Changing Landscape And Prospective Change In Texas College Sports…………..By RC

This time next year the Big 12 will be much different. And the biggest difference will be that the Aggies and Longhorns will not be teeing up the old pigskin in DKR Memorial Stadium in Austin. I know that I wrote about that in the last blog but it will take a while for me to get over that game not being played every Thanksgiving…………..

And speaking of that game: the way it was played, the way that it turned out, is the very reason that it should have never been allowed to die. I have forever said that those two schools desperately need one another simply because the motivation to beat the other drives them through the entire year and makes them both better teams. Now that is gone! Both are storied programs and both will continue to play at a high level since they both recruit over 90% of their players from the best high school football played in the entire country. And both represent the state as “the places to go play college football”. But that has changed and now we’ll wait to see if “The Rivalry” ever comes back…………………. ……………………

Also Missouri will be gone from the Big 12 and along with them goes the annual game with Kansas, a game that has been played even longer than Texas and A&M. That indirectly affects the landscape in Texas. Missouri has made Texas a #1 stop on the recruiting trail lately. And of course the coach at Kansas is Turner Gill out of Fort Worth……………..

A good thing though is that the Purple and White Horned Frogs will be entering the Big 12. Yes, it’s about time! Especially since the Frogs have now become one of the elite programs in the country: just ask Boise State. The Gary Patterson-led Frogs will be such a welcomed and talented addition to this conference. Year in and year out, they will be better than Missouri. And that includes all sports. Just two years ago, their baseball team was in Omaha in the College World Series. I look forward to all that they bring in both men’s and women’s sports as well as academics………………..

And hopefully West Virginia will also live up to what seems to be great potential. Anytime that the top university in any state joins a conference, it is a plus, since they have the opportunity to recruit the best in their state. So I am anxious to see what the Mountaineers bring to the conference. I know that their men’s basketball team was really good last year and one of their alums, Jerry West, was one of the greatest to ever play college or pro basketball (Lakers). So bring it on WV. One thing for sure, after having driven through that state a couple of years ago, they definitely have the correct mascot, as they have some of the biggest mountains that I have ever seen. Welcome West Virginia………………..

Another change that is flying under the radar right now is Texas State University going to the WAC. It will be their maiden voyage into Division I football. The other sports have been competing there already, but it takes a while for football to get to that level. But Texas State football under the direction of Dennis Franchione, formerly of TCU, Alabama, and A&M has the experience to make the Bobcats competitive in any conference. After a successful run to the semi-finals of Division II only five years ago, the Bobcats have upgraded their facilities that will either match or outdo any school in the WAC. Plus they are in a location near the fertile recruiting grounds of both Houston and San Antonio. And being located between Austin and San Antonio as well as near the Guadalupe River has to be ever-enticing to any prospective recruit. With two daughters listed among the alumni there, I am excited for this very progressive campus and all that it has to offer. Go Cats!……………………

With the University of Houston Cougars and their Top 10 ranking as well as Heisman candidate Case Keenum (Abilene Wylie) making all kinds of noise on the national scene, I think we can look for them to be in any conversation within the next year about joining one of the major conferences, most notably the Big 12. They certainly were plenty competitive in the old Southwest Conference in both football and basketball. Remember Hakeem Olajuwan and Clyde Drexler and the “Phi Slamma Jamma” team that almost won the National Championship in 1983. They lost to a lesser team, but a well-coached Jim Valvano club. And in 1968 Elvin Hayes and the Cougars snapped a 47 game winning streak by the John Wooden-led UCLA Bruins in the Astrodome. So the history is there. And with current Baylor coach and former UH player Art Briles pumping new life back into the football program, as their coach, in the recent past the Houston campus is once again primed to return to glory in a prominent conference……………………..

Also pay attention to the June Jones-led SMU Mustangs and victors over the TCU Horned Frogs this year, as potential new members as they emerge from a quarter of a century of overcoming the unfair death penalty levied against them by the NCAA. Unfair may be debatable, but given the wrongdoings of many other “elite” NCAA programs with comparable violations and only a handslap penalty, the death penalty was completely without merit. Anyhow, come on Ponies! Here is hoping that with the ever growing quality players coming out of the metroplex and the proven leadership of Coach Jones, you will once again rise to national prominence and in the eyes of the Big 12 selectors, become another member of the Big 12……………………………….

Once again you have my two cents worth. I would love to read any comments that you might want to post after reading one of these blogs. They are fun to write and any input from interested readers would only make them better…………………..

BTW, Baylor vs. UT in Floyd Casey in Waco should be good this weekend. The Bear upset of the Sooners and the Horns coming off the A&M high should make this something special. Congratulations Coach Briles and Bears for getting the OU monkey off your back!………………………………… RC

About Ronnie Clifton

Ronnie Clifton was a Texas Football Coach for 29 years. In addition to football, Clifton also served as the head coach in basketball and both girls and boys track. “I loved being involved in and playing sports as a kid, and I soaked up every ounce of available information about any sporting event; I also love to write. What better combo for me than becoming the writer of a sports blog?”
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