From the Stands – Trey McLean

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Editor-in-chief at hookemreport
Randy Maltz is a die-hard sports fan, with passion for the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Longhorns. He is Founder & Editor of Silver and Blue Report and Hook 'em Report. He still idolizes Roger Staubach and Tom Landry.
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From the Stands
Conference realignment! Changes coming! The Pac-24! The Big 16!

“Sources tell sounds that the SEC has contacted WhateverTheirNameIs and Whatchamacallit State about joining the conference and creating a Super Conference …”

“If InsertConferenceNameHere loses TeamIDon’tLike and TeamIDon’tCareAbout, sources have indicated that they would go after ThisOne and ThatOne as replacements …”

“None of this is confirmed, of course …”

If you can think of a scenario for college football realignment, it has probably been written about somewhere. Everyone is on the move, everyone is trying to land one of the big fish and conferences are on the verge collapse or becoming a supernova, depending on what you read. And, of course, one of those big fish is The University of Texas. There are reports that Texas is listening to the Big Ten, the SEC, The Pac-10, and some idiot wrote last week that Texas might just form a brand new conference with teams from the Big 12 and the Pac-10 (read that nonsense here– link to last week’s From the Stands). So with all this realignment talk, what will happen to the Texas Longhorns? I’ll tell you what I think in a long, rambling sort of way- nothing. Nothing will happen. The Horns are not leaving the Big 12 anytime soon, because the Big 12 isn’t going away anytime soon.

What do we know? We know Missouri really wants to be a part of the Big Ten. We know Nebraska really wants to be away from big, mean Texas. We know the Big Ten really wants to expand to get the coveted Championship Game and all the revenue it produces.

What do we think? We think Missouri is a natural fit, and they are. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they will get the bid. If Notre Dame accepts the bid, the store is closed. The Big Ten will have its 12th team — the Big Ten actually has 11 teams right now — and the conference can book its Championship Game and likely will not throw all of college football into a tizzy by poaching from other conferences. We also think that won’t happen, because Notre Dame, with its non-football Big East conference membership and its exclusive NBC deal for football, has no reason to join the Big Ten. There are other candidates as well, like Syracuse, Rutgers and Pitt. I think Pitt is more of a long shot, but ‘Cuse and Rutgers are interesting. Either one would bring in NYC TV dollars and NYC TV markets. In Rutgers, you get a competitive football team that is a 30-minute ride from the Big Apple. With all the transplants in the City, its TV gold for prime time games with the Scarlet Knights. While the Orangemen aren’t the football juggernauts you would hope, they fill it up for basketball and the local interest in the tri-state area, where the majority of their alumni live, would have the Big Ten on national TV for hoops as well. What does Missouri bring to the table? A marginal football team, a sometimes-dangerous basketball team and a much, much smaller media market. Nebraska, aside from football, brings even less to the table than Missouri. If a Championship Game is the end result then I see one of the East Coast schools being the choice.

What if Mizzou does leave? Let’s assume the Big Ten just wants Missouri which would give them 12, or that both Rutgers and Syracuse accept and they need Missouri to make  it 14. Do they keep going to 16? I think they stop there and weigh their options. They really, really want Notre Dame, so I don’t see any more bids going out that would lock the Irish out. Would they extend a 15th bid and create an unbalanced league? I don’t think so, at least not until they get Notre Dame on board. I don’t see them giving up on the Irish any time soon, so I think they’ll stop at an even number — 12 or 14 and continue to schmooze Notre Dame. When they get them in the fold, they will extend that other bid. Maybe it’s Nebraska, maybe it isn’t, but that is down the line. Right now I don’t see them in their plans.

Where does the Big 12 go if one team leaves? I see them adding another team to the mix to fill it out to 12. Who is that team? TCU? New Mexico? Houston? Utah? BYU?

