’Tis the season for Amazon packages, arguing with in-laws, and over-the-top Elf on the Shelf flexing on social media. ’Tis also the season of forgiveness. In the immortal lyrics of North Texas’ own Grammy nominees Bowling for Soup: “Come back to Texas. It’s just not the same since you went away.” Don’t be confused. I know Texas A&M is still a university in the Lone Star State, but they’ve been Texan in name and accent only since their departure from the Big 12 in 2011. Aggies are still in Texas but aren’t of Texas any longer.
It’s understandable. That team in Austin’s money still runs the conference. The Longhorns aren’t relevant on the field, but brands matter. The Dallas Cowboys haven’t been winners between the hashes since I was in grammar school but remain the most important NFL franchise. Bevo and the Big 12 took TAMU for granted, damaged the school’s self-esteem, then asked them to be happy while the Longhorn Network launched 24-hour coverage of sports almost no one cares about. Like a spurned spouse, TAMU loaded up the maroon SUV and took what felt like a fair share of our mutual friends to move in with a better looking partner who makes more money. But are the Aggies really happier?
Undoubtedly, Aggie undergrads and alums alike will roll their eyes and assure you the decision to join the SEC was a no-brainer. More money, better competition, and stronger recruiting are a smattering of the standard responses. Similarly, the spouse who attends their new partners’ swanky company party filled with successful movers and shakers will trumpet far and wide how much fun they’re having. They’ll say it but know they don’t belong there and cover feelings of inadequacy with Xanax (Jimbo Fisher) and bottles of wine (dateless national championship trophy of empty promises) to mask the sadness.
We (the Big 12) were wrong, but so were you. Let’s reconcile. This round-robin conference of one true champion crap is boring. A cadre of menacing Texas squads should be anchoring the Big 12. You aren’t relevant in the SEC. Only real friends could be this brutally honest. Fisher is a great coach but isn’t close to matching predecessor Kevin Sumlin’s 11-win first season. The Reveilles square off with the Okie State Cowboys in Houston for the Texas Bowl and a chance to match their respectable 9-4 record from last season, yet the maroon and white were closer to losing against conference bottom dwellers than beating any power players.
Therein lies the point. College Station’s Crusaders could have competed mightily for the Big 12 title and a spot in the College Football Playoff this season. The Sooners and Bears, while impressive at times, proved they were less than one possession better than most of their rivals. Arguments over which conference is best are plentiful yet futile. The Big 12 has proven itself irrelevant in the post-BCS era as the only cohort yet to play in a championship final. Help your fellow Texan rivals revive our depleted lineup by admitting your mistake and coming home. We know those Southern squads seem prettier and receive more media attention, but your intrastate brothers value you more.
What is the greatest moment in Aggie SEC history? Duh! When former Heisman Trophy winner and now disgraced Canadian Football League ball boy Johnny Manziel beat Nick Saban’s evil Crimson Tide way back in 2012. Congratulations, you’re the Texas Tech of the SEC. Replace Manziel with Crabtree and Crimson Tide with the top-ranked Longhorns. Don’t let that shining fluke moment blind you from returning where everyone knows and kind of respects your name. Your natural order is smack in the heart of Big 12 country, and you will have a better chance of sending Jimbo’s dateless trophy to an engraver.
This plea for reconciliation goes double for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. That team has been an empty shell of their former glory since fleeing for the group from the frozen north. Huskers are Midwestern and belong in the only major mid-American conference with their Kansan and Iowan farm-subsidy agricultural brethren. Missouri has an identity crisis about which region of the country they belong to dating back to the Civil War. We don’t need Mizzou back, but the Tigers probably shouldn’t have left the Big 12 either.