- May 29, 2001
In a weekend full of excitement, speculation, jokes aimed at Aggies and... well... let's face it... even more jokes aimed at Aggies, there's one truth about what is happening with Texas athletics that stands out above the rest.
It hasn't quite sunk in.
Don't get me wrong, I can think through all of it. Believe me, after talking with sources all week, I've been able to process that it's happening.
It just hasn't sunk in.
In case the magnitude of what is about to occur has escaped you, we're talking about one of the most impactful moments in the history of Texas athletics and college sports. Texas might be the No.1 money-generating brand in all of collegiate athletics, but it has never played under the biggest conference brand in the sport, while the No.1 conference brand in college athletics has never had the No.1 money-making brand at its disposal.
On the SEC side of things, you can almost see the full completion of the Death Star. Having Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M in the conference will mean that the state is universally regarded as an SEC state, first and foremost. While the doors to the Lone Star State have been widened since A&M's arrival, this knocks them all down. From a natural resource standpoint, the SEC will have the most important talent-producing states in the country. Schools like Mississippi State or Missouri might flinch at the idea of Texas joining the league, but this is going to be big for both of them. Even a school like LSU, which has recruited the Houston area and East Texas for decades, will see areas open up for them in ways they've never seen before.
Meanwhile, the Longhorns will finally sit at the cool kid's table. Never again will they need to worry about SEC schools working together to undermine the Longhorns in recruiting with the same conference messaging over and over and over again. Also, when it comes to natural resources, the Longhorns can now extend themselves into the SEC states with the same glee that they’ve been forced to try and defend against.
We're not just talking about the nearly 1,000 kids that Texas and Florida combine to produce each year. Consider last year's list of the states with the most players in the NFL per capita.
1. Georgia (72,296)
2. Louisiana (76,837)
3. Alabama (79,662)
4. Mississippi (84,780)
5. Florida (96,914)
6. Delaware (112,242)
7. South Carolina (118,599)
8. Hawaii (123,664)
9. Texas (130,966)
10. Utah (138,194)
11. Tennessee (141,025)
Outside of No.6 Delaware (who would have thought that?), No.8 Hawaii and No.10 Utah, the rest of the list is SEC territory. You're not going to find Kansas, Iowa or Oklahoma on such a list, which explains why the Big 12 is worthless to Texas from a natural resource standpoint.
In the last 20 years, the highest rated player from SEC territory that the Longhorns have signed is former wide receiver John Burt, who ranked No.93 in the Rivals rankings in 2015. Only Kenyatta Watson (No.112 in 2019) ranks as a mid four-star prospect or higher than Texas has signed since 2002 from schools in this area. Folks, this will change with the Longhorns entering the conference, as it has with Texas A&M, and it is not an insignificant deal.
You know what, though? This is the part that I can process.
It's the part where the Longhorns get to stop shopping at Target and start shopping at Neiman Marcus that I just can't quite process. You're telling me the Longhorns will soon have a schedule that features Arkansas, Oklahoma AND Texas A&M, while mixing in annual games against the likes of Alabama, Florida, Georgia and LSU, but never have to worry about figuring out how to get to Ames ever again? The Grove? The Swamp? Between the hedges? Trips to the ATL?
It just hasn't sunk in. Perhaps it won't for a while, even after that first year in the conference.
It's too much. After the last 10 years of covering Texas athletics, I've trained myself to expect the worst and this right here isn't the worst.
No. 2 - Find your favorite Aggie and hug them ...
This has to hurt.
As someone that has applauded the guts and creative-thinking by Texas A&M to get into a position where they could forever change the little brother shadow that has followed them around for millions of lifetimes, it's impossible not to chuckle at the irony of what is taking place.
FINALLY, the Aggies have a nationally respected program that is not only being regarded as a 2021 playoff contender, but they finally have secured a slight piece of leverage over the Longhorns in recruiting, almost exclusively because of the company they keep.
After 10 years of putting bricks down into a foundation, the moment to spread its wings and emerge as something more than Jan Brady has arrived.
And what happens?
The Longhorns just walk into SEC offices and boardroom like they are the king of Zamunda, leaving rose petals all over the floor, and have completely stolen A&M's new identity away.
