A Modest Proposal
There was the greatness of the Southwest Conference. And then it was gone. The fun began in 1914. It ended in 1996. At its height, Dick Nixon flew Air Force One to watch games. LBJ recruited kids for his beloved Texas Longhorns. Governor Bill Clements had a payroll at SMU. A Bush would stand at attention in College Station for Corps march in. Alabama had to cheat to beat Rice. The Cotton Bowl was King. Eight Texas teams and one interloper from Arkansas fought, cussed, and cheated to get to Dallas on New Years Day for an 11 a.m. kickoff on CBS.
And then it was gone.
Traded in for media markets and the promise of cold hard cash, the Southwest Conference was put out to pasture in 1996, trampled by crooked politicians, greedy administrators, and short sited fandom. And where are we now? Playing football in Kansas or West Virginia every other weekend. The dream of the Big 12 went poorly quickly. Nebraska went north, well, further north. The Mile High Hippies headed west. But everyone was fat, dumb, and happy cashing those ESPN checks. But I think the Bible says, and I'm paraphrasing here, "what good does it do a man to sell his media rights if he has to hang out with Oklahomans?"
The true tragedy was the orphans left behind. For every Texas, A&M, Tech, and yes, even Baylor, there was a Rice, a TCU, an SMU, and a Houston - cursed to roam the non-power five wastelands, looking for a home. They landed in the four corners of the earth, doomed to ply their craft in places like the WAC or Conference USA. Rice, bless their hearts, were forced to play schools in California on the regular. Blasphemy. Now (and this is the real kicker) Houston and SMU share a conference with Connecticut and Temple - cold, desolate destinations, thousands of light years from the warmth of Willie Nelson's motherland.
Eventually, the big boys got fed up making too much money; Texas took the lion's share, A&M got mad, the SEC flirted, A&M crawled into bed with the likes of LSU and Alabama. Ever been to a SEC city? Save yourself a trip, instead go to your local Valero, buy a sixer of Mountain Dew, a carton of cigarettes and spend 48 hours in the men's room. That's a Chamber of Commerce weekend in Lexington. Everyone was getting richer and further away from their roots. Smiling, trying to convince themselves that a trip to Ames is just heaven. Some of them have even thought about heading west to play in a league with USC and UCLA. It would have driven Ann Richards to drink.
It doesn't have to be this way. We can go back to the way it was, even better.
Was there hatred? Yes. Was there cheating? Most definitely. Was there spying? You bet. Were there double agents? Yep. Were threats made? Absolutely. Families divided? Hell yes. Was it wonderful? Beyond description. And it can be again.
The Round-up is at the forefront of the movement to reunify the Southwest Conference. Well, most of it. We'd rather not invite Arkansas, but if that's what it takes, we can certainly think about it. And there's more. Bring in the scattered sheep as well. UTEP, welcome home. North Texas - come on over. Texas State, why not? UTSA, have a seat, make yourself at home. Twelve teams, two divisions, divided however you like. Play the title game in one of the domed prairies that dot our great state. These are all details that can be worked out on a three day weekend at Lake Buchanan.
Big picture here kids, a return to the sweet grass lands of Earl Campbell the Tyler Rose, who made strong thighs attractive. Eric Dickerson inspired kids with glasses across the state to tote the rock. Britt Hager and Zach Thomas weren't tall enough for the rides at Six Flags, but by God, they could tackle. Mike Singletary's eyes. Trevor Cobb's 4.8 40. Craig Stump and Jackie Sherrill. Cheatin' John Jenkins. The Trans ATM. The Baptists vs. the Christians. Slush funds. Wacker Backers. Shasta, Bevo, Boko, Paydirt Pete, dead dogs and Killer Frogs. History. Culture. Tradition. Things that matter.
All broadcast live every Saturday at noon on Raycom - your home for Southwest Conference Football. The champion goes to the Cotton Bowl - not the one played in the Death Star, the one at the State Fairgrounds where you can get a fried twinkie and see the wonders of East Dallas.
We are the SWC Round-up, and we want the Southwest Conference back, we are few, we are proud, we do not forget, expect us.
On second thought we aren't going to take Arkansas back. They never actually belonged to begin with.
About the Author
The SWC Roundup is written primarily by one guy. One delusional son of a bitch who had the good fortune of growing up in the 70s and 80s, attending college in 90s just before the powers that be took a tire iron to that beautiful confederation of schools known as the Southwest Conference.
Now officially middle-aged, the sweet bird of youth long ago abandoning his perch, the author runs a law practice, chases four children, and works on his base tan while watching high school and college football.
The author cut his teeth as a lad when his high school football coach father would bring his work home and hook up the old reel to reel and teach the author about the majesty of the veer, the dangers of the forward pass, and the Constitutional duty to cheer for Texas teams whenever they faced carpetbaggers from outside the state. He wears the most significant badge of honor bestowed on a teenage boy in Texas, he was a varsity letterman and briefly, ever so briefly, tried to walk-on at Texas A&M.
The author believes the Texas High School State Football Championships are a sacred affair and that it's a father's duty to take his children to see high school football and eat a sausage wrap on Friday nights.
Most importantly he believes that when Jesus comes back, He will pause and realign the SWC into twelve teams, two divisions, one conference, in one state so that He may enjoy the bounty of his creation once more. He might even have a sausage wrap.