Longhorn Empire

By Jan Hubbard

The Big 12 has put on quite a show in recent months and although there are periodic rumors that conference life will return to normal, we all know better than that. It’s like Atlantic City during prohibition. Some were determined to make it a law-abiding community. It never happened.

The Big 12 and 1920s Atlantic City have much in common. On HBO, the dramatic and entertaining series Boardwalk Empire, captures the romance and flamboyance of life during the Roaring Twenties. And as the college football world has learned, life in the Big 12 could easily be a reality show called Longhorn Empire, which is as big of a pain to the rest of the conference as moonshine was to federal agents.

A closer look at Boardwalk Empire, however, reveals the wonderful possibilities that exist for Longhorn Empire. All of the major characters of the former have counterparts in the latter and if one is a hit, why not the other? Consider the prospects for similar characters and plot lines.

1. Texas-Nucky Thompson: Nucky is the kingpin ofAtlantic City. He makes the deals, dispenses the illegal liquor, selects the politicians, has people killed if he thinks they need it and even gets the girls despite looks that are the opposite of Brad Pitt. Still, he’s not as ugly as burnt orange.

2. Oklahoma-Jimmy Darmody: Jimmy works for Nucky but Nucky is in total control of Jimmy’s financial well-being.  If Nucky says stay, Jimmy stays. If Nucky says leave, Jimmy leaves. If Nucky says kill, Jimmy starts shooting. Jimmy, however, is getting a little resentful and thinks about making a deal of his own.

3. TexasA&M-Agent Nelson Van Alden: Van Alden approaches his job with military commitment and precision as he wages war on the bootleggers. He is 98 percent straight but oh that two percent. Van Alden admires Nucky’s live-in but has a photo of her when she was 16 years old and immigrating fromIreland. When he looks at it, he feels so guilty that he becomes self-abusive, takes a belt and swings it over his shoulder to whip himself in the back. He does it repeatedly. Later, he takes an alcoholic drink, picks up a woman and despite being married, he sleeps with her. After all that, he realizes he can’t compete with his inner urges or the Boardwalk Empire, quits his job and leaves Atlantic City.

4. Texas Tech & Oklahoma State-Eli Thompson & Eddie Kessler: The former is Nucky’s brother and the latter is his personal servant. They basically do what they are told to do because they both know they are dependent on Nucky’s coattails. Wherever Nucky goes, they follow.

5. Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State-The D’Alessio brothers: These guys are minor hoods who botch several major jobs and end up getting wiped out. The key word in here is “minor.”

6. Missouri-Lucy:  She is quite loose and has already made herself available to Nucky and Van Alden. Will jump in bed with anyone.

7. Baylor-Chalky White: A minority in a powerful world, but his menacing look and love of firearms is as threatening as a law suit.

Season 2 of Boardwalk Empire begins Sunday night on HBO. The Big 12 soap opera continues.

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