You thought we were joking. You thought YOU were joking when you suggested it. But there was really no way in hell that our bestie Erik Evans (@gothlaw), managing editor over at Roll Bama Roll, wasn't diving into EXPANSIONPALOOZA teeth first to present the sales pitch for Alabama. We're not even allowed to do a series like this without Erik stepping into the batter's box. It's like a rule or something.
Jon: Okay, why on earth would Alabama want to join the Big 12?
Erik: Alabama would want to join the Big 12 for the same reasons a parent enjoys dunking on their children in Nerf basketball -- the sheer ease of the schedule. Goodbye, marquee out-of-conference games to open the season; hello, Northwestern State, Rice, Incarnate Word!
Wait, or is it just Baylor that does that? I forget.
Anyway, back to the schedule. Don't think for one second Alabama wouldn't give up it's annual death march through SEC West in exchange for Kansas, Iowa State, and Texas. Win the vicious round robin against six teams in the bottom one-hundred of defense, and no championship game? Pffffft. Book those playoff tickets every year.
The other obvious reason is hot pants. Hot pants everywhere. God bless you all.
Jon: Is there anyone with actual power insane enough to entertain the notion?
Erik: Power and insanity go hand-in-hand at Alabama. I'm sure we could remind Bear Jr. that papa earned his greatest early notoriety in the old Southwest. Throw in some brisket, the easy climate of corruption, the insularity of the Big 12, the fact that no players ever seem to get arrested or indicted, that no one seems to be academically ineligible, and now you're cooking with gas!
Jon: Putting aside money, academics, and success, what crazy benefits would Alabama provide the Big 12?
Erik: The presence of Alabama would take the Big 12 back to its roots, predating the Big 12 even -- back to the days of the Big 8 and the Southwest Conference. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, what we are proposing is nothing more or less than a return to manball: good, old-fashioned power running, defense, disciplined play, form tackling, fundamentals, games that last less than six hours.
Let's be honest: the great majority of the Big 12 as presently constituted and coached plays a despicable brand of backyard game that may involve a football, but is not in fact football (present company excluded, naturally.)
(Ed. Note: What he's saying here is that we actually play a mostly acceptable form of football in Manhattan. At least while the Wizard still perambulates.)
It seems a novel concept, but for schools that gave us Billy Sims, Troy Davis, Ricky Williams, Darren Sproles, Adrian Peterson, Earl Campbell, you seem to have lost your way. The forward pass is not your friend -- it is like doing your taxes: a quarterly necessity.
Championships are won and lost at the point of attack and whipping people's asses. We shall be your sherpa to the renewed glory age of spectacular violence.
Jon: With whom would Bama immediately form a bitter rivalry?
Erik: One word: Oklahoma. The Dirt Burglars generally, and Bob Stoops specifically, are despised by most decent men, every woman, most pets, and a few of your more intelligent houseplants. That is not a program that was or ever has been built upon doing things the right way. In an era where many coaches are accused of winning-at-all-costs to the detriment of their integrity, victims' well-being, and institutional missions, the Sooners have never had those problems: They simply don't have any integrity to forfeit.
From Bud Wilkinson to Barry Switzer, through John Blake to the Stoops clan, it is a rotting shack built upon bagmen, women beaters, sociopaths, Uncle Sugar, a friendly local police force, and a small town newspaper that circles the wagons.
Combine the unsavoriness of Tennessee, the historical cheating of Auburn, the gauche new money and Florida-esque attitude of their awful fans, and the smug punchability of Urban Meyer, and you have essentially taken a snapshot of nearly Oklahoma era for the past 70 years (Except for you, Coach Schnellenberger. You learned right.)
Jon: Why do WE want to come visit Bryant-Denny? What's great about Tuscaloosa? What's your fanbase REALLY like (warts and all)?
Erik: Bryant-Denny stadium, the 8th largest arena in the world, is one of college football's hallowed grounds. It is a very old field that opened in 1929, when on-campus stadia were still a relative novelty. In its nearly-90 year history, some of the greatest to ever play or coach have prowled its sidelines. At night, it is electric, though not as hostile as Death Valley (the real one in Baton Rouge) or the Swamp. We don't throw tortillas; we don't sip chardonnay at halftime; we didn't hire Charlie Weis: all of those instantly make for a great enviroment.
Tuscaloosa, and Alabama generally, just have so much history and historical characters that shaped the tenor and culture of the 20th century (and America generally): Hank Aaron, Tallulah Bankhead, E.O. Wilson, Hank and Hank Jr., Van De Graaf, Rosa Parks, Jessie Owens, Hugo Black, George Wallace, Hellen Keller, ad infinitum. You can't throw a rock in any small town without hitting the birthplace or childhood home of a luminary, pioneer, or icon. And, while we may have viciously fought the Civil War, at least we didn't start it. (Damned Jayhawks.)
As to fans, well, that depends on what kinds of fans. Do you mean the low-rent FOGs (Football-only Gumps) that have become synonymous with the Crimson Tide to the outside world? Or, do you mean "Alabama fans," the generally smart and welcoming bunch that represents the abiding majority of Alabama fandom? We'll assume the latter, in which case you get typical southern hospitality to be sure, coupled with a certain fatalism that this is the year the wheels fall off (no matter the sport.) If it's the former, then may god rest your soul and #BlessYourHeart -- we try our damnedest to not mingle the two factions.
That said, Alabama fans are a psychotic bunch on the best of days: It is the SEC DNA. And, even the most restrained of us will take the opportunity to Gump over softball, bass fishing or club hockey with equal zeal to a Saturday in fall.
Sure, your trees may get poisoned on occasion, but at least we've never ripped anyone's testicles off (looking at you, OU fan).
Jon: And now, the big one. Pretend we're the Big 12 Board of Directors, which of course means "pretend we're blithering idiots". Why should we invite Alabama when clearly all we need is Texas?
Erik: This one is a slam dunk, ladies and gentlemen. All you need is Texas because Texas is all you have.
Oh, sure, Oklahoma tries hard, and Dave Boren is the elder spokesmen of your power brokers, but right now there is but one hegemonic brat in the room. See, with Alabama you don't get temper tantrums designed to show you who's boss -- Big 12 schools will always quietly know to take their place at the kids' table, with no petulance or vulgar power plays required.
Alabama will instantly fill that void in providing a goad to the Longhorns. Want money? We have it in spades, and certainly enough to counter what Texas would spend (remember, we're insane -- the State would bankrupt itself to spite someone if need be). Want clout? Well, it's harder to find a more historically successful program than Alabama. Want arrogance? Alabama can easily outstrip Austin in sheer chutzpah. Want more eyeballs on your product? Hell, you can find the Tide on ESPN 13 weeks a year -- no more roaming the dial and getting stuck on the RV Shopping Network. Yes, even you Kansas State can be on the World Wide Leader!
Isn't that exciting?
We're not more condescending than, say, your average Notre Dame subway fan, and, unlike Texas and OU, we'll at least be nice -- until it's time to quietly undermine you. It's the sharpest knife that cuts deepest, and it's so much sweeter when it's done with a smile and some sweet tea.
C'mon, take a chance!
Okay, minions. You have two choices. Fight back, or step aside and let Alabama humiliate Texas and Oklahoma. I know, it's a tough decision. Take your time.