Longhorns make quite a statement to the SEC

Published 1:39 pm Friday, June 28, 2024

Wow, and to think that in some circles there were genuine concerns about how well the University of Texas would fit into the Southeastern Conference.

Not to worry.

The Longhorns don’t even  officially become members until Monday and, in the excitement to join such an esteemed fraternity, may have gotten a tad over-anxious while making their big splash — rush wasn’t even over  yet —  in passing the initiation, as it were.

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We’d call them “Sooners” for jumping that gun, but apparently that pledge name is already taken.

Still, that was quite a first impression, with a long and impressive list of extenuating circumstances.

Texas not only went out and stole their neighbor’s popular head coach, the Longhorns did it the day after Texas A&M baseball and its then-head coach, Jim Schlossnagle, played in (and lost a heartbreaker for) the College World Series national championship.

Well done, Longhorns. You’ll fit right in your new digs, with like-minded playmates.

Even by SEC standards, that is truly next-level “gigging,” for lack of a better word, of a hated rival.

It seemed so far-fetched at first that you suspected it was a freshman prank, like kidnapping a school mascot or somesuch.

Not even. In fact, it gets better.

In today’s climate, you had the added bonus of Schlossnagle’s departure sparking a mass exodus, where seemingly all the pertinent Aggies except the silly Yell Leaders were mad-dashing for the transfer portal.

And don’t think that that opportunity doesn’t have the other SEC coaches licking their chops.

Maybe the timing was a little over the top, even by SEC standards.

Nobody is buying the story that it all was able to come together so quickly simply because Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte was once Schlossnagle’s boss when both were at TCU.

Not that the two old friends ever discussed in advance the potential job opening at Texas, of course. You know, the one that didn’t officially become available  until Del Conte fired David Pierce only hours before the Aggies were to play for the big prize.

That timing was probably just a coincidence.

Anyway, that’s their story and they’re sticking to it — even the part about all three of Schlossnagle’s A&M assistant coaches (and their families) on board for the Austin move less than 12 hours after playing for the national championship with the Aggies.

The alibi was a good story nonetheless, the claim that the hiring was all impromptu. It involved Del Conte’s claims that he waited until the Aggies got home from Omaha before bringing up the conveniently sudden job opening.

Oh, but it gets better.

Del Conte didn’t actually meet with Schlossnagle, he said, until waiting, incognito, in a cemetery about 20 minutes outside of College Station in a little town (you can’t make this stuff up) called Snook, Texas.

If A&M and Texas sell the  movie rights to this, the Aggies can pay off Jimbo Fisher.

Schlossnagle, perhaps, gets his first “horns-down” sign for the way he handled Monday’s postgame press conference.

That was when he was asked, in the wake of the news about the Texas opening, about rumors linking him to a new job.

He lashed out at the messenger, a reporter who covers to Aggies.

“I left my family to be the coach at Texas A&M,” an obviously irritated Schlossnagle said. “I took the job at Texas A&M to never take another job again, and that hasn’t changed in my mind. That’s unfair to talk about something like that.”

Nothing new or particularly wrong about lying to the media. It’s a long standing tradition in the SEC — It Just Means More.

But not when you know you’re going to have to apologize to the same media person less than two days later.

It looks bad on the coaching profession — the apologizing, not the lying.

But the rest of the SEC, probably smiling and shaking its collective heads in bemusement, had best not enjoy this sideshow too much.

Texas A&M can’t take this lying down. Too much Aggie pride, in spite of the Yell Leaders.

A&M has to make a big splash in finding a replacement and the school famously doesn’t mind tossing money around.

It could start a domino effect.

Most of the best baseball coaches are in the SEC, so the rest of the conference schools had best keep their back doors locked and their checkbooks open.

Also, keep an eye on any rural cemeteries near their campuses.