The University of Texas System Board of Regents officially accepted the SEC's invitation Friday morning, making the Longhorns officially SEC members effective July 2025.
The team will be making the switch from the Big 12 conference alongside Oklahoma after their media rights expire with the conference in 2025, though both teams are likely to petition to join earlier.
UT President Jay Hartzell said at the Friday meeting that the team looked across the country for a new fit in the ever-changing world of collegiate football.
"Collegiate athletics is changing rapidly whether any of us wants it to or not," Hartzell said. "Issues such as name, image and likeness; declining cable television subscriptions; college football playoff expansion; the transfer portal; and the impact of a global pandemic on sports, just to name a few, have proved that a transformation in collegiate athletics is happening around us... this is the right decision at the right time for the future of our UT athletics programs."
Word first spread that the team would be defecting from the Big 12 on Thursday, July 22, when the Houston Chronicle broke a report that university officials had been speaking with higher-ups in the SEC. In a weeklong flurry of events, Texas chose not to pursue their media rights on Monday, sent an official request on Tuesday and received a formal invitation from the SEC following a unanimous decision on Thursday afternoon.
The 16-team SEC will become the NCAA's first and largest superleague and will host some of the biggest names in collegiate football. Meanwhile, the BIg 12 is likely to drag their feet as they struggle to maintain relevance without the two rivals.
The new landscape and map of the @SEC will take some time to get used to. pic.twitter.com/81EeYBNlhH
— Alex Cooper (@SECGeographer) July 30, 2021
In the meeting, UT Vice President and Director of Athletics Chris Del Conte thanked the Big 12 after over 25 years with the program.
"We shouldn't go forward without appreciating where we've been and where we are," Del Conte said. "We've had so many great experiences and memories and will continue to engage in competition and work with many great colleagues in our league going forward through our contract that runs until 2025. I personally have made many great friendships in the Big 12. I have respect, admiration, and appreciation for them. I look forward to continuing that."
The SEC move will promote old rivalries, including storied nemesis Texas A&M. The Aggies were hesitant at the idea at first but have since warmed to their fellow Texas team. Hartzell said that the move will both boost rivalries and help bring more opportunities to Longhorn athletes.
"The reasons are many: the stability and strength of the league and its leadership, the level of visibility for our student athletes, some of the toughest athletic competition, and exciting stadiums that are similar in capacity and attendance to ours," Hartzell said. "It should also be noted that this move allows us to protect and rekindle some key rivalries, including the chance to regularly compete with the University of Oklahoma, University of Arkansas, and Texas A&M University."
The monumental decision is officially set in stone, but Texas will continue to suit up for more Big 12 action in the fall as the first Longhorn football game is set for Sept. 4.
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After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.