Dr. Saturday

Bill Byrne blames Texas for its strained relationship with Texas A&M

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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(Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty)

Texas might want to end its rivalry with Texas A&M, but it's not that easy for Aggies athletic director Bill Byrne, who had some choice words for the Longhorns as the Aggies prepare for their transition to the SEC in the fall.

During an interview with the Birmingham News, Byrne blamed Texas for ending the storied rivalry between the two schools that dates back to 1894. A&M tried to keep the series going despite switching leagues, but the Longhorns didn't want any part of it — in any sport.

"I feel badly about that," Byrne said. "I'm very foolish. I assumed -- and it was a rash assumption on my part -- that our friends over in the state capital would want to continue playing us. It turns out they didn't think we were as much of a rival as we thought of them."

Byrne didn't exactly smooth things over in the interview. If anything, he poured salt in a wound that had already been doused in lemon juice. Byrne added insult to injury by laying A&M's departure from the Big 12 at the feet of the Longhorn Network and predicted the venture between Texas and ESPN would ultimately fail.

"I think there's too many other kinds of markets in Texas," Byrne said. "Comcast signed off (to distribute) every single ESPN product except the Longhorn Network. That says something. I think it takes more than one football game to drive a network."

Of course, Texas A&M had an opportunity to join Texas in its television venture, but Byrne said before his university was able to weigh the pros and cons of starting a network, Texas decided to nix A&M out of the deal.

"Once we did [the study], we said we'd be interested but they said it was too late," he said. "There's a rumor that I turned down $300 million. If anybody knows me, I wouldn't turn down $300 million."

There's no doubt that there are some hurt feelings in the Big 12 over the departures of Missouri and Texas A&M and because of that, there are a lot of egos getting in the way of preserving two of college football's oldest rivalries — Texas-Texas A&M and Missouri-Kansas. Both sides are to blame for being stubborn and widening the gap by trading barbs in the media. When the dust clears and the schools have gone their separate ways, the only one left bearing the brunt of this fighting will be the fans.

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