Today’s post is brought to you by the letter M, and by the number 12.
The University of Missouri is working on leaving the Big 12 Conference. Missouri starts with the letter M. So do words like Mountain (as in Mountain West Conference), Mojo, Momentum, and Money. It was the celebrated 1980’s era lyrical philosopher Cyndi Lauper that crooned “Money; money changes everything.” More on that thought later.
First, a bit of pigskin history. It was 1991, in Fort Worth, Texas. My wife, aka Little Frau, was a recent graduate of TCU, and we lived a mere one half mile from the university’s Amon Carter Stadium. A good friend was a graduate of Texas A&M, and suggested we get some tickets and go watch these two Southwest Conference rivals duke it out on the gridiron.
It was a night game in November; the forecast called for freezing rain and bitter wind chill factors. Back in those days, only two or three games per week were televised by ABC, so a seat in the stands was often the only way to watch. We were young, so it seemed okay at the time. Only after arriving at the stadium did we figure out that our seats were in the now former upper deck, and that we were the only souls braving the cold north wind from such a high and lofty perch.
Back in those days, Texas A&M had momentum. They had defeated arch rival and SW Conference companion University of Texas for five years in a row. They also had mojo. Texas A&M’s fearsome defense had been dubbed “The Wrecking Crew.” The game I’m recalling was the date of what has been dubbed “the hit.” As a hapless TCU receiver ran a quick slant route in the second quarter, his head was immediately removed by future All Pro NFL linebacker Quentin Coryatt. He went parallel to the turf while still airborne, and then fell to the ground shaking, his jaw broken in two places. A video follows for those who are not faint of heart…
BTW – there was also a great video made with theme music called “Shut it Down,” but IT was “shut down” by the NFL for copyright reasons and is too pixelated to watch now.
With the score at 40 to nothing in A&M’s favor before halftime, we knew then that it was time to leave.
Fast forward with me now to 2011. A&M’s football program is not so great anymore. As Mr. Coryatt himself confessed a few years ago in an interview, his alma mater had lost that “Mystique.” Now come the jealousies and political posturing related to money.
Maybe the theme music in the axed video was intended for the Big 12; “Shut it down.” Conferences are falling apart. The “almighty dollar” (subdued laughter) rules the day. Longtime rivalries will be no more. Will Texas A&M and Texas ever play again after this year? Will Missouri and Kansas ever do so, as well?
And who is the big winner, in this game of big losses for true fans? With an accepted muti-million dollar invitation to flee the Mountain West (and avoid moving to the Big East) for the smaller, friendlier Big 12, it is none other than good old TCU. Do I hear a riff, ram, bazoo, anyone? It seems that the Barnett Shale gas field has been kind to the Frogs in more recent years, and that they’ve gone out and acquired themselves a bona fide football coach and some enviable facilities…and big time wins have followed. They have found their mojo. Sound familiar, OSU?
Yes, it does seem that money changes everything. I’m not sure who plays where, today, and the Big 12 has forgotten how to count that high.
Thank you to our sponsors, the letter M, and the number 12. Now, can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?