They say that everything is bigger in Texas, however bigger doesn't mean better. The Texas Longhorns have a gigantic alumni base, they have a ton of money, and they even sport their own network. What they don't have is a football program capable of carrying the Big Twelve flagship banner.
The Longhorns have had their share of successes on the football field. Vince Young led them to a BCS championship in 2005 and then they made another championship appearance in 2009. If you're keeping track then that's two championship caliber seasons since the conference started playing football in 1996.
Don't get me wrong and twist the intent of this post. I'm not attempting to belittle the boys in Burnt Orange. What I am attempting to do is examine their credentials as to why they are considered the premier program of the conference. Let's be honest, we all know that the perception of Texas is the perception of the Big Twelve. No, it isn't fair, and no, it isn't accurate.
The Big Twelve currently has two teams that are Top Five worthy in Oklahoma and Baylor. The biggest story right now should be that the Big Twelve legitimately does have two teams that should be considered for making the playoffs and you'd be hard pressed to find a conference that has a better one/two punch than what the Big Twelve has with the Sooners and Bears. Yet, the talk remains as to how far the conference has fallen because of Texas.
Let's go back a couple of weeks. On September 13 West Virginia beat Maryland on a last second field goal, Iowa State upset Iowa, and Oklahoma rolled on Tennessee. The conference scored wins over the ACC, Big 10, and the SEC on the same day but the lead story that evening was Texas screwing up the coin toss. The second leading story that night was UCLA using a backup quarterback to knockoff the Longhorns in Arlington. The week before the big story was Texas getting smashed, for the second year in a row, at the hands of BYU.
At best Texas can be described as a mediocre football program. This isn't a new or stunning development down in Austin either. The decline of the Longhorns has been steady since 2010. New coaches, new on-field personnel, and new philosophies have yet to rectify the situation. This is the same Texas team that we've seen for years now. Nope, they haven't turned the corner and by all accounts they aren't close yet.
The Big Twelve is playing some pretty good football right now and if the Texas Longhorns would just get out of the way then the rest of the country could notice. Texas is a long way from being the flagship program they think they are. They've been passed up in their home state by Baylor and Texas A&M and have yet to overcome their disastrous 2010 season.
The Big XII is sorely misrepresented. It features one of the top offenses and defenses in the country and some of the best coaching you'll find. However, you'll find it described by many pundits as a conference of limited offenses and struggling defenses. Basically the Big XII is being lumped in with Texas.
Charlie Strong has a proven track record of building a program into a national power. His challenge in Austin, however, is to restore a program that is far too often suffocated by its own pride. Can Strong restore Texas to their proper order on the conference totem pole? The jury is still very much out on that but in the meantime the Longhorns need to take a backseat.
That's right, I'm suggesting that the Longhorns take one for the team and move out of the way. You're holding up progress, Texas. Be it Baylor or Oklahoma, the Big Twelve has a legit shot at making waves in the first ever playoff, but only if the measuring stick of the conference is actually done by the top teams in the Big XII. The next time the spin machine comes your way then point them up the road towards the better programs. You'll eventually get back to the top but until then stop holding everyone else down.
Do you realize that there is actually conversation of the Longhorns getting upset at Kansas this weekend. Come on! Elite programs that serve as the flagship of their conference don't fall victim to that kind of banter.
Get out of the way Texas...at least until you've got the coin toss down...because while no one really wants to say it, we all believe that you're killing the conference.