Bidding a tearful farewell to Big 12
We know the Longhorns fought valiantly to save the conference, but in the end, UT president Bill Powers honored the league's DNR request as he toured Napa Valley with the chancellors from Cal-Berkeley and Stanford while discussing endowment chairs for their respective engineering departments.
We appreciate that Powers, Class of '67 at Cal-Berkeley, tried desperately to avoid the clutches of Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott, who until recently was in charge of the Serena and Venus Williams-led Women's Tennis Association.
Oddly enough, though, the Pac-10 first accepted the Colorado Buffaloes. Scott said the Buffs were a wonderful fit, both "academically and athletically." He thinks the fact that CU's football program lost six scholarships for having possibly the worst grades in the nation is a sign of how much potential the school has for academic growth. The Big 12 will remember Colorado for its football scandal in 2002 and the fact that it canceled most of its sports because of poor weather and apathy from an alumni base that was more focused on hiking.
In a cunning move, the architects of the new Pac-16 quickly moved to accept Colorado separate of the six teams from the Big 12 South, in part, to make sure that poor-intentioned Baptists would never walk the Berkeley campus and hand out spiritual tracts.
Again, we pause to thank the University of Texas for putting it all on the line to keep the Big 12 together. I guess we should've known, though, that Nebraska, a team that has largely faded from the power structure of college football, would cause the league to come tumbling down.
There may have been a shot at saving the Big 12's life, but sadly, Dr. Tom Osborne returned from Congress a few years ago and realized the Cornhuskers had basically turned into Iowa State. Osborne, a legendary coach at the school, wondered how he'd become UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds' pool boy.
Citing the thrilling prospect of more academic grants and TV money, Osborne and the Cornhuskers are bolting for the Big Ten. The conference was a bit uneasy when Nebraska rolled out its new "No Athlete Left Behind" program but chose to look the other way because of the Huskers' rabid fan base and reputation for turning out excellent soy farmers.
We know this death was largely caused by football, but it's worth noting that Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor, three of the have-nots in the Big 12 breakup, all had top 10 basketball programs this past season. This may be one of the reasons UT coach Rick Barnes, a man who's lost four consecutive games to Scott Drew's Bears, was grinning Thursday afternoon as he tried to figure out the names of his new counterparts at Arizona and Arizona State.
For those of us who loved the Big 12, this is a dark day. We'd like to thank the Longhorns for letting the rest of us bask in their glow for the past 14 years. We look forward to that storied Texas Tech-Arizona State rivalry that many of us envisioned.
To former Aggie yell leader, Texas Gov. Rick Perry: Don't worry about losing the Baptist vote, sir. I'm sure the Episcopalians will pull you through in your re-election bid against Bill White. The main thing is that you stayed true to your trophy wife in Austin, the Texas Longhorns.
Rest in eternal peace, Big 12!
Matt Mosley writes weekly on the Dallas-Fort Worth sports scene for ESPNDallas.com.