OMAHA, Neb. — Sunday’s action at the College World Series offered up big drama with the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry.
But the Longhorns always have the Oklahoma Sooners on their mind as well, whether it’s baseball at the CWS this month or the football feud at all times.
Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione confirmed that Texas and OU will play each other annually in the Cotton Bowl at Dallas, no matter what configuration the new, expanded SEC will look like when those two Big 12 power brands join.
“Regardless of the format of eight or nine conference-game schedules, we will always play Texas,” Castiglione told the American-Statesman. “If the SEC sticks with its current model of just eight league games, the format will be one permanent rival (OU-Texas) and seven rotating teams.”
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And what would that mean for the Aggies-Longhorns rivalry?
“It just depends on the format,” Castiglione said. “There’s some discussion about that, but I don’t know if that would be possible. But the Red River rivalry, that will continue. Neither one 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 will continue and said a big reason the Longhorns wanted to join the SEC was “we wanted to rekindle old rivalries, whether it’s Arkansas or A&M or Oklahoma. Those matter to all of us. Fans cherish those games. It’s important for us to play Oklahoma in Dallas at the State Fair. That’s what makes college athletics so great generation after generation.”
So is the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry, which Del Conte would love to see flourish in their new conference as well.
“I wasn’t a part of it (rivalry), but I grew up watching it on Thanksgiving,” Del Conte said. “It was ingrained in both fan bases’ psyches for hundreds of years. To me, OU not playing Nebraska is crazy. For us to go to the SEC with a chance to play Arkansas and A&M and continue our rivalry with OU is icing on the cake.”
Speaking of cake, Del Conte celebrated his 54th birthday on Sunday by attending the Texas-A&M elimination game in Omaha.
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Del Conte and Castiglione have sat in on two SEC meetings — one by Zoom and one in person — including the big session on scheduling. The SEC has sub-groups for each sport that include administrators and coaches of that sport.
One source told the Statesman he didn’t think the future SEC scheduling would be resolved by this summer. The source also said that league has encouraged “out-of-the-box thinking” and have even knocked around the idea of 10 conference games every 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’ll invite you to the party.”
“De-fense, de-fense”: That was the chant from Longhorns faithful at Charles Schwab Field on Sunday when Aggies third baseman Trevor Werner botched Dylan Campbell’s grounder.
The 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 bit and loudly called off each consecutive ball thrown. The count reached six before he finally threw a strike to silence them.
Gordon gone early: Lucas Gordon, a mainstay on the Texas baseball team and one of its MVPs for shoring up the starting rotation, had his shortest start of the season. He had no command of his fastball and got lit up for four runs — all of them earned — in just 1⅔ innings.
His previous quickest hook came against South Carolina in mid-March when he was pulled after 3⅓ innings.
Same ol’ skipper: Oklahoma head coach Skip Johnson says he’s a creature of habit and really hasn’t changed at all since he was Texas’ pitching coach for 10 years.
So, nothing at all?
“Well, I do have a new hip,” Johnson said. “Had hip replacement surgery.”