With the attempts by the Big 10 and Pac-10 to lure Texas into their conferences, the relative silence by two groups of people, Big 12 fans and Texas supporters, is deafening.
That makes me think two things.
The first is that Longhorn nation is perfectly happy right where they are, and won't leave unless they are pushed. The second, however, is that several of the other Big 12 programs are more than willing to do the pushing using the unequal revenue distribution as an excuse.
I became more convinced of the latter by reading a recent column by Berry Tramel. Now Tramel is an Oklahoma Sooners homer and Bob Stoops backer through and through. Yet, he realizes the foolishness of using revenue distribution as a stick to bash the Longhorns.
Reading the comments under the column, on the other hand, reveals that other Big 12 fans aren't nearly as sensible.
They take the absolutely absurd position that Texas either needs to split revenue equally or be kicked out, under the absolutely absurd idea that Texas athletics would be be devastated were they in any other conference but the Big 12. "Texas needs the Big 12 more than we need them, so they need to pony up and be fair!"
In addition to being ludicrous, it is also just envy.
The unequal revenue sharing was not an issue when Texas was getting blown out by UCLA under John Mackovic. It also wasn't an issue in the first half of Mack Brown's tenure, when they were losing 65-21 to Oklahoma, blowing their national title shot in the Big 12 title game against Colorado, and regularly getting upset by Texas Tech.
Back then, the grotesque crime of Texas getting $2.7 million more in revenue than do Iowa State and Baylor because—gasp—Texas is on TV a lot more because—double gasp! —THEY WIN MORE GAMES was not an issue.
Only when Texas shifted into high gear after the program was transformed by Vince Young (and by competent defensive coordinators like Greg Robinson, Gene Chizik and now Will Muschamp) to become arguably the #1 in the nation since 2004 has been an issue.
The Big 12 programs who now realize that they don't have a shot at beating Texas on the field are simply looking for another way to hurt the 'Horns, and if the 'Horns won't just roll over and take it, they would rather the 'Horns leave.
Or in the case of Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado, they would quickly and gladly leave first if the Pac-10 or Big 10 were to come calling.
The question: why go that route?
Why either drive Texas into leaving or leave yourselves instead of just beating Texas on the field?
Because it is very possible.
Two things you need to know about Mack Brown: he is a former Bobby Bowden assistant, and he is a laid-back personality which means that he and his program aren't exactly build on physical or mental toughness.
Brown prefers the speed and finesse game and likes to rely on the raw athletic ability of his players, and—as the Colt McCoy era proved—Brown will abandon an emphasis on running the ball and stopping the run in a second if he believes that he can get away with it.
Brown and Davis may be at Texas in the Big 12, but deep down they are still the same ACC FSU wannabes from their days at North Carolina.
So, if you challenge Brown and his players—who ultimately succumb to the environment that Brown builds, and note that Texas products are not known for being mentally or physically tough in the NFL (see Roy Williams, Cedric Benson, Chris Simms, Vince Young)—with a physical, smashmouth style and the Longhorns are beatable.
Now I didn't say that they would fold mind you ... like FSU back in the day Texas is still extremely talented and well coached, especially with Muschamp on defense. But, it gives you a chance.
The problem is that the Big 12 is playing right into Mack Brown's hands with their spread offense obsession. The older Big 12 and especially the old Big 8 were the media's red-headed stepchild in favor of the Pac-10 and Florida schools because of their physical style of play.
Though they will give a Heisman to a running QB like Tim Tebow or Eric Crouch or an RB like a Ron Dayne, Ricky Williams or Mark Ingram every now and then, the media always has and always will prefer the passing game.
So, the media would give all the attention and the awards to the passing fancies of the Pac-10, the Florida schools, and (of course) BYU while Oklahoma, Nebraska and Colorado went out and won titles.
But after the conference decided to ditch its tradition (both the former Big 8 and SWC schools) in favor of these west coast and spread offenses, now it is the Big 12 schools with the QBs and WRs that are winning awards and getting the ESPN attention. (Before you say "it's a lie; they love the SEC!" ... realize that the SEC earns theirs by WINNING.)
If that's what you want, for what ESPN to talk about what great QBs and WRs they are cranking out at Missouri, Kansas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and wherever these days ... fine. But the result is your playing Mack Brown's game, and Brown is going to generally win that game because A) he is good at it and B) he has superior talent.
So, the choice is either build a program that can beat Mack Brown by being disciplined and physical at the expense of ESPN, Sports Illustrated, the Sporting News and USA Today calling you "boring", "unimaginative", "slow", "can't come from behind".
You know, what they said about Osborne and Nebraska while they were winning three national titles, and what they were saying about the SEC as recently as 2004.
Or you can have the media talk about how great your QBs are (till they go undrafted that is) and what a genius your coach is (great, a coaching genius who never beats anybody good or wins anything) and oh yes keep losing to Texas (and Oklahoma) every year.
Really, the flag football thing has never worked. It didn't work for the WAC in the 1980s.
It didn't work for the Pac-10 in the 1990s. And it isn't working for the Big 12 now. Oklahoma won a title in 2000 when the shotgun-spread was still new at major schools and Texas won one in 2005 because they had a guy who could run for 1000 yards while throwing for 3000.
Other than that: failure.
Oklahoma hasn't won a bowl game that matters since 2002. Texas has only two conference titles to show for all that talent. And nobody else in the Big 12 competes with Texas and Oklahoma.
So, driving Texas off because you can't beat them and don't want to try won't result in Missouri, Texas Tech or Oklahoma State actually winning a nonconference game against a top 10 team.
Neither is forcing Texas to give up the revenue that they've earned because they had the good sense to hire a coach whose better at the little speed/finesse passing thing than yours is. It's like the Pac-10 fans who are hoping that the NCAA hammers USC over Reggie Bush (which they won.t).
Like getting USC out of the way will make the other teams contenders or something. What happened this year in the Pac-10 when USC fell off is basically what the Big 12 would be if you guys drive Texas off to the Big 10 or Pac-10.
The only difference is that the Big 12 would still have Oklahoma. And what will be your excuse for not being able to beat them either?
With the exception of West Virginia (who basically beat Oklahoma at their own game) and Boise, the teams who beat Oklahoma in those bowl games generally did so by manhandling them up front. It speaks volumes that BYU was able to play a more physical game against Oklahoma than most Big 12 teams ever do.
So Big 12, stop whining and stop pretending that this is about fairness or money.
It is about your being unable to compete with Texas on the field, and you're preferring to get your coach, QB or WR on the cover of ESPN The Magazine to trying to build a program that can put the Longhorns in their place the way that Nebraska almost did in the Big 12 title game.