SDS Responds To Baylor’s “Don’t Mess With Texas Football” Campaign

At this hour, Baylor remains the only thing keeping Texas A&M from joining the SEC. Florida President Bernie Machen, who chairs the SEC’s executive committee, said this morning that there was unanimous support to admit A&M pending the removal of any “contractual hindrances” to its departure from the Big 12. Machen indicated that one Big 12 member “had withdrawn its previous consent” and agreement not to sue A&M or the SEC for breach of contract.

Machen did not identify Baylor by name, but the school, led by President Kenneth Starr, has made no effort to hide its intentions. Baylor created a webpage that begs for public support to force A&M to stay in the Big 12. Under the headline, “Don’t Mess With Texas Football,” Baylor appeals to petty statism and invokes economic mercantilism in a pathetic attempt to keep its marginal football program sucking at the tit of more successful programs like Texas A&M and Texas.

Baylor’s appeal opens by invoking some romantic football imagery:

Nothing is more beloved in Texas than Texas football. Entire towns travel to neighboring communities on Friday nights as rivals meet under the Friday night lights; Saturday mornings find families rushing out to pee wee football games and spending their afternoons with friends tailgating or watching some of the most historic and storied football rivalries in the nation; Sunday afternoons see families gathered in living rooms across the state to cheer on the Cowboys or the Texans.

None of this has anything to do with Texas A&M joining the SEC. Moving on.

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?

As of this morning, the Big 12 included schools in four states that were not Texas; last season there were six “other states” aligned with Baylor in its conference. So unless Baylor wants to recreate the old SWC, any conference it belongs to will involve some other state that’s not Texas.

As for “hundred-year-old rivalries,” A&M and Baylor may play each other every year, but it’s not much of a rivalry. Baylor has exactly two wins in the last 25 years against A&M. Is it any surprise that A&M seeks more challenging annual competition in the SEC?

Will Texans sit and watch as Texas’ flagship universities pledge their loyalties to other states?

This argument might have made sense before the United States annexed Texas in 1845, but again, as of this morning Texas is not an independent country. Every other state’s flagship schools have no problem pledging their “loyalties” to surrounding states as part of a conference. Nor is the problem here simply A&M’s desire to leave. Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas are all contemplating moves. Are these schools supposed to pledge their undying loyalty to Texas just to keep the Big 12 together?

Will Texans stand by as our most promising student athletes are lured out of Texas by new rivals?

The use of the word “lured” makes the SEC and its members sound like sexual predators. First of all, students are not slaves or indentured servants — let’s set aside the “amateurism” issue for the moment — and they are free to go to any school in any state they choose. It is not incumbent on “Texans” to stand up and build some sort of wall around the state to prevent promising football players from leaving.

More to the point, Baylor’s not worried about students being “lured out of Texas.” Baylor’s worried about students being lured away from Baylor. Most of Baylor’s roster comes from Texas, which is no surprise. If Baylor finds itself outside a major conference without the “lure” of annual games against the other Texas schools, it’s reduced to a third-tier football program. Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech won’t have any problem recruiting in-state even with greater competition from the SEC and Pac-12. Baylor can’t keep up, and they know it.

Will Texans watch as our most precious resources—the great minds of the next generation—are exported to new conference institutions?

This is the type of political argument opponents of free markets employ. It harkens back to 17th century mercantilism. It’s also telling that Baylor would openly discusses students as commodities when the NCAA goes to such great lengths to pretend student-athletes have no market value as employees.

Once again, this speaks to the core issue: Baylor knows it can’t compete in the changing college football environment. Large public institutions dominate major college football. Baylor is the only private school in the Big 12. Like Vanderbilt in the SEC and Northwestern in the Big 10, Baylor’s presence in college football’s first tier is largely a longevity prize. Baylor was a co-founder of the old SWC that was one of the Big 12’s ancestors. Aside from history, there’s no compelling reason to keep Baylor in a major conference, as the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice explained:

Baylor has been last in Big 12 attendance every single year. Baylor is 2-28 against Texas and Oklahoma in Big 12 play. Baylor has won more than one conference game only four times. If the Big 12 folds, Baylor has virtually no chance of getting into a BCS conference.

It’s not just attendance and revenues. Baylor’s stadium is in bad shape, and Baylor still hasn’t broken ground on a new place. Even worse, if Baylor is forced to play in Conference USA or the Mountain West, its revenues will decline dramatically.

If Baylor’s administration isn’t already subsidizing the athletics program, it will have to, and in a big way. At that point, Baylor must decide the worth of having a big-time sports program.

Baylor ends its screed by saying, “Texans must stand up and call the leadership of the University of Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech to clear-headed thinking about the state’s future.” Yet Baylor is the only institution that’s not thinking about the future. Instead it’s obsessed with preserving a mythical past where Baylor is somehow relevant to the larger college football community.

