Hey all, today’s MidRange is hitting your inbox thanks to regular Tedium contributor Andrew Egan, who had something on his mind about two topics that I don’t know that much about—college football and Texas.
For all the turmoil caused by UT and OU joining the SEC, the disruption for alumni outside of Texas and Oklahoma has been severe. Wearing a UT hat in a NYC sports bar is to be a default ambassador, good or bad. Hell and/or high water.
Being an avatar for friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers to vent their frustration is a unique experience. But nothing new, since UT administrators caved to booster pressure to keep the problematic school fight song.
But this whole fiasco is absolutely the result of Texas boosters and the unfathomable resources at their disposal. Texas' endowment is one of (or depending on the year the biggest) in higher education. That money is completely separate from revenue the athletic department generates, which is often the highest in all of college sports. The University of Texas brand is the most valuable in college sports. On this front, OU is no slouch either.
This is to say, the move to the SEC is not about money. Sure, both schools and the entire SEC will make more money through the partnership but only marginally more. No. This is about ego. And one of the only things more difficult to convey than the wealth of the University of Texas and its alumni is the ego. Somehow, the state of Texas isn't big enough to accommodate it.
(This is probably where I should clarify that I'm a proud Texas Ex and am writing while wearing a burnt orange Shiner t-shirt made for the Texas Ex NYC chapter.)
Texas, as a university and state, hungers for prestige. UT likes to believe it's among America's top public universities, like Virginia, California, or North Carolina. Most recognize that UT has already achieved this status but, for a litany of reasons too long to go into here, it's not enough. Success in academics does not have the same cultural impact in the South that success in football has. And if there is success to be had, or a caveat on the success achieved, UT will go out of its way to claim it. It wants to compete with the best, regardless of the outcome.
Which means the move to the SEC will ultimately mean little to either the Longhorns or the Sooners. Both recruit at an elite level and play high level games that grab national attention. Now the games are just more elite and higher profile. How this translates into SEC success for either team is debatable … largely because of the biggest unknown variable, and likely the second biggest reason, for the move in the first place.
The name, image, and likeness rules will allow college athletes to profit while playing college sports for the first time. Texas, and to a lesser degree OU, is taking a big bet that their fan base will mint overnight millionaires out of recruits. Texas is trying to buy a national championship.
And I won't cheer any less when they succeed.
Time limit given ⏲: 30 minutes
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