As Texas shrugs at its brothers and sisters throughout the state, and Oklahoma looks away when Oklahoma State glances its way, there is one school in this mess whose frustrations exceed that of Texas A&M.
As private schools, both TCU and Baylor are allowed to “feel what they feel,” but since neither is a state school their respective sphere of pain should not compare to the people of West Texas.
What the University of Texas is doing to Texas Tech should technically be illegal.
Spare me the excuses that the athletic departments run on separate budgets. Both of these schools receive state money, and as such Texas owed Texas Tech, and Texas A&M, transparency.
The University of Texas is not the monster it is today without the land that it owns in West Texas, and the oil and gas rights derived from those that have made the endowments at both UT and A&M among the biggest in the nation.
UT leaving the Big 12 for the SEC will devalue Texas Tech, and damage local businesses in Lubbock.
The bill is not on Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session agenda, meaning this is a toothless, empty gesture.
Abbott is just as culpable in this slimy deception along with UT President Jay Hartzell, and the entire UT board of regents.
The person who will be trotted out to take these questions will be none of those people, but rather UT athletic director Chris Del Conte. That’s part of his $1 million salary.
While UT and Oklahoma’s move to the SEC is ultimately legal, how it was executed is disgusting.
The problem is political.
Texas Tech does not have a Bob Bullock in its corner this time.
When the Southwest Conference and Big Eight talked of a merger back in the early 1990s, it was the late Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock who saved both Tech and Baylor.
According to Lubbock Avalanche-Journal columnist Don Williams, Texas A&M was considering a move to the SEC back then, too.
Bullock told Southwest Conference officials, and the powers that be at A&M and Texas, they could do what they wanted, as long as they took Tech and Baylor.
Then Texas Gov. Ann Richards was a Baylor alum, and she is the one who normally is given credit for these two schools’ inclusion into the Big 12.
In reality it was Bullock, who made it clear that if Tech and Baylor were left out there would be consequences for both Texas and Texas A&M.
Basically, he threatened to withhold state funds.
Texas Tech, Baylor and TCU had no such allies this time around, and it allowed Texas to maneuver not only unimpeded but also with an escort from the governor himself.
Technically, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby should have not only been on top of this, but also miles ahead. It’s his job to keep this conference healthy, and intact.
Instead, it will die on his watch because he was literally asleep as his conference’s two most powerful entities conspired to effectively end his league.
On the first day of Big 12 Media Days in Arlington two weeks ago, I asked him about the future of conference realignment.
Anyone who covers, or follows, college football knew it was coming; my thought was maybe the expansion of the college football playoffs would keep everything intact for another few years.
Bowlsby said, “And so a lot of the motivation for realignment is no longer there. Is that to say it couldn’t happen? No, it could possibly happen for other reasons.
“But it doesn’t appear to me that the motivation is there at this point in time. Not to say it couldn’t happen, but it’s not one of the things that keeps me up at night.”
He’s awake now, and those words will be on the gravestone to his career.
The Big 12 is currently offering deals to Texas and Oklahoma to keep this together, but the element of ESPN lurks like the grim reaper.
ESPN’s fingerprints are all over this move, and it does not want more Kansas vs. Oklahoma football games.
Texas and Oklahoma will eventually be a part of one giant college football conference that will feature Ohio State, USC, Oregon, Michigan, Alabama, Texas A&M, Wisconsin and 20 or so others. It will be the NFL’s real minor leagues.
There is no way TCU, Baylor, Wake Forest, Duke and “the others” will be a part of that equation.
That is years away, but it’s coming.
A Texas Tech was never going to be a part of that type of exclusive realignment, either. A legislature, especially one that is as pro business as Texas, is not going to stop that.
The only thing it should have mandated was transparency, because how one Texas state school is treating another should be illegal.