What started as a history lesson, in this space at least, on Monday is on the verge of becoming an historical shift in the world of collegiate sports. The college football gods dropped this mayhem in our laps, so let's keep talking about it. (For the record, the last time a topic carried five posts within a week, there were hormones and tumors involved. This is way better.)
So, here we are -- Nebraska? Big Ten bound. Colorado? Pac-Whatever bound. Boise State is the latest domino to fall, upgrading from coach to business class by moving to the Mountain West Conference just minutes before I began typing. Now we're just waiting for the Longhorn Decision -- save the Big 12 or move to what would become the Pac-16. The latest fly in the Pac-16 ointment is the story of Gene Stallings, an A&M regent with a national championship at Alabama on his coaching resume, trying to will A&M into the SEC. And you know what? By and large, A&M fans (the ones that I interact with via my show) appear receptive to it.
You know who is "a little miffled" (one of my favorite Tony Soprano malapropisms) about this? Longhorn Fan. Lance Zierlein (fellow 1560 host) posed the question to me this morning: "Why is Longhorn Fan agitated about A&M flirting with the SEC?" The answer was a simple one to me -- emotion. Here's where I'm going with that....
We've firmly established the following things over the past week (and really last several years, but the last week has provided further validation):
1.) Texas is the biggest chess piece and needle mover in college football right now outside of the SEC. The USC sanctions this week only strengthen that position.
2.) Oklahoma and A&M are strong players, but as strong as they are, they're not Texas and it's at the very least questionable as to whether they are each more valuable unto themselves or as part of a Texas-led group going to a new conference.
3.) Texas Tech needs to be hitched to whatever Texas is doing right now; cling to them like a branch on the banks of a raging realignment river, Lubbock.
4.) All of these schools, especially the Texas schools, seem to be on the same page for the most part, going so far as to meet and talk frequently over the last several days to ensure that everyone is taken care of.
So back to Lance's question -- "Why is Longhorn Fan agitated about A&M flirting with the SEC?" The analogy I drew up on the air this morning cited the HBO at-one-time hit show Entourage, where an A-list movie star (Vincent Chase) brings his old buddies from the neighborhood along with him to Hollywood to basically live the good life on his dime (masked behind the facade of their doing day-to-day stuff for him like cooking, driving him around, and giving hit-or-miss career advice).
Let's take the Entourage characters and assign them a role in Big 12 Realignment/Extinction-Palooza 2010, shall we? (By the way, credit to shaggybevo.com message board poster "orangenwhite" for the picture attached to the story. Logos won't match the bodies I'm about to describe, but clearly others see the Entourage parallels, and that's a good thing.)
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS -- VINCENT CHASE: Unquestioned leader of the group, top money maker. With him, there is no house on the beach (Yes, for now, for the sake of this analogy, the Big 12 South is a high-rent-district house in Hollywood. Work with me, people...)
UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA -- ERIC "E" MURPHY: Vince's childhood buddy and number two perception-wise in the house in terms of potential and overall success. Also, his red hair is the closest to Sooner crimson. (For the record, E's on-again/off-again girlfriend Sloan would be Oklahoma State, hitching her wagon to E when it's convenient for her. Which I guess means Sloan's father Terrance McQuewick is T. Boone Pickens and the chick Tori that Sloan allowed in for a threesome with her and E is Tulsa.)
TEXAS A&M -- JOHNNY "DRAMA" CHASE: Drama cooks for Vince, trains with him, etc. Most importantly, he's Vince's blood brother, much like the Aggies (whether they both like it or not) are kind of blood brothers to the Longhorns as the two most prominent Texas schools. It seems like in this whole realignment thing that state roots have been thicker than conference rivalries -- key word is seems ("blood is thicker than water" analogy). Texas and Oklahoma have history, but Texas and Texas A&M are football "blood" (at least in terms of perception around the country -- trust me, I've lived everywhere.)
TEXAS TECH -- "TURTLE": Least self-sufficient of the crew and the butt of several jokes, a lot like Texas Tech. If Vince decides to do anything other than star in multi-million dollar blockbuster films, Turtle might be pumping gas somewhere. Turtle needs Vince; Tech needs Texas. Period. (I guess this means Mike Leach is Jamie Lynn Sigler.)
(For those wondering where Vince's sometime agent Ari Gold fits into all of this, he's obviously Dan Beebe watching his career teeter tenuously on the brink of total annihilation on a daily basis.)
Now, if we can all agree that none of the "entourage" (E, Drama, Turtle -- or Oklahoma, A&M, and Tech) would be where they are without Vince (Texas), that's our premise. Sure E (Oklahoma) seems like a smart enough guy to find good work, and Drama (Texas A&M) is just goofy and idiotic enough to land the occasional semi-decent acting gig, but without Vince as the fulcrum, it gets much more difficult and scary. (Turtle would be pushing a shopping cart down Pico Blvd if it weren't for Vince, meaning the analogy of Turtle/Tech kind of holds water a little bit, sorry Tech.)
Vince gets these guys into all of the clubs around Hollywood, puts a luxurious roof over their heads, and provides them with a very, very good income for doing fairly simple tasks (like allowing him to go at least 10-2 every year). In short, if they're hanging with Vince, life is good for E, Drama, and Turtle. And Vince has given them every indication that he has no plans to seek others to fill these cushy roles.
But assume that all of a sudden Drama, after years of history with Vince, decided he wanted to go cook for Brad Pitt, and live with Brad Pitt, and train with Brad Pitt. (Yes, Brad Pitt is now the SEC...stay with me, people.) Would Vince go postal? Probably not. But he'd probably be a little irritated, merely because that's what happens when people appear disloyal, when people break ranks for seemingly no reason.
Would life be better for Drama (A&M) with Brad Pitt (the SEC)? Maybe. He's a bigger star than Vincent Chase. But he's also a little bit strange, actually really strange. Moreover, Vince has been a very loyal kingpin/brother for Drama during his life. While Vince doesn't have any blood brothers left to fill Drama's role in his crew, there are plenty of other people (let's call them "Kansas" and "Baylor") who would gladly cook for Vince in exchange for luxury living conditions and an Express Pass into every happening club in Hollywood.
In short, Vince can find someone to do Drama's "stuff," but is Drama sure that Brad Pitt is going to treat him like Vince has? And besides, what did Vince ever do (aside from apply numerous brotherly beatings over the years) to make Drama feel like he needed to leave? Like he needed to go work somewhere else and get out from under the shadow of being Vince's brother?
Basically, Vince would probably be justified in having a "EFF YOU, man...after all the times I took up for you and made sure you got paid?!? And you start talking to Brad Freaking Pitt?!?" reaction.
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And so is Texas toward A&M, if indeed that's the reaction. Openly, Longhorn Fan would probably tell the Aggies not to let the door hit them in their SEC ass on the way out; pride would get in the way of a public overreaction. But the irritation Lance asked about would exist. The perception would be that A&M felt they were better off hitching their wagon to someone other than Texas, that they're better off fending for themselves with a new sugar daddy -- the SEC "What, we're not good enough for you, A&M?"
Emotion. In a week that's been way too much about business, a nice emotional decision to stir the pot could be just what the doctor ordered. I'll say this -- Texas against Texas A&M with the Aggies repping the SEC against the Longhorns (of the Pac-Whatever) has storylines...like monster storylines. Annually. Me likey.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.