KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Bob Bowlsby this week questioned the reasoning of Texas and Oklahoma departing the Big 12 for the SEC to the point of calling the decision "silly," citing several reasons. The Big 12 commissioner made the comments in an exclusive interview with CBS Sports during Big 12 basketball media day.
Bowlsby suggested the two powerhouses leaving his league will create competitive issues in the SEC.
"Their chances [to advance to the College Football Playoff] are better coming through the Big 12," he said. "That's a silly part of it. It's not very much money [difference], and competitively, they've got a better path [in the Big 12]. It makes no sense."
It does make sense to project Oklahoma will have a difficult time winning six consecutive league titles in the SEC like it has done in the Big 12. It will be equally difficult for Texas to rekindle past glory as the Longhorns have not won a conference title since 2009.
Bowlsby was told a discussion about Texas and Oklahoma actually becoming more successful in the SEC hasn't been mentioned much since the programs were accepted into the conference.
"Maybe it's a story that needs to be written," Bowlsby responded. "If it's not about the money and it's not and not about competitiveness, what's it about? I haven't gotten any answers about that."
The Big 12 certainly doesn't have the same lineup of football powers as the SEC. Oklahoma has dominated the Big 12 to the point that the Sooners have been the only team from the league to reach the College Football Playoff in its existence, making the four-team field over four of the last seven seasons.
The Big 12 prides itself on its true round-robin schedule. Meanwhile, in the SEC, it can take more than a decade for all the members to play one another. The SEC has sent a member in the CFP each season, winning four national championships, including the last two.
Bowlsby revealed that, in the early years of the CFP, the other four Power Five leagues kicked in an extra $1 million ($4 million total) to the SEC "because of their historical value that they brought."
That payment has since been phased out, he said.
Texas earns north of $50 million in its current Big 12 media revenue deal when adding its annual $15 million income from the Longhorn Network. Oklahoma is at least close to that mark considering its separate deal with Bally's.
That is in the ballpark of what they will earn annually -- at least initially -- when they migrate to the SEC. The SEC begins a new 10-year contract with ESPN in 2024.
Bowlsby also pushed back assertions that ESPN's decision not to renegotiate the Big 12's current media rights contract led to the decision by Texas and Oklahoma. That story was broken by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in May. Bowlsby told CBS Sports at the time that such requests are made frequently, and it wasn't necessarily a concern that ESPN rejected the conference's overtures to renegotiate before their deal expires in 2025.
"That's what's so silly," Bowlsby said. "… It's [ESPN's] prerogative to say they think it's too early to start negotiating. They didn't say they didn't want to be our partner. They didn't say our value was going to go down. They didn't say anything derogatory about it at all."
Six days after news initially broke on July 21 that Texas and Oklahoma were planning to leave the Big 12, the programs said they would not extend their grant of rights beyond 2025 when that current contract expires with ESPN and Fox. Grant of rights deals allow conferences to control television revenue for their members. If a team or teams leave before the contract is up, the league still maintains those rights.
That is part of the reason Texas and Oklahoma have pledged to stay in the Big 12 for the remaining four years of the TV deal. Bowlsby reiterated that his conference intends to hold the programs to that contract.
Asked about rumors he demanded Big 12 schools extend their grant of rights agreements beyond 2025, Bowlsby had a simple response: "Bullshit."
Bowlsby understands why the Big 12 wasn't invited to the three-conference alliance formed by the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 over the summer. For the moment, the three leagues plan to play nonconference games against each other while perhaps creating stand-alone, neutral-site basketball events.
Those conference commissioners have also made veiled comments about uniting against the SEC's growing power with the addition of Texas and Oklahoma.
"I understand why they didn't have us be a part of it," Bowlsby said. "They're concerned about antitrust considerations circling around the SEC. The other reason is we're losing members, and we weren't in a position to make a commitment."
The Big Ten and Pac-12, at least, are considering playing one less conference game (dropping from nine to eight) to improve their schedule strengths with more high-profile nonconference games.
"Conference content is always going to be better than nonconference contest," Bowlsby said. "That's a decision we're going to have to make [in the new 12-team Big 12]. But the Pac-12 going to eight games is crazy. They're not going to get nonconference games that are as good as their league games."
To combat the departures of Texas and Oklahoma, the Big 12 is bringing in Cincinnati, Houston and UCF from the American.
Bowlsby remains unconcerned about his league retaining Power Five status in realignment. In the current configuration, the major conferences hold that distinction as they hold a collection of the game's best football brands. They also have autonomy voting designation (weighted voting) in NCAA governance.
"There is no such thing as a Power Five," Bowlsby said. "[The media] likes 'Power Five'. We don't really ever use the 'Power Five'."
Power Five status for the Big 12 could eventually be defined when it's time to divide revenue for the expanded College Football PLayoff. Will the Big 12 -- without Texas and Oklahoma -- get a full share, same as the rest of the Power Five leagues, or will they have to share in the lump sum awarded to the Group of Five conferences?
"Revenue sharing is going to be an issue at some point in time," Bowlsby admitted.