’s Board of Regents is expected to do the same on Friday.

Now is when it gets even more interesting. How long will Texas and Oklahoma actually compete in the Big 12? It’s not likely for four more years. One thing is certain — this will be a most interesting and hostile Big 12 football season, and the irony is that the Texas-OU game in Dallas on Oct. 9 might be the most cordial conference atmosphere the Longhorns face away from home based on the hard feelings the remaining schools carry for this move.

Texas opens practice under Sarkisian on Aug. 6.

TEXAS FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

  • Sept. 4 vs Louisiana, 3:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 11 at Arkansas, 6 p.m.
  • Sept. 18 vs Rice, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 25 vs Texas Tech
  • Oct. 2 at TCU
  • Oct. 9 vs Oklahoma in Dallas, Red River Rivalry
  • Oct. 16 vs Oklahoma State
  • Oct. 30 at Baylor
  • Nov. 6 at Iowa State
  • Nov. 13 vs Kansas
  • Nov. 20 at West Virginia
  • Nov. 26 vs Kansas State

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