This process began with Texas creating the Longhorn Network in an effort to maintain its chokehold over Texas A&M and other Big 12 institutions. A&M finally decided it had enough and realized the future was with the SEC. Texas and the other Big 12 schools may soon decide the future lies elsewhere as well. If and when they move on, Baylor will be consigned to the college football scrapheap, which, given this last-ditch political yodeling by Ken Starr’s administration, is exactly where the school belongs.

 

 

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COMMENTS

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  • Don’t mess with the SEC!

  • WELL SAID. GREAT RESPONSE!

  • Baylor needs to just go ahead and submit their Mountain West, Western Athletic, and Conference USA applications and move on…we know it’s hard to give up that great bowl-revenue-sharing that you never contributed to…but it’s over…

  • What a pathetic attempt to continue reaping rewards off a revenue stream that you have little participation in growing. Baylor face it, you’re irrelevant and you know it. Your sense of entitlement is staggering.

    Your lawsuit will fail just like your program has for the past quarter decade or so.

  • I think everyone should click the link to Baylor’s site and get the president of Texas A&M’s email address and send them an email welcoming them to the SEC and let him know that Baylor was gracious enough to provide you with the email address. As far as rivalries go, Clemson and South Carolina play every year, Georgia and Georgia Tech every year, Florida and Florida State every year… and guess what they are not even in the same conference. I am sure the SEC could accomodate and let A&M play either Baylor or Texas or both every year.

    • And if you want to return the favor: Ken_Starr@baylor.edu

      • Copied and pasted from the email I just sent Mr. Ken Starr from Baylor:

        Mr. Starr,
        I think your lame begging attempt to the public to keep Texas A&M in the Big 12 is a last-ditch, desperate attempt to keep Baylor’s football program to continually sucking from the Big 12 financial teet longer than your program should have been allowed. As an alum from Vanderbilt, I understand first hand what it is like to be passionate about a football program that annually ranks dead last in the conference in attendance. Your job is as much political as it is administrative. However, I can tell you that you would not hear Vanderbilt whining like a spoiled toddler if any one of the schools in the SEC wanted to leave. Baylor can still have in-state rivalry games with Texas A&M out of conference, similar to Clemson/South Carolina, Florida/Florida State, or Georgia/Georgia Tech. Each one of these rivalry games are huge despite being out-of-conference. I applaud your attempt to maintain the SWC, er, I mean Big 12/9 solvent, but rescinding your agreement to let Texas A&M leave the Big 12 is only casting your school and football program in the worst possible light. Furthermore, I am curious what absurd reason you have no problem regarding Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma’s expressed interest in leaving the Big 12. I think it is time to do the right thing and support new, strong members to your soon-to-be-dissolved conference. May I suggest SMU? After all, “[n]othing is more beloved in Texas than Texas football.”

  • They’ve done the math. They know they’re dead in the water. The Big10 will pounce on Kansas and Kansas State (basketball revenue and tradition); Missouri will get picked up by either the SEC or Big10, while OK, OKState, TXTech, and TX make the transition to the the PAC16 (already in process). If you’re doing the math too, that only leaves one team… Baylor.

    It’s time to request re-alignment forms from the MWC, WAC, and C-USA gentlemen. Surely one of these conferences would like to have you. Good luck; and godspeed.

  • I’m pretty astounded at the percentage of people who are ok with the SEC no longer being Southeast.
    Sure, Baylor’s attempt is a weak one, but at least it’s something… SOMEBODY has to be the man from Tiananmen Square here, I’m actually disappointed that it’s not one of the teams allegedly proud of their SEC heritage.

    Why is everyone ok with putting a school in Texas in the SEC to begin with?

    South. Eastern. It’s pretty simple.

    Let’s add Oregon or UCLA to even it out?

    Does the whole entire thing HAVE to be ONLY about money? Why are we adding teams??

    We could also have helmet and uniform sponsorships too and make a lot more, like NASCAR does it.

    How about NOT making the profits be justification for deSECrating something historic like SEC football?

    • College Station is closer to the University of Kentucky than it is to the University of Colorado. Really not that far of a trip for the Aggies to head over to Arkansas, LSU, or Ole Miss. It took them 7-8 hours just to make it to Lubbock.

  • drewplaysdrums…it’s all about money. Adding A&M will bring in the Houston and Dallas markets. Right now the SEC only has one of the top 10 viewing markets in the country, and that is Atlanta. Not to mention a number of the current SEC teams will now be raiding the state of Texas for even more recruits than before. Times are changing, and you might as well get use to it. The SEC must stay ahead of other conferences. We were the first to get 12 teams…the first with a conference championship game…and now we will be the first with 14 or 16 teams and probably a true playoff with 4 divisions, semi-finals, and an improved SEC title game. Money runs the world, and the world includes the SEC.

