What Texas A&M will ultimately do is anyone's guess.
Go to the SEC? Stay in the Big 12? Who knows?
But this much has become clear during these past few weeks — there is no bond between Texas A&M and Texas. The longtime rivals have been playing each other for more than a century on campuses separated by a mere two-hour drive, and yet, there is no strong relationship between them. There is only animosity and distrust.
They've taken “bitter rivalry” to a whole new level.
These two could learn something from Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Sooners and Cowboys are heated rivals and fierce competitors, but they know how to get along with each other.
I was reminded of that Tuesday night at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. The state's sports shrine inducted its latest class, a distinguished bunch that included three Cowboys and two Sooners. That meant a lot of orange bloods mingling with a bunch of crimson lovers.
And you know what?
Sooners cheered Cowboy honorees, and Cowboys cheered Sooner honorees.
It's not just people being nice. There's a real bond between the two sides that will remain solid regardless of what becomes of the Big 12.
“I think OU and Oklahoma State will stick together if something happens,” said OSU mega-booster Boone Pickens, one of the Hall of Fame inductees. “We're kind of a stick-together crowd in this state.”
We should thank our lucky stars for that after what's been going on south of the Red River lately.
I know A&M types want to talk about how a possible move to the SEC is all about playing in a more prestigious conference or making more money or escaping a crumbling conference, but the truth of the matter is, they want out of the Longhorns' shadow. They've been trying to escape for decades. They're fed up. They've decided to do something about it.
(I've got bad news for the Aggies — even if you go to the SEC, you're still going to be in the Longhorns' shadow.)
The Aggies have an inferiority complex when it comes to the Longhorns. Heck, their fight song includes the repeated lyrics “saw Varsity's horns off.” Of course, the Texas fight song also says "goodbye to A&M." That's not just a rivalry. That's a deep-seeded loathing.
“The Aggies ought to stick with Texas,” Pickens said. “They have a hard time hugging Texas. I don't know if you noticed that.”
Umm, yeah, we noticed.
“I can always hug Sooners,” Pickens said, grinning, “if they don't beat us.”
We've seen the Bedlam bond play out time and again. When then-OSU athletic director Terry Don Phillips took out a full-page ad congratulating the OU football team on winning the 2000 national championship. When then-OU men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson outfitted his team in orange warm-up shirts for Bedlam a few weeks after the OSU plane crash. When OU president David Boren turned down SEC overtures for the Sooners last summer because the league wasn't interested in the Cowboys.
Such acts might anger rabid fans, but a vast majority of folks on both sides of the Bedlam divide realize a good relationship is best for both sides.
The teams compete fiercely. The fans rail intensely. But because the leaders of both universities see mutual benefit in the other, they coexist quite nicely.
Do they razz each other?
Tuesday night, OSU athletic director Mike Holder introduced Pickens and told about him transferring from Texas A&M to OSU. He ended up giving hundreds of millions of dollars to OSU, but his money might've gone elsewhere had he not been cut from the Aggies' basketball team.
“Not the only bad decision made by the Aggies,” Holder needled. “We could talk about which one's worse.”
Together, Sooners and Cowboys guffawed.
When Barry Switzer stepped to the microphone to introduce Lucious Selmon a bit later, the legendary Sooner football coach pointed directly at Pickens.
“Hell, Boone,” Switzer said, “we play basketball at Oklahoma and have a geology school, too.”
Again, Sooners and Cowboys guffawed.
Listen, I'm not trying to soften how intense this rivalry is. I understand that each side wants to pound the other to a pulp when they meet on the field or the court. But OU and OSU have shown that rivals can battle and still be civil.
Texas A&M and Texas would be smart to follow that lead.