FORT WORTH, Texas — Sure, more than 100 years of tradition should stand for something, but, obviously, that’s so yesterday in today’s suddenly lethal college athletic environment.
Tradition? Money talks. Tradition staggers out the back door, mortally wounded.
Still, however, I have to ask this:
Is nothing scared?
Has the time really come for Texas and Texas A&M to go their separate ways when it comes to conference brotherhood?
Listen to me here, Aggies. I say no. Hell no.
Former Students, here’s my sermon, and yes, even you, Gene Stallings (one of my all-time heroes), please listen, if for nothing else, because over half of the Aggie War Hymn — the best fight song in the world — is about hating the Longhorns.
Hullabaloo, caneck, caneck would really confuse ’em in places like Oxford, Miss.
Nobody expected the Big 12 to fall this fast. Frankly, I didn’t think it would fall. Beat me, whip me. I was wrong.
But there does seem to be a rather orderly process involved in what now has to be the next step. These schools here will go in this conference here.
That would be, of course, an expanded Pac-10, with an eastern division that would keep great regional rivalries together because the schools involved included, by design, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M, plus I can’t dismiss Texas Tech. The hate in Lubbock for both Texas and A&M is richly immense and entertaining.
But then late last week, out of nowhere, at least a certain segment of powerful Aggie voices balked. Not just Mr. Stallings, either. Many powerful Ags suddenly made the SEC a defiant rallying point. Split from Texas, they say, and go SEC, where an invitation is waiting.
This personal disclaimer:
I have no stake in this dispute. Do have a daughter who graduated from Texas A&M, but she married a graduate of the University of Texas. So that evens that particular playing field.
As someone who has watched this rivalry for over 50 years, I’m just saying these are two schools, maybe more than any two schools in any state in the country, that should always remain tied to their rivalry roots.
And that means tied together within a conference, because that’s the lifeblood of not all, but most great rivalries.
Granted, I understand the views of those Aggies who are “damn tired” (as one Former Student described it Friday) of being perceived as a House Boy for DeLoss Dodds, the very aggressive Texas AD.
Certainly, what’s best for Dodds may not be best for A&M, yet a dislike for Dodds is also not a reason to overreact. As Jerry Jones, a noted philosopher and financial wizard, told me years ago: Always keep your powder dry. Never let your money get mad.
Many Ags are currently guilty of both sins.
Besides, who sez the SEC is a better fit for the Aggies than the new partnership in the Pac 10-16?
Is it geography?
No, because the Aggies would still be playing yearly against Texas, Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Many critics continue to say this Pac-16 is about constantly playing teams in faraway foreign countries like Oregon. No, and no. That’s not true.
A newspaper friend of mine from down the road, Kevin Sherrington, last week interviewed Frank Broyles, who as AD at Arkansas engineered in 1990 the Hogs’ jump from the old Southwest Conference to the SEC.
Broyles rehashed his reasons, gave the current plus factors, but his last words should hit home with every Aggie mulling over this current situation:
“We don’t have a rivalry,” Frank said, describing his biggest regret.
Twenty years later, and the Hogs still don’t have a hatefest of a rivalry with an SEC foe. Nothing, of course, even remotely akin to what it once was with Texas. In Arkansas, they attempt to manufacture an LSU rivalry, but the LSU people laugh it off.
Again, a beloved hatefest just doesn’t magically happen, such as A&M vs. Arkansas in a new SEC. As Broyles said, it hurts that 20 years later his Razorbacks simply don’t have one.
Hold on, Former Students. I’m not finished.
Next, let’s hear from Tommy Tuberville, the new head coach at Texas Tech, and a veteran of the SEC football wars. Plus, Tuberville is Arkansas bred and raised. He knows the territory.
“It’s never been the same (for the Razorbacks) since they left the SWC, and it will never be the same,” said Tommy. “They didn’t just leave the conference, they left their recruiting base in Texas. When the move happened, it took away their presence in Texas, and took away their rivalries in Texas. That was critical.”
Took away their rivalries in Texas. OK, let’s talk next about recruiting, because many Aggies have a theory that by separating from UT, it can open up a whole new campaign for the Aggies, such as:
Recruits can be sold on the SEC as a neighborly fit while the Longhorns have to peddle the Pac-Whatever Conference.
There’s some truth there. Maybe an advantage happens initially. But in the long run, no way. Because if the Aggies join up, the entire SEC gets a recruiting foothold in Texas that it doesn’t now have.
An LSU will cherry-pick, an Arkansas gets a few, but for the most part, the SEC is rather light on prized Lone Star State players. You think Nick Saban doesn’t want to change that?
So any advantage the Aggies might initially enjoy, in the long run their biggest competition for recruits who like the SEC will be, yes, other SEC schools. A lot would have to change on the field in College Station for A&M to win that fight against a Saban or LSU.
Aggies, see Oklahoma here. Notice how cool and quiet the OU folks have been throughout this process. The Sooners could go to the SEC in a second, but they know.
Know it would peel back Texas for an SEC invasion, and the Sooners can’t survive without Texas recruits.
As all you dissident Aggies will admit, Oklahoma detests DeLoss Dodds and UT every bit as much as you. But the Okie powder stays dry. The money isn’t mad. If they have to play House Boy for now, it’s for a greater good later — kicking Texas butt in the Pac-Whatever with state of Texas recruits.
Another current Aggie theory:
Oh, well, we could go SEC and still play hated TU every Thanksgiving.
Uh, nope. The Austin boys have let it be known the series is over if the Aggies aren’t with them.
Sure, it’s chicken-spit. But it’s also a good power play. Dodds means it. The rivalry would be dead. Who wants that? Who wants to totally rewrite the War Hymn?
As a neutral observer, I’m just telling you, Aggies, don’t be tempted by the SEC snake. Go with the Pacific flow. It’s good. All will be well.
Want more college football? Check out the Sunday Journal’s College football extra in today’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.
Randy Galloway/Forth Worth Star-Telegram (MCT)