We think about college football 24/7 so you don't have to.

The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

P.S.R. Op-Ed

What He’s Selling, I’m Not Buying

Baylor president Ken Starr is at it again, writing in an Op-Ed piece for the Houston Chronicle that “according to our friends in the sports media, the football programs of our beloved Texas institutions are about to become exported commodities, competing in different national athletic conferences. If this proves to be true, we will be tearing something very special from the celebrated fabric of our Texas history.” Who will stop the fabric from being rendered into small, meaningless little pieces as the Big 12’s spreads from Texas to the West Coast? Hey, Starr is entitled to his opinion, and I understand fully that Baylor needs to do whatever Baylor needs to do in order to remain at least a somewhat relevant figure in college athletics. What I have a harder time swallowing are a few of Starr’s other statements, such as this:

“New ‘super-conference’ alignment presents temporal, geographic and financial realities that will make attending games – and in some cases even watching them on television – difficult.”

I’m confused as to the temporal realities that might stem from conference realignment. Would the changing conference landscape be too difficult to comprehend? Would fans rack their brains in an effort to remember which team is where, which conference is which, which division is which and fail, causing pain and anguish? Would the time difference — a 9 a.m. start, not a 11 a.m. start — be too much for a Baylor fan to accept?

You know, I’d watch my favorite team play, but darn it, I don’t watch football at 9 a.m., only at 11.

Now, about actually attending games. This is a very real concern: for an Oklahoma, for instance, what was once a non-conference trip to Oregon may now become a conference trip, and one of four annual games on the West Coast at that. Fans would need to pony up, if that’s the case, and it would indeed provide a financial burden.

Baylor and its fans have no right to argue about the financial burden of traveling to away games, not when the university can’t even sell its allotment of tickets to games as far away as College Station — 92 miles door to door. Texas A&M gives each visiting university 3,850 tickets to sell; Baylor has gobbled up 830 of them, which may be more than Idaho, which had sold 264 as of last Friday, but is nearly half the amount of the next-closest Big 12 competitor, Oklahoma State, which has sold 1,428 tickets.

So Starr and Baylor can save the line about not being to travel well, because Baylor doesn’t travel, period. And yes, I understand that Baylor “returned” more than 3,000 tickets to Texas A&M, though it’s unclear as to whether the tickets were purchased then returned or whether the university sold the remaining tickets prior to them being purchased.

Whether the tickets were bought then returned or returned prior to sale doesn’t really matter: either way, it’s an indictment of Baylor’s stance of “commitment” — the Bears are either committed to the Big 12 or they’re not, and returning tickets to a Big 12 game doesn’t smell much like commitment to me.

You want to see commitment? Check out the 10 most-attended games in Baylor football history, and check out the opponent:

1. 51,385 (Texas A&M, 10/28/06)
2. 51,218 (Texas A&M, 10/21/95)
3. 51,200 (Texas A&M, 10/26/74)
4. 50,267 (Texas, 10/19/91)
5. 50,000 (Texas, 11/5/60)
6. 49,500 (Texas A&M, 10/27/56)
7. 48,756 (Texas A&M, 10/19/85)
8. 48,500 (Texas A&M, 9/15/79)
8. 48,500 (Texas, 11/22/80)
10. 48,394 (Texas, 11/11/72)

Commitment: A&M has it, always has, and Baylor doesn’t, and hasn’t for years, if it ever was committed at all. Does A&M have commitment now? I wouldn’t say the Aggies are committed to the Big 12, because they’re not. But if any team is committed to the idea of “Texas football” it’s Texas A&M, which supports its team, win or lose, and comes to games in Texas, rain or shine. In doing so, A&M embodies entirely the idea of “Texas football” that Starr and Baylor have claimed as vital to the sport’s success.

For all the talk of football being in the “fabric of Texas history” from Baylor and Starr, I wonder why Baylor’s game at Rice last fall drew only 23,395 fans. I mean, that was a game played in Texas, featuring Texas schools, featuring players predominately from the state of Texas, in front of fans from the state of Texas. I thought it would be a sellout, based on what Starr’s selling.

And what Starr’s selling, I’m not buying.

You can also follow Paul Myerberg and Pre-Snap Read on Twitter.

Tags: , , ,
Home  Home

Comments

  1. michael says:

    aTm is the Fresno State of Texas!

  2. Bird says:

    @michael I’m not sure if you’re making fun of TAMU or Fresno State

  3. schedule nit says:

    In my experience with Ken Starr, convincing arguments, logic, reason, and even decency will not work. Can Ken Starr whip up a long drawn out legal drama which insure nobody wins, most people lose, and Ken Starr’s name gets in the paper? Sure, but Baylor needs to decide to act and get rid of him if that’s not the assinine legacy they want.

  4. Burnt Orange says:

    To follow up on Paul’s points, there have been numerous home games with OU, Nebraska, Texas and Texas A&M which have not sold out in the Big 12 era. If you back before that home games with teams like USC and LSU did not sell out. So-so stadium,in an off campus, iffy neighborhood, small alumni base, etc. A hopeless situation. Tech is far more sympathetic and I fear they are about to be left out. Lots of Texas to the Big 10 talk in the past 24 hours.

  5. Burnt Orange says:

    @schedule nit – this is similar to the Tech discussion this summer. I doubt Baylor gets rid of Starr. In the Baylor community, his actions as a special prosecutor were justified. A Baptist university in Central Texas has a view of decency and oaths that many will never understand. You have to remember, it is only within the past 15 years or so that students were first permitted to dance on campus. I understand the whole Baylor is hypocritical argument – no need to make it. I am not a Baylor guy – they have a different view of the world and Ken Starr is a fit there.

