Great Scott? A little, but realignment all comes back to Texas

by | Columnist

Does Larry Scott deserve the credit for his league's ever-growing prospects? (Getty Images)  
Does Larry Scott deserve the credit for his league's ever-growing prospects? (Getty Images)  

It turns out the rumors that Larry Scott has the power to cloud men's minds and bring women running to his side are not entirely true.

Yes, it is correct that the plane that took him to Dallas last weekend to see LSU-Oregon stayed right where it was parked rather than head off to Norman, Stillwater or Tulsa. And yes, it is correct that while the plane idled, TCU and Texas-Arlington stowed away in the cargo hold. And yes, it is also correct that when it landed at Sky Harbor Airport to restock the refreshment carts, the University of Phoenix and Arizona State's intramurals program also hopped on.

But let us never forget that when this new round of hyperconferencing ends, and the Pac-12 becomes the Pac-XX or whatever (hey look, isn't that Santa Barbara City College?), this wasn't Larry Scott's beguiling smile and riveting eyebrows that did the trick.

It was really Texas that made it all happen. Simply by being Texas. Or, more specifically, by being Reese Witherspoon in Election.

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When the Big 12 was about to die, Texas decided to keep it alive by sheer force of its personality. Then Texas presented the bill for services rendered, and that included triple-billing for parts and labor, plus the exclusive right to present regular bills for services not rendered in the future. "And you have to pay it," Texas said it its deepest Mr. Bossypants voice. "We saved your homes."

And Texas A&M, Texas' most kindred spirit for so many years, said, "Sue me. I'm not paying for this."

And once Texas A&M refused to pay and not only did not get the property foreclosed, but apparently found a happier home down the road to boot, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State decided not to pay, either.

Enter Larry Scott, by not entering. All he needed to do was hear, "Commissioner, it's a Mr. Boren on Line 2, and he sounds like his pipes just burst." Texas did the work by presuming its conference mates would be just as happy as the Washington Generals, and Scott just sort of zen-finessed the rest.

And that was that, or we think that's that. There are still procedural issues to hammer out, most pressingly A&M clearing escrow, but it looks mostly like Texas saved the Big 12, tried to then eat it and ultimately killed it.

Of course, because Texas is still Texas, it doesn't have to pay the supreme penalty. Unless somehow this goes wrong, Texas gets to go to Scott's party too, only not as the all-powerful planet-eater and corporate overlord, but on Oklahoma's coattails and as a Pavlovian response to A&M's scorn.

That's a whole lot different than Larry Scott in a magician's turban with an amulet hanging halfway down his forehead clouding men's minds by making them stare at the dangling skull-bauble.

Oh, he kept his ears pointed toward the wind, because that's what people like him do. He had failed once before to catch this prize, ending up with the modest consolations of Colorado and Utah, but saw what saved the Big 12, and how Texas tried to press its advantage.

He saw an opportunity, and sat back and waited for it to present itself. But the opportunity was made not by Scott, but by DeLoss Dodds and the uniquely Texas world-view that whatever Texas wants, Texas should get by virtue of its Texas-hood. It saw the Big 12's temporary salvation as evidence of the field's weakness, and forgot that there are other options. There are always other options.

Well, there will be options for a while, anyway. This is just the next revolutionary step in the evolution toward four separate power spheres in college athletics -- Pacific 16 Give Or Take, Big Ten With an Afternoon High of 16, Southeastern and Everything That's Left That Has The Money To Stick It Out.

And while Larry Scott is getting enough praise right now to all but sew up the Heisman Trophy that had been deeded to Andrew Luck (hey, it's college athletics, and the kids come last), it should never be forgotten that this could not have been done without Texas.

And the lessons:

1. Never bite off more of your partners than they're willing to watch you chew.
2. Never think the game is truly over.
3. Sometimes the race is won by he who is willing to sit back and watch you run as fast as you can until you get the monumental M.I. you were really courting all along.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay


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