Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Dear Texas and Oklahoma…

Dear Texas

Dear Texas and Oklahoma,

It will pain many Big 12 children to say this, but we are sad to see you both go. The last few years of realignment have muddied the waters of what should have been the forever home of two of college football’s blue bloods. Deep down, no matter how many Horns Down we flash or jokes we make about the fact that Oklahoma’s actual mascot is a cheater, we know we had it so good. Before SEC cries of “It just means more,” we Big 12 children remember fondly a time in which the Big 12 conference was the preeminent college football conference. While Texas and Oklahoma have played each other 119 times, they spent over 70 years not living in the same conference home. But, boy howdy, when you both agreed on how many bedrooms and what school district y’all wanted the kids to go to, it was magical.

The Spark Happened in ’94

When Arkansas left the Southwest Conference (SWC), it left both the SWC in Big 8 in a fragile position. The SEC was gaining a large portion of the television market. They used this leverage to sign a deal with CBS (cue the theme song) stand ultimately led to significant realignment moves across college football (it’s amazing how much history repeated itself isn’t it?). Texas flirted with the then Pac-10 about joining but required a unanimous vote by its members. Meanwhile, the Big 8 had always wanted to form an alliance with the SWC and also made multiple attempts to merge. Texas stood its ground just as Bevo does on Saturdays at Darrell K Royal Stadium. However, amongst rumors of Texas A&M leaving for the SEC and Texas politicians getting involved, Texas (and three other SWC schools) accepted invites into what would quickly be known as The Big 12.

Does it shock any of the Big 12 children that Texas was not willing to be seen as the one desperate for a move? Of course not. We have seen them obnoxiously and pridefully deny how bad things are despite the losses pilling up in front of them. But we tolerated it because after everyone got settled in the new house, life began to thrive.

The Best Was 2000-2009

“Dear Texas and Oklahoma, we love this home.”

A stable home brings comfort to children. It was hard to find anything more stable than Texas and Oklahoma at the top of the Big 12 standings. During these years, Texas or Oklahoma played in the conference championship game every year. Y’all won eight of the conference championships. The programs combined to appear in 9 NY6 bowl games. They had six national championship appearances, with each of them winning a title in the decade. Before Nick Saban took the college football world by storm, Mack Brown and Bob Stoops were sitting side-by-side on the throne.

The children of the Big 12 watched in awe and wonder. “I wish we could be as good as them just for one year,” is something many programs in Waco, Lubbock, Stillwater, and College Station found themselves pondering out loud. Most of the children living in the Big 12 house had a limiting belief in what their program was capable of. Texas and Oklahoma were achieving levels of excellence that just didn’t seem capable of duplicating.

Remember That Time When…

Not only did Texas and Oklahoma carry the banner for the conference, but the Red River Shootout (as we grew up knowing it to be) gave us jaw-dropping moments. How could we forget when Superman took flight on October. 6, 2001? Or, do y’all remember the 2007 edition? Sports Illustrated called this game one of the best matchups of the year. We got to see Colt McCoy, Demarco Murray, Jamaal Charles, Sam Bradford, Jermichael Finley, and Jermaine Gresham duel it out in a tightly contested game at the State Fair that Oklahoma won 28-21. And it just wasn’t the wins that were incredible. The rest of the Big 12 got their Cherry Hill moments.

Oklahoma State has the 2001 “The Catch”. Speaking of catches, Texas Tech and Texas played in one of the greatest games of the decade in 2008 with Michael Crabtree sending Lubbock into pandemonium. Kansas State has their 2003 Big 12 Championship smackdown of the Sooners. The Buffs had their miraculous comeback in 2007 against Oklahoma. Of course, we all got our laughs in watching Boise State execute all the trick plays. We drank the Longhorn tears as they cried “If McCoy was healthy, we would have beat Alabama.” Yes, Texas and Oklahoma, the rest of the conference did indeed view you as “our Super Bowl.” We were living our best lives as the children of the Big 12, even if it came out our expense most of the time. But little did we know we were just a starter home for Texas and Oklahoma.

Wondering Eyes Began in 2010

“Dear Texas and Oklahoma, did we do something wrong?”

When things are changing outside of a child’s home, it’s hard to comprehend those changes. So when then-Big 10 commissioner Jim Delany announced at the end of 2009 that his conference was going to expand the league, we had no idea that it would begin the slow unraveling of this beautiful home we grew up in. Not too long after that, we heard Pac-10 commission Larry Scott was going to do the same thing for his conference. Soon, we noticed that some of our neighbors were moving out. Nebraska was the first to leave. But not everyone lives in the same house forever, no big deal.

However, it sounded like we all were gonna get to move out west! This Scott man said he wanted to bring Colorado, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State to form his BIG PAC, or whatever boring name the adults would have called it. Ok, change can be scary, but at least we would all go together! Of course, Colorado decided to leave before the rest of us. They had all their Patagonia and North Face bags packed and just skedaddled west. This was, of course, before their luggage became Louis Vuitton. As the rest of us were finishing getting our stuff packed up, something happened that forever changed how we viewed you.

Bigger Pie Slices

Why would any children care about television revenue? We just want to play football. The funny thing about children is as they grow up, they become more aware of the nuances of life. Just as we were about to say one last goodbye to our home, the Big 12 schools who didn’t get an invite out west cried out “PLEASE, PLEASE DON’T GO. WE WILL DO ANYTHING. Here, we will give you more of the revenue. You both like money; take more of ours. Just don’t go.”

