^I think the only certainty right now with the Big 10 expanding is that they have an unofficial offer laying on the table for Norte Dame to expand. Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Missouri are contingency schools that the Big 10 would place up in the queue if Norte Dame ever tells the Big 10 flat out that they will never ever join the Big 10. Even if those three schools are placed up in the queue, they may still either never act on it, or something would drive them to take a 12th school. They are a fairly traditional conference.
As far as Texas, Texas A & M, Texas Tech, and Baylor being worse off in the Big 12 than the SWC. I don't agree generally. The 3 flagship state schools of these 3 all have not had a drop off of attendance in their games. UT and A & M have both expanded their stadiums since joining the Big 12. UT has talked about going from 80K to over 100K in their stadium some day.
These 3 Texas schools have aligned themselves with the 2 Oklahoma schools that have had a relationship with the old SWC. Both OU and OSU were at one time, in the very early years, members of the SWC. UT has had a very long and traditional rivalry with OU.
As far as US geography, Texas is a very huge state. Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston are both 2 of the 10 largests metro areas in the nation. They are both at ~5 million or more in size. They share that size and above with Detroit, Boston, Philly, DC/Balt., NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, LA, and SF, and these other 3 metros are not far off as well: Phx, Seattle, and Minn/SP. The problem with Texas in its relationships with other states surrounding them is that there are no comparable major cities like these two metros really close by. Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, and Phoenix, and perhaps Denver (even though not but 1/2 DFW size, it is a ver significant regional population center).
Dallas to Atlanta is ~800 miles
Dallas to Miami is ~1,300 miles
Dallas to Chicago is ~1,000 miles
Dallas to Phoenix is ~1,100 miles
Dallas to Denver is ~900 miles
So you can see there are no closeby major metro areas comparable to DFW and Houston. Even San Antonio is bigger than most metro areas within 750 miles of it, except DFW and Houston. It has 1.8 million. Austin is comparable to a few metro areas in surrounding states (1.4 million).
Even Chicago is 275 miles from Detroit, though Detroit is 4 million people less than Chicago, they are both over 5 million. MSP is 400 miles from Chicago. Detroit is 600 miles to NYC, 550 miles from DC/Balt., and 550 miles from Philly. So these major Midwestern cities of Chicago and Detroit are not as removed from the major East Coast population centers. They don't seem as remote.
But Texas and it two major metro areas are more remote. Of the states that border Texas (OK, AR, LA, and NM, as well as two other near states: KS, CO), there are only 2 major metro areas of 1 million or more:
Oklahoma City (1.1 million)
New Orleans (1.3 million)
and two additional mid-major metro areas that are nealy 1 million:
& Other mid-major metros nearby in these states:
Baton Rouge (700,000)
Little Rock (600,000)
So there isn't the kind of population centers close by to Texas or in neighboring states that are on the level of DFW, Houston, and even San Antonio and Austin.
So, from this observation, which state should Texas be lumped together with?
I think the logical answer is Oklahoma.
Texas was one of the Confederate states, that is true. But its not the heart of the south. Oklahoma, didn't become a state until 1907. It didn't become a territory until 1889. Before that it was know as Indian Territory. Yet, people that get technically about what region Oklahoma should be in, usually its technically included in southern states, that is if you are separating the country by 4 super-regions (NE, South, Midwest, and West). But yet it was 23 years after the Civil War that Oklahoma became a territory, and 42 years after the Civil War it became a state.
Texas was once its own nation. It was also once a part of Mexico. So it isn't quite typical history of a southern state. Louisiana is too deep south for it to be lumped together with them.
So both of these states have had atypical histories when compared to the other southern states. They both have more of a variety of landscapes when compared to other southern states. Texas contains bayous, the cotton belt, humidity, like the states in the southeast. But it also contains Great Plains (Austin north and northwestward to Ft. Worth, Odessa/Midland, Lubbock, Roswell, Wichita Falls, and Amarillo north to Oklahoma City, Wichita, Dodge City, Salina, Denver, Cheyenne, Grand Island, Kearney North Platte, Scottsbluff, Pierre, Rapid City, Bismarck, Minot, Billings, Regina (SK), Saskatoon (SK), Calgary, Edmonton. All of these cities and towns are the hubs of the Great Plains, and the southernmost point is Austin, TX and the northern point is Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada). It also contains desert and mountains in the far west.
It also has a huge Latino population.
So Texas is a different type of state. It and Oklahoma both are western states as much as southern states. There is a survey that I talked about somewhere that most Oklahomans believe that they are Midwesterners, and they have a city called "Midwest City". Because it and Oklahoma have such a big difference to other southern states, I think they are the two states that naturally fit together. Arkansas and Louisiana have relationships with Texas, but they fit best with the deep south.
So UT, A & M, and TTU have all thrived in the Big 12. Baylor may be better off with its association with Big 12 schools, but it performed better on the field when it was a SWC school. TCU, actually on the field has done better as a WAC/CUSA school. SMU dropped off after the death penalty and has not recovered, really. Rice has always been Rice. It has had some moderately good seasons on the field since being in the WAC, but attendance has not increased.
Houston perhaps is the team that has suffered the most since the breakup of the old SWC. In the mid-1970's it joined the SWC. It wasn't really a good institutional fit for the SWC as the lone Urban Grant. But in the late 70's, Houston went to Cotton Bowls. Including playing Norte Dame in their 1977 National Championship game and beating Nebraska in the 1980 Cotton Bowl. In the late 80's/early 90's it had a Heisman Trophy winner in Andre Ware, and David Klinger was quite a passer the following years. Since leaving the SWC, Houston has fallen off as a national playing team. All of these 4 schools have a history of some national noteriety at some point, all having played in a few Cotton Bowls, TCU's 1938 National Championship, SMU's 1982 undefeated season and final #2 national ranking. Even Rice went to a couple Cotton Bowls in its history.
I think that overall, UT, A & M, and TTU are all better off in the Big 12, because they are better institutional fit among the Big 8 schools and the alignment with schools in Oklahoma.
I think the 4 schools of TCU, SMU, Rice, and Houston would have been better off just keeping the SWC conference together and should have sought Tulane, Tulsa, Memphis, USM and may La Tech, and maybe eventually UTEP, and let the more eastern CUSA schools form CUSA off by themselves. The national identity and heritage would be with them more if they retained that conference name instead of joining the WAC and CUSA, which in 1996 became far-flung conferences.
Last edited by sportsgeog on Sun Aug 08, 2004 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.