Texas hooking many enemies in quest to become most powerful
With dramatic power play, Longhorn Network, Texas has shaken up college sports
Much of the realignment talk and conference shuffling has ties back to Texas
Now Texas A&M is off to the SEC and conferences are continuing to reshape
The Texas-Oklahoma game, one of college football's greatest rivalries, used to be one of the high holy days of the year. The game took a back seat only to the notoriously raucous party the night before in Dallas.
"The city comes under siege of drunks, wanderers, rooters, shouters, music makers and pranksters," Dan Jenkins wrote in Sports Illustrated in 1969. "They jam side streets, thoroughfares, hotel lobbies, restaurants and bars and try to see if they can break the NCAA record for arrests.''
This week, when the neighbors meet for the 106th time in the Red River Rivalry, it might not be a bad idea for the schools to officially license Purell. Selling out should be square in the Longhorns' wheelhouse these days -- assuming the price is right and everyone else suffers financially as a result.
While "Hook'em Horns U" doesn't quite match the "Harvard of the Southwest" moniker of its fan base, Austin is still a cool place to hang. The school even has an immensely likable, very successful and universally respected coach in Mack Brown.
However, short of SMU in the '80s and the University of Miami since, has anyone done more recently to diminish the integrity of the game than the self-indulgent people who run Texas?
So we ask: Who died and made the University of Texas king of the college football universe? Who else could keep almost every other major university holding its breath waiting to see if the dominoes might start to fall and cause whole conferences to fold or endure massive realignment? How many national titles has Texas won in the last 41 years? Hint: The same number as Auburn, BYU, Clemson, Colorado, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Washington.
Perhaps, the bigger and better questions are what happened to Texas and why did it take this inexplicable path of playing Liar's Poker with longtime friends? You can isolate at least part of the problem back to January 7, 2010, in Pasadena, when Nick Saban and Alabama misread the trademark of the state's iconic anti-littering message: He seriously messed with Texas.
The Crimson Tide's 37-21 victory over the Longhorns left Texas quarterback Colt McCoy wincing in pain and Longhorns fans whimpering and whining about what might have been.
Of course, most Texans still talk about the massacre at the Alamo in 1836. Unless the NCAA can find out President General Antonio López de Santa Anna was using an ineligible soldier, it's still going down as an "L."
In June 2010, Texas was on the verge of jumping to the Pac-10 and bringing several conference members along for the ride, until the school realized it could make more money staying put and cashing in on the The Longhorn Network (which caused even more division in the Big 12; more on that later).
It nearly happened again last month. Only Texas pushed rival Oklahoma into being the frontman and taking the arrows. Finally, someone told these people where to go with their Longhorn Network since Texas officials weren't about to give it up or share the wealth.
Something else came from the first flirtation last year with the Pac-10. Texas A&M nearly did something remarkable by standing tall and telling its abusive big brother where to go. However, due to a number of factors, the Aggies blinked and at the 11th hour there was no official offer to join the SEC.
A year later, Texas A&M got its courage back and has now exited stage right, opting to make the jump to the SEC, where the Aggies will likely get trounced in a much tougher football league.
Unfortunately, since announcing the move to the SEC, Texas A&M has turned into the Boston Red Sox, blowing back-to-back games after holding leads of 17 and 18 points, respectively, most recently against their new brother, Arkansas, making it seven straight losses to SEC foes. While the Aggies may not be the sexiest girl at the SEC prom, they will at least be allowed in the front door and welcomed with a modicum of respect by their new brethren (which is more than one can say about the prospects of Missouri, whose apparent first step this week was met with a venomous reaction by SEC fans; word leaking out that Mizzou would rather go to the Big Ten didn't sit well).
One other thing that will have to change now, at least in future productions of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the wonderful book, Broadway play and later movie written by Larry L. King and Peter Masterson.
In the story, the winner of the annual battle between Texas and Texas A&M gets an added perk: a victory lap (paid for by the school boosters) to the famous bordello inspired by the real-life Chicken Ranch in La Grange, Texas.
With the Aggies set to depart the Big 12, I suppose the Longhorns will have The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas all to themselves. You might call that life imitating art.
Paul Finebaum's radio show is heard weekdays 3-7 p.m. ET on Sirius/XM Channel 91. Follow him on Twitter @finebaum.
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