COLUMN

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Steve Patterson wants to hook ‘em in Dubai and strut Bevo through Beijing. Such is the world-empire construct he used to wow his future University of Texas bosses during November’s job interview, around the same time Oliver Luck was probably thinking: “I thought we were here to talk about Mack Brown?”

Five months into his new gig, Patterson is rolling as the consummate CEO—with the “C” unapologetically representing cash, and that’s not a knock on the individual. He’s merely following the long-trending evolution of the athletics director’s position: away from graying coaches who slide into glad-handing retirement, toward corporate chiefs who strip-mine revenue from across the landscape.

Yet as Patterson’s comments on Tuesday reminded us, that job description comes at the sacrifice of traditions that helped give college athletics its branding in the first place.

Asked about UT reigniting its football rivalry with Texas A&M, Patterson issued another brushoff to a game that should be an yearly event: “It’s not at the top of my list. I’m really more focused on how we grow the footprint of the department.”

Geez. Won’t be long until UT changes the fight song from “Goodbye to A&M” to “Grow the footprint!”

It’s a footprint that could soon stretch to Mexico City—where Patterson wants to play a nonconference football game—or even to the Middle East, where a Texas game would be a tricked-up spectacle. Maybe UT wants to be the first NCAA school to slap a logo on a keffiyeh.

Is this global gumption run amok? Did Texas hire Steve Patterson or Steve Jobs? The new AD already booked the basketball team for a 2015 game in China against Washington. (Then again, last month’s basketball game against West Virginia on the Longhorn Network might as well have been played in China, because it sure as hell wasn’t seen by anyone here in the good ol’ USA.)

Patterson’s scheme to conquer other continents would seem less misguided if Texas wasn’t ignoring the historic rival in its own backyard—the one it faced in football for 113 consecutive years until conference-swapping stalled the series in 2012. Sure, realignment created scheduling difficulties, but at last check, you didn’t have to wade through customs to enter College Station.

To be fair, A&M leaders, emboldened by their richer SEC environs, also seem too proud to make the first overture. This standstill deprives current and future generations of a game that resonated geographically, culturally and fiscally. It generated memories and fortified the brands of both schools long before “brand-management” was a thing. Given the inflamed interactions that continue to bridge both fan bases, Texas vs. Texas A&M should occur every season preferably, and on a two-year on-and-off rotation at the minimum. Surely Patterson could make that game happen in between video-conferencing with event planners from the United Arab Emirates.

No less a shame was the cessation of series like Nebraska-Oklahoma, Notre Dame-Michigan and, our local one that got away, West Virginia-Pitt. Pining for their return is undeniably sentimental, the kind of decades-in-the-making sentimental attachment most companies would cherish. Athletic departments, which are companies by any reasonable definition, are squandering capital—not to mention disserving fans—by allowing such rivalries to wither.

For now, Longhorns-Aggies is indefinitely suspended. And Patterson, for all the business acumen and managerial ambition that buoyed him to the nation’s plum AD job, sounded completely disconnected when pondering a restart with A&M:

“At some point in time, does it make some business sense, some branding sense, to play again?”

Too bad he overlooked the more obvious item it makes: common sense.

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Comments

  • MountainMover

    In the end, whether you're Steve Patterson, Oliver Luck, or Pat Haden the only thing that matters is Ws. I loved the rivalry with Pitt and would love to play them every year, but I care more about beating Oklahoma. And Texas. And all the others. Rivalries may (unfortunately) come and go but if we march through the Big 12 next year, go undefeated and play for a national championship, I'm not going to care much that we didn't play Pitt. Rivalries are great, but I'll take Ws instead.

  • DP

    Great article Allan!
    JimJim-You ABSOLUTELY have been living under a rock! MetroNews covers the Mounties extensively as do many other internet sites as well as state newspapers!!!

  • cutty77

    College Football is stronger than The NFL right now. Why do you think The NFL went to Thur. night Football,because College Football owns Thur. night's games. I don't agree with The New Texas AD,but branding is Big Time nowadays. As of last year Apparell sales for all College's Gear. WVU is 16th in The Country,and droped a little they were 14th the year before. Little old WVU,now who would of thought that several years ago. Like i said College Football,and Basketball are Big Time. CBS paid over 6 Billion to show the Road to the Final Four. 6 Billion for 2 weeks of Basketball,that should tell you something.

