DeLoss Dodds is the very best there is. He is as subtle as a rhinoceros horn in the eye, and as flexible as a steel girder. He is an infighter, and a guy who will take two blows to deliver three.
Thus, having maintained Texas' hegemony in the Lazarus-like Big 12, the Texas athletic director proceeded to tell us why the events of the past several months went so horribly wrong, and we quote:
"People on boards get involved and when they get involved collegiality sometimes stops," Dodds said. "We've got to empower people on the athletics side to put this together and keep it together."
In other words, the solution to solving conference instability is to give the people who caused the problem to begin with even more power to do what they want than they already have, and to cut out the people who actually run the universities.
Now that's not just gall, that's the whole damned bladder.
Dodds is the genius (and we don't mean that sarcastically) behind the Longhorn Network, which is both a cash cow for Texas (or will be once it solves the problem of people seeing it) and the smoking gun that started the range war.
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And we definitely mean that sarcastically.
Athletic directors are exactly the problem, and have been for decades, because they are already convinced they know what is best for the universities that employ them. Because they are the true nature of the NCAA, the cartel that restricts athletes' rights as students while keeping nearly all the money those students generate. Because they are the ones who ignore, allow or even encourage the rampant corruption that has brought the entire industry into such laughable disrepute.
And DeLoss Dodds thinks he and his colleagues need more power because they didn't create enough chaos this time.
What few presidents got involved did so because athletic directors started working for the industry instead of the student. And if presidents are grandstanders, it is because they have learned at the feet of the masters. Their masters, if Dodds is correct and gets the world in which he wishes to live.
And conference commissioners, the deal-makers and deal-breakers in this laughable tableau, are mostly old athletic directors. A few are outsiders, like Larry Scott, and they caused their own share of the chaos, but they offered the only thing that causes athletic directors' ears to perk up –- more cash than anyone could count.
Not all athletic directors, mind you. We generalize at our peril, but there aren't many noble creatures here. This is about money and power, and only about money and power. It's hard to find Gandhi in a golf shirt.
The Texas-Oklahoma-Pac-12 deal really hinged, ultimately, on the fact that Scott saw Texas as the home run he could hit to become one of the industry's biggest players, but Texas would not come without its usual autonomy. Thus, Scott worked Oklahoma, which would bring Oklahoma State, which would collapse the Big 12 and leave Texas with nothing but independence and a network with wonky programming.
Only Texas won Oklahoma's heart back again -– at least for the moment, because the relationship is no longer one of trust but of temporary convenience –- and Scott's bluff was called. He and his conference wanted Texas bad enough to take the Oklahomas and Texas Tech, but they didn't want the other three without Texas.
Dodds knows and understands hardball, which is what this was, and he had the bottom of the ninth. He wins, for now.
But the idea that somehow he and his fellow ADs can save college athletics from its basest instincts is, of course, preposterous. They helped expose the system for the sanctimonious ATM it is, and they were willing to give up the sanctimony before they were willing to give up the money and the control.
Which was Dodds' message Wednesday. Let the athletic directors have more control over their worlds, as though they were just using the schools they represent to have something to slap across the front of the uniforms. He won the day for his school and his department, and good on him.
And for asking for even more than that –- now that's some serious brass, children.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.com.