I thought this warranted its own thread, but it's p/o Conference Expansion (or not).
From the Thursday Ft. Worth Star Telegram:
By JENNIFER FLOYD ENGEL
Forget vuvuzelas. The single most annoying whine in need of silencing in sports at this moment is this "Dan Beebe saved the Big 12" nonsense being buzzed about by the clueless.
Beebe saved the Big 12, kind of like Jordan Farmar paces the Lakers or Larry Mullen Jr. is indispensable to U2.
Which is to say: Not at all.
What Beebe did particularly well, with his conference gasping for a last breath, was be smart enough to stand back as the grownups figured out how to save the conference, and his job.
So how exactly did Big 12 go from DOA to alive and well?
The life raft came from College Station, and it is only polite to extend a big ol' thank you to your friends from Texas A&M.
So why am I not hearing barely a word about them, except them nastily sniping at one another? Because everybody is focused on Texas.
It is easy to understand why Aggies have a little bit of a complex after this latest chapter of Texas football politics. They do all of the heavy lifting, and Longhorn Nation basks in every ounce of credit and/or blame, depending on who is judging.
Let's be clear: Longhorn Nation did nothing wrong.
Is it bullying to see a clearly inferior Nebraska and all 14 of its TV sets about to land a huge Big Ten pay increase and think, "Hey, why not us?" And isn't it just good business to use your power to negotiate a superior deal for yourself?
No shame, Texas. No shame.
Just no credit for Big 12 saving. That belongs to the anti-Bevos.
How the Aggies saved the Big 12 was by growing a backbone. When big-timers at A&M decided they were done following in lockstep with Bevo and Co., they slowed to a crawl what had been a Sherman-like march to the Pacific. Delay caused by the Aggies allowed for TV entities and ADs from schools with no rooting interest and politicians and big-time business types, all uninterested in mega-conferences for personal-gain reasons, to swoop in and build consensus and save the Big 12 from itself.
And make no mistake, during this downtime, Texas had second thoughts.
Pac-16 money claims were fuzzy.
Travel headaches were obvious.
Horns were definitely being sized for the 'Horns.
And by Monday, Texas had a whole lot of reasons to stay in the Big 12. About the only team with a good reason to bolt was Texas A&M.
The dollar math is not fuzzy in the SEC, and you could feel the sentiment building, among old Ags and young: "Let's break free from Texas." A perfect chance existed, a chance to finally and wholly get out of Bevo's shadow and to be in a killer conference.
And in this moment, they did what Aggies pride themselves on. They kept their word. They did not run.
Both SEC-ede and Pac-16 sides of the Aggies' house divided had been saying their goal was to save the Big 12, and they backed it up by doing just that and, thus, everybody stayed. Because if A&M had gone SEC, then Texas and Oklahoma and Tech and Oklahoma State were going Pac-16, fuzzy math or not.
And Kansas and Kansas State and Missouri were destined for the Mountain West while Baylor did penance for 15 years ago.
TCU denials aside -- and really what was the Frogs' AD supposed to say on record, "Heck, yeah, we are sticking it to them"? -- Frogs fans and administrators had been waiting 15 long years to watch the Karma Train finally pull into Baylor's station. And rightfully so. Does anybody believe Baylor is right now lobbying for TCU inclusion in a mathematically correct Big 12?
Yes, football conference politics can be ugly. And selfish. And money driven. And mean.
And that is why I respect what the Aggies did. They said salvaging the Big 12 was their priority, and they showed that their word is not simply words.
Those Aggie jerks.
I seem to have garnered a following in Nebraska, or what some might call an angry mob. Glad to have them. Love them, really, although, they do not seem fluent in sarcasm, so let me explain. That line about jerks was sarcastic.
Honestly, I do not understand why the Aggies have turned on themselves for:
(a) keeping their word;
(b) staying in a conference where they have a better chance of winning;
(c) honoring tradition by maintaining the rivalry with Texas (and that was going away if A&M went SEC);
(d) being the savior of the Big 12.
Yet my inbox has been filled by Aggies angry at Aggies. And my inbox apparently has nothing on A&M AD Bill Byrne's in terms of venom level.
He, BTW, has become my hero.
Floating around on the Google machine is a voice mail left by Byrne to one of those angry e-mailers who suggested Byrne had his tongue in an awkward place on DeLoss Dodds' anatomy.
"I'd like to talk to you in person," Byrne is heard saying. "Someone who has no guts to write something like that needs to have his [butt] kicked."
Apparently Byrne was the man to tap to handle dealings with Nebraska a year or so ago. Not that losing Nebraska and that other school that left is a bad thing. It is not. It is an opportunity.
Even as Beebe swears the Big 12 is staying at 10, talk of adding Arkansas has gained traction. And I am guessing Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has a hand in this. I am claiming no inside sources, only going off years of covering the man. He always has a plan when he wants something.
And he wants a Big 12 title game at JerryWorld.
And he'd love to have Arkansas back in the Big 12.
And he loved to play matchmaker.
So all he needs is another team to join Arkansas. And from a guy who brought us The T.O. Show and billion-dollar JerryWorld and the Pacquiao fight, you know he tends to go large. A name I have heard thrown around is Notre Dame.
How big is the Big 12 then?
Just remember to thank your friendly neighborhood Aggies if it happens.