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UT Killing the Big 12?

The end of the Big 12 has been predicted with Texas A&M’s expected departure from the conference, but they are not the real culprits.

The possible end of the Big 12 is due to one school, but not the one that has been receiving all the press about leaving the conference. No, the real culprit to demise of the conference is the arch rival of the Aggies, the Texas Longhorns.

Whether or not the Aggies leave will not have that much of an effect; the school will simply invite other schools to join. Likely candidates would be other colleges in Texas, namely the Houston Cougars and SMU Mustangs.  It would not be surprising to see the Rice Owls get an invitation as well.

There are plenty of schools currently in smaller conferences that would love to reap the benefits of belonging to a major conference like the Big 12. However, regardless of what the Aggies do schools may be reluctant to join for the same reason the Aggies are leaving—the Texas Longhorns.

The argument is not as petty as it sounds. There is more to it than the Aggies being mad at the Longhorns because they have a network now and they don’t.

When the conference almost folded a year earlier when a number of schools were looking to jump ship (and two did, Colorado and Nebraska), the schools stayed under the belief that the conference was going to be more profitable in the near future.

Had the network been a conference wide one like the Big Ten, the rewards could have been enjoyed by all. Instead the Longhorns went ahead with plans for their own network.

To be fair, the move was a great business decision by the University. The Texas Longhorns are one of the more popular and well known college teams in the nation. Giving fans a bigger platform to enjoy sports and activities from the school is almost guaranteed to be a hit.

Had the Longhorn Network not tried to get greedy, the whole controversy might not exist.

Broadcasting high school games has been the point that many schools like Texas A&M has had a problem with. The reason is pretty simple—the Longhorns will have an obvious recruiting advantage.

“I understand networks such as FSN and ESPN airing high school sports, but whether or not employees under contract with a university that may have additional contact would seem to be an issue,” Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne.

Rather than try to calm the waters, the Longhorns have been pressing forward with their intent to broadcast high school games. They’ll have to hold off for now after being told by the NCAA they cannot. A permanent ruling is expected in six to nine months.

So how are the Longhorns to blame for the demise of the Big 12?

Texas had a chance to work with the rest of the conference, but did not. Instead they set themselves up in a position where they will be financially secure for years to come. While some of the other schools in the Big 12 may need the conference connection, the Longhorns do not.

They would probably be more profitable as an independent.

The Longhorns have done a tremendous job of looking out for number one, but when you are part of a collective (like a conference) that does not work which leads to the possibility that becoming an independent might have been their plan all along.

When Texas strikes out on its own, A&M will surely follow. With those two gone, other schools are likely to jump ship as well, and all because the Longhorns were too busy looking out for themselves.


Illustration by Mike Fisher - Express-News.



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