Old Brotherly Foes Now in 4 Different Conferences
By Bo Carter
College Insider, sportsandoutdoors.guru
Arkansas has not won a Southeastern Conference game since mid-October 2012 – a streak of 16 consecutive loop losses since a 49-7 victory over Kentucky.
Texas A&M fell 59-0 at Alabama last Saturday and earlier suffered back-to-back setbacks to Mississippi State 48-31 and Ole Miss 35-20 at College Station. Though all three of those teams are in the Top 10 nationally, the 5-3 Aggies (open this week before hosting Louisiana-Monroe Nov. 1) still have tons of tough SEC opposition awaiting them beginning with Auburn Nov. 8.
I’m starting to agree with Dallas Morning News columnist Kevin Sherrington — bringing back the old Southwest Conference might be a sound remedy to some of the foibles surrounding the UA and A&M programs.
While both schools are laughing all the way to the bank with large annual payouts and multitudinous television exposure in the SEC, it has to start wearing and tearing on players, coaches and fans alike when frustrating losses continue to mount.
And to heighten some of the nostalgia for the good old days of eight teams from Texas and the Razorbacks, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and Southwest Conference Hall of Fame hosted the 2014 SWC Hall of Fame inductions in Fort Worth.
It was reminiscent of the old SWC Kickoff Luncheons begun by late commissioner Fred Jacoby in 1983 and running through the final year of SWC football competition in 1995. Arkansas administrators and fans frolicked with A&M, Texas, Baylor, Houston, Rice, SMU, TCU, and Texas Tech, though the nine schools now belong to four different conferences – SEC, Big 12, American Athletic, and Conference USA.
And Arkansas’ original split with the SWC to join the expanded, 12-team SWC along with South Carolina in 1991 has produced its share of frustration for the Hogs. UA has won or tied for four SEC Western Division crowns since ’91 and is 0-3 in title games (lost its bid in the ’98 SEC Championship tilt in head-to-head competition with Mississippi State). The Razorbacks have plowed through eight different head coaches since joining the SEC 24 seasons ago and last won league trophies in 1988 and ’89 in the SWC under the venerable coach Ken Hatfield.
Even more telling for the Aggies (who had their early SEC glory moments with a 11-2 overall mark and 2013 AT&T Cotton Bowl crown over Oklahoma with Heiman Trophy-winning QB Johnny Manziel) are A&M’s overall series against a number of SEC powerhouses.
The matchups have not been solid, for the most part, and UA is down 17-7 in its 24-game series with Alabama, 35-20-2 behind LSU in that rivalry, 13-9-1 to Auburn with the Nov. 8 contest looming, and 13-4 all-time to Tennessee. The odds seem stacked in these annual outings since the teams joined the same conference in 1991. In fact, Arkansas trails its 13 SEC opponents 174-157-7 in all-time contests.
The Aggies also are a well-below-.500 composite 68-97-6 against SEC foes, the majority of those triumphs coming vs. Arkansas, which still holds a hefty, 41-27-3 all-time advantage over A&M even after the Ags’ 35-28 overtime thriller over the Hogs in 2014. A&M also trails the likes of LSU 28-20-3, Ole Miss 6-0, Alabama 4-2, and even Mississippi State (traditionally not a SEC power consistently under recent years) 4-3.
Maybe it’s time to bring back the old SWC and some of the annual prairie tussles between Arkansas and Texas, Baylor and Houston, Rice and TCU, SMU and Arkansas, and even Texas A&M and Texas Tech – ah, those were the days even when crowds started dwindling and NCAA investigators virtually set up shop on the campus of almost every SWC member.
Darrell Royal and Frank Broyles, Abe Martin and Ray Morrison (though part of different eras), Grant Teaff and Bill Yeoman, colorful Spike Dykes and Jackie Sherrill, Lou Holtz and Emory Bellard, Heisman winners Davey O’Brien of TCU, Doak Walker of SMU, John David Crow of Texas A&M, Earl Campbell of Texas, Andre Ware of Houston, and Ricky Williams (he played as a freshman in the SWC in ’95) of Texas … just a few of the SWC legends (many living) who would love to see a small return to min-normalcy in these days of megabucks’ deals in college football and other sports.
Forgive our Bo Carter. He was sports information director of the Southwest Conference before serving in the same role of the Big 12. Today, he follows college athletics for this site, with a focus on trends, players, coaches and traditions of the Southwest. A native of Alabama, now secretary of the American Football Foundation, Bo knows football.