Category Archives: Aggies

The Big 10 Switcharoo

Let’s get one thing straight – Eyes Of TX is no prognosticator. No reading minds here. The tarot cards have long since been packed away. No gypsy headdress tucked in the closet. Along with that (or perhaps not along with that) was the lack of a math degree from the 40 Acres. But, if one does the old school arithmetic, the Big 12 and the Big 10 have now officially switched places.

With Colorado heading west to the PAC-10, and Nebraska heading east to the Big 10, the remaining Big 12 conference universities were left to their own devices to decide their fate and that of the conference as a whole. Eyes Of TX has long predicted – for right or wrong – that Texas would be the deciding factor in the conference re-alignment race. And, indeed that was the case these past few weeks. Apparently, orange runs in our blood, and our blood is the Big 12 glue.

In the event you’ve been dodging tumbleweeds in nowhere America, Texas (and the remaining Big 12 schools) decided last week to decline invitations from other Division I BCS conferences and keep the conference together. For the likes of Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor and Missouri, the decision was a dream come true – no one wanted them. They were scared for their monetary lives. They had a vested interest in keeping the conference together, latching on to any hopes of the Big 12 staying alive, and locking in the powerhouse universities like Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma on their schedules for years to come.

Eyes Of TX, though, has had mixed feelings about the conference-formally-known-as-the-Big-12 and its impact on the ‘Horns. In part, Texas may miss out on a longer term opportunity – what if this new conference doesn’t work out, and those conferences so willing to extend invitations this spring are no longer interested down the road after getting shunned the first time around? Will Texas’ brand recognition still help them out of a desperate situation 5, 10 or 20 years down the road if the “new” conference doesn’t work out? On the other hand, if Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe’s plan is legit, and the league can expect a $7-10 million bump in their next TV contract, maybe its worth it. Of course, Texas made sure that the teams with the most exposure got the most dollars in their pockets – for that we can all be thankful. Add to that the fact that Texas will get what they so desperately desired (and other conferences weren’t willing to allow) with the university’s own TV network – an additional $3-5 million in revenue. Now you’re talking SEC-type money. But, without a conference championship game (which they won’t play with only 10 teams), that is lost TV revenue as well. Of course, none of the future TV money is guaranteed today. It’ll be another year before those negotiations begin in earnest.

The fact of the matter is, the “new” Big 10 is expecting to bring in a significant amount of revenue from a new TV contract when they’re losing the Denver television market (Colorado) and a marquee brand name in Nebraska. There is as much fuzzy math involved here as there is with trying to lower the government’s deficit. It’s not adding up on this writer’s abacus.

On the plus side, Texas fans will still get their annual rivalries with oklahoma and Texas A&M. But, the draw of potential PAC-10 match-ups would have made that Texas sweet tea a little sweeter than Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Baylor on a consistent basis.

For now, until TV money is guaranteed, Eyes Of TX has to believe the move to keep the Big 12 together was a selfish move by Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds and the powers that be. They seem to have missed out on a huge opportunity by joining forces with the PAC-10 and competing head-to-head with the “new” Big 12 and the SEC, hell, even the ACC who just locked in to a lucrative TV deal this past year. Perhaps the money comes, perhaps Eyes Of TX gets to see more games in the Pacific Northwest based on the Longhorns’ forthcoming television network. Perhaps the league falls apart.

It remains to be seen, which reinforces the idea that there are no mind readers here. What do you think?


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NCAA Conference Re-Alignment Begins…

There’s been a lot of talk about conference realignment in the college ranks – even more so in the last week, given the Big 12’s deadline to Nebraska and Missouri to make a commitment to stay or go in the conference by this Friday.

Yesterday, all eyes were squarely on the Cornhuskers, as athletic director Tom Osbourne was deflecting questions like only a former politician-hopeful can, was he referred to leaving the Big 12 and joining the Big 10. In public relations terms, he confirmed nothing. Of course, the kicker was that the Big 10 claimed they hadn’t even extended invitations, but nonetheless Nebraska was chomping at the bit, akin to inviting themselves to the party in high school. Would Nebraska be the surprise team to make the first move? If so, who would follow the Big Red Machine?

