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By Joe Kazmar
For the Record 

Kaz's Korner

Football is here amid excitement and controversy

 

Last updated 7/27/2021 at 8:10pm



Besides unbearably hot weather, the month of August also means football is here—NFL teams are starting their training camps while colleges and high schools are passing out equipment to get ready for the grueling practice sessions three or four weeks before their first game.

Most of the players in the above mentioned categories are eagerly looking forward to the first REAL game of their respective seasons and even the scrimmages and exhibition games that will soon begin.

Many high school players will be awakening at the crack of dawn to practice before the real hot weather begins that day and then will meet in the afternoon for “skull sessions” with the coaching staffs.

But on the college scene, most of the teams and players are interested in the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners and their pursuit to leave the Big 12 Conference and join the Southeastern Conference to become its 15th and 16th members.

Last week the talk of the moves by the two teams was regarded as “unfounded rumors” but lately the SEC hierarchy and officials of the Big 12 are speculating how to handle this transfer.

The Houston Chronicle first broke the story of Texas and Oklahoma wanting to join the SEC. Further reporting from Sports Illustrated indicated that both schools have delivered an “exit strategy” to the Big 12 and SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey refused to comment on this “speculation”.

Additionally, WFAA reported Jason Whitley in Dallas reports that both Oklahoma and Texas will send letters declining to renew their TV contracts with the Big 12, which are set to expire in 2025. This would be the first step in potentially petitioning the SEC to join the elite conference.

As the news began to filter through college athletics and gain even more momentum, the Big 12 held a meeting between the other member schools about plans if Oklahoma and Texas left the conference, a conversation that neither school was part of.

However, many things have to happen for this expansion to become a reality, starting with a ¾ vote from the current 14 SEC schools about allowing Oklahoma and Texas into the conference.

Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork last week spoke publicly on the potential addition of the two programs. “We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas.” Bjork first told reporters.

But after realizing that with these two highly-regarded football schools joining the SEC would mean much more money for the conference schools, Bjork did a complete turn-around and said he was ready for Texas and Oklahoma to do what the Aggies did ten years ago—leave the Big 12 for greener (like in money) pastures.

And with the future of the NCAA up in the air, the potential addition of Oklahoma and Texas could create the first “super-conference” in college athletics.

There has been much speculation about how a 16-team conference would work, from two eight-team leagues with Texas remaining in the Western Division and Oklahoma joining the East to four geographic “pods”. But long-standing rivalries like Florida and Georgia, Tennessee and Vanderbilt plus Alabama and Auburn need to remain (like Texas A&M-Texas didn’t).

Last week the SEC Network released an idea on how incorporating Texas and Oklahoma in the SEC would look.

LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Texas A&M

Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina

Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee and Vanderbilt

Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas

The network’s proposed theory is that each team would play the other three in their own “pod” every year and two games against each of the other pods that would switch off year-to- year. It would make for a total of nine conference games.

This would reincarnate the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry every other year, which is better than it is now.

KWICKIES…Five team members have left the Southland Conference this season for the Western Athletic Conference including Lamar, Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin and Abilene Christian while Central Arkansas will join the ASUN. That leaves six football-playing schools (McNeese, Southeastern Louisiana, Northwestern State, Nicholls, Incarnate Word and Houston Baptist) out of the eight remaining teams (two don’t have a football program).

The NFL has really cracked down on the players getting their vaccinations, but are leaving that matter up to the players and their teams. If an NFL game is forfeited due to the pandemic, players on the team causing the forfeit will not receive a paycheck for that game while the other team will be paid. We’ll see if that old saying “money talks” is true.

Our Houston Astros are sitting pretty atop the AL West Division with a 5 ½ game lead over the Oakland A’s, who lost three in a row to Seattle last weekend while the Astros swept a three-game series from the hapless Texas Rangers, who have lost 12 straight games, tying a franchise record set in 1982. The Astros began an eight-game road trip Monday at Seattle and then will move on to San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The San Diego Padres on Monday acquired second baseman Adam Frazier from the Pittsburgh Pirates for three minor league pitchers plus $1.4 million in cash. Frazier leads the majors with 125 hits and was the National League’s All-Star starting second baseman.

The Native Americans finally put enough pressure on Cleveland to change their mascot from the Indians (which they’ve had since 1925) to the Guardians. Wonder if they will pressure Atlanta to drop the Braves mascot for something like the Salamanders or Tasmanian Devils?

Bill O’Brien, fired last year by the Houston Texans, will be the new offensive coordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Coach Nick Saban is no idiot and knows a good football mind when he sees one.

JUST BETWEEN US…Another football scenario that has the attention of the sports world pertains to our Houston Texans and their unhappy quarterback Deshaun Watson, who vowed after the final game of the 2020 NFL season that he would NEVER play another down for the Texans. The league said that no-shows would be fined $50,000 for every day of training camp missed with no reprieves from their team. Miraculously, Watson showed up at NRG Stadium Sunday dressed out and ready to work out with the quarterbacks and rookies but still said he wants to be traded. The team wants to get rid of him and his 22 lawsuits, but those lawsuits are what’s keeping all the NFL teams away. Houston wants a mixture of five high draft picks or starting players for Watson, according to ESPN Monday. The entire team practices today.

 

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