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.

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

  1. Linkmeister says:

    Mr. Starr might want to read Taylor Branch’s article in The Atlantic about the sham that collegiate athletics have become, nearly since the day they were invented.

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