Would TCU coming to the Big 12 made Texas A&M stay?October 12, 2011
Let’s roll back the clock about a year. Nebraska and Colorado left the Big 12 for the Big Ten and Pac-10 (errr Pac-12). To me it looked like the writing was on the wall but there was some hope that the Big 12 could survive these two defections and continue to thrive. The Big 12 had some clout. They have teams with national prominence: Texas and Oklahoma. They had a team in Texas A&M that had been a sleeping giant for over a decade and was ready to jump to life. Then there was Oklahoma State. You know, Oklahoma’s little brother. OSU was winning some prominent games and looked like they actually wanted to matter for the next few seasons. Not to mention Baylor. Yes, Baylor. Baylor, the doormat for the Big 12, just came off a 7 win regular season and bowl loss to Illinois and not to mention the fact that they have one of the most electrifying players in the entire nation in Robert Griffin III. Ok Ok, maybe Baylor “somewhat mattering” isn’t enough to have kept A&M in the conference but it’s worth a shot.
Let’s get to the real issue. The beloved Longhorn Network. The LHN has been messing things up since its inception. The biggest thing that the LHN messed up was upsetting A&M to the point that they had enough and peaced out. A&M did something that even honest UT homers would admit was a good idea. They joined the most stable and strongest conference in country. A&M saw the door open and took a chance to solidify the future of an already proud university.
Let’s imagine that the Big 12 didn’t have its head….buried in the sand last summer and had made a play for TCU at that time. I understand that the LHN is the wildcard in the whole thing and there is no way to know if A&M would have seen TCU as enough of a reason to let the actions of the network slide. You never know. But an eleven team Big 12 conference with Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Mizzou, and an upstart Baylor could have been pretty enticing. I would put that mythical 11 teams up against any conference year in and year out. I don’t think that collection of schools would have the cream of the crop to edge out the SEC but it would definitely have the depth to be a great 1A or very solid #2.
I don’t understand how the Big 12 didn’t make a strong effort for TCU last spring. Maybe they did. Maybe it was pride. Maybe the Big 12 figured that they were strong enough with 10 teams to still remain a factor. I laugh at anyone who mentions academics when talking about conference realignments. Academics have no bearing on this issue. Unless you have some professor who can give a lecture once a week where 80,000 people want to pay $75 a ticket to listen to him speak. Yeah, pretty sure that doesn’t exist. It is about one thing. The green. Football is the main bread winner for any school that plays intercollegiate athletics. It is that simple. I don’t blame A&M at all for chasing the money, it is what they had to do. I just wonder what they would have been able to put up with from Austin if TCU had been in the mix 16 months ago.