Friday, November 25, 2011

Goodbye Texas

Something happened yesterday that maybe only people in the Southwest are concerned about, but it bothered me.

The University of Texas Longhorns played what might be their last game ever against the Texas A&M Aggies. The two teams played last night for the 118th time. It was a legendary matchup that had spanned generations. Now, it will be over as Texas A&M moves to switch conferences and will leave the Big 12 and play in the Southeastern Conference with Alabama, Auburn, LSU and the others starting next year.

Texas A&M is running away at high speed from the situation in the Big 12. They are not the only ones. Nebraska left last year to go to the Big Ten Conference, and Colorado left to go to the Pac-12. Missouri is leaving to go to the SEC next year, also.

Oklahoma-Nebraska was another legendary matchup that won't happen anymore.
Missouri had played Kansas for 119 years. Their rivalry was so intense it was called the "Border War", based on historical feelings about confrontations that happened between those states during the Civil War. That rivalry disappears as Missouri leaves for the SEC next year.

I like history, and I think this long term history disappearing over money is a terrible thing for our culture.

The blame can be laid directly at the feet of the University of Texas.

Successful, competitive football conferences use the NFL model and equally share revenues, guaranteeing all teams a chance to be competitive. Texas, because of its size and importance, didn't like to play by those rules. The weak little sisters of the Big 12 like Iowa State and Baylor had to take their lumps on the field... and a smaller share of revenue. It guaranteed that top teams like Texas and Oklahoma would always be on top.

Eventually, a few teams got smart and decided to leave. In 2010 and in 2011, there was a crisis as the Big 12 almost caved in, with multiple schools looking for another conference home.

Eventually, the conference may have been saved as Texas eventually gave in to equal revenue sharing... but it may be too late. The conference was badly wounded by the departure of four quality schools.

I wish this whole can of worms had never opened up. Many fans across the nation will miss these historic rivalries, which will probably never return.

I think college sports is worse off for all of this.