Covered Wagon

OU to jump to Pac-12 Sooner rather than later?


Welcome to Game Day 2011 y’all!

On the same day a new season is officially upon us, and just a day after Texas A&M made its biggest jump yet in the latest game of conference leapfrog, the demise of the Big 12-ish is — again — reportedly upon us.

In a piece he penned for the Austin American-Statesman titled “One more move and Big 12 is over”, venerable columnist Kirk Bohls puts the onus for the survival of the conferences squarely on the shoulders of the Oklahoma Sooners. And presumably, based on those he’s spoken to, the Norman school is ready to put its current conference out of its misery and head west.

Should Oklahoma act upon its earnest desires and seek an invitation to join the Pacific-12 Conference — something I’m fully expecting to happen within days, if not hours — that decision could well be the killing blow to the Big 12 while also providing Texas the political cover to follow suit and ask for admission as well.

“Oklahoma owns all the cards,” a Big 12 source added.

But wait.  There’s more says television infomercial guy.  Bohls continues painting a landscape-shifting picture of Texas privately hoping that their Red River rivals make the first in a series of moves — thus ensuring that “the Longhorns’ hands would be politically clean” — in what would result in, “probably before the calendar turns to October… [y]our new Pac-16 members: Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.”

That’s right.  On the first official day of the 2011 season, one of the most respected writers in Big 12 country if not all of college football is not only very publicly seeing the end of the conference — presumably from a source or sources he’s developed from within the conference itself — he’s also saying that all of this will unfold in less than a month’s time.

As if to add a tanker full of fuel to the fire of speculation, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott issued a statement to Suzanne Halliburton of the American-Statesman that does not dismiss Bohls’ scenario.  At all.

“While I cannot predict if and when this (Pac-12 expansion) might make sense for us, we will listen to and evaluate any scenario that would benefit our member institutions, our student-athletes and our fans,” Scott trolled told the paper.

And what of The Longhorn Network, the television elephant in the room that prevented the Pac-16 from being formed last year and played a prominent role in the Aggies departing this year? “The Longhorn Network gets folded into the Pac-16 as a downsized regional network, joining the six regional networks that already exist within the conference,” Bohls writes.

Of course, if Bohls’ apocalyptic scenario were to come to fruition — and obviously that’s a very, very big if right now — it would be a monumental shift for both the future of the game and for the 2011 itself.  Instead of both eyes being focused squarely on the playing field for the foreseeable future, at least one would be trained squarely on the offices of the SEC and the Big Ten.  Make no mistake; if the Pac-12 makes the first real leap into the super-conference stratosphere, the two power conferences will respond in kind — very forcefully, very emphatically.

So, again, welcome to Game Day 2011 y’all!

Or, as Bohls’ put it…

“In the end, these Big 12 schools should have gone their separate ways last summer and avoided all this unnecessary drama and hand-wringing.”

Amen, brutha.  Amen.

Former Texas A&M WR Thomas Johnson arrested on murder charge

Thomas Johnson
Associated Press

A very disturbing story has emerged out of Dallas, where former Texas A&M wide receiver Thomas Johnson sits in a Dallas County jail cell after allegedly admitting to hacking an unsuspecting jogger to death with a machete.

Just before 8 a.m. Monday, authorities say Johnson went to White Rock Creek Trail, a popular jogging trail in northeast Dallas, and randomly slashed a jogger to death. “It appears Mr. Johnson picked this victim at random. Absolutely random,” Deputy Chief Rob Sherwin told the Dallas Morning News. “He just attacked him. … It’s just very unusual. It’s quite shocking.”

Johnson then walked away from the scene in search of a cell phone. An onlooker had already dialed 911, and when police arrived Johnson allegedly told them there was a man “laying down with a sword in his head and not moving.”

“I just committed capital murder,” Johnson said and then repeated, according to his arrest affidavit. The only motive police reported was that Johnson was angry at his situation in life at the time of the slaying.

The victim, an unidentified male between the age of 25 and 35, passed away at a nearby hospital.

Johnson, meanwhile, remains in a Dallas County jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.

Johnson was a highly-regarded member of Kevin Sumlin‘s first recruiting class at Texas A&M. As a true freshman in 2012, the Dallas native caught 30 passes for 339 yards and one touchdown through the Aggies’ upset of then-No. 1 Alabama and then simply… disappeared. He went missing for three days in November 2012 before turning up back home in Dallas. His mother told the San Antonio Express-News last April Johnson would like to return to college football, but a return to the game never materialized.

No punishment from SEC for Bielema’s sideline interaction with Alabama player

Bret Bielema

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema will not be disciplined by the SEC office for his brief interaction with Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson last weekend. A video showing Bielema exaggerating his interaction with Robinson at the end of a play was reviewed by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, and the commissioner has discussed the situation with the Razorbacks coach.

“I visited with Bret over the phone on Monday and we discussed the play that has now become widely reviewed through a brief video clip,” Sankey said in a released statement. “Football is played in an intense competitive environment and I reminded him of the need for head coaches to resolve with their own players issues that may arise, which was his intent. The unsportsmanlike penalty assessed on the play was not directly associated with Bret’s efforts to intervene at the end of the play and we are moving forward in a positive manner.”

That appears to be the end of the discussion regarding Bielema’s act. I personally think there should have been some more done here by the league’s commissioner, but we will see if Bielema avoids putting himself in a similar position moving forward.