For all we know, Texas Tech moving to the PAC 12 is a long shot. Indeed, it may never happen. However, it does seem fairly clear that remaining in the tattered and dilapidated Big XII for the long haul is simply not a viable option. This conference has been taking on water almost since its inception, and the vessel is now listing hard to port. Every school in the Big XII senses that it’s a dead conference walking and that the only smart thing to do is find the best new home possible. And for Texas Tech, all eyes are seemingly cast westward.
There is some logic to Texas Tech joining the PAC 12. Geographically, and to an extent culturally, Texas Tech is a good fit with the PAC 12. West Texas is part of the Desert Southwest, and historically, is part of the Wild West. The PAC 12, is the western conference par excellence, and has strong southwestern ties in the form of the states of Arizona, Utah and Colorado. West Texas would be a natural addition to this geographical, cultural and historical bloc.
Then, too, the PAC 12 doesn’t seem quite as obsessed as the Big Ten with the now meretricious connection between athletics and academics. That relationship has been functionally dead for at least 20 years, yet the Big Ten seems intent on pretending that it still matters, while the PAC 12 seems a bit more realistic about the situation. That being the case, Texas Tech’s ranking in the farcical US News and World Report index, and its lack of AAU status may not hinder acceptance into the PAC 12.
Then there’s what Texas Tech could bring that conference. The school obviously provides entre into the lucrative Texas market, and more specifically, the very large DFW market whose largest constituency is Texas Tech alumni. PAC 12 schools competing against Texas Tech, what’s more, could give them greater access to the fertile Texas recruiting grounds, both in football and basketball. The PAC 12 could not only improve its finances, but also its talent.
All in all, then, there would seem to be a solid case to be made for Texas Tech to the PAC 12. Texas Tech remains a power conference school, while the PAC 12 bolsters itself financially and athletically as well.
From Texas Tech’s standpoint, however, membership in this conference could come with a vicious boomerang. Simply put, the state of California effectively controls the PAC 12, and California and Texas boast a mutual loathing. Were Texas Tech to join the PAC 12, it would probably be the lone Texas school in a conference dominated by California. And do not think for a moment that California power brokers would not do everything in their considerable power to horsewhip Texas Tech into accepting California beliefs and behaviors.
How could this, in actual terms, play out?
There are many possibilities, and there are doubtless several I haven’t thought of. Here, however, are a few.
Tortilla tossing could be classed as so-called “hate speech,” and the university could be fined for not crushing it.
The term “guns up” and the hand signal accompanying it could be similarly sanctioned. When Texas Tech reached the Final Four in 2019, Raider Red was divested of his revolvers. And the NCAA is practically the John Birch Society compared to the state of California.
Additionally, the PAC 12 could force Texas Tech to drop the Red Raiders as a mascot. Periodically, there have been bleats from various precincts about the alleged “racism” of this mascot, and indeed, Colgate dropped the “Red” from their Red Raiders mascot for fear of buffeting the sensitivities of the perpetually aggrieved.
To think that the PAC 12 would at some point censor Texas Tech’s mascot may seem farfetched, but there has been a successful war against Indian mascots in this country for decades. Casting Red Raiders on the ash heap of American culture looks like a natural adjunct to this exercise in consciousness cleansing.
But there could be even more substantial acts. California and Texas are at loggerheads politically. Of that there is no doubt. We already see California forbidding travel to states enacting legislation of which it disapproves. In the future one could easily see Texas Tech becoming a political football—so to speak—for the state of California. If the state of Texas enacts legislation that sufficiently vexes California politicians, the Golden State might forbid athletic events between Texas Tech and the four California schools in the PAC 12.
Consider the above prophecy. Many readers will doubtless scoff and cry “Paranoia!” and worse. That’s just fine. My hide is made of mastodon stuff. But, in the event Texas Tech does decamp to the PAC 12, let us revisit my words five years hence. I won’t take any pleasure in it, but I suspect my dire warnings will have been proved prescient. Unfortunately, as matters now stand, Texas Tech may not have any better alternatives than a future in which its soul, in exchange for preserving its athletic program, is destined for destruction.