Discuss 167
September 08, 2011
In Praise of Failure: Baylor's tantrum seals its own fate
photo: Andrew Kilzer, TexAgs
 
Abraham Lincoln once said, profoundly, “It is better to remain silent and be considered a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

Which brings us to Baylor. And Kenneth Starr.

The squawking and posturing Baylor initialized over potentially being left on the sidelines as elite programs realign has been heard nationwide. The chest-pounding in Waco has been equally loud.

The Bears and their president Starr have made a lot of noise. They’ve caused much angst.

But have they made a sound?

More important, have they changed the destiny of any program looking to realign —specifically Texas A&M and Oklahoma — or affected the inevitability of so-called, “super-conferences” forming?

The answer is a resounding "no." In fact, the only destiny Baylor has affected may be its own. The exact opposite of the intended result appears to be occurring before BU and Starr's eyes.

businessinsider.com Starr and Baylor's petty and shortsighted antics aren't simply stalling the inevitable — they're harming themselves. {"Module":"photo","Alignment":"right","Size":"large","Caption":"Starr and Baylor\u0027s petty and shortsighted antics aren\u0027t simply stalling the inevitable — they\u0027re harming themselves.","MediaItemID":10302}
They are coming off as bitter bridesmaids, casting darts and pouting but looking only less attractive for it. The national tone is clearly against Baylor’s ploy. And while other second-tier programs in the Big 12 also have fallen in line and refused to sign on the dotted line, the backlash is strongest on those in green and gold who pronounced fatefully, “Don’t Mess With Texas Football.”

It was a huge and costly mistake that should be considered a foreboding sign to any other second-tier programs with similar over-inflated self-worth.

No one likes to be told they’re not good enough, or second-tier, like Baylor was as others moved on to bigger and better things. And it goes double for prideful institutions such as BU and its fans and high-profile administrators.

It was more than understandable that feelings were hurt and anger boiled in Waco when Texas started calling all the shots with its Longhorn Network, Texas A&M found a home in the best league in the country and Oklahoma’s eyes began to wander.

But once Baylor reacted with instinct rather than thought, it forged this path it now cannot leave. It opened its collective mouth and tried to wield the same kind of power as the big boys. When it pronounced itself to be anything but second-tier, the backlash removed all doubt. 

Baylor not only cannot win this battle — it figures to lose more than it ever would have otherwise. Any chance of the Big 12 surviving now is gone. Any chance of Baylor pulling another Ann Richards and sneaking into the back seat on a ride into a super-conference is out of the question.

Baylor was worried it would be left in a lurch and then self-fulfilled that prophecy by throwing its collective body on the floor, kicking and screaming, in essence announcing to the college football world, “But I want an Oompah-Loompah now!”

There were numerous pre-existing differences among Big 12 members, as Nebraska’s and Colorado’s moves, the Longhorn Network’s division and the Aggies’ subsequent and impending move to the Southeastern Conference made evident. But Baylor’s refusal to abide by the Big 12’s initial agreement to waive potential litigation made those differences irreconcilable.

Ultimately, it will be Baylor’s very public and very childish tantrum that will be the fatal blow that dismantles the Big 12. There is no more trust among member institutions. There are no more procedures. There is not a shred of stability.

From the beginning of this Aggie venture southeast, Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin took meticulous steps to do things the right way, respect protocol and — significantly — not undermine commissioner Dan Beebe or any other Big 12 institution. It was a slow process and often grueling for anxious Aggies to bear.

TexAgs The foil for Baylor's actions? Loftin himself, having acted judiciously and with respect even for those he sought to separate from. {"Module":"photo","Alignment":"left","Size":"large","Caption":"The foil for Baylor\u0027s actions? Loftin himself, having acted judiciously and with respect even for those he sought to separate from.","MediaItemID":9620}
But it was done right. Loftin took great steps not to burn bridges, even though the move was crucial because of fading trust and stability within the league.
 
When Bowen publicly addressed the move to the SEC, he spoke of a “100-year plan” for Texas A&M and went out of his way to note, “It’s not so much what’s wrong with the Big 12. It’s what’s right for Texas A&M.” 

Baylor then highlighted and underlined all the things wrong with the Big 12 and proceeded to make it all worse. Baylor fans — and fans of Iowa State, Kansas State and Kansas for that matter — should not be celebrating Starr’s misguided attempt to block A&M and Oklahoma.

They should be asking, “Is this our only hope? Desperation?”
 
It’s this exact kind of dysfunction and instability which pushes programs further away, rather than bringing them closer together.
 
Rather than taking control of their own destiny, building relationships and bridges that just might keep Baylor among the elite programs, the Bears took the low road, leading a foolish charge all by themselves.

And ultimately, after the Aggies head southeast and the Longhorns, Sooners, Red Raiders and Cowboys find a super-conference home, that’s exactly where Baylor will be. 

All by themselves.
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