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UT president Jay Hartzell offers official SEC move narrative to Texas Senate amidst silliness

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“Legally speaking” silently prefaced everything Hartzell said on Monday about how the Horns moving to the SEC went down. In between shenanigans.

SXSW 2009 Day 5 Photo by Steven Dewall/Redferns

Following appearances by Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and representatives from the Baylor Bears and TCU Horned Frogs at the Texas Senate on Monday, Texas Longhorns president Jay Hartzell absorbed barbs from representatives like senator Charles Perry, an Abilene native and Texas Tech alum who represents District 28, which includes Lubbock, in between fielding serious questions.

Then Perry made a Christmas Vacation reference, because why not?

You’ll never guess where Lois Kolkhorst went to school! But... I mean... yes? Given the choice, seems pretty simple. Rationalizing loses to Alabama seems to be going well for Texas A&M fans. The actual record against TCU is 2-7, even more shameful.

Meanwhile, Dear Bob tried his best to burn a hole in Hartzell’s back with nothing more than his displeased gaze. We believe it went as well as his cease-and-desist letter last week, though the effort by Dear Bob was exemplary.

Hartzell make an important and expected opening statement in response to allegations from Bowlsby that Texas violated Big 12 bylaws during conversations with the SEC.

“Legally speaking...”

Hartzell did have to answer some actually legitimate questions like laying out the timetable for reaching out to the SEC, with every answer to serious questions seemingly crafted with the advice of counsel.

Basically, Texas reached out to the SEC in the spring and not the other way around, a violation of Big 12 bylaws that could potentially hold up in court in the conference’s favor. And while it seems difficult to fully believe the public narrative that Hartzell is offering that he reached out to the conference completely of his own accord and there were no prior backchannel communications with the SEC, that’s the narrative Hartzell began to craft on Monday.

More on the timeline.

Texas did not have any communication with ESPN that might rise to the level of tortious interference, either, as Bowlsby alleged last week before backing off that accusation in Austin.

Hartzell also pushed back against a report that a check from Longhorn Network from ESPN could help Oklahoma pay its exit fees.

Brian Birdwell of Granbury, who graduated from Lamar University and therefore doesn’t have a partisan affiliation in this fight, made the same observation offered in this space at multiple points in the last several days — the timing of the SEC move came together to avoid the regular session of the 87th Legislature.

“It is timed to avoid the legislature in its legislative session, where it is structured with the power to make decisions,” Birdwell said.

Again, legislation proposed for the special session was meaningless upon conception because Texas governor Greg Abbott controls the special session’s agenda.

At some point, Perry weighed in with thoughts that mirrored that proposed legislation.

“We need to make sure that when these processes go down that they’re not done in the dark of night with no consideration for other affected parties,” he said.

It’s a legislative goal that Perry and other alums for schools like Baylor, TCU, and Texas Tech won’t be able to achieve until the 88th Legislature in 2023. By that point, Texas and Oklahoma could have those exit fees settled and be playing in the SEC. Hence the Christmas Vacation references and silliness from Kolkhorst.

And so the hearing ended, not with a bang, but a whimper.