Happy Star Wars Day everybody. In honor of May the 4th, I present you readers an inarguable truth about the current state of college athletics and the Big 12. Without a doubt, the most recognizable Star Wars character is Darth Vader. He looms large over Episodes IV, V, and VI. Much in the same way, Texas has loomed large over the Big 12 for a long time now. The similarities are there. Allow me to make the case. And it’s not just because they get sensitive over perceived slights (force choking or being upset at “horns down”).
Perception of Power
Vader is originally presented as an all powerful Sith Lord, and supreme being of the entire galaxy. However, in the prequel trilogy, the curtain is pulled back a bit. Vader was born out of necessity to keep Anakin Skywalker alive. While his suit allows him all this power, he’s really quite fragile on the inside.
Texas was a national power in football for decades. They’ve seen legendary players such as Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, and Vince Young wear the burnt orange. They’ve claimed 4 national championships (although let’s be real about 1970, they lost the Cotton Bowl so that claim feels hollow). But in recent years, especially after the graduation of Colt McCoy and the departure of Mack Brown, Texas has been shown to be much more vulnerable than originally thought. They’ve routinely struggled to reach bowl eligibility, let alone compete for championships. Despite all they have going for them, they are not as all powerful as once thought.
There’s a reason the header image of this article was easy to find. Darth Vader’s image is everywhere. Star Wars is one of the most commercialized franchises ever. From t-shirts to sports branded merch and even toasters. Vader is the face of the franchise.
Texas is the same way. They are the biggest brand in the Big 12, by far. They have their own television network (even though they shouldn’t). The conference would’ve disbanded without them when realignment heated up in the early 2010s. Despite not winning a conference championship in football since 2009, they still top most lists of valuable college football teams.
Not Actually In Charge
Vader may have been the most powerful character in the universe, but at the end of the day he still had a master to answer to. He was the apprentice to Darth Sidious. Don’t get me wrong, he could still beat Sidious, as he did at the end of Return of the Jedi. At this time, Texas is certainly a rung below their chief rival, Oklahoma. Texas can still beat Oklahoma, most recently in 2018. But as I said above, they haven’t won the Big 12 since 2009. Oklahoma has won 5 consecutive championships, and 7 total since 2009.
Will They Ever “Be Back”?
It’s tough to say. Crazier things have happened in Star Wars. The jury is still out on the Longhorns as well. Let’s just say the evidence hasn’t been in their favor.