Can the Cougars save the Big 12?
I did due diligence by asking about the sports programs, and getting some props for the school's compliance department in the work they did with getting Case Keenum an added year of eligibility. I got some thoughts on The Longhorn Network, and some updates on the fundraising for the Robertson Stadium rebuild. But nothing on realignment. And when news of the A&M Board of Regents meeting for today hit late last week -- a meeting in which A&M dropping out of the Big 12 is supposed to be the main topic -- Rhoades was suddenly "unavailable" for comment.
Thus, absent comments from UH, which makes sense for all kinds of reasons, I've got some thoughts on my own about the discussion of the Cougars moving to the Big 12 to take the place of the Aggies. My basic thought being this: be careful what you wish for because you might get it.
First thing first. Pay no attention to that SEC meeting yesterday in which the SEC refused to act upon the Aggies. Of course they're not going to make a preemptive move. Now if the Aggies, as expected this afternoon, state that they intend to leave the Big 12 and would like to join the SEC, then expect the SEC to start with the necessary work to make A&M a member of the conference.
The departure of the Aggies would leave the Big 12 with nine schools. There are lots of possible paths for the conference. The Horns go independent and kill the conference. Oklahoma splits, probably taking Oklahoma State with it, and the league dies. Kansas gets the hell out. Missouri gets the hell out. As long as Oklahoma sticks around, the conference probably finds a way to live, despite the best attempt of Texas to kill it the past several years. But no matter what, the league's going to need another college to survive.
One of the schools discussed has been Houston. And it would be nice, very nice for the Cougars to once again be in one of the BCS conferences. But as nice as this might be, the Cougars shouldn't make the move if they're going to end up like the rest of the schools in the Big 12, a bitch to the Longhorns.
There's already been discussion about the Cougars playing home games against Texas at Reliant Stadium instead of at Robertson Stadium. A current Cougar plan is to play home games at Reliant while the work on Robertson Stadium takes place. But while that is acceptable, it is not acceptable for the Coogs to move a home game away from a new Robertson to Reliant so that the Horns can pack the stadium. If UT wants to play a game at Reliant, then they should move one of their home games to Reliant. UH should never, never, never, give up a game at its home stadium, and a home-field advantage, to UT just to keep those whiny, bitchy fans happy.
It's these Horns fans who destroyed the Southwest Conference. They drove Nebraska and Colorado out of the Big 12 and they're about to drive the Aggies out of the conference. There's no need for the Cougars to accept the same treatment that drove those schools away.
But the UH fans are going to have to continue doing what they've started to do recently. They've got to show up for every game, no matter the opponent, no matter the team's record, no matter the conference. A renovated Robertson Stadium won't do much good for the Cougars if the place is packed with UT fans screaming for the Horns -- though UH officials will never do what the Astros did for the Red Sox series last month and turn the stadium into an homage to the Horns.
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And Cougar fans have to start filling up the rest of the school's athletic facilities. Don't wait for a move to the Big 12 or the Big East. Show up now. Show up for December games at Hofheinz Pavilion against lower-division schools and for February games against Marshall. Pack Cougar Field for baseball and go to the softball field. Don't give the UT fans any excuse to denigrate the school, the teams, or the fans.
It's nice to see serious discussions about UH moving up to a major conference (a dying conference, sure, but still a major conference). But let's make this a move the Cougars, and the UH fans, can enjoy. If this move happens, still a big if, let's make sure that UH doesn't become like the rest of the remaining members of the Big 12. Let's make sure the Cougars don't become the bitches of the Texas Longhorns.