Realignment - Texas May Get What It Asks For

As the realignment story hits a stalemate, it's becoming clear that there's more going on than just Baylor threatening to sue the SEC. While OU looks west and Texas is looking everywhere else, it's apparent that neither school has a perfect landing spot and Texas is wondering where to go with heavy LHN in tow. David Sandhop discusses his opinion on the matter.

Some of the articles from A&M sites and national bloggers and pundits coming out regarding realignment in recent days as if there's been some eureka moment that "Hey, Texas is in a tough spot here" is rather amusing.

I talked about the potential problems Texas had with realignment back in July. It's simple common sense what is happening. As I said many times before, what made Texas a premiere collegiate brand was their unique position of having two nationally-regarded rivals that produce two nationally-marketable games a year in the state of Texas. Texas can be a .500 team, but a lot of people across the country still want to watch the Red River Rivalry. The Cotton Bowl will always be filled to the hilt because if you are a Texas or OU fan, that's' where you go in October. It's a rite of passage.

Same for Texas and Texas A&M. It's a annual ritual to play on Thanksgiving in front of a national audience. It's a marquee match-up of the lone star state's two marquee state universities. Families set their turkey day schedule around that game.

Programs around the nation have one of these games. Ohio State has Michigan. USC has Notre Dame. Auburn has Alabama. You get the point. But Texas is unique that they have two of these games, and when you mix that in with the incredible resources of the program and the recent string of double digit season wins and a national championship, it creates a very strong brand...one that Texas decided to capitalize on, come hell or high water.

In the process, Texas has chased off one of its highly marketable opponents Texas A&M (regardless of what jilted Texas fans say, this is a big game for them). Now, they are on the verge of losing marketable opponent No. 2 in Oklahoma. And as I said several times before, Texas will find out eventually when they are playing a conference game in Boston in mid-November, that they will miss A&M and OU more than they will ever know. First of all, the fanbase won't have those rivalry games to rally around. You won't see it in the first few years when playing in the ACC or the Big Ten is still new, but eventually the excitement of that schedule will subside (especially if they go to the ACC). Where will the football rivalries come from....Boston College, NC State, Duke, Georgia Tech? Uh, no. Florida State is a possibility, but they already have Florida and Miami as in-state rivals. Do they have room for a new rival 1000 miles away?

On the other hand, Texas A&M's move to the SEC is a natural fit with natural rivals. For you newcomers that haven't experienced Death Valley, trust me you'll learn to hate those drunk cajuns when the first Jack Daniels bottle whizzes right by your head in the stadium, or the chants of "Tiger bait, Tiger bait!" as you walk by each and every tailgate party. You'll quickly learn to hate LSU, and for most Houstonians, the cajuns are only 4.5 hours down I-10.

Then you have the historical rivalry of Arkansas, and there's all of the historical connections with Alabama. Basically, there's a lot for Aggie fans to get excited about on the schedule and we haven't even discussed playing between the hedges or at the Swamp in Gainesville. Meanwhile, the Longhorns will trade barbs with Cliff Clavin and Norm in Boston, or they will swarm the Rice-like crowds at Duke or fill the half-empty stadiums at UNC, Maryland, and NC State.

Oh please go to the ACC. The poetic justice here is that the Longhorns are willfully going down this road simply to keep the Longhorn Network and its 10,000 viewers. Watching the big dog walking the plank with a smile on its face oblivious of what their actions will do to weaken its brand is priceless.

At least in the Big Ten, there's the potential of establishing some big games in big game environments with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State. If they add Notre Dame, that's a pretty decent schedule. However, their conference partners are all 1000-1400 miles away. The geography is going to be taxing, and with most of these other rust belt schools already with established rivalries, is there room for a Longhorn rivalry somewhere? And the biggest point here, if Texas somehow lands in the Big Ten, they will lose what that program cherishes the most...power. On any conference issue, Texas will be the outsider. There are 11 rust belt schools...and that school all by its lonesome down in Texas. Politically, Texas will be impotent in that conference, and ultimately that's something that Texas just can't stand. Having to do what others tell you to do is not in the Longhorns' vernacular. When the new car smell wears off, the Longhorns will be miserable because they will no longer be able to pull the strings. As soon as President Powers signs on the dotted line, Texas will no longer be the big fish in a small pond. They will be the lone wolf without any prey.

If they go to the ACC, they will likely retain more power, but there's still the bad football and weak programs that will produce a very boring schedule and a boring game day environment. It also produces games with limited national appeal. I'm telling you, if Aggie fans feel like it's Christmas Day as the dawn of joining the SEC is near, just think what it will be like if OU goes to the Pac-12 and Texas goes to the ACC...how about a Mardi Gras Christmas with Jessica Alba as Santa Claus coming down the chimney ready to kiss all Aggies under the mistletoe.

Regardless of whether Texas lands in the Big Ten, ACC, or even the Pac-12, all options are geographically and culturally challenging, and that will open up the door for the Aggies to take advantage in recruiting. Texas prospects in the eastern third of the state will associate more closely with the SEC than they will with any other conference if and when the Big 12 collapses.

Texas will be OK. It's not like they will collapse. They will find an adequate home if not a good home (Big 10), but make no mistake that the Longhorns have no remaining options that will make its brand stronger in the state of Texas. In fact, it will be weakened. Why? No rivals. Everything else is noise.


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