Well, hold your horses. The PAC-10, meanwhile, had swung the doors wide open earlier this week when they approved expansion, even going so far to say the group didn’t need to reconvene before extending invites to prospective teams – in other words, they already had a good sense for who they wanted on board. Rumors flew – just Colorado? What about adding six teams, or nearly the entire Big 12 South division? Would Texas, and thus A&M, go? Who would be the odd teams out if the Big 12 disintegrated only 15 years after its inception?

Today, the dominoes started to fall, but not with the universities initially thought to make the first move. The PAC-10 offered, and Colorado accepted. With it, Colorado brings to the Premier Athletic Conference (yes, that’s really what “PAC” stands for) a football program in shambles, an athletic budget in more need of an economic stimulus package than the government’s, and a typical 6-year graduation rate (at least that’s what they told EyesOfTX at a campus visit 10+ years ago). In fact, earlier this week, the NCAA released their academic progress reports (APRs), and Colorado was one of the schools that made the “naughty” list. It’s not a good start to help the PAC-10 keep up their academic standards. Where are Stanford and Cal to stand up and complain about that? Will this academic debacle lead to another Dan Hawkins lecture YouTube sensation?

All told, this the beginning of the end for the Big 12. With Colorado out, and Nebraska apparently on the brink, the bricks are crumbling. Even TMZ is now reporting from a source that Oklahoma State is heading to the PAC-10, and are just waiting to make the official announcement. What we know from football coach Mike Gundy is that we should talk to him, because “…he’s 40 and he’s a man…” Who else is in line? Will Texas and Texas A&M hold out as long as possible, to see if other bidders (like the SEC, perhaps?) come calling or get something locked up sooner than later?

Who’s “out” in all of this? The biggest loser from the Big 12 might very well be Kansas, followed by Baylor, Iowa State, and Kansas State – maybe even Missouri, as the Big 10 sounds like it’s gone cold it’s thinking for the Columbia crew. Let’s take a look at some specifics:

Are Kansas and Kansas State a joint deal, similar to Texas and Texas A&M? Could the Jayhawks end up in Conference USA, or even the Big East (as that conference potentially try to fill gaps from Big 10 thieves as well)? Kansas will likely look for a conference that has strong basketball ties, so that probably rules out the Mountain West. If KU ends up anywhere other than a top 4 conference, it will be sad day for the history of their basketball program akin to North Carolina being part of the Southern Conference and playing Appalachian State and Citadel every year. Sad. It’d also be a tough day for football coach Turner Gill, who in EyesOfTX’s opinion, deserved a chance to make a name for himself in a big-name conference after building a great program at Buffalo. Gill might be bringing his new team right back to a mid-major conference.

Baylor’s another big loser in this discussion, especially given they’re on the brink of reviving their athletics program from a years-long fallout from incidents from the men’s basketball program. With their football team on the rise, and both men’s and women’s basketball making significant impacts in recent years, a move to a new, lesser-known conference could be both good and bad. Wait, why aren’t they in the “Big 12 South” package that PAC-10’s exploring? Quite honestly, rumors have been circulating that Cal-Berkeley has major issues with the religious affiliation of the university, and secondly, Baylor lacks the political prowess in the Texas state legislature to drive a deal these days (like they did when the Big 12 was formed).

For a new conference affiliation, however, Baylor’s got to see the good: they might finally be able to compete in football. Let’s face it, although they had a lot of hype this last season, Baylor football is a bottom-dweller of the Big 12 (and South division specifically) every year since the league’s inception. In a new, less-“loaded” conference, they have a chance to put themselves on the map and go bowling for the first time in many, many years. The bad: they lose the clout of being in a major conference for the first time since pre-Southwest Conference days, not to mention they still aren’t allowed to dance on campus.