    • “The SEC must stay ahead of other conferences.”

      I’m pretty sure we’ve won the last 5 National Championships.

      We are ahead. Way ahead.

      • But we wanna stay there, which means bringing money to the conference, to draw the big time recruits. I’m not cool with high school recruits being drawn out of the SEC simply bc we can’t keep up with the PAC12/Big10… That is totally unacceptable.

  • Baylor University=Irrelevence

  • I find it funny that all of a week ago these SDS article’s were asking if Texas A&M should become part of the SEC, sighting their lack of ability in the Big 12 and the probability of them being even more useless in the SEC. The comments from the readers were all the same, claiming that Texas A&M, and the state of Texas in general, were not in the south and didn’t deserve to be in the SEC. Claims of how Texas teams couldn’t handle being in the SEC ran ramped throughout every article posted. Claims that bringing Texas A&M to the SEC would simply ruin the conference and that Texas A&M would simply be another SEC “punching bag” team. Now that the time has come for Texas A&M to join it seems that everyone is on board with the idea and the article changes direction, pointing fingers at Baylor for not wanting to lose their conference.

    While I agree that Texas A&M will just be another speed bump for most SEC teams, since they have barely been productive in the Big 12, the writers for SDS and the readers commenting on the articles need to make up their minds. Texas A&M is trying to get into the SEC for $$$, that’s it. They claim it’s to get better national recognition, but you have to win games to do that, something they have been unable to do in the Big 12. Baylor is wanting Texas A&M to stay in the Big 12 for the same reason Texas A&M is trying to leave, $$$ and recognition, so if one is right for wanting what it thinks is best for their school, then so is the other. If one is wrong for doing it, then so is the other.

    • THANK YOU.

      At least I know I’m not alone in thinking this way.

      The way that we “stay ahead” of the other conferences is by continuing to dominate on the football field. Stooping to adding teams for more money and TV coverage is stooping down to other conferences’ levels, something we haven’t done very much of–because we didn’t need to–because we’re the best conference in the nation–look at the titles, they don’t lie.

    • I must beg to differ with you. ?? “not in the south”? Besides Florida, can you name another state that has any parcel of land more southerly?

  • Consider me on board with Baylor. Texas A&M has no business in the SEC!

  • Outside of Skip being rather silly trying to bash Baylor over Ken Star’s views which do not reflect all Bears (as I am a Baylor Graduate), and could care less whether or not TAMU wants to go into another conference. My senior year was one of those two victories on that great Halloween night, so forever in my heart, Baylor is the victor. Baylor has made it obviously clear that moving forward, the emphasis at our Private Institution is education. There has been billions invested into teachers, property, departments, equipment and facilities that will propel that school far into the next century of education. If a new football stadium is built, I hope it is financed in vast majority by the revenues of the admissions and sales revolving around the sports. Too many great colleges have turned their focus to the glamor and away from the education. Who cares what conference these teams play in. The sport is for the love of the game? … or am I wrong Skip? Just to further what I mean; how many graduates of Baylor make great lives for themselves vs how many football stars actually make the NFL. Even from TAMU or UT or TTU? I’d believe that ratio to be hugely bias towards Baylor graduates being successful people over college football stars becoming NFL legends.

  • The point of this blog was to point out the discrepancies of what Ken Star is saying will happen if A&M moves to the SEC as opposed to exactly what is happening in the Big 12 currently. Every point he makes is currently happening in the Big 12 and will not change one iota if A&M moves or not. High School and PeeWee games will continue in Texas with just as much fervor as yesterday, Texas universities will continue to litter its rosters with great Texas athletes as will schools from other states will continue to pull Texas athletes away from Texas “i.e. Missou, Ok, Ok State, Kansas, K-State and Iowa St already do” the only difference will be is that those states will just be replaced with new states like Louisiana, Alabama, Tenn, Miss, Georgia & Florida. The hilarious part is Texas flag-ship universities pledging their loyalties to other states. They are not pledging their loyalties to other states it is to a conference, just like the Big 12 is not a state it is a conference “albeit there are a number of schools from Texas it is still a conference not a state.”

    Ken Star’s comments reek of those of a desperate man and university grasping to the fact that they have been riding the coat-tails of UT, A&M, Ok and the rest of the Big 12 for a long time and like any other free loader they don’t want to see the free meals go away. But eventually like everything you have to pay for your meals and if you can’t afford to the Filet Mignon cut of the steak and now all your budget can afford is the rib-eye don’t begrudge other people for ordering the Filet because they can afford to pay for it. In other words quit being a selfish prick and saying since I don’t have the money to buy the best, you can have it either everyone has to eat what I eat. Be happy you are eating, because there are plenty of colleges that don’t have a football program at all!!!!!!

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