Dave Sittler: Texas' arrogance at heart of Big 12 drama
BY DAVE SITTLER World Sports Columnist
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
8/30/11 at 5:18 AM
Go to Dave Sittler's BlogOriginal Print Headline: Longhorns to blame for Big 12 mess
What if the Big 12 throws a party and nobody comes because the main host is an insufferable jerk?
Well, at least nobody on the A-list of invitees.
And what if the co-hosts get so fed up they leave their own party, letting the jerk celebrate his independence alone?
Those ugly scenarios could play out in front of everyone in the college sports world to see. And the Big 12 will have nobody to blame but Texas.
As Texas A&M continues to clear the legal and political hurdles required to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, the potential backwash from the Aggies' move gets dirtier by the day.
Texas' arrogance continues to stir this mess. And when A&M becomes the third school the Longhorns chase off, the Big 12's A-list of schools it hopes to invite as replacements will wonder why they should join a league that has also ran off Nebraska and Colorado.
Yes, there is no shortage of D-list schools that lust for the opportunity to replace A&M. That's "D" as in desperate, which the Big 12 would be if extending those invitations is the only way to survive.
The Big 12's A-list reportedly includes Notre Dame, Arkansas, Arizona, Arizona State, Pittsburgh, BYU, West Virginia, Louisville and Air Force.
"They've looked at all those options and many others," said a source familiar with the Big 12's expansion committee.
The first four schools apparently wouldn't come even if Texas was handing out millions to league members instead of trying to hoard it all for itself.
And it's a stretch to A-list the other five. B-list (as in bearable) is probably where you'd find them, although Pittsburgh and West Virginia could bring A-games.
"People need to wake up," said a source familiar with the BCS conferences. "There are just no Big 12-level schools out there."
The level of big names in the Big 12 will drop another significant notch if A&M gets its wish to no longer party with the Longhorns. But the Big 12 could definitely turn out the lights should Oklahoma decide it's swallowed all the burnt orange baloney it can stomach.
The league's 15-year party would be over if the Sooners deal the fatal blow to Texas' dictatorship. If OU joins the stampede out of the Big 12, Oklahoma State's Cowboys must have the gumption to ride shotgun.
OU splitting up with its Red River Rival probably remains about as long a shot as Notre Dame joining the Big 12. But it apparently isn't as long as it was even a few months ago.
Several sources confirmed the A&M situation has developed some serious strains in the OU-Texas marriage. OU, like those who still want to make the Big 12 work, is reportedly fed up with Texas seeing how far it can push the others around with tactics like the Longhorn Network.
"Texas seems to be losing friends in more places than the Big 12 over all this," said a source with deep roots in college football. "Having a network is fine. But it's just the inference that they are trying to play by a somewhat different set of rules than anyone else that creates problems."
OU athletic director Joe Castiglione has fought as hard as any Big 12 official to keep the league together. Castiglione has consistently maintained it's in the best interest of everyone if OU and Texas continue to work together.
Castiglione is on the five-member expansion committee. But some insiders wonder if he's decided it's time to flex some of the Sooners' undeniable leverage.
Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds continues to insist the Longhorns want the Big 12 to stay intact. The loss of A&M would mean Dodds absolutely needs OU to stay the course for the league to survive.
Texas has already hinted that its storied football series with A&M would end if the Aggies join the SEC. That didn't seem to deter A&M's strong desire to put its hated rival in the Aggies' rearview mirror.
Would OU, emboldened with its added muscle, have the backbone to threaten to end the Red River Shootout if bossy-boots Texas doesn't back off and treat its fellow Big 12 members as equals?
And if people outside the Big 12 are indeed growing weary of Texas playing by its own rules, will they band together? Perhaps a coalition could convince Texas that life as an independent isn't so hot if you're treated like an outcast.
Good luck with that. Remember Dodds' comment 14 months ago when realignment was sweeping through the Big 12?
"We did not start this," he said. "If we need to finish it, we'll finish it."
Yup, it's Texas' A-list party and they'll do what they want, even if they have to do it alone.
And with the Longhorns, that's "A" as in, well, you can fill in the blank.