OMAHA, Neb. – Sunday’s action at the College World Series offered great drama with the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry.
But the Longhorns always have the Oklahoma Sooners on their minds, whether it’s baseball at the CWS this month or the football feud anytime.
Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione has confirmed that Texas and OU will face off each year in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, regardless of what configuration the new, expanded SEC will look like when these two big power brands 12 will join.
“Regardless of the format of the eight-game or nine-game conference schedules, we’ll always play Texas,” Castiglione told the American-Statesman. “If the SEC sticks to its current model of just eight league games, the format will be one permanent rival (OU-Texas) and seven rotating teams.”
And what would that mean for the Aggies-Longhorns rivalry?
“It depends on the format,” Castiglione said. “There are discussions about it, but I don’t know if it would be possible. But the Red River rivalry, it will continue. None of us would let anything happen to that. There’s not even a question about it.
Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte also said Sunday that the annual status of the Texas-OU game would continue and said that one of the main reasons the Longhorns wanted to join the SEC was “we wanted to rekindle the old rivalries, whether it’s Arkansas, A&M, or Oklahoma. Those matter to all of us. The fans cherish those games. It’s important for us to play Oklahoma in Dallas at the State Fair. That’s what makes the college athletics so formidable generation after generation.
The same goes for the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry, which Del Conte would like to see flourish in their new conference as well.
“I wasn’t part of it (rivalry), but I grew up watching it on Thanksgiving,” Del Conte said. “It was ingrained in the psyches of both fanbases for hundreds of years. To me OR not playing Nebraska is crazy. For us, going to the SEC with a chance to play Arkansas and A&M and continuing our rivalry with OU is the icing on the cake.
Speaking of cake, Del Conte celebrated his 54th birthday on Sunday by attending the Texas-A&M playoff game at Omaha.
Del Conte and Castiglione attended two SEC meetings — one via Zoom and one in person — including the big planning session. The SEC has subgroups for each sport that include administrators and coaches from that sport.
A source told the Statesman that he doesn’t believe the SEC’s future programming will be resolved by this summer. The source also said the league has encouraged “original thinking” and even rejected the idea of 10 conference games each season and that “some schools actually favor that model.”
And when will the two members join their new league?
“July 2025,” Castiglione said, sticking to the script. “We will invite you to the party.”
“De-defense, de-defense”: It was the chant of the Longhorns faithful at Charles Schwab Field on Sunday when Aggies third baseman Trevor Werner botched Dylan Campbell’s grounder.
Fans repeated it when Campbell was clearly out at second base on a steal until the Longhorns baserunner on his slide dislodged the ball from A&M second baseman Ryan Targac’s glove.
A&M fans returned the favor when Texas reliever Jared Southard couldn’t find the plate for a while and loudly canceled every ball thrown consecutively. The count reached six before finally calling a strike to silence them.
Gordon left early: Lucas Gordon, a stalwart of the Texas baseball team and one of its MVPs for bolstering the starting rotation, had his shortest start of the season. He couldn’t control his fastball and went on for four runs – all earned – in just 1⅔ of an inning.
His previous fastest hook came against South Carolina in mid-March when he was retired after 3⅓ innings.
The same old skipper: Oklahoma head coach Skip Johnson says he’s a creature of habit and really hasn’t changed at all since coaching the Texas pitchers for 10 year.
So nothing at all?
“Well, I got a new hip,” Johnson said. “Had hip replacement surgery.”