In addition to ruining Applebee’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, home ownership, marriage, talking to people on the train and going to church, my generation has destroyed one of college footballs institutions: The Big 12. Let’s rewind a little bit.
About 15 years ago the Big 12 Conference revolutionized college football. Football had long been dominated by the power run game and play action passing. Strength almost always beat speed and everyone knew that defense won championships. That was, until the Big 12 hit its offensive groove.
One by one the teams in the Big 12 turned to high tempo, high scoring offenses. Bob Stoops brought the air raid offense to Oklahoma. Mike Leach did the same at Texas Tech. Mack Brown brought whatever the hell Greg Davis did to Texas. At some point, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Nebraska and even lowly Kansas also became offensive powerhouses. During this period the league won 2 national championships, had 9 different schools combine for 22 BCS bowl appearances (including 7 championship games) and the Red River Shootout was the most exciting game in the country year in and year out.
Today the league is a wreck. In a span of less than 2 years the Big 12 lost some of its biggest brands when Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado and Texas A&M left for other leagues. They have exactly 1 appearance in the playoff, a first round loss by Oklahoma.
The final AP poll last year featured only 3 teams from the Big 12, the least of any major conference. Only Oklahoma cracked the top 10. Recruiting is down as well, with Oklahoma hauling in the only top-25 recruiting class of 2017.
So what happened? Millennials. Everyone’s least favorite generation of over-educated and underpaid snowflakes got their safe spaces all over this once great league. EVIDENCE:
Let’s start with the coaches. Bob Stoops, Mack Brown, Mike Leach and Mark Mangino are all gone. Stoops retired. Mack Brown was allowed to leave with what little dignity he had left. What about the other three?
In 2007 Mark Mangino led Kansas to what I’m 100% positive will be the the only 12 win season they will ever experience. It was also the year in which millennials began to force him out.
During one game Raimond Pendleton was flagged for excessive celebration after returning a punt 77 yards for a touchdown. When he approached the sideline, coach Mangino decided to give him a few helpful pointers for the next time he made a good play.
The fans, many of whom were millennials at the time, took offense to Mangino’s coaching method and forced the school to investigate the incident. Mangino now had an unnecessary target on his back.
Eventually more allegations from entitled crybabies surfaced. Some campus parking enforcement staff claimed to have been verbally abused by Mangino.
Real men recognize these incidents as evidence of a strong personality and a master motivator, but millennials felt like their safe spaces had been invaded and the school bent to their absurd demands, buying Mangino’s contract out.
In 2009, Texas Tech player Adam James suffered a concussion. He was ordered not to practice the next day and team officials took the perfectly reasonable step of locking him in the equipment room to keep him out of the light so he could recover faster. It’s science.
Unfortunately for coach Mike Leach, James was a whiny, entitled millennial with a rich father (ESPN analyst Crag James). Being a precious snowflake, he demanded an apology while his daddy demanded more playing time. When Leach counter-offered a free life lesson to James by refusing to provide either, he was rewarded by getting fired.
The point is that every decent coach in the Big 12 was driven out by entitled rich kids born some time between 1982 and 2000. But it’s okay, because the league was able to replenish it’s coaching deficit with some hot, young and energetic coaching talent, like Kliff Kingsbury, who is 24-26 as a head coach, or Matt Campbell.
One of the largest factors in football recruiting is the practice facilities. In recent years the SEC, ACC and Big Ten have entered an arms race that has led to some of the most insanely extravagant training facilities imaginable. In the Big 12, only Texas, Oklahoma, TCU and Oklahoma State have modern facilities on par with the best from other leagues.
Why does this matter to recruiting? Because millennial football players feel like they are entitled to everything and don’t think they should have to work for anything.
In the good old days, football players didn’t have indoor practice fields with state of the art treatment centers. They had a perfectly good mud pit to practice in. The locker room was a smelly concrete dungeon perfect for male bonding, not a 5-star spa where each player got to live in a bubble of Twitter connected smart lockers or artisan bath salts or whatever. They didn’t get concussions, they just “got their bell rung.” They were simpler times.
Those were real men. Millennials don’t want to be real men, they want to be special, and as a result have flooded towards conferences where they can be pampered and cherished and allowed to grow soft. The Big 12 doesn’t want soft players, so their recruiting rankings have suffered. They may put a terrible product on the field, but at least they’re real men out there.
If there’s one thing millennials are good at it’s mismanaging their budgets so they can splurge on avocado toast. If there are two things it’s the avocados, and it’s bringing about the #1 fear of old people: change.
In the real world we have a hierarchy. You answer to your boss, who in turn answers to his boss and so on until you get to the CEO. The further up the chain you go, the more power and money you receive.
The Big 12 was the same way. Iowa State is subordinate to Baylor, who is subordinate to Colorado and so on until you get all the way up to the commissioner. Then right above him is Texas.
Perhaps it was the millennial demand for expensive gluten free menu options, or maybe they were just used to handouts, but eventually young people demanded these schools be paid more money for all the hard work Texas was doing. When it was clear that wasn’t going to happen, they did the 3rd thing millennials are best at: they quit.
Nebraska, Colorado, A&M and Mizzou all bolted for conferences with more money and prestige instead of unquestionably sticking to their commitment in the Big 12. TCU and West Virginia were brought in from mid-major conferences (yes Rutgers, the Big East was a mid-major) which only added to the damage caused to the Big 12’s image by fielding teams like Kansas and Iowa State (who were already worse than every team in the MAC). The league lost TV money, prestige and some of its better teams. Also Colorado.
Is there any hope for this once great league? No, not really. College football is almost undoubtedly heading towards four 16-team conferences. The good programs will get snagged by the SEC, B1G, Pac-12 or ACC. The bad teams will join bad conferences. Texas will form its own 1-team conference and schedule 12 non-con games each year while still declaring themselves champions of the Longhorn Network Conference every year. You know how it goes.
You can’t blame the league for not keeping up with the demands of an evolving recruiting market, or for not cashing in on big television contracts when everyone else was doing it, or for not bothering to put any effort into defense, or even Texas and Oklahoma’s greed. No no no. Young people did this.
So next time you’re stuck watching Iowa give up an intentional safety in a 6-4 victory over Penn State, or Tommy Armstrong throwing into double coverage against Wisconsin in overtime or the goddamn M00N game, remember there used to be an alternative. Teams used to put up 63 points and somehow still lose.
The baby boomers may have ruined the environment, the housing market, social security and the middle class, but my generation ruined the Big 12. Sorry.
What will millennials ruin next?
This poll is closed
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