College football in Dubai? No thanks

mlough@macon.comApril 2, 2014 

We have the Final Four this weekend, baseball has started, and Jim Nantz has been reminding us ad nauseam about a certain golf tournament coming up next week.

So here’s a “thank you” to Texas athletics director Steve Patterson for breaking all that up a little bit.

It was the smothering greed and arrogance of the Longhorns that spearheaded the flurry of hysterical conference realignment -- and absurd explanations -- we had to go through in recent years.

And here they go again.

Patterson said he has no interest in discussing resuming his school’s series with Texas A&M, which is pretty much a middle finger to the average Texas fan.

“There’s a lot of great tradition with Texas A&M. At some point in time, does it make some business sense, some branding sense to play again? I don’t know,” he said.

Charlie Strong, who no doubt started wondering about his decision-making process after taking the Longhorns’ job, wants to play Texas A&M. Sorry, Charlie.

There is, however, talk of Texas playing a game in Dubai.

Repeat: a college football game in Dubai.

Ah, it’s always something when pinheads in charge are out playing contact football without a helmet again. Just because money talks doesn’t mean one has to listen. Sometimes, large investments in “branding” and “expanding the footprint” are wise.

The roughly six-figure investment made by Mercer’s administration to haul bus after bus of young and not-young to the NCAA tournament in Raleigh? Cha-ching.

A football game in Dubai? Clank.

Both are no-brainers, but at opposite ends of the no-brainer spectrum.

The class time an entire football team -- well, two teams, since the Longhorns have to play somebody -- misses for a trip to Dubai? Expedia tells me a flight leaving on a Monday and returning the next Monday in October costs at least $7,800 for one person and takes anywhere from 22 to 40 hours.

Note that Mercer’s trip to San Diego last fall approached $100,000 in costs, but that was part of the schedule for a year.

It’s about 8,200 miles from Austin to Dubai.

Can’t play who your fan base, coaches, players and students want to play, but let’s have a game so far away and in such an expensive place that only the oil tycoons in the Memorial Stadium suites can afford to show up. Is that branding or simple financial groveling? And when there’s financial groveling involved, quid pro quo isn’t far behind.

Few people really ever benefit from quid pro quo.

“They shouldn’t be done for junketeering purposes,” Patterson said. “They should be done in a fashion that grows the profile and the interest of the university of a broad scale internationally.”

Steve, Steve, Steve. Rest assured that the first priority will be junketeering. Sports and politics are huge bedfellows, and perhaps nowhere more so than in Texas, but definitely in the South. And junketeering can be across an ocean or across the county.

Scheduling is already an annoying, baffling, deceptive and hypocritical game that involves politics and power plays. To ignore the wants of a constituency and paint an allegedly more principled picture?

That’s a funny.

As for Patterson, it’s a safe bet he’ll hear plenty during the offseason about this shoveling dirt on the past and tradition and ignoring what most people want, and it’s not a game involving the word “Emirates.”


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Contact Michael A. Lough at 744-4626 or

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