Why Nick Saban had Texas football in his brain before Longhorns even joined the SEC

Nick Saban praised Texas football after the Longhorns pushed Alabama to their limit last September.

“It’s like playing an SEC game on the road,” Saban said after Crimson Tide’s 20-19 breakout in Austin.

Months later, Texas remained in Saban’s brain. This time, it was not UT’s football performance but rather its finances that caught his eye.

“The way Southern Cal, Texas and Texas A&M spend money…what are you willing to spend?” Saban thought aloud at the SEC’s spring meetings.

Alabama can’t afford to spend like Texas. Hardly any school can.

Texas and Oklahoma will begin competing in the SEC in 2024. Financially, they are well positioned to transition to a conference that performs like a heavyweight on the field and at the cash register.

The annual earnings of OU athletics over the past few years resemble that of an SEC school like Auburn, Florida, or LSU. And Texas remains among the wealthiest athletic departments in the NCAA.

Texas, for the fiscal year ending June 2022, ranked No. 2 nationally in total operating revenue and total operating expenses among public institutions, according to data compiled by USA TODAY. Sports in partnership with the Knight-Newhouse Data Project at Syracuse University. The annual database released Wednesday.

Texas trailed only Ohio State in revenue and spending, but the Buckeyes fund 33 NCAA sports, compared to 20 sports in Texas.

The Longhorns win big, they spend big, and unlike their inconsistent football performance since their team won the national championship in 2005, Texas is an unbroken financial juggernaut.

Subscribe to SEC Football Unfiltered
iTunes | Google Play | Spotify

Since USA TODAY began charting athletics finances in 2005, Texas has ranked No. 1 or No. 2 nationally among public schools in operating revenue in every year except two – 2020 and 2021. COVID has affected finances in those years, but Texas has returned to its cash-generating means.

Texas’ 2022 revenue of $239.3 million topped the top-grossing SEC (Alabama) school by nearly $25 million. Among its huge numbers, Texas brought in $74.9 million in contributions (#1 nationally) and $57.5 million in ticket sales (#2 nationally).

See Texas make money. See Texas spending money.

Texas’ total operating expenses ($225.2 million) exceeded Alabama’s by nearly $30 million.

Only Ohio State and LSU spent more than Texas on coaching salaries for 2022, and UT ranked fourth in administrative and support staff spending.

Deep-pocketed athletic departments enjoy a leg up on the poor. Texas won the Learfield Directors’ Cup in 2021 and 22 for athletic performance at all levels.

Now, more than ever, dollars are influencing college sports. From 2021, athletes are allowed to profit from their fame and talents through NIL agreements. A sports department cannot fund NIL agreements directly, but school-associated collectives are a major player in NIL.

Collectives pool the resources of fans and boosters. It’s reasonable to think that a program whose fans and boosters historically elevate it to a high is also likely to gain an edge in collective NIL fundraising.

The SEC invites the cash cows of the Big 12

No Big 12 school other than Texas and OU ranked in the top 30 nationally for 2022 operating revenue. are ranked in the top 12 nationally in each of the past 14 years.

The Big 12 average revenue distribution per school had been several million less than the SEC average distribution. Thanks to new media rights deals, the SEC and Big Ten are poised to forge ahead financially.

TOPPMEYER: UAB’s Trent Dilfer gives NIL refreshing break with selfish coaches

Texas is reaping the rewards of the ESPN-operated Longhorn Network, which launched in 2011 and generates an average annual fee of $15 million for UT. The network will go out of business when Texas leaves the Big 12, but both Texas and Oklahoma should get a seat at the SEC’s revenue-sharing table in the long run.

In other words, Oklahoma and Texas should remain SEC revenue giants.

How income translates to football success

All that money does not guarantee success. Over the past 10 seasons, Texas’ record is lower than Missouri’s.

Texas A&M, like Texas, is a revenue titan, but the Aggies’ last national football championship was in 1939. Nonetheless, the Aggies’ conference record in the SEC is higher than their Big 12 record, which makes it a precedent as well-heeled. program that increased performance after a conference change.

SEC TIMETABLE: 15 SEC football games I want to see on the 2024 record, aside from obvious rivalries | Toppmeyer

Texas is widely considered a sleeping giant in college football. The Longhorns’ internal scouting base is an advantage. As well as their finances. High earnings contribute to the success of football.

No school ranked in the bottom five for 2022 revenue among the SEC’s 13 public schools has won an SEC championship in football.

Beginning with the Texas National Championship in 2005, nearly all FBS champions have come from an athletic department whose operating revenue has ranked in the top 16 nationally among public institutions in the fiscal year during where he won the national title. Clemson is the exception. His track and field earnings ranked 26th and 22nd respectively when his 2016 and 2018 teams won the national championship.

In the past 15 years, no amount of funding has brought Texas football to the elite level of the SEC. Still, Bevo rents space in Saban’s mind. Texas dollars can make ‘Horns a threat to the establishment of the SEC.

Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC columnist for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at BToppmeyer@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer.

If you enjoy Blake’s cover, consider a digital subscription which will allow you to access all of this. Also discover his podcast, SEC Football Unfilteredor access exclusive columns via the SEC unfiltered.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Why Texas Football is on Nick Saban’s mind. Hint: Longhorns make the bank

Leave a Comment