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Baylor, Rivals Remain Intact in Big 12

June 16, 2010

Last week was a nerve-wracking one for Big 12 fans, and Baylor in particular. What seemed to be an imminent dissolution of the Big 12 threatened to leave Baylor out in the cold as their conference brethren appeared headed to greener pastures in other conferences. But an 11th hour re-negotiation of the Big 12's TV contract, coupled with pressure from a number of influential leaders, led to 10 of the 12 conference schools sticking together.

Baylor head mens basketball coach Scott Drew is thrilled that Baylor's stated goal from the beginning was achieved. BU athletic director Ian McCaw and president Ken Starr spent the last few days continually pushing for the conference to stick together, an effort that Drew praised and a result that he said satisfied basketball coaches at rival conference schools.

And it's those fans who had little stay but who stood to be greatly affected. The economics of potential moves were analyzed, with a conference breakup having an adverse affect on Waco and the state. Waco stands at an interesting intersection in the Big 12 story. The home of Baylor, it also contains a number of Longhorns and Aggies, sitting less than 100 miles from both UT and A & M. State representative Doc Anderson is an Aggie. He points out that playing schools year in and year out, despite the rivalry and occasionally bitter feuds, is a powerful networking tool locally and statewide.

Those rivalries have been amplified in Waco because of its location at the top of the three-school triangle. Its proximity to the schools has allowed alums to remain close to their alma maters. Longhorn Sam Brown is a member of the Waco Texas Exes and formerly served as president of the organization. He worried that a move to the Pac 10 would separate him a bit from his school, in addition to its affect on his city.

Baylor, Texas, and Texas A & M have all played each other in football for over 100 years. Says Brown, throwing that tradition out the window would have sent an unpleasant signal. Brown feels if the Bears, Longhorns, and Aggies weren't playing every year something would be lost. He'd know. He represents as well as anyone the tangled family and work ties that come from 3 schools in proximity.

So the main rivalries remain, as all Texas and Oklahoma schools remain together. Two schools did move on, Colorado to the Pac 10 and Nebraska to the Big 10. For KWBU news, I'm Derek Smith.

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