It's messed up. It's not fair. It's a return to normal.
You know why Texas A&M leaked the story on Wednesday, despite the fact that it completely upstaged and stole the headlines from the media day the school has been waiting to tout for football reasons for the last decade? Because those are the things that Jan Brady does when she starts thinking about Marcia a little too much.
Tell me this isn't every Aggie that you know.
The frustration is real. The anger is real. The sudden self-doubt that has never quite gone away is real.
In a fair world, this wouldn't happen to the third-best collie behind Lassie and Bandit from Little House on the Prairie.
Yet, every Aggie knows that this isn't a fair world.
It's a world where they can spend a decade trying to reinvent themselves, only to have it all taken away from them in the blink of an eye.
Give those poor folks a hug.
Just try not to laugh when you do it.
No. 3 - What unbridled glee looks like ...
I posted this on Orangebloods over the weekend, but in case anyone missed it, when I'm writing about the enjoyment Texas leadership has had this week at the expense of Texas A&M, take a look at the meme sent to me by one Texas official this weekend.
When I asked if it was ok to share, the source said, "Please."
Like I said, give these folks a hug.
No. 4 - The SEC impact on football recruiting...
No, I don't believe that joining the SEC will fix all of the ailments that the Texas football coaching staff needs to cure before they are consistently recruiting at the levels that they want to, but...
It's going to go a long way to fixing some pretty critical ones.
As soon as Texas and Oklahoma are admitted into the SEC, perhaps as soon as the month of August, the Longhorns will be able to eliminate the single most problematic factor in recruiting outside of the last 10 years of performances on the football field. Not being in the SEC is either No.1 or No.2 on the list of concerns of almost every elite football prospect that Texas recruits from its own state.
It's possible that the change of conference won't be enough to change some of the dynamics of the 2022 class, but it certainly could. Elite in-state prospects in both the 2022 and 2023 classes are waiting to see how the Longhorns perform on the field this season and joining the SEC isn't going to change that.
Still, I can't express strongly enough the importance of eliminating the SEC recruiting tactics that have haunted the Longhorns. If a kid has a top five of Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, LSU and Alabama, that means that 60-percent of his finalists are hammering home the same exact point - Texas plays in the JV and the rest of them play varsity ball. If you don't think that has a long-lasting impact, you're not paying attention.
This really helps set up the 2023 class, especially since this won't be happening in the final 4-5 months of their decision-making processes. You better believe this will help with Arch Manning.
Are you kidding? It's a godsend.
No. 5 - About those NIL Deals...
In case you missed it, Orangebloods signed its first two Texas athletes - Jordan Whittington and Ivan Melendez - to NIL deals over the weekend
I'd like to pass along a few more nuggets from behind the scenes that I think you'll be interested in.
a. I can't stress enough that we're looking at this venture as a 10-year plan designed to take the Orangebloods reach to the highest levels we've ever seen. Our investment into our Youtube platform has many purposes, but reaching younger eyeballs (especially young UT students and grads) is a big one. In order to ensure that we don't ever become outdated, we have to make efforts to stay ahead of the curve.
b. We're investing into numerous elements on the video side of things that we believe will elevate the quality of our coverage. You'll be seeing announcements in the coming weeks that will reflect this. We have big plans.
c. Expect more announcements in the next few weeks. Our goal originally was to sign about a dozen athletes, with 4-5 of them being football players, but the reception to this project has been so strong that I could see a dozen being a very conservative number.
d. Our new partners are looking for sponsors. For instance, we're looking for a sponsor for Whittington's August post-practice reports. Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and keep in mind that these deals are putting money into the hands of the athletes.
e. I want to stress this again... we're not going to expose our athletes to problems. We will not expose them to dangerous clickbait. These are our partners. The only way this works for us is if the athletes involved, their families and the school come away from this feeling like each situation was a success on about 100 different levels. A lot of care has been put into the launch of this project and none of it will occur from start to finish without significant consideration.
No. 6 - A few words about the Texas compliance office ...
For all of the negative thoughts and words that have been expressed about the Texas compliance people since July 1 over the perception that they are somehow putting up a bunch of red-tape that is keeping Texas athletes from taking advantage of NIL more than competing programs across the country in recruiting, let me just say...
