Weeks have passed since that school in Austin and the one whose football coach is from Muleshoe told the Big 12 Conference they were going to play ball southeast of these parts.
Fans of Texas Tech fans and the other Big 12 schools were upset Texas and Oklahoma did this in secrecy. There were also immediate concerns how their departure could mean a serious financial hit for the remaining schools and communities when new TV contracts are negotiated.
Other friends of mine have bemoaned the loss of longtime rivals.
In the past ten years or so of Conference Realignment Shuffle, Tech has lost rivalry games with Texas A&M and will lose games with Texas unless a Tech-Texas non-conference agreement mentioned in the past couple of days can be reached. These are games fans looked forward to every season. Beating those teams popped up routinely when the greatest moments in Texas Tech sports history are mentioned. The favorite is usually the 2008 football win over then-No. 1 Texas when Graham Harrell hit Michael Crabtree for a last-second touchdown at Jones AT&T Stadium.
That passion to beat the Longhorns and Aggies grew out of decades of Tech alumni and fans feeling Austin and College Station saw them as below them. They were the older, richer institutions and they made sure y’all knew it.
That’s why it was so important for Texas Tech to join the Southwest Conference in the 1950s and the Big 12 in the 1990s. Tech and Lubbock wanted to be seen as equals.
Tech may not be a financial equal to UT and A&M because of the blatantly unfair way the Permanent University Fund has not been amended over the years to help other Texas universities.
But Tech’s become an equal in many ways academically and keeps climbing numerous rankings of best universities. Who knows how much higher those rankings could go given a share of PUF funds.
The university’s graduates and research are making a difference in the world. For example, the Enhanced Fujita scale to measure tornadoes came from research done right here. See? The wind around here is good for something.
A friend of mine who’s my age and graduated from Monterey High School in 1972, went to UT. She told me at the time, UT was seen as a much better place to go to school than Tech. But over the years that perception’s changed.
“If I had that choice now, I may have gone to Tech,” she said.
Texas Tech leadership knows the university is no longer in any shadow. I think students, alumni and fans are beginning to realize it. Add in some impressive athletic accomplishments in the past few years.
And Texas Tech isn’t the only school to lose rivals. Oklahoma State may lose its “Bedlam” game with Oklahoma. The Kansas-Missouri “border war” was lost when Missouri fled to the Southeastern Conference.
So even though it’ll be a year or longer until the Big 12 has a dozen teams again, I’m looking forward to new rivalries in a conference where Texas Tech can be seen as a leading player. Texas was well known for bullying other schools in the conference.
I saw something on social media the conference will have to go back to two divisions for football once all the shuffling settles down.
Here’s a different idea. How about the following three divisions, with a salute to history
The Back-to-the-Southwest Conference Division: Texas Tech, TCU, Baylor, Houston.
The Big Eight (Minus Four) Division: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State.
The Other Time Zones Division: BYU, West Virginia, Cincinnati, University of Central Florida.
Yeah … not gonna happen.
I was disappointed the Pac 12 didn’t come calling to West Texas for a few reasons.
- We’d be playing schools I grew up watching.
- Great road trips. Tech vs. Cal followed by a few days wine tasting in Napa-Sonoma. Beach tailgates in Southern California.
Yeah … not gonna happen.
But it would be hilarious if the Big 12 eventually scooped up some Pac 12 teams. Some of their football teams had embarrassing opening games last week, even if Oregon’s win over Ohio State reclaimed a little luster this weekend, If their on-the-field performance drops further (and TV revenue drops), maybe Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado would defect. And no … I have no information from anyone on this, just my mind wandering.
Then the Big 12 could add SMU, Memphis, Boise State, Army and we’d have the Big 20, featuring (drum roll please) the:
Back-to-the-Southwest Conference Division: Texas Tech, TCU, Baylor, Houston, SMU. SMU? I didn’t live here during the SWC days, but I like history.
Big Eight (Minus Three) Division: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Colorado.
Desert-Mountain Division: Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, BYU, Utah
Way East of These Parts Division: Army, University of Central Florida, Cincinnati, Memphis, West Virginia,
Memphis ‘cue and blues. The Hudson River Valley in the fall and New York City. Disney World. Skiing in the Rockies. Golf in Scottsdale.
Sure beats College Station.
Whether or not we play future games against the Longhorns or not, Texas Tech and Lubbock will be just fine.
Time to blaze our own path.