John Royal wrote a piece for the Houston Press on Monday, asking the rhetorical titular question: "Can UH Save the Big 12 Despite UT's Best Attempts to Kill It?"
Royal begins with the assumption that Texas A&M will still, in fact, end up in the SEC. There are plenty of people who feel that it will happen, or it won't, but for the sake of argument, let's assume A&M's invite still comes. Royal then lists all of the possible schools that might leave the Big XII next (any/all of them), before stating that "no matter what, the league's going to need another college to survive."
To which I have to say, "Why?"
More Royal wrongness after the jump.
The Big East has held onto its AQ status for a while now with just eight schools, none of them nearly the heavyweights that Oklahoma or Texas-Austin are. Is it possible that more Big XII schools will end up leaving? Sure. The Big XII now resembles the Southwest Conference in the early '90s in more ways than one. But the conference is still viable as is, and in no danger of losing its AQ status. So why does it "need" a tenth member? Royal doesn't explain. Maybe odd-numbered conference are unlucky. Who knows?
Houston would benefit much more from the move to the Big XII than the Big XII would from gaining a tenth team. But it's a moot point, because, let's be honest, Texas-Austin would rather join the Sun Belt than give Houston a seat at the big kids' table. Why else would their AD immediately squash all UH-to-the-Big-XII hope by naming Notre Dame, BYU and (seriously?!) Air Force as possible tenth schools? Let's be realistic, Houston fans. If Air Force gets a Big XII invite before us, we are never getting one.
But assuming A&M gets their invite to the SEC, and assuming that Houston gets its long overdue Big XII spot...Royal still isn't having it if there are strings attached, stating that "it is not acceptable for the Coogs to move a home game away from a new Robertson to Reliant so that the Horns can pack the stadium". Royal then calls everyone involved with the Big XII conference "b****es" for maximum (childish) effect.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for on-campus football. But if the Cougars rotated hosting Texas-Austin and Oklahoma every year for the foreseeable future, and put that single game in Reliant, why would that be a bad thing, exactly? The Cougars sold out their 32,000-seat stadium five out of six home games last year, and season ticket sales are on the rise, with basically nobody of importance on the schedule. You don't think a home game against UT-Austin would bring every conceivable Cougar fan out of the woodwork? Is it really that hard to believe that Houston could get 50,000+ of its own fans into Reliant, and turn it into a must-see event, state-wide, while still maintaining a home-field advantage? Is that really worse than staying in Conference USA because we're so hyper-sensitive about not letting Austin push us around?
I don't mean to pick on Royal, he speaks for plenty of Cougar fans who would rather cheer for Rice than give Austin any say over where the Cougars play their games. But for once, let's have some perspective.
Not that our invite's coming, anyway.