Well, it looks like the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma will be moving to the Southeastern Conference. I think it’s bad for football. I think it’s bad for the State of Texas, which has found itself a more balanced recruiting ground since Texas A&M left for the SEC several years ago. I think it’s bad for football to create a sixteen-team superconference. I think it’s bad for smaller market schools like Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and Texas Christian University because none of those schools has the economic and legislative power that UT has. I think it’s especially bad for Oklahoma State, which will no longer have a true in-state rival. I think this is a bad look for UT because it looks like, regardless of what the actual facts are, that they have sucked in the Big 12 for the past few years and are chasing the school they claimed they didn’t need anymore (Texas A&M) to a conference in an effort to save face with the sports world and Longhorn boosters. I think this whole thing reeks of conspiracy because A&M was intentionally left out of the negotiations because people in the Big 12 and SEC knew the Aggies would not like the move.
But ultimately I don’t really care about any of that, and here’s why.
This Whole Thing Sucks
I graduated from Texas A&M in 2011. In 2011, A&M and UT were both Big 12 schools with a long rivalry that predates Woodrow Wilson’s presidential administration. The Thanksgiving Day/Thanksgiving weekend football game between the Aggies and Longhorns was something I truly loved, regardless of the outcome, which is probably good because the Longhorns won more of those than the Aggies did and I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it if the outcome was the only thing that mattered. Then A&M did something that I still disagree with: they left the Big 12 for the SEC. There was talk about making the A&M brand it’s own thing and moving away from the ties to UT, but ultimately I think it was a myopic move that was motivated solely by money.
And it’s a shame. All of my friends from both A&M and UT miss that rivalry. I miss the joking and the good-natured ribbing. I miss being at Kyle Field on Thanksgiving evening and watching two teams that were so, so determined to beat the other that no matter the disparity in skill the game normally ended up being a close one.
But it happened and the opinion of one alum behind a computer didn’t matter any more then than it does now. And the same thing goes for the UT/OU move to the SEC. I don’t like it, I know plenty of Longhorns who don’t like it, I know plenty of Sooners who don’t like it, and I know a whole host of Red Raiders, Bear, Cowboys, Horned Frogs, and even a few Cougars and Owls that don’t like it. UT is being vilified with some justification on this whole deal, but it doesn’t matter because money is the motivator and the best thing we can do as football fans, alumni, and humans is adapt to the inevitable in this situation.
Personally, I think A&M has a real opportunity here, provided they can muster the stones to take advantage.
No Time Like the Future
The best thing A&M can do here is just say, “bring it on.” People are up in arms that the Longhorns have done some shady stuff to basically get rid of a slight recruiting deficit, and, again, I agree that this whole situation stinks. But why doesn’t A&M just nut up and tell the UT boosters, coaches, and recruits to do their best and then settle it on the field. A&M has a great opportunity to put a chip on its shoulder and do everything they can to financially and reputationally maim the Texas Longhorns. Will it be easy? Hell no, it will not be easy. But is it doable?
I think so. I think A&M can say that they are the veteran SEC school and that they won’t have the same growing pains UT likely will. A&M can also say bad things about UT to recruits now. “Hey, I know you’re considering UT, but just think about how they had to tuck their tail between their legs and move conferences without telling anyone just because they’re scared we’ll take more of their players. Don’t go play for cowards, come play for Aggies.” It doesn’t matter how true that is, it only matters that it might motivate the right players to make the right moves and come to A&M with the preconceived hatred of UT sports that fits in so well in College Station. This is A&M’s chance to act nonchalant about UT’s actions and go out and kick their ass at every opportunity.
By throwing a fit, A&M is playing directly into the historically false stereotype (promulgated UT) that A&M is some sort of step-child school that will always be the Meg Griffin of big time Texas colleges. What A&M should do is welcome the challenge as an opportunity to prove that the tables have turned and that A&M is decidedly equal if not downright better than UT. [I feel I must make it very plain at this point that I have nothing against UT. I have Longhorns in my family, lots of Longhorn friends, and I sincerely believe it’s a great school. This whole thing pertains solely to athletics and athletic recruiting.] This is Texas, so why not act like cowboys and tell UT to be outside the saloon at high noon with a loaded pistol and boots fit to walk ten paces?
And if the whole deal ends up falling through? Then we just go back to existing how we have been. But if this deal goes through, and it seems to be a sure thing at this point, then A&M better be prepared to put every available resource into recruiting and grabbing UT by the short and curlies.
A Message for the Aggies
For the second time in my life, I feel like broadcasting a message to every fellow Texas A&M alumnus: Don’t get mad, just win. Accept the challenges we have been given here. I know the instinct will be to bitch and moan, and go ahead and do that at home if it makes you feel better. But outwardly it’s time to sack up and take the fight to UT since they insisted on following A&M to the SEC. We can all complain, and we have every right to, but complaining without action is the course of actions for cowards and simpletons. If we’re going to complain, the least we can do is go out there and try to change the tide back to our favor. When I was at A&M, there was a big deal about being the leaders of tomorrow. Well, leaders adapt to adversity and figure out how to make it an advantage. Now is our school’s chance to be a leader in that way. Plus, at least the War Hymn will make a little more sense now that the horns will be in need of sawing once again.
A Message for the Longhorns
Y’all, I’m looking forward to the Thanksgiving game again. Be ready, because A&M is going to be ready and pissed off.