I'd personally give them an A+ for the way they handled the first Orangebloods deals, which were formally approved on Friday.
Among the details I'll share as evidence...
a. In the first conversations that I had with Texas compliance, it was mentioned that upon receiving paperwork on a deal, their office has 7-10 days to review the deal. It ended up taking less than a full business week.
b. Every time I had a question about anything, Texas officials have been incredibly swift in getting back to me.
c. In a Zoom call on Friday with three Texas officials from multiple departments, the conversation was positive, informative and incredibly welcoming, despite the anxiety levels that must have existed on their end. By the time our 35 minute-ish call had concluded, I ended up walking away feeling 10 times more confident and positive about all of us keeping an open mind and being on the same page in a lot of key areas than I would have thought possible.
d. In talking with a rep connected to another athlete this week, it was mentioned to me that dealing with Texas compliance was proving to be much smoother than some of the disasters that this particular person had dealt with related to other compliance offices across the country.
Out of respect to those involved in the proceedings, I'll keep almost everything that was discussed between us, but I wanted to pass along my first-person experience with the Texas Compliance office. In the midst of historic change, I simply couldn't have dreamed that the process would be as smooth as they made it.
No. 7 – BUY or SELL …
B/S — If Texas is in the SEC starting in 2022, to stay at top of the Arch Manning sweepstakes, Texas can afford one additional loss this upcoming season.
(Buy) Yeah, I think that's probably fair.
B/S Since College athletes are pretty much becoming professional with NIL, you expect some athletes making just as much or more in advertising deals as they would in the leagues? Will they likely stay in college longer because money may not be an issue for them?
(Buy) The athletes that are positioned with Orangebloods absolutely have a chance to make more NIL money than quite a few professional athletes in major sports. For instance, I'm not sure that Garrett Gilbert is going to make more than the starting quarterback at Texas, even if he is with the Cowboys.
B/S. Assuming the starting UT QB (Thompson or Card) leads the team to a Big 12 Championship game with a great statistical year (Rattler-like 173 QB rating), he will make more than Bryce Young in NIL money.
(Sell) I won't say he absolutely will because I don't truly know what kind of money Young is actually making, but I can't imagine star Texas players lagging behind their national counterparts.
Buy or Sell: Concerns over recruiting "irregularities" in the SEC were largely put to bed by Belmont due to NIL?
(Buy) At the very least, it significantly marginalizes the cheating.
B/S Aggie lost a lot of favor in the SEC after it's titty baby whine.
(Sell) It'll be forgotten by the time the first check cashes.
B/S: Texas and ou to the SEC will be signed, sealed and delivered before the opening kickoff.
(Buy) Everyone seems to believe this will happen.
B/S- orange bloods is going to grow bigtime in the SEC
(Buy) It has a chance to be fantastic for us.
B/S: Klubnick and/or Ewers are back in play as a result of Texas announcing a move to the SEC.
(Sell) I believe both of those two are going to stay where they are.
B/S By the time we play the aggies, Texas will have closed the gap on the number of elite players on defense and the offensive line enough to match the level of talent Jimbo is now putting on the field?
(Sell) The Longhorns can't close the gap at the current rate in a year or two.
B/S: Sark knew.
(Buy) The answer is probably somewhere in the middle of knowing nothing and knowing everything. I know it's sexy to want to believe this Machiavellian plan that has the Longhorns playing super chess when everyone else is playing checkers, but the deal to bring Sark in occurred back in December and this thing just wasn't that far down the road at that point. From what I've understood, this thing really picked up steam at the end of the school year and throughout the last couple of months. I'm sure he has known some of the details, but until this thing was finalized, the only way to keep this thing from blowing up was complete silence, and I don't know if you know this about college football coaches, but they are among the worst secret-keepers in the world.
At some point over the next two years, a new Governing NIL body will need to be created with offices at each university to contain the madness. This will include some sort of salary cap and disclosure/approval process
(Sell) I expect a governing body at some point and disclosure processes are already in place. However, I don't even expect something like a salary cap. That'll just lead to lawsuits and no one is looking to create those.
B/S - the texas leadership under CDC has bigger stones than the leadership under Deloss.