  • DWM

    College football is about tv money, and as a result, people showing up in the stands to enjoy a rivalry come in a distant second.

    College football will never be the same, but really, what does stay the same?

    • Mister Man

      Stupid comments, on here, stay the same.

  • jay zoom

    Oliver Luck and Patterson should live together because neither of them have any grapes

  • Trudi

    Patterson reminds me of Jerry Jones.

  • WVU FAN

    NO, he is not missing the boat on A&M, I'll tell you why, that rivalry will meet in the playoffs system and it will have a big payday when both schools are doing well. Texas is smart here by not feeding A&M that took themselves out of the Big 12 for the SEC and now they want Texas to play them for state rights and recruiting purposes and I am with Texas here if A&M is a big boy them stand on your own in the SEC and leave Texas alone in the Alone star state....

    • Guardian

      WVU Fan - have you ever lived in Texas? I did for six years - this game was in the DNA of every Texan and it's cessation is troubling to them. It has far less to do with recruiting and bragging rights - you see, you are talking about two of the wealthiest, and largest alumni bases among state supported universities in America. Because of that, they each have strong, healthy recruiting ties within Texas and bragging rights just come second nature to a Texan.

      The larger issue is cessation of many of these traditional rivalries, not just Texas / Texas A&M, but others across the country that have been terminated. It just not good for the sport in general to lose these annual affairs.

    • Larry

      I don't think A&M will be very good without Bobby Bouchet at qb.

  • Roger

    "This standstill deprives current and future generations of a game that resonated geographically, culturally and fiscally". WVU vs. Marshall...

    • An actual athlete

      Its not an actual rivalry if one team never wins. It serves no purpose for wvu. Its a loose loose situation for us. Either we beat little brother in what is undoubtedly the highlight of there season and loose more schedule strength or eventually they win one and it looks bad. Losing the backyard brawl is a much bigger deal.

  • Allen

    Most of you have "SKY IS FALLING" attitude. Let things play out on their own. Big 12 will survive. Texas will not go SEC, B10, ACC or PAC 12.

    Texas will not even be able to go independent with their football. They are not Notre Dame. So far the Texas network has been a flop.

  • mad hatter

    texas goes no where without TTU, and Okla. goes nowhere without Okla st...
    Texas will not negociate it's longhorn network with anyone, that's the main reason the Pac 12 wouldn't let them in..
    I do see the big 12 change drastically in the next five yrs... not thru addition , but substraction.
    the big 12 certainly let the boat leave them when they didn't expand to 12 teams, now, it's almost too late to get anyone of worth.
    THe acc enacted a 50 million dollar buyout, so, it's gonna be interesting to see if maryland really has to pay that,,, Maryland's contention is that the ACC brought in Louis ville so really no harm has been done to the conf... guess the courts will figure this out... now i'm sure maryland is arguing many other pts. so , it's a wait and see on that front.But IMO, the big 12 really dropped the ball when they failed to grab up some acc teams,,, now, it looks like the acc is setting better than the big 12

  • Jay

    Pitt... People you forget Pitt left us twice. To the Big East and then ACC. And as we understand they are not very interested in playing us anyway. Let them go away.

    • mike

      U bloggers ad-nauseum or however you spell it, know more than me, but the rumor mill is Pitt was also the deal-killer when Joe Paterno wanted a true Big East that would have included the likes of Penn State, WV, VT, BC, Maryland, etc.

      Wow, what a conference that would have been and we could have driven to most of the games.

      So, there is no love lost for Pitt. But we should schedule them so we can beat the snot out of them. And remind them we're still around and don't you dare cross that Mason-Dixon line in one of those uniforms, lol.

    • Aaron

      Pitt didn't do anything WVU wouldn't have done, and in fact, did. Bring back the Brawl.