Iowa State
Quite honestly, EyesOfTX will miss the opportunity to get the Cyclones on the field so long as Paul Rhodes is coach – he seems like a good guy who’s passionate about where he’s at and brings the best to that program. It’s an exciting time for football in Ames. But, what’s the best move for ISU? Get the Big 10 to come calling…especially if the conference is now cold on Missouri. Plus, it makes sense given their in-state and Big 10-affiliated Hawkeyes are causing trouble in Ann Arbor and Columbus these days.

They talked a big game early, and now it looks like it just all might backfire. All signs pointed to the Big 10 initially having some interest in Missouri, but now that well seems to have dried up – something BP could only wish for in the Gulf of Mexico. With Nebraska on the horizon for the Big 10, and as that conference continues to mull over Notre Dame, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Pittsburgh, the Tigers all of the sudden appear in the rear-view mirror. Now’s the time for M-I-Z-Z-O-U to start a nice courting relationship with the SEC.

What about the conference affiliations with bowl games? Well, the Big 12 will definitely give up some nice deals for post-season play if it indeed goes away, but a new conference affiliation also might benefit from a majority of Big 12 schools bringing those bowl games to the negotiating table with the new conference(s). Right now, the Big 12 has a total of eight bowl game affiliations, including: Fiesta/BCS, Holiday, Cotton, Alamo, Texas, Yankees Stadium (new), Insight, and Independence. Compare that to the PAC-10’s six-game (and weaker) bowl pull: Rose/BCS, Alamo, Holiday, Sun, Las Vegas, and Emerald. Both conferences are nearing bowl game negotiations – supposedly with the Big 12 in 2012, and PAC-10 in 2013. Perfect timing for conference re-alignment news.

Lots of moving parts…it will be interesting to see what plays out through the weekend. Expect more blockbuster news later today or Friday, as more conferences and teams get antsy so as not to get left in the dust. Texas, where you headed?

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Conference Re-Alignment, Part II: The Stretch To The Bible Belt

Now that we’ve covered some perspectives on why Texas should stay apart of the Big 12 Conference, Eyes Of TX contributor and former Blue & Gold staffer, John Haynsworth, will take his perspective on why Texas should leave the Big 12 behind, and follow the road signs north to the Big 10 Conference.

View from the Big 10 Conference
By: John Haynsworth
To be honest, I was a little disappointed when Texas athletics director DeLoss Dodds told the Associated Press the university did not intend to explore a move to the Big 10. Of course there would have been several hurdles – political and geographic among them – to clear in order to pull of such a move, but I believe it really could have worked out for the best for Texas, not only for the football program, but for all sports within the department. Here’s why:

The rivalries.
I want to quickly debunk the myth that Texas’ long-standing football rivalries would suffer with a move to another conference. Let’s remember that Texas v. oklahoma was a rivalry long before the Longhorns and sooners settled into the Big 12’s South division in the fall of 1996. If Texas and oklahoma could be bitter rivals as members of the Southwest Conference and Big 8, respectively, then why would it be so hard to resume a non-conference rivalry in the future? Further, I honestly believe oklahoma would welcome a shakeup within the Big 12 that might allow for a renewal of its once-annual rivalry with Nebraska while still maintaining the Red River Rivalry.

As far as the A&M series is concerned, is that even a rivalry anymore? Sure, there are more than 100 games of history within the series, but Texas has won more than twice as many games in the series (75-36), and the Longhorns are 10-4 against the Aggies since the inception of the Big 12. If anything, the series has digressed from a rivalry game to a trap-game for the ‘Horns. As such, is it really necessary to maintain on an annual basis?

Specifically addressing a possible move to the Big 10, Texas football would trade ho-hum regional match-ups for intriguing national games that would include trips to Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. I think those three powers, with their 100,000-seat stadiums more than make up for the loss of Tech and A&M on an annual basis and Big 12 North teams such as Nebraska or Colorado twice every four years.

