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Prodigal U

A certain Governor had two flagship universities. And the lesser of them said to his Governor, ‘Governor, give me the portion of the Permanent University Fund that falls to me, and allow me to seek football fame and glory in the SEC.’

And not many days after, the lesser university gathered all its regents and coaches and athletes together, journeyed to the southeast, and there wasted its TV revenues with prodigal living and street agents. But when it had spent all, there arose a severe campaign to punish cheating in that conference, and it began to be in want of victories and bowl appearances. Then it went and joined itself to the commissioner of that conference, and he sent it into his fields to play with swine. And the lesser university would gladly have served its boosters with the lowly bowl revenues that the Razorbacks harvested, and no one gave it anything.

But when the lesser university came to itself, it said, ‘How many of my Governor’s non-BCS universities have wins and bowl revenues to spare, and we perish with mediocrity! We will arise and go to our Governor, and will say to him, “Governor, we are no longer worthy to be called your university. Make us like one of your non-BCS universities that gets to play the Longhorns.”’

And it arose and came to its Governor. But when it was still a great way off, its Governor saw it and had compassion. And the lesser university said to him, ‘Governor, we are no longer worthy to be called your university.’

But the Governor said to his other universities, ‘Bring out the band and play a fight song for it, and put intra-state games on its schedules. And bring the fatted turkey here and kill it, and let us eat and play a football game on Thanksgiving; for this my university was lost and is found.’

Now the Governor’s greatest university was in the field winning championships with nice kids who graduate. And as it came and drew near to the Governor’s mansion, it heard that annoying fight song and chanting. So it called one of the non-BCS universities and asked what these things meant. And it heard it said, ‘Your little brother has come home, and the Governor has killed the fatted turkey and plans for you to play it in football.’

But the greatest university was angry and would not play on Thanksgiving Day. Therefore the Governor came out and pleaded with it. So it answered and said to its Governor, ‘Lo, these many years we have been giving pride to your citizens, winning championships with nice kids who graduate; we never transgressed against the commandments of the NCAA at any time. But as soon as this university of yours came, who has devoured your endowment with rented players and street agents, you killed the fatted turkey for it and scheduled me to play it on Thanksgiving.’

And the Governor said to the greatest university, ‘All that this great state of Texas has is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your little brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’

Let’s be realistic

The University of Texas has no leverage over the Aggies to make them join the PAC 16. The A&M System’s Chancellor, a veteran of the second Alamo, knows where Governor Perry has skeletons buried that are not former mascots. If he wants to make his legacy getting out from big brother’s shadow, he will get his way.

Texas is rightly perceived as the more powerful of the two. Therefore, in the eyes of state legislators, the Longhorns are solely responsible for the fate of Texas Tech. In this matter, serving the best interests of the state is not A&M’s responsibility to bear.

Keeping Oklahoma is the key

I feel dirty for writing that. In all previous posts, I have lobbied for a scenario where our annual neutral site scrum with the land thieves would become a non-conference soirée. Now, it seems that the Aggies have played their hand and hope to lure the Sooners to join them, not just in their hatred of all things orange but also in union with like-minded universities that seek football glory above the esteem of academic peers.

Most insiders expect OU to stay the course and stay close to Texas. Sooners aren’t smarter than Aggies, just less prideful. They count real wins, not moral victories. They also know how to count greenbacks, which in the long term will be more plentiful if they work with the Longhorns off the field and maintain the rivalry on it.

Should Sooners be tempted, hold Cowboys hostage

If Oklahoma keeps its pledge of solidarity, Oklahoma State will have a seat when the realignment song stops playing. Oklahoma legislators will have two BCS conference schools and be thankful they’re not Kansans. Should Oklahoma falter, Texas should play hard ball. Offer to join the SEC provided that Texas Tech is invited, bringing that conference to 16 teams and makes all of Texas SEC country. OSU would lose its PAC 12 invite, as they will invite Utah and close shop. Blame for the demise of the Cowboys would fall squarely on the shoulders of the Sooners, who would have turned down the offer in hand that would have kept OSU in the bigs.

Hopefully that nightmarish scenario will not play out. An 8-team SEC West with Texas, A&M, OU, Tech, LSU, Arkansas, Ole Miss and MSU would be brutal to navigate when 10-win seasons are the mark of a down year. It’s not the company our great university would prefer to keep, but if we must, so be it.

Rivalry games are $acred

Forget about the schedule boycott. That will last until next spring’s Legislature meets to hash out university appropriations in a tough budget environment. Regardless of conference affiliations, not playing a game that has been played for over 100 years and brings national TV exposure to the two universities and the state is not an option. If Deloss Dodds insists, he will be given a new set of golf clubs and a lot of time to use them.

Let’s not hurt ourselves just to punish the Aggies. We need that game just as much as they do. We are a partner in two of the top 15 rivalries in all of college football. That fact contributes to the brand value of Longhorn football. We would be less valuable for TV contracts if we didn’t play these games.

It’s acceptable for one, but not both, of our key rivalries to become nonconference games. If A&M goes SEC, our Thanksgiving game is no different than the rivalry week games between Florida and FSU, Georgia and G-Tech, or Clemson and South Carolina. But if OU also went SEC, we would need to either join them in the SEC or drop one of them from the schedule. To be clear, this is the only scenario where I would be in favor of joining the SEC.

Heaven forbid it should come to pass.