Its almost Game Day!
I imagine our friends Jake Shore and Fantomenos are quite excited about Oregon's prospects this year. I know I am, and I'll be watching.
I'll also be watching Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and a lot of others as well.
But, oh my, my Longhorns. And the Big XII. And the @#$%ing Longhorn Network.
No doubt many are currently thrilled to hear that Texas A&M has left the Big 12 Conference, delighted that somehow this diminishes UT. To this, I say: quit listening to sports radio. Its making you crazy and ignores the bigger picture.
Dealing with the Weird Cousin
The money, the contracts, etc... are all tied up in the fact that Texas has had a not-always-friendly rivalry between the two schools that has helped make Texas (as in the state, not the University of) football the powerhouse it is today. As Texans, our high school friends went to A&M, our spouses and colleagues are from UT and TAMU wearing Maroon or Orange on Thanksgiving Day. The match-up goes back 100 years and is core to what passes for a lot of tradition in Texas, our history being as short as it is.
Frankly, there's a huge information gap here. I keep reading stories about TAMU leaving, but nobody who actually matters is willing to go on the record as to "why". And, no, sports personalities do not count as people who matter. Regents and University Presidents matter. If they want to put numbers on the table, then fine. But its just gotten dumb and ugly.
Yes, I understand that TAMU is saying "we'll always leave a slot open to play Texas", but the way this has gone down, its like your cousin spending all summer belittling and criticizing you, then taking the opportunity of the family reunion to drunkenly air their grievances, but sobering up and promising "don't worry, I am still coming to stay for a week at Christmas". It puts UT and even UT's fans into an awkward position.
Frankly, we've got OU, and that's the rivalry that actually matters for Longhorn fans. They're much more in the "girlfriend" seat than the "nutty, acerbic cousin who loves in the country" role that Texas A&M plays in the Big XII. If we always had sort of an affection for Ags as our in-State rivals (and I'm sorry, Red Raiders fans, we always see you as a tough match-up, but not as a tradtional rival) its just gotten weird. A little too pyrrhic victory for my tastes.
The Longhorn Network
The Longhorn Network has, of course, been a pretty public debacle here in Austin.
I still don't think we'll see the game on Saturday, and its mostly moot at this point as we can't really organize beer and pretzels around something that might show up on TV. I thought ESPN and UT were moving forward a little too enthusiastically with an utterly unproven concept, and now its done blown up in their faces and caused TAMU to scream about "last straw"s and whatnot.
There are only so many games in the year, and now I'll be seeing if I can hook my TV up to my laptop on Saturday to make a go of this mess.
The Actual UT Team
Who knows? I'm no analyst. I'll cheer for these guys no matter what, but UT's camp has been pretty quiet this year, and its certainly not the press-friendly fiesta that Mack brown has usually employed. We just learned that Garret Gilbert is returning as QB1. I have to guess he's had a year to get all cylinders firing with he and the receivers, but we'll know a lot more come Saturday, 7:00 Central.
Aside from that, I'm still trying to learn names, faces, etc... its such a new team this year, and I only know about half the coaches by sight right now.
I hated it when UT would get ranked #5 or whatever at the start of the season, and I still don't like the BCS system. I'm okay with low-ranking for the Longhorns until we demonstrate that we can play. I saw the other side of this when Vince Young took UT to a championship, and literally up til kick-off, the commentators were suggesting UT didn't deserve to be there against the mighty USC team. That team earned that victory. And this team has to earn respect that its clear sports "experts" do not easily give, even when evidence is heaped in front of them.
So there you go.