The return games would be huge as well. I don’t know about many of you, but for me, Texas’ home schedule has left a lot to be desired in recent years. Aside from Ohio State, I can’t think of one intriguing non-conference matchup at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium since 1998.

Imagine a schedule that includes: Oklahoma annually, rotating home and homes with Texas Tech and A&M every four years, and then a home and home with Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State every four years. Granted, Texas would have less room on its schedule for the likes of Wyoming and Louisiana-Lafayette, but I could live with that.

National exposure.
Texas doesn’t really need the exposure boost that a move to a more national conference would provide. After all, the football program has risen to the top of Forbes’ list of college football’s most valuable programs, dethroning perennial revenue king Notre Dame in the 2009 rankings.

What Texas has done with a predominantly state-centric consumer base is nothing short of impressive. But the next frontier is growing the brand outside of the state’s borders.

And while that wouldn’t do much for football, I believe it would help immensely with a basketball team that is fighting to earn a place in the national spotlight. Consider this: according to Forbes, the Big 12 and the Big 10 are currently tied with five teams among the top 20 most valuable. However, according to Forbes’ basketball research, the Big 12 is hardly to be found. There are five Big 10 teams on a list dominated by the ACC, and just one Big 12 team – Kansas.

Oh, by the way, other populous state universities such as Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin made both of Forbes’ football and basketball lists.

Stability of the Big 12?
Texas isn’t the only program considering its options with other conferences. Several media reports over the past few weeks indicate that Big 12 North members Colorado and Missouri would both be receptive to overtures from the Pac-10 and the Big 10, respectively.

For the sake of argument, if those teams leave, what options does that leave the Big 12? Out west, the conference might look to replace Colorado with perhaps Boise State, BYU or Utah, but those are lateral moves at best from the Buffaloes, despite some of their recent successes on the gridiron. Besides, such programs would face some of the geographic hurdles that Texas would face moving to the Big 10, though those programs are far less equipped, financially, to endure such a move.

Regardless, there are very few, if any, moves that the Big 12 could make to enhance its conference from a competitive standpoint in any sport across the board, either men’s or women’s, if any of its members leave for another conference. Granted that doesn’t have much effect on Texas or the Big 12 South, but I think that Texas has to consider its place in a league that might have nowhere to go but down, especially if other conference start raiding the Big 12’s cupboard.

Good academic company.
Texas’ revenue sports – football, basketball and baseball (which breaks even) – have little room to turn up their noses at any other program’s academics. None of those programs graduate even 50 percent of their student-athletes.

Having said that, the athletics department should have an obligation to do what it can to enhance the university’s academic reputation, which is notable nationally. A move to the Big 10 would put Texas in good company with other reputable public institutions.

According to the latest release from the US News & World Report, the University of Texas (tied 15th) ranks highest among the Big 12’s schools among the nation’s best public colleges. They would be fourth in the Big 10 behind Michigan (4), Illinois (tied 9th) and Wisconsin (tied 9th). In all, seven Big 10 members rank in the top 25 of the nation’s best colleges, while just two Big 12 schools (Texas and A&M) earned that distinction.

Additionally, as a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) – a common thread among all current Big 10 members as well as a primary criteria for any future considerations – the University of Texas’ commitment to research would certainly mesh well with the academic mission of the conference’s current schools.

The money.
Let’s be honest, the money will ultimately determine whether Texas stays or leaves the Big 12. As reported by the Associated Press, Dodds is looking all the way to 2015 for the Big 12’s TV payday. Why wait, especially considering the money that would be on the table today?

“Big 10 schools clear $9 to $10 million more annually in TV revenue than Big 12 schools,” Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News recently reported. “Every SEC and Big 10 school receives a larger annual conference payout than Texas gets from the Big 12. Yes, that includes Vanderbilt and Northwestern. As Texas took home $10.2 million from the Big 12 in 2007-08, every Big 10 school was enjoying around $18.8 million.”