TCU is probably the first choice. I don’t agree with that. (Actually, I’d say let Colorado go, and let’s have 10-team conference and no championship game, but they didn’t ask me.) If that were to happen, I hear Oklahoma State would probably shift to the North division. What about Utah? That would be interesting. They have clout in football and basketball and it opens the door to the West Coast TV markets. I don’t see UH or New Mexico having enough of anything for the Big 12 to come calling.

So, assume TCU accepts and Oklahoma State moves north. What changes for Texas? Nothing. They would still play OSU, just twice every four years, which would replace Missouri on the schedule. Texas doesn’t really have a history with Mizzou anyway, so the Horns don’t lose anything. It isn’t like Oklahoma State and Texas are circling the calendars every year in football for each other, either, so that yearly game getting axed isn’t really a problem. It opens the door for a serious game in Fort Worth every two years, which is about the same as going to Stillwater, isn’t it? On the field I see the loss of Missouri and the inclusion of TCU as a fairly comparable trade with a trend towards upgrade. It cuts down on the travel budget for the Texas schools, not having to go that far east, and the rest of the conference was having to come down here anyway. It certainly wouldn’t make Nebraska happy at all, so that’s a total plus in my eyes.

The loss of revenue in the St.Louis/Kansas City markets would be felt, but I don’t see anyone getting added that will fix that. Do you?

So, in short, I don’t think anything is going to change in the Big 12. I think everyone will be right where they are now and any expansion the Big Ten is planning involves the northeast coast. I see a very slight chance of things breaking Missouri’s way and them being the only defection from the Big 12. And if that is the case, the conference will just replace them with the best possible candidate, which is probably TCU, which would mean the Big 12 keeps on keepin’ on.

Last week, I was all over a new Pac-10/Big 12 hybrid conference and I still am. I still think that will happen. Just not right now. The more I look at it, the more I think very little, if anything, will change until Notre Dame makes a move.

Tell me what you think?

Texas Baseball

The Horns played that always-tricky (college) finals doubleheader over the weekend against Louisiana Tech. In the past, this finals weekend series has jumped and bitten the Horns, like against North Carolina State a few years ago, and it has the potential to be a confidence killer going into the post-season. The Horns had their issues with Louisiana Tech in game one, winning 10-9. Texas jumped out early but surrendered the lead and trailed 7-4 going into the bottom of the sixth, but answered with five runs to take a 9-7 lead. They responded in game two by hammering the Bulldogs, 13-2. If game two had gone like game one, there might be a cause for some concern, but the 11-run win tells me game one was a minor blip on the radar. Texas now heads to Missouri to end the regular season.

Does anyone remember the last time Texas went to Missouri? It was a nightmare. In 2008 Texas headed to Columbia to play the No.8 ranked Tigers and in game one jumped out to an early lead on the back of Kyle Russell’s two home runs, leading on the road 9-3 going into the fourth. And then the bottom fell out. Texas gave up 10 in the bottom of the inning, but it wasn’t anywhere close to over. Mizzou scored six more in the fourth, six more in the sixth and another six over the last two innings. That makes a grand total of 31 runs. The good news is Texas scored 12. The bad news is they lost by 19. The 31 runs were the most ever allowed by a Texas Longhorn baseball team. Texas lost game two of that series, 13-2, before avoiding a sweep with a win on Sunday. Now they get to go back and put that memory away.

Baseball isn’t as emotional as football, and that game was two years ago, and in the world of college baseball most of the members of the 2008 team are not here anymore, but still. I would like that memory erased. That was a lovely Friday night. It was nice outside, spring was in the air and the weather had finally turned warm for the first time all spring. We had friends over, hanging outside, etc. And our night was ruined because of the Missouri Tigers. Probably. I don’t completely remember because it was two years ago, but I’m pretty sure it was terrible.

Game one Friday night is at 6 pm, game two is at 2 pm Saturday and game three is Sunday at 1. The Horns already have the Big 12 Championship and No. 1 seed in the Tournament locked down, but they sure don’t want to let satisfaction creep in and erode the confidence and momentum built up over the last two months.

