Earlier this week USA Today put out their annual survey of athletic revenue for public colleges and universities from around the country. Not surprisingly, Texas A&M and Texas led the list. A&M has been swimming in money a la Scrooge McDuck since making the prescient move to the SEC. Texas, long since having climbed into bed with ESPN, is now having a nightcap in the form of a new sponsorship deal with Corona.
The distance between the haves and the have nots is expanding. When Texas A&M makes $160 million more than most of its in-state competition, the scales are desperately out of whack. It's easy to walk into your nearby Academy Sports and Outdoors, look for the right stuff at the right price, and grab a maroon or burnt orange t-shirt off the rack. Why wouldn't you? They're the popular kids. So are Baylor, TCU, and Texas Tech. Those schools easily make twice what almost any of the AAC, CUSA or Sun Belt schools make.
The rich schools have also found themselves middling in the Big 12 and SEC. And while the sun used to rise and set over the Longhorn empire, the last time the Horns were nationally relevant (really nationally relevant not just crowned by an overzealous play by play announcer) 2018 recruits were in the 4th grade. We're sure Tom Herman will right the ship, the same way Mack Brown promised to do so from 2011 until it was Charlie Strong's turn to assume the promise.
With all their resources, Texas should put a winner on the field. A&M has no excuse going 8-5 every year. Neither does TCU nor does Baylor for that matter. They print money. They have all the bells and whistles. They are Coca Cola, Ford, and yes Corona, who are owned by Anheuser-Busch - a corporation that has gone to great lengths to ensure that the alcoholic beverages we drink on weekends are homogenized swill.
But if you look outside the name-brands, there are a lot of exciting things happening with the REST of the Texas schools. They're investing in their programs and fans as never before. The results will be exciting this year.
Nobody wanted to tangle with Houston last year. They ambushed college football in 2015. If you think Major Applewhite is going to let the Cougars slip and lose their place, you're wrong. They also have the most exciting interior defender in a decade or more in Ed Oliver. He's worth the price of admission and the NFL is salvating over the talent he demonstrated as a teenager.
SMU kept Chad Morris and kept the rebuild going. Now the Mustangs have their most talented roster since literally 1985. They're not even a dark horse for the AAC, they're a contender. Courtland Sutton has first round draft pick imprinted all over him. If they find a quarterback, and there are options, the Mustangs will be competitive against everyone on their schedule.
At UTSA Frank Wilson has taken the Roadrunners on a historic eighteen month ride which included a first ever bowl trip, the best recruiting class in school history, and a brash approach to going up against the big boys for the top talent in the state. They have the most experienced squad in CUSA and the talent to win the league. Perhaps they can even pull ten plus wins out of 2017. Don't be shocked if they do. They might also take down that Power-5 school that resides in Waco. Make no mistake, Wilson is big game hunting.
Their neighbors and rivals up I-35, North Texas, hired a relative unknown in Seth Littrell who inherited one of the worst roster situations in college football and took the Mean Green to a bowl game. Get in on North Texas now, because once Littrell gets more of his pieces in place they're going to be one of the most exciting teams in CUSA.
While we're at it, take a look at Rice, the only former Southwest Conference member to never run afoul of the NCAA. The Owls do it right and overachieve under David Bailiff, the greatest Rice coach in a half century.
UTEP plays the game like a blunt instrument and have the mentality of their head man, former O-line coach Sean Kugler. They are the blue collar tough guys who have parked their semi in a neighborhood full of spread offenses. When UTEP is going well, there is no better place to watch a game than the Sun Bowl.
And lastly Texas State. The Bobcats have taken heat as the worst team in college football, but whether you agree with his tactics or his tact, Everett Withers is building in the right direction in San Marvelous. They might be the most improved team in the state in 2017.
You can tune in every Saturday this fall and watch the rich get richer, if so try to enjoy a Corona, a beer that requires a fruit insertion to be at all palatable. You'll have a decent time. But you'll also miss some of the best football in the state and in the country. (Those two descriptors are redundant.)
Adopt a Texas G5 school, you'll be glad you did.