(Buy) You misspelled Kevin Eltife's name. CDC is a fantastic athletic director on a lot of levels, but this is way beyond his pay grade.
B/S Texas decision to potentially join the sec will affect Bryce Anderson 's decision.
(Buy) Potentially? Sure. It's been so close the last couple of months that it could certainly help.
Love It or List It, Ketchum, you'll sell your house in The Woodlands & move back to Cedar Park and buy a new one within 5 years.
Buy it or Sell it. Texas keeps the Longhorn Network upon moving to the SEC?
(Sell) For the record, we have not yet purchased a home in this area, specifically because I want to be sure that when we do buy, we're likely buying in the area our kids will grow up in until they graduate from high school. It's a little too soon to say what will happen, but my wife and kids love it in The Woodlands.
(Sell) It'll be gone and no one is blinking about it from the sound of it.
(Buy) Simms had a career 138 rating and never earned all-conference honors. Arch will do better than that.
DimiHorn asked essentially the same thing I was going to, but here’s my version:
B/S - all of us fanboys who bleed burnt-orange because we drink nothing but burnt-orange Kool-Aid have no reason to fear that pissed-off legislators can stop this runaway train.
(Sell) Man, I'm not going to go so far as to say "you have no reasons for fear" because at the end of the day we are talking about a collection of weasel politicians, but there's a reason why Texas leadership is so calm right now. Until they start acting nervous, I think you can feel good.
Buy or sell: The "walk back" statement by A&M AD Bjork was the single most tortured, tone deaf, and just plain stupid public posturing that you can remember in your days of covering college football.
(Sell) I'm old enough to remember a certain Arkansas football coach having a press conference after a motorcycle accident.
College football is heading in the wrong direction.
(Sell) I like watching games that matter between teams that matter. The current iteration of college football gives me far too few of these moments. The future has a chance to be full of them.
B/S: J lo is hotter at 52 than Miley ever has been or ever will be?
(Buy) J-Lo is not from earth.
B/S. A&M leadership trying to keep Texas out of the SEC was just Kabuki Theater for their base.
(Buy) You nailed it in two words.
B/S If the Brockermeyer’s had graduated in 2022 they would be signing with Texas. In life timing is everything.
(Buy) Simple as that.
No. 8 - Scattershooting on the sports weekend...
... I'm not yet all the way into the Olympics. The time zone thing is a big deal. although I did find myself watching the men's basketball team live against France on Sunday. Maybe Cat Osterman will drag me in when the USA plays for the gold medal on Tuesday.
... Speaking of the USA men's basketball team, what does it say that I didn't really care that they lost to France?
... If the "I mean" Team fails to grab gold, expect Kevin Durant to be a big punching bag. Believe me, my group chats were buzzing today.
... I want to watch the USWNT in soccer more than men's basketball, for the record.
... The Cowboys are in training camp, but I don't really start to care until the pre-season games start.
... I had forgotten all about Deshaun Watson until Sunday. Yikes. What a situation that remains unresolved.
... Someone tell me about Ricardo Pepi, the 18-year old from FC Dallas, who became the youngest player in league history to score a hat trick. The kid is from El Paso and has eight goals in nine games.
... I love Gini Wijnaldum, but he's clearly still in his feelings to suggest that he was somehow unloved at Liverpool.
... This just felt worthy of a spot in the column.
No. 9 - Top 10 Movie Villains ...
This one comes from a request and I have to admit that it's such a perfect topic that I was convinced that I had already done it, but after combing through my archives, I'm pretty sure that I have not.
The only time Darth Vader previously made a list was when I did a list of worst movie fathers on Father's Day.
10. Alex (A Clockwork Orange)
9. Detective Alonzo Harris (Training Day)
8. Alex Forest (Fatal Attraction)
7. John Doe (Seven)
6. Hans Gruber (Die Hard)
5. Voldemort (Harry Potter Series)
4. Bill the Butcher (Gangs of New York)
3. Hannibal Lector (The Silence of the Lambs)
2. The Joker (The Dark Knight)
1. Darth Vader (Star Wars Series)
No. 10 - And Finally ...
On Monday at noon, we'll be announcing three new members of the Orangebloods staff.