What Kirk Bohls Says
By Jacob Shoor
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Many schools have thought they could do business with Texas as equals only to find out that they become trapped, with Texas holding virtually all cards.
Austin Statesman writer Kirk Bohls knows as much about how the University of Texas operates, and not just in sports areas, as any journalist ever. He is that rare honest writer who admires and respects, even loves, something that he is able to write about completely, showing not merely warts, but also retractable claws and fangs that are permanently blood-stained.
A couple of years ago, after reading some Bohls articles about the Longhorn shenanigans that came within a hair of killing the Big XII twice (one of which referenced the Longhorn activities that made Arkansas so hate and fear Texas that it left the SWC, which doomed that league), it hit me that Bohls could be described as like a sane version of the Grizzly Man, Timothy Treadwell. The Grizzly Man so loved his favorite predators that he came to develop a false mythology about the species that he preached as a zelaot. Eventually, Treadwell and his girlfriend were eaten by a bear.
Bohls is as mesmerized and aesthetically delighted, as religiously moved, by the ruthless power of Texas playing pawn-crushing kingpin of college sports as Treadwell was of grizzlies.
Check out Bohls' article "In Bowslby, the Big 12 got its man; but will he also be Texas' man?" It is a must read for anyone interested in the possibility that any school not desperate to become a member of a Major conference might sign up for the next round of what I call Bevoing: bending over and taking whatever Texas intends to administer.
Bohls says that the new Big 12 commissioner is his own man, but then he asks the two key questions: "But is he also Texas' man? And how much of a Texas man can the new commissioner afford to be?"
Bohls is frank that Texas must be appeased in such a way as to not ruin what is left of the conference: "But he has accepted what some might say is a thankless task of trying to appease Texas at the same time he adheres to consensus-building to keep his conference solvent."
The new commissioner's job, Bohls say, is difficult: "He must patch up any lingering differences over a disparity in revenue-sharing and maintain the stability of the 10-team league that has lost four schools — and added two — in the last two years. He has to rub elbows with Texas, which he aptly called "the 800-pound gorilla," but not be seen as a rubber stamp for Texas."
Bohls is aware that the only reason the Big 12 exists now is that Texas chose to pursue the Longhorn Network, which the Pac would not accept as is. He is not shy about naming Texas as having most of the power in the conference, which means any commissioner must be peachy keen with both the Texas and its president: "Many would argue Texas remained in the Big 12 only because it wanted to hang onto its $300 million Longhorn Network that few can see, and loves being in a conference it can control. No other Big 12 school has anywhere close to the clout and influence that Texas owns."
Both arguments are valid, which is why it was critical the league hire someone who had a strong working relationship with Dodds and Texas President Bill Powers Jr., who was also on the search committee.
Bohls and Bowslby both know that the only reason that the Big 12 exists today is that the Pac failed to add Oklahoma without Texas, because even OU was ready to drop Texas if it could get into a new Major conference with Oklahoma State: "But the Pac-12 pulled back and chose not to invite Oklahoma and Oklahoma State when it learned Texas didn't want to come, too."
Translation: Texas holds all the strings.
That last line is the ultimate reality. Texas intends to hold all strings. Many schools have thought they could do business with Texas as equals only to find out that they become trapped, with Texas holding virtually all cards.
Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State would all join the Big Ten in half a heartbeat, but Jim Delaney wants none of them. The SEC will not take Texas Tech, Baylor, or TCU, all of which would love to complete a 16 member SEC without Texas. Neither the ACC nor SEC would invite WVU. The SEC would love to add Oklahoma but is not close to persuading its presidents and ADs to add Oklahoma State in order to land OU.
So all Big 12 members but Texas are captive to Texas. It will be quite interesting to see any president and AD of a university already a Major conference member willing to be stringed to Texas, which has a long history of not merely holding all strings, but of yanking as tightly as needed to keep its minions in line.