Politics in College Football

I’ve seen a lot of complaints, mostly by other fan bases, (And our good friend Bill Connelly) that politicians should stay out of college sports. I find that hilarious considering a lot of college sports has been shaped by politicians.

  • Baylor alum and state Senator David Sibley, who was head of the TX Finance committee, had more to do with getting Baylor into the Big 12 than Ann Richards. At the time, Bullock was probably the most important man in TX govt and Sibley convinced him to take Baylor (Bullock also had A Baylor degree along with a Tech degree).
  • It was Rick Perry, an Aggie, who basically helped A&M get into the SEC while he was Governor as he wanted A&M out from under UT’s shadow.
  • It was Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who’s threats about investigating the exclusionary aspects of the BCS, that probably helped get Utah (a mostly commuter school) into the PAC 12 (Hatch dropped his threats almost immediately after).
  • Virginia Tech had no chance at the ACC until the Virginia legislature pressured Virginia into not voting for expansion unless they supported Va Tech (ACC wanted Miami and either Syracuse/BC at the time, but UNC and Duke were solidly anti-expansion which meant the rest of the schools needed Virginia’s vote in order to admit Miami).
  • Politicians in Oklahoma have basically tied Oklahoma and Oklahoma State (a fairly weak academic school) together which is why many think Oklahoma hasn’t left the Big 12 already.
  • Same in Kansas where Kansas is AAU and Kansas State is not considered strong academically.
  • Same in Washington as WAZZU doesn’t really fit the profile of the rest of the PAC 12.
  • North Carolina politics forces State P5 teams to play ECU every year while keeping UNC in the ACC with 3 other North Carolina schools (everyone mentions that no State has more than 4 P5 teams, but doesn’t mention that North Carolina has 4 P5 teams – if they can have 4, Texas can have 5-6).

I’ve heard complaints that the government has no business sticking it’s nose in this while suggesting that “getting involved in football” is beneath them. I find that interesting. The benefits that the state and city would reap with UH admission are substantial and undeniable, and are certainly the type of thing state and local governments are concerned about. It isn’t dissimilar from the rhetoric one hears when areas are bidding to lure corporate businesses that would provide a boost to the local economy. Or, of course, when various locations seek to host a sporting event (Super Bowl, Olympics, Final Four), or become the home to a new or existing sports franchise.

The other point I always make is that NCAA sports, especially at the highest levels, is fueled by participants who are mostly state agencies. The Big 12 has eight public Universities and two private schools. It is completely natural for state governments to take the welfare of its own agencies seriously and attempt to direct events for their benefit where appropriate. The true issue in the case of the Big 12 is that Texas contains the only two privates in the league, and that the interests of those two schools were placed ahead of a major state institution. That should never have happened in the first place.

By the way, let’s not forget the caterwauling issued by Mitch McConnell when Louisville was left out of the initial exodus from the Big Easr.


Speaking of politics, if (and it’s a very big if) the PAC made UH a better offer (more $) and UH opted to join the PAC, I’m concerned about political blowback. Granted, without any concrete offers yet, this is putting the cart before the horse.

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UH is a state school. UH Athletics can either be a drain or a boost to the operating budget. Football should not be the top priority for politicians but the financial impact to UH of the Big XII expansion should be very important to the politicians. It is not four Texas schools trying to get into the Big XII – there is only one so the political forces should not be divided on this.

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Politicians rarely do anything out of the goodness of their hearts or because it’s the ‘right thing to do’. Usually there is something for them to gain. In our case I believe that a certain someone has opened his wallet or at least promised to.

Which is what the complaining is really about.

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To follow up my Bill Connelly comment, he just so happened to post this the other day right after Governor Abbott said there was no Big 12 expansion without Houston:

PODCAST AIN’T PLAYED NOBODY: Houston doesn’t make sense for Big 12 expansion

Because it doesn’t really “expand” the Big 12.

Did Shasta kick Bill Connelly’s dog back in the day?