You do the math on a difference of roughly $8.6 million dollars over the next four seasons until the 2015 renewal year. Could $8 million a year make up for the difference in a bus trip to Waco, TX vs. a charter plane to State College, PA?

I’m not convinced that the Big 12 will ever be financially competitive with the likes of the SEC and the Big 10. I don’t know what that ultimately means for wins and losses on the playing field, but Texas has an immediate opportunity to strengthen its financial grip of the rest of college athletics. In the current landscape of college athletics, money does a lot of talking, and at some point, it is certain that Texas will want to be the big fish in a bigger pond.

My conclusion is that the Big 12 is on shaky ground at best. And while Kansas is a competitive basketball program, and oklahoma is a competitive football program, there isn’t enough star power from the conference’s assembled members. Texas should consider a move to a more established, profitable conference. While the Pac-10 is intriguing, I don’t think it benefits Texas to expand west. The eastern time zones are still the king of coverage, and would do more to further thrust Longhorns athletics into the national spotlight.

Tomorrow, stay tuned to Eyes Of TX for the final installment on the conference re-alignment series, as “Keifer Nandez” evaluates a potential move to the Pac-10 Conference.

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Conference Re-Alignment, Part I: Hangin’ Spurs in the Big 12

In this topic series, Eyes Of TX (along with blog contributors “Keifer Nandez” and John Haynsworth) will assess the rumors flying around on Texas’ potential move to another conference. Since we’ve initially heard the hub-bub flying around, there has been little shared and lots of speculation. We’ll plan to add our own to the mix, starting with why Texas should stay put in the Big 12 Conference today.

The first question is, why would Texas stay or leave the Big 12 conference? Well, that question is easier to answer. Money. The Southeastern Conference (SEC) currently dominates the annual money haul from the major TV networks, splitting $242 million/year in media revenue among its 10 member schools. Compare that to the Big 12 Conference, which splits $78 million/year between its 12 schools, although schools that get more television coverage benefit from that additional revenue stream (i.e. Texas over a school such as Iowa State). And, finally, the Pac-10 Conference which divides its $58 million/year between its 10 institutions. You can see the obvious discrepancies.

Within the Big 12, Texas does bring in the most TV revenue at approximately $12 million annually. But, when compared to every team in the SEC, Texas makes half of their totals. Think about that for a moment. Vanderbilt, long a major football wannabe, makes double what Texas does from TV dollars, and does it without having gone to a bowl game in decades. The standard the SEC has set in media revenue dollars is extremely high.

If you’re a conference commissioner anywhere outside of the southeast United States, you’re desperately searching for a way to even the playing field. Literally. The SEC’s TV contract doesn’t expire for another 15 years – that’s guaranteed, substantial cash flow that even the U.S. government would be jealous of. The Big 12, Big 10, Pac-10, and ACC all face TV contract negotiations after the 2011-2012 season, and that makes time of the essence when it comes to how much money will be left to go around.

Will Texas, or other Big 12 conference members, re-align to help chase down the SEC’s lottery-like dollars? Will other conferences begin their own dedicated television networks to compete? Could we see the evolution of four “super conferences”? To truly understand what options Texas and those other major conferences we’ll take a deeper look from the perspective of the Big 12 (below), as well as the Big 10 and Pac-10 in coming days.

View from the Big 12 Conference
By: Eyes Of TX
There is plenty to be said about the Big 12, and Texas’ role in keeping the conference together. The perspectives below focus on why Texas should stay in the Big 12 Conference, as opposed to leaving for the Big 10 or Pac-10…those will be covered in the coming days from guest bloggers. Let’s dig in to it.

