Longhorn Football: 12 Schools Texas Will Play as an Independent
- Texas wants to promote the Longhorn Network, so they will look for schools that would allow them to broadcast games on the network, and drive subscriptions in the state.
- The Longhorns will look for schools in large media markets to maximize their TV revenue.
- Texas will look to play schools in BCS conferences to establish legitimacy for a National Title opportunity.
- They want the most manageable schedule, so they have the best chance to go undefeated.
If Texas becomes an independent school, these are the teams they will play.
The Big XII Conference is in crisis, and could easily collapse. If it does, Texas will have no shortage of conferences eager to have them.
However, Texas has nothing to gain from being in a conference, and will go independent if the Big XII falls apart. As an independent school, they set their own schedule to achieve greater power.
They will schedule teams to maximize the following goals:
Independents Stick Together: Longhorns vs. Fighting Irish
Starting a Notre Dame vs. Texas rivalry would be a no-brainer for both schools, and recently, the two schools agreed to a four-year series starting in 2015.
As independents, both schools need strong competitors to build legitimacy of their schedule. The Longhorns want to remind pollsters that an independent program can be viable and successful over the long term.
Both schools have a giant national following, and this rivalry would enormously profitable for both schools.
This rivalry could be done as a home-and-home, or held at a different neutral site to maximize exposure.
Red River Rivalry: Texas vs. Oklahoma
The Red River Rivalry is one of the premier rivalries in college football. There would be enormous pressure on both schools to continue it.
As an independent, Texas needs the game to establish legitimacy. If Oklahoma is in the SEC, then this rivalry will get even bigger.
The potential stumbling block for this game is Oklahoma. The Sooners will be under enormous pressure to add Oklahoma State as a non-conference game, assuming OSU doesn’t get an SEC invite.
In addition to a bruising conference schedule, they might be reluctant to add another extremely difficult non-conference game. However, the schools have agreed to continue the RRR at the Cotton Bowl through 2015.
Promote the Longhorn Network: Texas vs. Rice
Rice would a great school for Texas to play as an in-state rival.
Rice is never going to be in the same league as Texas from a talent standpoint, so they would be an easy game for the Longhorns to start the season. There is history between the schools, so Texas could justify adding them to their schedule.
However, the biggest reason that Texas want this game is to promote the Longhorn Network. Nobody outside of the state would care about this matchup, but it would be a big draw locally.
This game won't be missed if it appears on the Longhorn Network, but would drive subscriptions in Houston, which is the 10th-largest media market.
PAC-12 Rivalry: Arizona or Arizona State
Either Arizona or Arizona State would both be fantastic rivals for the Longhorns.
Both schools make sense geographically, and have the potential to blossom into a long-term rivalry. Phoenix is the 14th-largest media market, so a rivalry would be lucrative for both schools.
Since both schools are in the PAC-12, either would satisfy the Longhorns need for strong conference opponents.
The Arizona schools would jump at the rivalry to gain a recruiting foothold in Texas.
Promote the Longhorn Network: Texas vs. Southern Methodist University
Texas vs. SMU would be a good choice for an in-state rival.
The Mustangs would be good for the Longhorns as an early-season warm-up. SMU is certainly on the way up, but they are unlikely to be a match for the Longhorns in terms of talent or recruiting.
There is some history between the schools, so Texas could justify the scheduling. The Mustangs were in the hunt for the C-USA Championship last season, and should continue their conference success.
The objective with a rivalry against SMU would be to get an additional game that could be played on the Longhorn Network, and drive subscribers in Dallas, the seventh largest media market.
A Historic Rivalry: Texas vs. Texas A&M
No matter where the Longhorns and Aggies find themselves, there is no way this game is going anywhere.
If A&M winds up in the SEC, this game would become enormously important nationally. It's already an intense rivalry, but when you add in the Texas vs. SEC component, it would explode.
This game would be important as a recruiting tool. Currently, Texas is the unquestioned leader of recruiting in Texas, but if Texas A&M joins the SEC, the Aggies could gain an advantage.
This game could become the deciding factor for in-state recruits, and could finally put the Aggies on equal footing.
In-State Rivalry: Texas vs. Texas Tech
The Longhorns vs. Red Raiders rivalry would really heat up if Texas were an Independent.
Texas Tech would probably be left out if the Big XII breaks apart, as they are unlikely to get an SEC invite. Texas Tech would end up in the Big East, which is a good fit for both the school and the conference.
Texas would want to keep playing Texas Tech to establish legitimacy against BCS teams. The Longhorns would continue to hold the advantage, as the Red Raiders would suffer a recruiting drop-off in the Big East.
Keeping the rivalry would take some pressure off the Longhorns from legislators and fans within the state, who would be furious if Texas ended the series.
Independents Stick Together: Texas vs. Brigham Young
BYU is a newly independent school, with a rich football tradition and national following.
The Cougars would love the opportunity that a rivalry with the Longhorns would present.
Both need a strong schedule to establish legitimacy for their programs. BYU has gone 56-21 under head coach Bronco Mendenhall and is a consistently competitive team.
A rivalry between the Longhorns and the Cougars would be a huge draw nationally, and in Salt Lake City, which is the 36th-largest media market.
PAC-12 Rivalry: Washington Huskies vs. Texas Longhorns
A Longhorns vs. Huskies rivalry would be great for both schools.
Washington has struggled lately but is on its way back to relevancy. A rivalry with Texas would help them regain their former place in the national discussion.
As an independent, Texas needs as many BCS foes as possible to establish strength of schedule. Washington would give the Longhorns a second rivalry in the PAC-12.
Washington would love the opportunity to gain exposure in the Texas recruiting grounds, and the Longhorns would love to play in the 13th-largest media market.
ACC Rivalry: Miami vs. Texas
A Miami vs. Texas rivalry would be exciting, as both schools are historical powerhouses.
Texas needs a rivalry with an ACC team, and the resurgent Hurricanes help the Longhorns with their strength of schedule.
Texas and Florida are among the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country, and both schools would love the opportunity to establish recruiting footholds in both states.
Considering that Miami is the 17th largest media market, the rivalry would be very lucrative.
Recruiting Battleground: South Florida or Central Floria
Texas would love to add a second game against a Florida school, and either South Florida or University of Central Florida would be a great fit.
A second Florida school would guarantee that the Longhorns played a game in the state every year, which is great for recruiting.
The USF Bulls would add a Big East rivalry, while the UCF Knights are a rising star in Conference USA.
Both schools are relative newcomers to FBS football, and would love the exposure that a Longhorn rivalry would bring.
Florida has four of the top 50 media markets, so either school would be very profitable for TV revenue.
Big East Rivalry: Texas vs. Rutgers
A Rutgers vs. Texas rivalry would be very lucrative.
The Scarlet Knights are a BCS team, but are traditionally weak. This should remain a fairly easy game for the Longhorns, but would still help their record against BCS foes.
The rivalry doesn't make sense geographically, but Rutgers would give Texas exposure in the New York media market. As a Big East team, the Scarlet Knights typically face relatively weak competition, and a rivalry with the Longhorns would be huge.
Adding an northeast team will give Texas exposure in every corner of the country.