We would only continue to find out more and more that this is all Texas, Oklahoma, and other power institutions care about. Not long after this new agreement came out, Texas announced it signed a 20-year, $300 million deal with ESPN. This created the “Longhorn Network.” I mean, we like having Texas around, but did anyone else really want a 24/7 channel dedicated to all things Texas? Fast forward 20 years and the answer was a resounding “no.”

It was one thing to always have a consistent foe to compete against. Every neighborhood has one or two kids always bigger and stronger than everyone else. And even though they win most of the time, there still is an underlying respect amongst everyone in the neighborhood. But with all of the movement in college football, and what everyone else gave up to try to hold the Big 12 together, it no longer was just about competing on the field. Everything got personal.

S-E-C You Later

Texas hated how we loaded the dishwasher and folded clothes. Oklahoma started yelling at everyone walking their dog that would use the bathroom in their front yard. These behaviors helped finally push Texas A&M to the SEC in 2011. Watching those two bicker in public when the rest of us were just trying to roast S’mores in the driveway on a fall night was so annoying. And for some reason, Missouri also said they were going to. You would think a school that prides itself on journalism would be better at…sharing the news with everyone before making such a change. Outside of Kansas, no one really had any beef with them anyway, so we didn’t care they left.

Frogs And Mountaineers

When your neighbors move, new people move in. TCU showed up, but we knew about them. Those poisonous frogs had been playing football in the Mountains for a long time and had been pretty good too. So a Texas-heavy conference welcomed them in. However, the new people from the East took some getting used to. We thought it just took them a long time to unpack, but it turns out couches in the front yard served as a very good bonfire when they would win big games. It was strange to see, but it was a lot of fun (don’t tell the HOA we said that).

The new Big 12 just never felt right. Many of us felt like we had to walk on eggshells around Texas and Oklahoma for fear of them leaving. We even tried to recruit some quality neighbors and build out more of the neighborhood in 2016. Too bad the conference *never* approved of those. So the Big 12 continued playing football, with Oklahoma dominating the 2010’s while Texas toiled in mediocrity. During this time, both teams grew more and more arrogant for different reasons. The exact reasons aren’t important; it just hurt to see how much the rest of us didn’t matter in the world of Longhorns and Sooners.

Go Ahead And Leave Then

“Dear Texas and Oklahoma, WE HATE YOU!”

Fast forward to the summer of 2021. Those Big 12 children are grown up now. College football had a big change on the horizon. We had already been living in a four-team playoff world for seven years, but there was now talk of a 12-team playoff! How exciting?!? Sure things had grown awkward with Texas and Oklahoma, but this was good for everyone. Access to more qualifying teams and a chance to prove to them they were no better than we were. But less than a month later, we lived through our own “et tu brute” moment.

Reports began to surface at SEC media days in late July 2021 that our flagship programs were interested in leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference. How could you? After all we did FOR YOU? All we gave up to try to make you happy? Of course, the Sooners and Longhorns did nothing to squash the rumors by missing a subsequent meeting of Big 12 athletic directors and conference executives. At this point, we saw the writing on the wall.

We Just Wanted To Talk

Later in July, both the Longhorns and Sooners declined to extend the grant of rights media deal with the Big 12 and publicly applied for SEC membership. You didn’t even want to try to work things out with us. Sure, some of the new neighbors had their quirks. But one of y’all’s bands only plays one song the entire game. It has less than 10 words in it for crying out loud! While the other one has a shade of orange that no one else uses or would wear under any circumstances.

Soon, it just became of matter of when not if. We knew the grant of rights would keep you both around for at least one or two more seasons. But, after years of making upgrades to your home funded by our money we gave to you, we thought for sure you would sell immediately and pay the cash to go to your new neighborhood. Turns out, even the most elite of programs still have some grasp of what money is as y’all hung around for three full seasons.

Dear Texas And Oklahoma…

We are just sad now. We had to watch Oklahoma rise back up to one of the more unimpressive 10-win seasons a team can have. Alright, most of us would kill for a 10-win season. We are bitter. Please just accept that. Of course, that would imply you actually care about us. And if that wasn’t enough, we were forced to witness Texas hoist the Big 12 conference title on the way out of town. As your forgotten peers pen this letter to y’all, there is just one month before spring football starts.

We want to take the high road on this and wish y’all the best. But go kick rocks. Both Oklahoma and Texas left something we all cherished for a money grab. And before either of you fire back, yes, we would absolutely have done the same thing if the cards were in any of our hands. But we have never been given a chance to hold those.

…This Goodbye Does Hurt

We aren’t dumb. College football has never been fair. No matter how much the NCAA has tried to help the majority of us out with rules to limit the ability to recruit unfairly. But it never worked, and now all of those advantages are in plain sight. The NCAA continues to lose more and more authority to do anything with each passing lawsuit. So now, both of you can flaunt all you want. There isn’t a single thing we can do about it.

Turns out, the new HOA president and VP of your new neighborhood are trying to become a gated community with access to OUR swimming pool as well. Now, our new HOA president is trying his best. And we like him quite a lot. But this change will always sting. We had such a unique and wonderful conference. We know that change is a part of life. However, to paraphrase what Andy Bernard said, we wish there was a way to know we were in the good old days before we actually left them.


Your one true love, The Big 12


Dear Texas
Photo courtesy:  Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


More Posts

Send Us A Message