Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tech moves a home game while Baylor loses games

Word out of Lubbock is that Texas Tech and Texas A&M officials are talking about playing the Tech-A&M game in Dallas (like UT-OU) rather than alternating home dates every year.

Why? Well, as you might have guessed, it's a money thing. Tech thinks it can make more money by playing the game in the Metroplex, which has the largest Texas Tech alumni base outside West Texas. A&M thinks the game can get more TV revenue with the game being in Dallas.

However, this has raised holy hell in Lubbock, as local merchants dread the prospect of a lost home date, especially one that brings in a lot of out-of-town revenue. Plus, some in the athletic department don't want to lose one of the marquee games that draw people to a renovated Jones Stadium

I think both Tech and A&M officials are dreaming if they think moving this to a neutral site is good for either school.

First off, It's not going to draw the same amount of national attention because it's not as important as the other games that are played offsite. Texas-OU and Florida-Georgia are huge rivalries with a long history. Army-Navy is what it is because it's our two oldest military academies, the folks in the game are going off to serve our country when it's over, and it's a focal point for people who still hang on to the ideal that college football should be about something other than an NFL minor league. Tech-A&M is in the class of none of these matchups. Shoot, Tech and A&M barely acknowledged each other prior to Tech joining the Southwest Conference.

Second, you are talking about moving the game away from 2 of the best home fields in the Big XII, Kyle Field and Jones Stadium (yes, in that order). Part of college football is atmosphere. You can't replicate either home field in Dallas because the students that make up a large part of that atmosphere at both stadiums wouldn't be able to get tickets. They have more important things to spend their money on like books, food, and alcohol. It especially gets dicey for Tech because while they gain the Dallas alumni, who show up at "road" dates at TCU and SMU but aren't that passionate, they lose the more rabid fans who live in West Texas and may not be able to travel all the way to Dallas.

Third, the game is really only a compelling matchup nationally, and therefore TV-worthy, if both teams are doing well. Sure, right now, Tech and A&M are programs considered "on the rise," and it may be a game people want to watch this year, but what if one or both programs hit a rebuilding cycle? Who is going to watch outside the fan bases?

This is a big mistake for both programs and neither should sign on for this deal.

Concurring opinion: Don Williams in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Dissenting opinion: Jeff Walker, also in the A-J

Baylor hit with major sanctions

Well, despite Baylor's best efforts to clean up the program, the Bears' men's basketball program lost all of it's non-conference games next season as part of the penalty the NCAA handed down over infractions incurred under former head coach Dave Bliss.

The committee did not spare Bliss or assistant Doug Ash either, placing each on the NCAA's "show-cause" list, meaning any school wishing to hire either must convince the NCAA first to allow the hiring or face penalties.

While the committee referred to the allegations as "the worst since SMU football" (which got the death penalty) and the individuals involved have, in effect, been barred, I think the reduction in games is a bit extreme. Scott Drew, who's done an admirable job on and off the court since his arrival, should not be punished for someone else's violations. The players who were there under Bliss have mostly moved on. Plus, the extreme nature of the punishment takes away from the excellent spring Baylor has had, from winning the Women's Final Four, to making the Men's Tennis final, to making the College World Series. Also, it's hurting the healing process as many in the Baylor community are still getting over Patrick Dennehy's brutal murder, and they are having to relive it because media outlets are reporting that the case factored into the committee's decision to eliminate the games.

Will this change college athletics? Don't hold your breath. Jerry Tarkanian put the NCAA's enforcement strategy best when he said, "They get so mad at Kentucky that they put Cleveland State on probation." And Baylor, at least in the revenue sports, is a Cleveland State that happens to play in a major conference.

Tomorrow: TBA
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