The rivalries.
What makes college football great? The rivalries! The intense hatred of that cross-state school that didn’t let you in or whose team beat yours last year. It’s bragging rights. It’s rub-it-in-your-face, we’re-better-than-you, do-things-your-parents-would-be-ashamed of-to-the-visitors kind of psychological warfare on and off the field. Think about not having the annual Red River Rivalry of Texas v. oklahoma, or the Thanksgiving match-up pitting Texas v. Texas A&M. What about other Big 12 rivalries – Kansas v. Missouri, Nebraska v. oklahoma, oklahoma v. Oklahoma State, Texas Tech v. whoever they choose to play that week? Rivalries are key to the passion and excitement of the game. If those long-term rivalries disappeared, the potential money that’s goes with them is gone too. ABC and ESPN coverage of some of those rivalry games, for example, brings in substantial media revenue to those schools, and drives visibility for the conference as a whole. To lose that income would be an epic failure on the part of the conference athletic directors.

Keep Texas athletes (hopefully) in Texas.
Every year, there are approximately 370+ student athletes at the high school level who have enough talent to play football at the next level. Right now, Mack Brown and his staff can take approximately 20-25 of those kids each spring. That means, a large number of those in-state athletes look elsewhere in the state, or look beyond Texas’ borders to play college ball. It’s natural you’ll lose some kids to other powerhouse schools, but many of them grow up idolizing local institutions.

If Texas were to join another conference, they potentially open up the recruiting trails in to their own backyard. So, instead of competing head-to-head with oklahoma for Adrian Peterson’s talents, for example, Texas might have also had to fend off a USC or an Ohio State. Given Brown’s focus on getting talented in-state kids, there is little doubt he’d want to make it open season for other major conference schools to come calling. In other words, he’ll continue to try and win recruiting battles over oklahoma and Texas A&M, rather than teams in the Big 10 and Pac-10 conferences as well.

As Johnny Cash says, “I’ve been everywhere, man…”
Texas is a big state, and the Big 12 Conference as a whole covers a lot of geography, with teams in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado. That’s basically the bread basket of the entire United States. Right now, Texas plays in the Big 12’s South division, which means every year, it plays at least 5 games (oklahoma, Oklahoma state, Texas Tech, Baylor, and Texas A&M) between the Texas and Oklahoma state lines. In addition, they swap in two North division opponents each year from the other remaining Big 12 teams. That means, Texas’ season schedule (excluding non-conference games, which are primarily hosted in Austin anyway) keeps the team relatively close to home and in the television markets where Texas Longhorn interest (and viewership) is high.

By moving to the Big 10 or Pac-10, Texas increases its travel at least five-fold. Trips to Seattle to play Washington, or to University Park, Pennsylvania, to play Penn State? Those are long flights with a lot of dollar signs attached. And, as an athletic director, you want to see dollars coming in, not going out the door. While the draw of those “new” in-conference games might draw additional TV dollars, it might not benefit any of the schools involved as much as one might think when expenses are taken in to consideration.

The Texas brand.
Let’s not forget what Deloss Dodds has done in his time as Texas’ athletic director. He’s built the UT athletic department, especially men’s athletics, in to a dominant program across all major NCAA sports – football, baseball, basketball, tennis, swimming & diving, etc. And, the women’s athletics programs benefit from that success as well. In essence, Dodds has helped make Texas in to a literal money-making machine for the city and the university. In fact, the football team alone brings in enough money to support every other sports team (men’s or women’s) at the university – and it sustains itself. Dodds has worked his business magic with advertisers, donors, and sponsors to make the Texas experience and brand stand out.

What happens if Texas loses its hold on the brand and its market by moving to another conference? In other words, Texas has a good thing going in the Big 12 conference: they get the most TV coverage of any team, they have the best brand and most advertising dollars incoming, and (admittedly or not) they help dictate the direction of the conference – what’s to keep them from saying, “We like the status quo because it benefits us the most?”

