The Way Back: Making Moves

Offensive lineman John Elmore clears a hole for running back Wayne McGarity against Texas A&M on Dec. 2, 1995.

Conference realignment is common around these parts. In the last 30 years, Texas has seen numerous rivals—Arkansas, Texas A&M, Missouri—bolt to greener pastures as rumors of the Longhorns joining the Pac-10 (and Pac-12) have swirled. So, Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 for the SEC after their media deals expire in 2025 should come as, perhaps, just a minor surprise.

While for some, the Big 12 feels like it has been Texas’ home since time immemorial, UT has spent almost its entire athletics history as a member of the Southwest Conference, beginning play in 1915. UT’s tenure spanned the next 81 years, ending with the conference’s implosion in 1996, after the Big 8 announced in February 1994 that it would merge with Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Texas to form the Big 12. Just before the big shift, Texas closed SWC football by defeating A&M in College Station and sewing up the final conference title. Sixteen years later, when A&M left for the SEC, Texas fell short of winning the Big 12, but Justin Tucker’s right leg put the exclamation point on the erstwhile Thanksgiving rivalry. For now.

Credit: Michelle Christenson


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