Look for Texas to play their game — great pitching, great defense and small ball — and be as aggressive at Mizzou as they have been all season.

We will talk Big 12 Baseball Tournament next week.

Texas Softball

I said the baseball team had a tricky weekend set with Louisiana Tech, because their minds were on other things, and that the reason it was tricky is it could unravel a team if things didn’t go well. That is exactly what happened to the softball team last weekend.

After wrapping up the Big 12 two weeks ago with a whipping of Baylor on the road, the ladies hosted Georgia and it was disastrous. The Horns were hammered by UGA by a combined score of 20-5 and Blaire Luna was roughed up on National TV. Things were going so well and then the bottom seemed to drop out over the weekend. Texas was still the top seed going into the Big 12 Softball Tournament.

The Horns handled Baylor in the opener as Blaire Luna responded with a complete game and 12 strikeouts and a 3-2 Horns win. In the semi’s Texas faced No. 8 Missouri, a team they beat in both match-ups in the regular season. The Tigers pounded on Texas, 11-6, as Luna was run from the game in the second inning, the second time in the last three games that she was knocked out early. The top seed was bounced and the Tournament Title would go to someone else. Who that “someone else” was I don’t know.

That final regular season series seemed to send the Longhorns into a tailspin that cost them a shot at a Tournament Title. They now must find a way to regroup and get ready for the Big Dance, which starts this weekend.

The ladies are the No.7 national seed and host a Regional at McCombs Field. In the Austin Regional are No.2 seed East Carolina, No.3 seed BYU and No. 4 seed Iona.

ECU and BYU kick it off Thursday, May 20th, with the first pitch coming at 5 pm. The Horns and Iona play in game two, scheduled for a 7:30 start time. That second game start time is fluid and dependent on how long game one goes.

What do we know about these teams? Let’s see. East Carolina is the Pirates. What is a female pirate called? Probably a Lady Pirate. The school is in Greenville, North Carolina and is the fastest growing school in the UNC system. Currently the enrollment is about 28,000. What else? Jeff Blake is from there. Remember him? He was a quarterback who threw passes so high they literally went off the TV screen at times. Arguably the best player in the NFL right now is a former Pirate in the Titan’s Chris Johnson. The guy that started Golden Corral is an ECU Pirate, as is WWE honcho Vince McMahon. None of them play softball.

BYU is BYU. What can I tell you about them you don’t already know?

As for Iona, I’m pretty sure that was the college that Otter lied about his girlfriend dying in a kiln accident to get that girl and friends to go out with him and the other Delta Tau’s, right? It has like 3,000 students, is in upstate New York and all the buildings look EXACTLY the same as the ones in Animal House. That can’t be a coincidence, can it? The one real difference is those girls that Otter and the boys ditched at the bar don’t look like the athletes Texas has on their softball team. And they must face Blaire Luna. I like Texas’ chances with the Gaels.

Texas should be able to take care of business this weekend. If they do they likely get a visit in two weeks from No.10 seed Arizona, who is hosting their own Regional. One step at a time, though — Texas plays Iona Thursday night at approximately 7:30.

Misc. …

With one conference series to go, you have to like where the Longhorn baseball team is sitting right now. They are deep, talented and have all the intangibles to make a run deep into the post-season. With the burn of last year’s loss in the Championship Series driving them, the Horns are motivated and ready to go.

Prove me wrong, softball girls. Show me Georgia was a blip on the radar.

News & Notes

  • I don’t like the Lakers.
  • Steve Nash should still be a Maverick.
  • Who is that in first place in the AL West?
  • Craig James will not cover any Texas Tech football games this fall for ESPN/ABC because of the pending litigation between the school and Mike Leach.

Trey McLean
EMAIL: FromTheStands@gmail.com

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