Has Texas Overplayed Its Hand?

A little over a year ago, when I started participating discussing realignment theories and conspiracies with other realignment geeks on Frank The Tank's blog, one argument I would see fairly regularly was that Texas sought conference domination more than anything else.

Texas, these posters would argue, didn't care about seeking out a conference of fellow athletic or academic heavyweights. Instead, Texas sought to create and control what would be in essence a Texas & The Seven Dwarfs Conference, one which Texas could dominate not only on the field with regularity but in the conference boardroom as well. An ugly conference to pretty much any fan and supporter of the University but one which would guarantee that Texas, Inc. could continue to fill its coffers.

I usually dismissed these posters without so much as a counter-argument, since they always seems vehemently anti-Texas in their outlooks to begin with, and this theory simply fit in with their worldview of Texas being the center of All Things Evil in the world of college athletics.

But were they right after all? I'm beginning to wonder. Or, in the alternate, is a Seven Dwarf Conference what Texas will be stuck with if it continues to overplay its hand?

There's little need for me to regurgitate what's going on, as it's been posted and reposted repeatedly in recent days.  Yes, A&M is going to the SEC, even though the threat of litigation by one or or more of the Dwarfs might slow that process down a bit.  There's no conceivable way it can stop it, though, in my estimation.

And now, if multiple media reports (i,e, not just Chip Brown & His Merry Band Of Rumor Mongers) are to believed, OU (with OSU in tow)  is dead-set upon moving to the Pac-Whatever as quickly as possible.  Most observers tend to believe that the forward-thinking Larry Scott will accept the Oklahoma two-step regardless of whether Texas comes along. An OU move makes sense for all the same reasons I and others have advocated a Texas move to the Big 10 or Pac-Whatever: simplistically: an academic upgrade, an athletic upgrade, a monetary upgrade -- what's not to like?

And if that happens, Texas will have three choices: join another conference (presumably the Pac-16 or, increasingly discussed, the ACC), go independent, or make due with a preposterously-weakened Big 12, which would be down to seven members before adding any replacements.  (And anyone who thinks BYU, the only attractive school even remotely on the board, would join that version of the Big 12 automatically flunks his or her Realignment 101. Houston will become the Best Available School.  Think about that.  Houston.  The best available school.)

Now I should point out, as I have on a couple of occasions, that events have been playing out in the sequence which would be required in a very well-coordinated Good Cop/Bad Cop routine between Texas and Oklahoma (or even Texas, OU and A&M) if the Powers That Be at each institution (pun intended) decided that they needed to leave the Big 12 and all of its Dwarfs (Baylor) behind.  In this scenario, Texas cannot, for political reasons, make the first move to shed Baylor.  It can only do so if, somehow, no other options remain for the school, and OU's departure after an A&M departure does seem to leave us with no other option but to leave, if one were to look at this rationally.

But I'm never one to wear the tinfoil cap for too long, and, realistically, the chances of this being a well-coordinated move between Texas and OU are slim.  (And God bless President Powers if he has to appear before the Legislature to defend such a conspiracy if it were in fact true and news of it leaked . . . like it inevitably would.)

If that's the case, then we are left looking at this hard truth: Texas completely controlled the realignment game last year. This year, Texas has lost control of the process.

Last year, Texas didn't have to do a damn thing. It had a plethora of options, and ultimately chose that which made the most sense for the university: stay right where it was.

This year, though, Texas doesn't have that luxury. Texas has lost control. Events have spun out of control to the point at which Texas will have to move to the Pac-16 or ACC, despite its reluctance to, since neither independence nor the Seven Dwarfs Conference seem to be realistic options.

Unless . . . unless . . . unless Texas is in control.  It's hard to imagine Dodds and Powers allowing themselves to be boxed into a choice between unpalatable options . . . unless one of those options pretty much all of us would agree is unpalatable, the Seven Dwarfs option, is in fact what they want.  Oh, sure, they'd rather have OU in the conference than outside it, but at the end of the day, they've seen the projections, and the money-making prospects of the LHN trump any other considerations.  We'd go Pac-16 if we could keep the LHN as-is, but that's not going to happen.  And, maybe, Dodds and Powers don't care, because the LHN is going to make us money whether we're hanging out with USC, Stanford and OU or with Baylor, Kansas State and Houston.

But Kansas State will kiss the ring.  David Boren won't.

That would be the worst of all possible solutions from pretty much any perspective short of a sheer monetary one.

Please, please tell me that's not what is going on here.

In sum: Don't fuck this up, Texas.

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