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SWC

Shunning A&M

It’s not just the UT-A&M football game that’s on the endangered list.

The SEC-bound Aggies have said they’d love to keep playing UT as a non-conference foe, but Longhorns athletic director DeLoss Dodds has said the school’s football schedule is full at least through 2018. That isn’t the case for all sports, but so far A&M has come up dry in scheduling future contests of any sort with UT.

“There doesn’t seem to be nearly as much interest from the other side,” A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said Monday.

[…]

Byrne has instructed his coaches to contact their UT counterparts about scheduling future non-conference games – with no luck to date.

“I reached out about four weeks ago to Texas and emailed and said we’d love to keep the series going,” A&M soccer coach G. Guerrieri said. “I haven’t heard back.”

A&M baseball coach Rob Childress said he and UT counterpart Augie Garrido have yet to discuss whether to continue playing as non-conference foes.

I’d speculated about this before, and I can’t say I’m surprised to see UT give A&M a cold shoulder. There’s no real incentive for them to do otherwise. The question now is whether any other Texas-based school will follow the Longhorns’ lead. At least one so far seems to be doing so.

As for the Aggies perhaps playing another soon-to-be former Big 12 mate in Baylor, Bears athletic director Ian McCaw said via email Monday, “At this time, our future non-conference football schedules are filled through 2020. With regard to scheduling Texas A&M in other sports, it will be considered on a sport-by-sport basis.”

Anyone know what the status of future games between A&M and Texas Tech is? How about TCU, SMU, and UH? Rice has played A&M fairly regularly in baseball lately, and occasionally in basketball, but has not played them in football since the demise of the SWC. I don’t expect any changes there. Looks to me like the Aggies will be racking up the frequent flyer miles in the coming years.

It’s a little late for appeals to history and tradition

Baylor President Ken Starr takes to the op-ed pages to justify conference-blocking Texas A&M plead for keeping what’s left of the Big XII together. Which is fine and exactly what I’d be doing in his shoes given the unlikelihood of Baylor finding a conference gig as nice as the one it currently has, but for those of us who have been around for more than a few years, it gets a bit jarring at the end.

The changes that are being rumored in the landscape of collegiate athletics are breathtaking and will forever alter the proud history of college football in Texas. Such decisions should not be made in haste, and they should not be based on unsubstantiated representations of the benefits of such moves. Let us be certain that we have engaged in our deliberations those who stand to be most affected by any departure from the Big 12 – the student athletes and coaches from all sports – as part of the decision-making process. We should not reject more than 100 years of tradition handed down through the generations without a well-informed, transparent discussion that objectively evaluates all of the costs and consequences thoroughly.

Richard Justice says what needs to be said.

Why talk about traditions and all that stuff? This is about money and status. Not UH’s status. Not SMU’s status. It’s about Baylor’s status. Just tell the truth, Ken. How many people do you think you’re fooling?

When Ken Starr talks about the fabric of the state being changed, about a hundred years of rivalries being lost, about the whole thing not being as interesting or as good as it once was, he’s absolutely right. But he’s off by 16 years, and when we think back to the really important day, his school saved itself and threw TCU, UH, Rice and SMU onto the side of the road. Does Ken Starr not know the history of what happened when the Southwest Conference broke up?

Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor joined the Big 8. SMU, TCU, UH and Rice were tossed aside. Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech were easy picks. As for the other, there was no easy choice. Baylor was chosen because it had more friends in high places.

Plenty of history and tradition were lost when that happened, but because Baylor survived the cut, Baylor was fine with throwing away plenty of history and tradition. Now there’s another wave of consolidation coming, and Baylor is in a bad place.

Has no one mentioned this to Ken Starr? Doesn’t he see the hypocrisy of pleading for something his school was part of helping tear apart? Why doesn’t he just admit it’s all about his school and its money, and he doesn’t give a damn about history or rivalries or any of that? That would be the truth.

Indeed. Look, I don’t begrudge Baylor’s elevated status. I used to, but I got over it. They won the lottery in 1995, they’ve gotten to enjoy the spoils of it since then, and good for them. But let’s not pretend there’s anything noble and preservationist about what they’re doing now. The precedent about the value of tradition has been established, and Baylor was part of that. They get to live with that legacy, too.

Is the Big XII in UH’s future?

Now that we know the Big XII will survive, one question that now arises is whether it will try to replace defectors Nebraska and Colorado, and if so with which teams. Already, there’s a drumbeat for UH being included. Richard Justice runs out to the front of the parade.

The Big 12 almost certainly will add two teams at some point. It may be two years from now, maybe longer. TCU would seem to be a slam dunk for one of the invitations, and UH needs to position itself for the other.

To do so will require work on multiple fronts, to do things UH has been unable to do in the past. But this is a new era at UH.

I’ve kind of lost count of the number of New Eras there have been at UH since I came to town in 1988. I can’t help but feel like I’ve heard this all before – IF they can maintain recent success, and IF they can upgrade their facilities, and IF they can draw bigger crowds, then it will all come together. If they can in fact do these things, then UH makes some sense; there’s enough UT and A&M alums here to make Houston a part of the Big XII TV market already, so that’s not much of a factor. Let’s just say I’m not going to hold my breath on this.

UH President Dr. Renu Khator gets some space on the op-ed pages to chime in as well with a rah-rah piece for her school. I noticed that the one thing neither she nor Justice mentioned was the concept of rivalries – UH rivalries, I mean. As that was a large subject of discussion when everyone thought the Big XII was headed for the junk pile, and especially when it looked like A&M might part ways with UT, that seems a curious oversight. Not to put too fine a point on it, but UH’s biggest rival these days is Rice, whom UH would be leaving behind in this scenario. Yes, I know, UH sees UT as a rival. I have news for you: UH and UT are rivals in the same way that Rice and UT are rivals. The rivalry means a lot more to one school than it does to the other. If all that lip service to rivalries meant anything, then the UH-to-the-Big XII advocates should be calling for Rice to come along as well. As TCU is also being mentioned, bringing Rice along would give the conference 13 members, so we may as well go whole hog and grab SMU, too, to balance out TCU and get things back to an even number. And since that would make the Big XII moniker as accurate as “Big 10” and “PAC 10” are right now, a new name for it would be in order. I have a suggestion for that, too.

Anyway. If you want to see the UH thing happen, there’s a University of Houston Should Join The Big 12 Facebook group for you. There’s a similar group for TCU, too, if your tastes go that way. If you want to read more about how Dan Beebe pulled this off, read Kevin Sherrington and especially Dan Wetzel, who reminds us that this is a temporary peace. Sooner or later, something like what the PAC 10 was trying to do will come up again. Burka, the Trib, and Sean Pendergast have more.