No matter where you are on this ever changing, wildly uncertain, mildly entertaining ride we call college football expansion, we all eventually get off on the same stop and stare.
That day is today—at the corner of burnt orange and karma.
There, hat in hand, is Texas. The big and bold Longhorns—the strongest brand in college football today—are scouring for crumbs with the ACC.
It’s just so undeniably fitting, is it not?
They started this mess last year, you know. Got together with ESPN and the combination of two mammoth egos could only mean one thing: a gigantic mess.
“It’s unthinkable how the tables have turned,” said one BCS athletic director.
From everyone following lockstep and bowing to the Texas iron fist in the Big 12, to whistling through the graveyard in the ACC. All in one short year.
Texas will have you believe the ACC is the perfect fit.
Texas will have you believe it’s about academics, not athletics.
Texas will have you believe that it didn’t blow up the Big 12, and that the perpetually average ACC is just as good as the Big 12—which is merely second only to the SEC in on-field performance since its inaugural season in 1996.
Just like Texas will have you believe that everyone in the Big 12 knew of the inner workings of the Longhorn Network, so why in the world is everyone so upset about it now?
Meanwhile, that’s Texas A&M applying for membership to the SEC. That’s Oklahoma, ironing out the details of moving west to join the Pac-12—a move that makes absolutely no geographical sense until you take into consideration the distance it puts between the Sooners and Longhorns.
That’s OU coach Bob Stoops stating, matter-of-factly, that losing the classic Texas-Oklahoma rivalry won’t be such a bad thing. And that’s Texas A&M officials intimating that losing the Texas rivalry may just be the price of joining the best conference in college football.
Are we all beginning to get a clear picture of life in the Big 12 over the last two decades? Are we beginning to understand why college football is days or weeks away from Armageddon?
“We are on the verge,” said Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart, “of unprecedented change.”
Nebraska saw it first in the summer of 2010, and left for the Big Ten. Then again, Tom Osborne knew it all along. At some point, the Texas ego would black hole everyone.
It was Osborne who was the lone public voice of displeasure back in the 1990s, when the Big Eight absorbed teams from the troubled Southwest Conference during the evolution of the Big 12—yet all the league power moved south. Even the league offices were moved from Kansas City to Dallas.
“We were, in essence, saving them,” Osborne told me earlier this summer. “That certainly was a thorn of sorts that never really went away.”
And this is what the ACC wants?
It was hard enough to invite Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College in the early 2000s, with some longtime basketball coaches and administrators having to be dragged into the 21st Century. There still are hard feelings about the last ACC expansion, especially considering the limited impact it had on the ACC’s football standing—and the zero impact it had on the league’s storied basketball history.
Now throw We’re Texas And You’re Not into that mix. Watch Texas make millions upon millions with its Longhorn Network, and eventually suck the very life out of the league.
For those who believe that Texas, Virginia Tech, Miami and Florida State could eventually develop into an SEC-type foursome, we give you this: Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Nebraska were there before you.
Now one team is playing in the Big Ten, one is headed for the SEC, and one has its sights on the Pac-12.
And one is standing on the corner of burnt orange and karma.
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