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Trip Down Memory Lane, Part I: The Best of the Big 12

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TB's Note:  This post appeared on July 9, 2007.  As noted below, I did not include anything involving K-State because, well, I like pretty much everything about K-State.  It came to my attention that the UT-A&M rivalry is more appropriately called the Lonestar Showdown, rather than the Backyard Brawl.  My bad, I was going by the book title.  I realize I made a mistake in calling the Texas Pom Squad "cheerleaders"...but who really cares?  They're hot!

As I've said before, I love this conference. Sure, it's not perfect. The North hasn't been particularly competitive in football and basketball the last few years. We don't share our money like a real conference should. But it's still the conference I've spent most of my life watching, and that time has provided me some wonderful memories.

Before I begin, I want to note that I'm not including anything dealing with K-State on any of these lists. I'm just too biased toward the Purple and White to be objective. Nothing wrong with that, I think it'd be a shame to go to any school you didn't love, but for purposes of this list K-State won't be included.

Without further ado, we're off...

Best City

Austin, Texas: I spent three days in this city in 2005 and fell in love. There isn't much not to like about ATX, it has great restaurants,

great bars,

and (lots of) hot women.

(Cite to BON for that last pic)

The best part, though, is it's a pretty laid-back town that just likes to have a good time. Unfortunately I've only been there twice so I haven't experienced everything I want. Some day I will be back for South by Southwest and Austin City Limits. This year I'll be in town for the football game when K-State comes to town. Can't wait...

In fact, Austin is so good, I can't pick another city to put on a list with it. Obviously I love Manhattan, and Lincoln can be a good time, but I promised not to be too much of a homer and O Street in Lincoln is to Sixth Street what Scottie Pippen was to Michael Jordan.

Dishonorable Mention, Worst City:  Waco, TX

Why is it that I can find my way around Houston, but I get lost in Waco?  That is a mystery that will perplex me til the end of time.  Actually, it won't, because I don't anticipate being back in Waco for a long time, if ever.  About the only worthwhile reason I can think of to visit Waco would be to hang out with the hilarious writers of the BearMeat blog, which I recently added to my links on this page.  Check it out, it's non-stop hilarity over there.

Moving on...

Best Songs

You might say I have music in my blood (my dad's a choir director), so I tend to listen a little more intently to the songs of other schools. As such, I give you my favorites. Some of them aren't particularly musical, but I find them amusing nonetheless. These are in no particular order, by the way.

  1. The Aggie War Hymn (Texas A&M): Criticize it all you want for being obsessively focused on UT (or TU), I love this song.  I'm a sucker for the pageantry of college football, and this song and its attendant "actions" has that in spades.  Hell, the stadium moves when the crowd sways from side to side.  And yes, Aggies, I know it's left foot forward, because the Aggie is never left behind.  You may have some headscratchers as far as traditions go, but I love this one.
  1.  Crimson and Blue (KU):  Yes, I just put a KU song on my list.  Although I don't think KU is far above any golden valleys, nor particularly glorious to view, some people certainly do, and who am I to disparage a well-written song?  Plus, I think I cursed the 'beaks by singing along to this song when I went to the Sunflower Showdown game in 2006 that ended the Cats' long losing streak to KU.  As you shall see, there's a trend there...
  1.  The Eyes of Texas (UT):  Ok, not the most musical of songs, but again it's kind of a symbol of the pomp and circumstance of college football.  And yes, Texans, we realize you'll be telling us how great you are 'til Gabriel blows his horn.  And to let you know what I meant by a pattern earlier, I sang along to this song at the Erwin Center last year when, you guessed it, K-State won.

Dishonorable Mention, Worst Song:  Boomer Sooner (OU)

I'd be remiss if I didn't note that the worst song in the entire conference is "Boomer Sooner."  I'm not sure I've heard a less-musical song, including "Horse With No Name."  We'd all be happier if this song was Sooner dead.

Best Rivalries

I love watching games where you know both sides can't stand to lose to each other, and the players put it all on the line to win.  These are the best of the conference, excluding K-State's rivals, in no particular order.

  1.  The Border War (KU vs. Mizzou):  Hey, any rivalry that started with people killing each other has to be bitter.  And oh, my, is it bitter.  For those of you who don't know, this rivalry began pre-Civil War, when William Quantrill and his Border Ruffians (pro-slavery) crossed into Kansas (predominantly pro-freesoil) and raped and pillaged Kansas towns, particularly Lawrence.  The jayhawkers responded in kind, aided by the thoroughly psychotic, but well-intentioned John Brown and his sons.

And for all you uptight bastards who want this called the "Border Showdown"...shut up.  We realize it's not a real war, but it began as one.  Deal with it.  These games, whether it's basketball or football, are always on my list of must-see TV.

  1.  The Red River Shootout (Oklahoma vs. Texas):  Every time I cross the Red River, I can't help but think of this game.  It's become a much more important game in recent years as OU returned to prominence, and then UT returned the favor.  Most rivalries need something riding on the line, and this one has that in spades.

The best part of this game for me?  The blimp view of the stadium, with the burnt orange and the crimson almost perfectly delineating the respective teams' sections.

  1.  The Bedlam Game (Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma):  In my opinion, in-state rivalries are the best.  Everyone has a family member, or a coworker, or even a friend who loves the other team.  Bragging rights for an entire year are at stake, and you can't underestimate bragging rights against people you have to deal with everyday.  This is one of those rivalries where I like the basketball version as well or better, mostly because of a recent game at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, wherein I witnessed (via TV, of course) the highest energy level throughout a basketball game I've ever seen.

  1.  The Backyard Brawl (Texas A&M vs. Texas):  This one really started to heat up again this year, as A&M snapped a long losing streak to UT in football and almost swept the basketball series.  To really turn up the burner, the Aggies need to start winning on a regular basis in football, and keep things up in basketball.  Longhorn fans claim they hate OU a lot more and don't really care about A&M.  That may be true right now, but I can guaran-damn-tee you they would be singing a different tune if they started losing more often to the ag school.


Finally, here are some random things that don't fit into other categories...

  1.  The Tunnel Walk (Nebraska):  Like I said before, I love the pageantry and passion of college sports.  Thus, schools who really do something with their team's entrance to the field rate highly like me.  That's why I like Ron Prince having a player from Kansas carry the Kansas flag, and another player carry the Stars and Stripes when the Cats run into Bill's House.

Anyway, back to the Huskers.  I've heard some of the things they've done with the Tunnel Walk lately have cheapened it a bit, but back in the day it was awesome.  Everything stops, the music starts to play, the fans go nuts, and the camera shows the players coming out of the locker room.  I've heard the coaches of some of the smaller schools that come to Lincoln keep their players in the locker room until it's over, not wanting them to get caught up in the moment and intimidated by the sea of red.

  1.  Texas Cheerleaders:  If I need to say anything more, you're either a woman or you're not interested in women.  I'll break it down in one word:  chaps.

Dishonorable Mention, Worst Miscellaneous:  Oklahoma's Ruf/Neks

The spelling is perfect for a school who bases its mascot on a bunch of people who were, well, thieves.  How a group that runs around with fake guns and taunts opposing players achieves status as a student group boggles the mind.  (Note:  The administration did restrict the group...a little.)

So there you have it.  Those are a few of my favorite things.