  6. truth teller says:

    A Baptist university in Central Texas has a view of decency and oaths that many will never understand….especially SMU, TCU, University of Houston, and Rice. All of them were left out of the “BCS Conference Era” because of Baylor’s actions to secure a spot for themselves in the Big XII.

    Historically, TCU, SMU, and Houston are all better suited to be in a BCS conference.

  7. Dave says:

    Paul, you’re really giving it to Baylor. Hypocrites they may be – and I certainly have no love for Ken Starr – but aren’t your interests alligned here, i.e. wouldn’t you like to see the Big 12 survive as powerful, regional conference? At least, that was my takeaway from your excellent ‘What Happens in the Heartland’ post.

    If so, would love to hear your thoughts on any scenarios where that might still happen.

  8. malcolmkass says:

    Not a Baylor fan, but for an A&M fan to complain about Baylor not selling its stadium when A&M with 5 times the enrollment can’t even sell out theirs is absurd.

    Listen A&M, when the Big XII actually had 12 teams, you were clearing 4th in the pecking order. Neb. sells out its games. Neb delivers TV rating, not the abortion you and Georgia had in the independence bowl, delivering one of its worst TV ratings ever.

    A&M, the SEC isn’t interest in you, its interested in the state of Texas. You will be soon be what you are with the Big XII, 2nd tier.

  9. Lee says:

    Paul,

    Why do you think that OU, OKst, and UT won’t join the SEC? They are a better academic fit and geographically it probably is a little better than the PAC 12. It sould be easier on their fans. Is it because they are afraid of the top dogs in the SEC or do they just despise the SEC and thus don’t want to be a part of it.

    I just feel like their fans would be better served in the SEC. Similiar academics, better time slots, more passion, and better football!!!

  10. Bowie0570 says:

    @Malcolm Last time Texas A&M has sold out of season tickets, and I know for a fact they are sold out of tickets for the OSU and UT game.. And you definitely sounds like a angry Baylor fan, which they have few of apparently..

  11. Dr. Marc Charlton says:

    The sad truth of it is, the Big12 would be a much better conference if it would kick Baylor out and add Houston, TCU, and SMU.

    There isn’t a D-1 conference in America that wants Baylor as a member.

  12. Dr. Marc Charlton says:

    The SEC requires equal revenue sharing, plus it would never allow the LHN. Ditto for the Pac12. UT-Austin fans believe their school would be welcomed with open arms by the SEC, Pac12, or Big10.

    But most of the member schools in those 3 conferences have quietly informed their conference commissioners that they have no interest in bringing UT-Austin into their respective conferences.

    Which is why UT-Austin is desperately hoping Oklahoma doesn’t bolt for the Pac12.

  13. malcomkass_isadumbass says:

    Oh, Malcom.

    Poor time to run attendance smack on A&M considering every A&M home game this year has already sold-out and ticket alotments for away games have also been completely sold-out.

    Also, last years Cotton Bowl between A&M and LSU was the most watched in Cotton Bowl history.

    And you’re probably right. Aside from immediately becoming its largest, richest, and most highly rated academic institution, A&M brings nothing to the SEC.

    Oh for three, bro. You should probably try something else.

  14. m (Ag) says:

    “Not a Baylor fan, but for an A&M fan to complain about Baylor not selling its stadium when A&M with 5 times the enrollment can’t even sell out theirs is absurd.”

    If Baylor wants to be compared to schools with similar attendance, it should unilaterally withdraw from the Big 12 and apply to Conference USA. If it wants to be in a conference with big schools it must be compared to big schools.

    A bad year for A&M still averages over 70,000 a game in attendance. Baylor couldn’t sell 45,000 tickets to the TCU game a few weeks ago.

    “A&M, the SEC isn’t interest in you, its interested in the state of Texas.”

    Almost correct. If they were just interested in the state of Texas there are 6 FBS Texas schools that they could have grabbed over the years (with more joining soon). In fact, there are dozens more Texas schools that would add a football program if they could get an SEC offer.

    The SEC wants a school that has a large fanbase in Texas, and one that gets the attention of casual fans. That’s why they’re not asking schools like Baylor to join.

    “You will be soon be what you are with the Big XII, 2nd tier.”

    Even if true, doesn’t that make it a good move for A&M? You’re claiming we’re 2nd tier in a regional conference that gets little attention outside of the state of Texas. It’s a big step up to be 2nd tier in a conference that is the focus of attention from Louisiana to Florida and South Carolina; a conference
    that gets national attention every week.

    “Why do you think that OU, OKst, and UT won’t join the SEC?”

    Academic snobbery on UT’s part. The fear of competition may figure into it, but they’ll never admit that. The perception of cheating also keeps OU from strongly considering it (although there is little real evidence that the SEC cheats more than schools elsewhere–see the recent scandals in the ACC, Pac 12, and Ohio State). OU is trying to improve its own reputation.

    Also, while I’m sure the SEC would take all 3 of those schools together, I’m not sure they’d take OSU just to get OU.

  15. Noefli says:

    “And you’re probably right. Aside from immediately becoming its largest, richest, and most highly rated academic institution, A&M brings nothing to the SEC.”

    Vanderbilt has better academics. A&M would be pretty high in the SEC academic pecking order, though.

  16. Lee says:

    Dr. Marc Charlton

    What sources are you quoting when you say that “But most of the member schools in those 3 conferences have quietly informed their conference commissioners that they have no interest in bringing UT-Austin into their respective conferences?????”

    I am pretty sure that the SEC Presidents would have zero problem bringing UT in the fold IF they are on board with equal revenue sharing and TLHN gets canned. I see the LHN as a BIG Problem for UT in regards to joining another conference.

Leave a Comment