Has there been a more triumphant, petty, relevant week for Baylor football? It merely started with their upset of TCU, and has continued with the Bears positioning themselves as a lone bulwark against the partitioning of college football into superconferences.
Last week, Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe wrote a letter to his SEC counterpark Mike Slive, telling him that the Big 12 schools were "unanimous" if not magnanimous in allowing Texas A&M to go east. Nothing was standing in the Aggies' way, said Beebe, and it was all in the SEC's hands. The SEC voted last night, again unanimously, to admit A&M. But there is a condition. Beebe's word wasn't enough; The Big 12 Schools would have to sign waivers forgoing legal challenges before the deal can be done. And today, it seems, Baylor won't sign that waiver.
The Aggies are pissed. Says A&M president R. Bowen Loftin, in a statement released today,
"[W]e are disappointed in the threats made by one of the Big 12 member institutions to coerce Texas A&M into staying in Big 12 Conference. These actions go against the commitment that was made by this university and the Big 12 on Sept. 2."
Threats? Baylor isn't saying they'll sue, only that they won't say they won't sue. It's a last-ditch effort to keep the Big 12 from being washed away with the rest of the non-power conference effluvia, and the hail mary had to be thrown now, before Texas and OU clear out. Baylor's been waging this battle for a while, culminating in their magnum opus/e-petition "Don't Mess With Texas Football." Why should we care about where A&M goes, Baylor?
Football in Texas is more than a passing interest, it is a part of the fabric of this great state.
• Will Texans stand by and watch hundred-year-old rivalries be cast aside as the state's largest universities align themselves with other states across the country?
• Will Texans sit and watch as Texas' flagship universities pledge their loyalties to other states?
• Will Texans stand by as our most promising student athletes are lured out of Texas by new rivals?
• Will Texans watch as our most precious resources-the great minds of the next generation-are exported to new conference institutions?
Just to be clear, none of the Texas teams considering realignment would actually be leaving Texas. If you want to know why Baylor's panties are all twisted, just replace every instance of "Texas" in the above questions with "Baylor." It's self-serving, as every program has the right to be, and it appeals to the deepest-held stereotypes of Texas football. That it's forever a small town, Friday night sort of game, and that Texas pride comes before national pride. But that's not the way of the world anymore. For better or for worse, what's best for UT and Oklahoma and Texas Tech and A&M is to become part of the national landscape, and leave the provincial plains behind. College football is hurtling toward four megaconferences, and anyone who can get on board needs to do so now. Even if schools like Baylor are left in the dust.