Eyes of TX’s conclusion? Simple. Could Texas make a move? Sure. Would they? No, not unless the Big 12 pantry gets raided in a big way. If other teams begin making a move, expect Texas to pick up discussions with other conferences to play catch-up – and, hopefully it won’t be too late. The worst case scenario for Texas is to end up in a conference that fills gaps with the likes of a Rice, Houston, SMU or UTEP. Honestly, no one wants to see the Southwest Conference again.

More perspectives to come tomorrow (Big 10) and Sunday (Pac-10) – stay tuned for more, or share your thoughts on what conference Texas should end up leaving or joining!

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Texas Adds to 2011, 2012 Football Schedule

The University of Texas football team continues to add to its future schedules, most recently locking down additional non-conference games for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons. In addition, Mack Brown & Co. have been tweaking the conference schedule, similar to the 2009-2010 season when the ‘Horns faced Texas Tech in the third game and had a non-conference game later in the season.

The new scheduling changes, which build on the ‘Horns previous announcement of non-conference additions for later in the decade, include:

September 10, 2011
Texas v. BYU
Texas is 0-2 against BYU, having played them in 1987 and 1988.
BYU has won at least 10 games in each of the past four years.

September 8, 2012
Texas v. University of Texas-El Paso
UT has beaten UTEP all four times the teams have played, most recently, the past two seasons.

Other notable schedule tweaks/commitments, include:

  • The ‘Horns will play their first game of the 2010 season on the road (the first time since 1995), against Rice, at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
  • The game against Texas Tech, in Lubbock, has been moved to September 18, 2010, for TV purposes. Thus, Texas will play Florida Atlantic (originally scheduled for that date) to November 20, 2010.
  • For 2010, the Longhorns will have a second straight season without a bye week prior to the Texas A&M game.
  • For the next two years (2010, 2011), the Texas A&M game will occur on Thanksgiving.
  • Texas will face UCLA, in Los Angeles, on September 17, 2011 – a week after the BYU game.
  • Texas will face Mississippi, in Oxford, on September 15, 2012 – a week after the UTEP game.
  • The Longhorns have one more open date during the 2012 season that they are looking to secure a team to play.

The Longhorns full schedule, for 2010 and future seasons (as they stand today), can be found here.


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Four Opponents Define ‘Horns “March Madness” Dreams

With the season more than halfway over, the #6 Texas Longhorns are in contention for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament come March. But, with recent back-to-back losses to Kansas State and UConn clouding the horizon, head coach Rick Barnes needs to re-focus his squad for the remainder of the Big 12 Conference schedule, and find the keys to his team’s early-season winning ways.

Let’s take a look at four remaining opponents which pose the biggest threats, and opportunities, for the ‘Horns as they close out the regular season. You can also find this post on Bleacher Report.

So, they’re not as legitimate as expected with an 11-8 record, but rivalries exist on and off the football field in Austin and Norman. Guard Willie Warren was expected to be the force behind the sooners squad in 2009-2010, and while he has done his best, with three freshman in the six-man line-up, the team has struggled to a 2-3 record in Big 12 play to-date. While Warren contributes 17.6 ppg, and has three other starters in double digits, the team’s inconsistency has blown their shot at the NCAA Tournament unless they finish strong. With a rivalry in the balance, oklahoma could give Texas a run for their money in Norman on February 6 before a trip to Austin in March.

Texas A&M
It seems as though every year, an Aggie has their coming-out party at the ‘Horns expense. This year, two seniors pose the biggest threat to Texas – guard Donald Sloan (17.5 ppg) and forward Bryan Davis (9.7 ppg) – both who play big and aggressive against the ‘Horns every outing. The Aggies have already given Texas a tough game, a 72-67 overtime loss in Austin, when junior forward Nathan Walkup made his statement with 13 points. In recent years, Texas and Texas A&M (14-5) have split their two conference games, and this season, don’t expect the Aggies to give the Longhorns any less of a fight in College Station. After all, as their fight song alludes, “t.u.” is their most hated foe.