  • Alex

    People before it's all over with said and done Texas will destroy what's left all the Big 12, mark that down. They came close a few years back and now they're going to finish it. They came with an inch of joining the PAC 12, if Oklahoma would have went with them at the time they would be in the PAC 12... at this time. WVU would be in the AAC or old Big East, with a income of about 3.5 or $4 million a year....Keep one thing in my Texas is the heart and soul of the Big 12. They ran off Texas AM....Missouri.. Before that they ran off Colorado who joined the PAC 12, Nebraska is gone to the Big Ten.. The reason all this took place is they did not want to share any more $$$$$$$ with any other college team then they had to... Each team in the league had to get their own TV rights and naturally Texas being the biggest got the most and kept the most money. Got their own Longhorn network.... Remember when West Virginia played Texas in basketball nobody got to see the game. Unless you got rights to ESPN PPV network to watch it.. I say within three years there will be no Big 12 as you know it today... WVU is far out on the limb as it can go, if WVU can't get in the Big Ten or the SEC. Just maybe have to be independent., or yet with the AAC or conference USA... People that is not good... Remember in the Bible which says the ( LOVE ) for Money is the root of all evil..... I've said my peace May God bless WVU..

    • Mister Man

      Please learn to spell, use punctuation and grammar. The difference between "than and then" is important. And it's piece not peace. The love of money...........? Your predictions are ............. Never mind.

    • Larry

      1 Timothy 6:10
      King James Version (KJV)

      10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

    • Charles

      12 yr minimum. It's called a grant-of rights. Google it!!!!! The acc is the one in trouble. Maryland is about to blow the lid off

    • Aaron

      There are posters on this site who have a better chance of winning a Pulitzer than WVU does of getting into the Big 10. When conference realignment rears it's ugly head again, WV's only real hope of remaining in a power conference is in the SEC.

      My hope is that Texas goes anywhere but the Big 10 with Kansas. If the remenants of a Big 12 raid are WV, KU, KSU, Baylor, ISU and TCU, they could perhaps hodge-podge a decent conference with basketball as the cornerstone to a decent conference.

      If not, they're back in the AAC.

      • mad hatter

        it would be easy for texas to leave the big 12,, when the money is right, they are gone,, they don't really care about the big 12, it is all about UT.
        as for wvu, if the big 12 crumbles, we are in deep crap.l.... no, the big 10 won't ask us, and no the acc wont ask us. and the sec had made it clear they don't want us either.
        so if the big 12 dies, and it could happen soon, what about all those millions we will borrowing against the money we're suppose to get from the big 12. I am sure if texas leaves and takes TTU with them , the broadcasting dollars will dwindle just as quickly, and that leaves wvu holding the big , oweing millions of bucks.

        • Trudi

          You're right. Except for one small factor you overlook. UT won't go to a conference where they can't call the shots. They are the king of the Big12. They won't move to a conference where they can't dictate.

  • JimJim

    Does WVU still have a football team?? Most schools are having spring practice at this time. I don't hear a word about WVU's team. The Dude is keeping a low profile. He may think that we will forget last season. I haven't seen him at the dog track either. He must be spending his $10,000 per day somewhere else.

    • wvrefugee

      Low profile????????? Taking a fb team on road trips to Charleston and Wheeling for spring ball is akin to hosting a traveling circus! You been living under a rock????

      • mad hatter

        wvu is struggling to sell season tickets have the last two seasons.
        we're trying to create interest, and it ain't happening... maybe some wins would help this fall ... hope we don't have to play iowa st.and kan again,, that was extremely embarrassing, and just shows we'rre yrs away from being competitive.

      • JimJIm

        I'll agree, he's a clown!

  • larry

    Probably your best article ever Allan - No agenda, just good reporting.

    • J W WVU

      It was on...B/R team stream...hours ago.

  • pghmountaineer

    Unbelievable! It's guys like this and those who support him that will ruin college sports. I always liked to think that college sports was still pure because of the student athlete. Those days are waiving goodbye and the money is corrupting the sysytem.
    Enjoy it while you can folks, the greed will be unstopable.
    What a shame.

    • Gonzo

      I thought it was a worthless article; pleas remove all texas signage.

    • Mike

      He and Luck are from the same mold. I guess Patterson is just better at it than even Ollie. It is ALL about the dollar.