Did you hear the one about the two head coaches who wanted to play each other but somehow can’t? Yeah … I don’t believe it, either.
Neither Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin nor Longhorns coach Charlie Strong is stupid enough to say they do not want to play the other. To do so would be downright chicken — decidedly non-Texan.
In a story that ESPN ran this week, Strong and Sumlin readily said they want to renew the UT-A&M rivalry.
Strong said, “It’s a game that needs to be played.”
The “Amens” on this do not stretch from just College Station to Austin but from the Rio Grande to the Red River and beyond.
These men know ball, and PR. By now, we should also know when we are being served a plate of bull from coaches. If these guys want this to happen, it can. Today. If Mayweather can fight Pacquiao, then A&M can play UT.
But until a contract is signed, no one should believe Bevo will face Reveille anytime soon. Rather we should believe these coaches want nothing to do with the other, and expect both coaches to use their ADs as human shields against what should be enormous pressure from every living, breathing Texan here and abroad.
Know this: In college football, if a head football coach wants to make something happen, it happens. Both Sumlin and Strong are the highest-paid state employees in Texas … because a football coach is easily the most important person in a state “office.”
Sumlin was not hired by his AD — Eric Hyman, whereas Strong was — by Steve Patterson. That does not change the dynamic in Division I football at football schools; the head football coach runs the department. If Strong and Sumlin genuinely want this game to happen, it can. All they have to do is tell their bosses: “We are playing this game.”
Not in time for the 2015 season, but Texas vs. Texas A&M can be added to future schedules within the week. By looking at the future schedules of the programs, the earliest Texas has an opening is 2018; A&M has holes to fill beginning in 2016.
Now, I am quite certain UTEP, which is scheduled to play in Austin in 2016, can be easily per$uaded to change the year of that game. Just call Longhorns assistant head coach Red McCombs.
In case you forgot — and you have not — this game was last played in 2011 after A&M fled to the SEC because the school was irate at the monopoly the Big 12 OK’d when then-UT AD DeLoss Dodds grabbed ESPN’s Longhorn Network money.
Both sides blamed the other, but many of those people are now gone. Dodds has retired, as has his A&M counterpart, Bill Byrne. UT President Bill Powers is scheduled to leave his post this summer.
But despite optimism from Strong and Sumlin, this falls into the category of “if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.” From the time he arrived in College Station in 2012, Hyman has doggedly dodged this issue, routinely citing the brutality of an SEC schedule. Patterson has said playing A&M is not a priority.
All of this looks like another power program trying to avoid a hard nonconference game, and the chance at a damaging loss that could hurt bowl cash.
Both coaches are now on record as saying the game should happen, and if they are sincere, all they have to do is make it so.
This should be a phone call, a handshake and let the lawyers settle the rest. If the two sides are too timid about home field, our state’s greatest entertainer and arbitrator could settle this. Jerry Jones, open your flip phone and offer up Jerry World for A&M vs. UT.
Until this happens, we should be fully braced for the reality that both Strong and Sumlin will match each other with rhetoric while their ADs take the fall, and a rivalry that should never have died will remain dormant until intelligence takes over the reigns from ego and stupid pride.
Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697
Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog