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Ten years after Texas A&M University announced it was leaving the Big 12 and joining the Southeastern Conference (SEC) with no intervention or public scorn from Texas lawmakers, the Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick, appointed a Senate Select Committee on the Future of College Sports in Texas to hear testimony on the impact of The University of Texas’ (UT) decision to leave the tenuous ten-team conference led by scorned Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. This, a show of force by a self-proclaimed conservative state government, not even two weeks after the leak from the Aggies to the Houston Chronicle’s TAMU sports beat reporter about the former rival’s rumored move.
The alma maters of committee members span Texas but most noticeably the ire toward Texas’ decision was fired from Baylor, Texas Christian University and Texas Tech alum and their respective representatives. While the Chair, Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), and Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston), publicly commented that college athletics would not be intertwined with state funding decisions for UT, Senators Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and Brian Birdwell (R-Waco), along with State Representative Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), were unequivocal in their disdain for the Texas flagship’s decision and that funding implications would be entertained in future Legislative Sessions.
Notably, asked to testify but declined, was Texas A&M University.
Complaints from the remaining Big 12 schools and their legislators ranged from acting in secrecy and complete betrayal to their brothers, diminishing local revenue from losing powerhouse schools playing in their communities, harming bond ratings necessary to build infrastructure to their now inability to become Tier 1 research institutions and recruit top students and athletes. Who knew the Texas Longhorns' athletic program had so much power? Power to shutdown emerging universities and small towns across Texas with one decision.
The irony is these same lawmakers run on platforms and pass laws to ensure less government intervention. Protesting the freedom of personal responsibility and championing capitalism to allow those who work hard to succeed and not be held back to a common denominator. Yet, they are asking the State’s one and only Constitutionally deemed university of excellence to stray from a clear business decision, that doesn’t violate any law or rule, they believe most prudent in light of the changing collegiate athletic landscape to preserve their own future.
The Texas Legislature cannot stop UT from joining the SEC but after today’s theater, it is clear some will dangle the small portion of state funds appropriated relative to the total $3B annual UT operating budget in front of them as a threat to coerce their behavior moving forward.
Since we have the luxury of Monday morning quarterbacking and hypocrisy is all too common in politics to serve one’s self-interest and preservation, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see recent patterns of government overreach into local and institutional decisions. COVID-19 infection rates in Texas are soaring to previous deadly surge levels but local schools, public health systems, cities and counties have their hands tied behind their backs by the state and are prohibited from implementing public health measures that could save lives in their communities. Moreover, the Legislature squandered a 140-day Legislative Session that the public expected would result in meaningful power grid and supply reform to ensure millions of Texans have access to electricity and clean water unlike they did for weeks in February. But the Legislature didn’t and won’t – and, that is okay because they need to protect those free-market energy companies that fund their reelection coffers instead of 30M Texans.
Started Tuesday at 02:53 AM
On Saturday, the Longhorns were able to land a commitment from 2022 4-Star EDGE Derrick Brown. Today, our Devon Messinger discusses Brown's talents and what he will bring to the Texas Longhorns football program.
Started Saturday at 06:03 PM
Texas leaving the Big 12 Conference for greener pastures was always a possibility. All one needs to do is look back to the realignment discussion in 2011.
At that time there were talks of the Pac-10 adding the likes of Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Colorado. While most of those teams stayed put, Colorado made the jump along with Utah, and joined the Pac 10, molding what is now the modern-day Pac-12.
Texas A&M joined the Southeastern Conference (SEC), as did Missouri, and Nebraska trended North and joined the Big-10.
The shuffling left the Big 12 with many questions regarding the future of the conference, but the Longhorns didn't stew too long. To the chagrin of others, Texas secured its golden goose, the Longhorn Network, substantially increasing revenue and making it more palatable to remain a Big 12 member.
West Virginia and TCU were added, bringing the school count to ten. But Oklahoma and Texas held the cards and the conference alive with brands that were appealing.
The informal assumption was that Texas would eventually join the Pac-12 as the school's profile fit the Pac-12's academic profile more so than that of the SEC.
When Bret Zwerneman's Houston Chronicle article dropped last week reporting that Texas and Oklahoma had expressed interest in joining the SEC, it was a surprise to many. But the move makes a lot of sense.
The new leadership at Texas in President Jay Hartzell, Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Eltife and Athetic Director Chris Del Conte is the biggest reason the move to the SEC should come as no surprise. The priority the triumvirate is placing on the athletic programs at The University is unparalleled and unprecedented.
Firing head coach Tom Herman during a global pandemic when budget cuts were enacted and paying Herman's $25 million buyout showed they didn’t care about optics. Many administrations would have saved that money after a 7-3 season, especially given the country's state of economic turmoil. Texas cares about it's brand and reinvigorating the program's blue-blood status, and the move to the SEC is what's best for both.
The move undoubtedly makes the path to the College Football Playoff more challenging, but that's precisely what the Longhorns need. Texas has been called soft, entitled and second-best in the Big 12 for many years. The hope is that in a new conference, that stigma is erased on the field. Saturday competition will be fierce week-in and week-out, and fellow blue-bloods will push Texas both on the field in the trenches of recruiting battles.
Rivalries will be renewed, with the Longhorns picking back up games against Texas A&M and former Southwest Conference foe Arkansas. They also keep the Red River Shootout game against the Sooners.
Texas is the biggest brand in college sports from a revenue perspective, and the SEC is the best conference in college sports. The revenue share SEC teams will enjoy by adding Texas and Oklahoma will rise from 44 million to roughly 60 million per year. That's a win-win for everyone involved.
Joining the SEC will craft a different roster for the Longhorns, as they will receive commitments from players that otherwise wouldn't pull the trigger to play in the Big 12. One of the biggest recruiting sells against Texas was the conference they played in.
That will no longer be a sales pitch.
There are no more excuses for Texas to lose the in-state recruiting battles and for placing a mediocre product on the field.
Started July 27
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