#24 Baylor
Seriously. With a record of 15-3, the Bears history of sporting a solid backcourt continues to define the team’s success. Headlined by starting guards LaceDarius Dunn (19.2 ppg) and Tweety Carter (16.2 ppg), both who may own the best first names in college basketball, Baylor has only lost three games by a combined 16 points – not to mention giving #2 Kansas a run for their money in Lawrence. Add forward/center Ekpe Udoh (14.2 ppg) to the mix, and head coach Scott Drew has his team on the brink of bringing Baylor to the top of the Big 12 heap. Texas has Baylor twice in the closing clip of conference play, and you could see the Bears grab one of those two if Dunn and Carter are hitting their shots.

#2 Kansas
This will prove to be the tilt that decides the Big 12 Conference, and potentially a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for both teams. Like many other college basketball powerhouses, Kansas (19-1) simply reloads year-after-year, and despite key losses to graduation and the NBA draft, head coach Bill Self has guard Sherron Collins and center Cole Aldrich as the dominant forces leading the Jayhawks this season. Collins (16.0 ppg) and Aldrich (11.2 ppg) are the headliners, but heralded freshman Xavier Henry (14.3 ppg) has made his presence felt, along with forward Marcus Morris (12.4 ppg). The Jayhawks are perhaps the only team in the Big 12 Conference that can even come close to Texas’ bench depth, and their transition offense is purity to the eyes of basketball fanatics across the country. With Aldrich and Texas’ Dexter Pittman battling for space in the paint, and both team’s guards shooting it up from beyond the arc, this has the makings of an instant classic. It’s both a blessing and a curse that these two teams – playing in opposite divisions of the conference – are guaranteed to see each other only once every season.

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‘Horns Get Bearded In Manhattan


Well, it didn’t take much time for the ‘Horns to give up their #1 ranking in college basketball. As soon as the title was bestowed upon Texas last week, the team promptly scrapped by with an OT win against Texas A&M on Saturday night at home, and then followed that up with a loss to #9 Kansas State in Manhattan, KS, on Monday night in front of a raucous crowd of beard-laden fans (a tribute to KSU guard Jacob Pullen, whom since growing the Lincoln-like beard, has helped KSU stay undefeated).

Two reasons not to go on a blind date in Manhattan, KS.

Texas’ woes the last two games can be tracked to turnovers (nine v. A&M; 18 v. KSU), inconsistency, and poor shooting. While the defense continues to hold its own, the strengths (rebounding, depth, inside scoring) that had helped the ‘Horns to their first-ever #1 ranking have taken a backseat the past two games. Let’s face it, the team that has taken the court the past two games (at least in the first half of each contest) is not worthy of a top 50 ranking and they could be in for a big wake-up call come the middle of Big 12 conference play. On Monday night against KSU, the ‘Horns shot 36 percent from the field, slightly better than their 35 percent shooting effort against the Aggies. That is absolutely horrid.

And, let’s not even get started on free throws. Texas is miserable — as in, DEAD LAST — in the Big 12 Conference in free throw percentage. Monday’s contest saw Texas shoot 9-of-22 from the charity stripe, good for 41 percent. Well, use “good” liberally there. If you’re a scholarship athlete at a major conference school, not to mention a top recruit, how can you not make free throws? FREE throws. Does the coaching staff work on this stuff in practice? What’s the remedy? We’re nearly halfway through the season, when do fans begin to see a change? When are free throws going to help the team close a game out or put a team away?

Head coach Rick Barnes has to take serious look at his squad and decide who is going to step-up and be the go-to players down the Big 12 and NCAA stretch. While depth has helped the team get to this point, at times it may keep the team from having a consistent on-floor comfort level that can take this team deep in to March Madness. Combined with piss-poor shooting from the free throw line, and Texas’ lackluster performance the last two games could be a telltale sign of an early exit in March.

Next up, #21/UR UConn (11-6) up in the frigid Northeast on Saturday (CBS, 3:00 p.m. CT).

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