In addition to an increasingly ignorable Red McCombs, add the name of Longhorns alum and Texas governor Greg Abbott to the list of influential forces advocating for the Big 12 to add the Houston Cougars during the conference’s next round of expansion:
Given that Ann Richards helped ensure the Baylor Bears made it into the Big 12 following the dissolution of the Southwest Conference, it’s difficult to completely dismiss Abbott’s potential influence on the process.
However, it is reasonable to question his motivations given this piece of information:
Houston super booster Tilman Fertitta gave $150k to Greg Abbott's campaign for Texas governor in 2014. In case you were wondering.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) July 21, 2016
So the Texas governor is now making his presence felt in a conference expansion scenario, perhaps in part because he received a large campaign donation from the school in question’s largest donor.
Yup, that’s about business as usual in the Lone Star State.
Fertita has already made his feelings known about the situation, loudly advocating for Houston’s inclusion in the Big 12 by calling Texas scared and stating that he believes Cougar High belongs playing Texas and TCU and Baylor.
There is actually some thought that Fertitta could be right about that first claim, even if the second is rather laughable:
#Houston's an interesting fit for Big12 but some FB staffs would hate to have UH on same stage BC it'd become MUCH tougher to recruit there— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) July 19, 2016
The Texas side, of course, denies that it would block Houston for that reason.
Even in a scenario in which money and the willingness of expansion candidates to give up any hope of having a full share of revenue money from the Big 12, the recruiting issues aren’t the biggest knock against Houston.
Simply put, the biggest knock against Houston is everything, as Scipio Tex lays out at Barking Carnival:
Long championed by parochial hoopleheads who can’t distinguish a coach who will be gone in two years from lasting program infrastructure (how did that Baylor-Briles thing work out? In fact, how did that Houston-Briles thing work out?), the Cougars are a commuter school with an indifferent fanbase set in a city that looks to Caracas for its zoning laws and Bangladesh for its climate. The conceit that they deliver the Houston media market is amusing and last year’s BCS team played to rowdy crowds of empty seats in a 40,000 seat stadium.
Their main appeal seems to be to folks who don’t understand how or why someone would wish to expand their conference. Given the Big 12’s track record, that means I can only favor their chances if they expand to 14.
Red still doesn’t get it and neither does Abbott, apparently, but presumably the conference as a whole knows better. Well, maybe that’s a bad assumption, so maybe the better way to put this is that McCombs and Abbott stumping for the Cougars still isn’t likely to be enough to land that coveted invite.
Even with a lot of money attached.