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Bill Byrne, meet King Pyrrhus

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(Note: Most of this post started as a reply to a jackass commenter in the thread below Scipio's epic Longhorn Network article, but Sailor wanted to share it with some of our Aggie friends on the eve of our final season together. It's aimed at morons, so guys like Kilgore and ColoradoAg - please don't take offense).

As we stand on the threshold of yet another glorious college football season (or have already started it, depending on your views of the legitimacy of contests like Wisconsin-UNLV), all true fans are stirred by the reawakening of glorious tradition. From marching bands and turning leaves to boot flasks and slutty coeds, traditions make college football unique among American sports.

Few college traditions are as enduring as that of the Aggie Moral Victory. To hear many - both the insecure-Ag archetype and some bizarre non-affiliated mouth breathers who've stopped by BC late - their SEC-ession stands as the greatest Moral Victory of all time. First, it pulls them from a shameful existence in the shadow of Big Brother and sets them up for decades of reflected glory as...well...the little brother of a LOT of schools who are COLLECTIVELY THE GREATEST FORCE IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL HISTORY WHOOP!

Second, and far more importantly to those of this mindset, is the way that this move is seen to stick it to mean ol' t.u. While 2012 sees the Aggies embark on a future full of roses and rimjobs as they cheer on their SEC overlords to BCS victory, the hated Longhorns will be banished to the Tartarus of a diminished Big XII - doomed to limp along for eternity in a second-class conference as the Longhorn Network hangs as an albatross about their neck, forever barring them from entry into the hallowed halls of the Pac-12 or Big 10. Reflected glory for A&M, gloom and doom for Texas and no mention of any actual on-field success - has the concept of Aggie Moral Victory finally achieved apotheosis?

Mayhaps we need to tap the breaks just a lil' bit.

Those of us fortunate enough to have attended a credible institution of higher learning are able to process abstract concepts such as "long-term strategic planning" and "Mayan calendars aside, college football will not end after 2012." As Texans, we also tend to be a hospitable bunch and extend courtesy to our guests, even those who blatantly lack advantages such as the one just discussed. In that spirit, I’ll endeavor to explain Texas’ long term strategic thinking simply, and using small words, so we can clear up the confusion these fine folks seem to be experiencing.

Texas is good.

Texas is, and will be, one of college football’s absolute elite brands.

Texas is not married to the long-term viability (OK, this one is tough, but it basically means ‘how good they will do’) of the Big XII.

These facts mean that Texas has an array (that means ‘lots’) of attractive options available to it in terms of its long-term athletic affiliations ('who you play sports with').

Superconferences are inevitable.

One of these will be in the West, evolving from the Pac-12. One will be in the Southeast, evolving from the SEC. One will be in the North/Northeast, evolving from the Big Ten. There will be one or two more, the makeup of which are much more speculative at this point.

Every one of these entities will want Texas to join them.

Texas is very unlikely to choose the SEC because they cheat and are, on average, pretty stupid.

Texas may go West. Geographic (think maps) and program prestige realities mean that there is only one program that can help the Pac-16 not sit third for the next 20 years behind the Big 16 and Super-SEC in terms of prestige, cachet and the attendant TV dollars. That program is Texas. The Pac folks will not squander this opportunity because they don’t like the Longhorn Network. The exact ‘why’ of this starts to get slightly abstract, but sum it up with ‘the people in charge have two brain cells to rub together.’

Texas may go North/Northeast. If both Texas and Notre Dame join the Big 16, they will be on at least equal footing with the Super-SEC over the same time frame. The Big folks will not squander this opportunity because they don’t like the Longhorn Network. Same reason as above.

Texas may decide to be the centerpiece of the fourth superconference. This would likely include programs with nationwide brands like BYU and Notre Dame with several other cherry-picked upper-tier programs and the requisite lower-tier geographic throw-ins endemic to every conference. Think this conference will have a problem with the Longhorn Network?

To sum up, Texas good. Longhorn Network good for Texas because of $ and brand building. Texas does not value the opinions of the people who are upset about it. Texas’ many, many advantages will put it in a very favorable situation for its interests in the long term, and if that means riding out a couple of years of a substandard conference while the moves are being made then so be it.

Does that help? Good.

While there is no dissuading many Ags that this is a day of victory, it's worth considering that there are victories and then there are victories. If I may be permitted to go old-school for a moment, my homeboy Plutarch had this to say after King Pyrrhus of Epirus defeated the Romans in 279 BC:

The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war.

Will future college football historians read a similar account of the Aggies' 'victory' in the generations yet to come?

The programs separated; and, it is said, Byrne replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the tradition that defined his program, and almost all his support among the home state; his new conference mates swiftly purchased those he sought to recruit, and he found the confederates in the Deep South backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Longhorn camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with vast riches and five-star freshmen, not at all giving a flying fuck for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to never schedule those morons again.
Only time will tell.