A&M's Byrne: ADs are 'mercenary'

KANSAS CITY -- Bill Byrne served as Nebraska's athletic director from 1992-2003 before jumping to College Station, where he's run the athletic department since. Before his days in the Big Eight, Byrne was the athletic director at Oregon from 1983-92. Now his son, Greg Byrne, is the athletic director at Arizona, who plays in the Pac-10, one of three conferences -- along with the Big Ten and SEC -- purported to be interested in bringing Texas and Texas A&M into their leagues.

"I have two grandsons that will be living in Tucson," Byrne said. "So, I’m going to be going there whether we’re a member of the Pac-10 or not, because my wife tells me she gets to decide where we retire and it appears Tucson is on the horizon."

But the Aggies boss echoed the same sentiment as the rest of the league on Wednesday afternoon. Priority No. 1 is keeping the Big 12 together.

"Our goal is to keep the Big 12 together," said Byrne, adding that despite his apparent wandering eye, Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds shared his goal. "There were some rough edges when we first started, but I think we’ve become a very, very potent force in college athletics. I think, arguably, we’re one of the two top conferences in the nation, and it would be foolish from my perspective to consider breaking that up."

Byrne said any moves not consistent with that notion just means businessmen are busy taking care of business.

"Remember what the job of an athletic director is," Byrne said. "We're all very mercenary. We're all out there to protect our own institutions, so everybody has their own interests in mind. From A&M's perspective, the best interest I think we can have is to keep the Big 12 Conference together."

He later added: "Everybody is concerned about protecting their own turf. All of us are. It would be imprudent of us not to look at all the types of contingencies that are out there … I believe most of the other guys have done that, I know we have."

Most believe Texas and Texas A&M would be a package deal wherever they land, whether it's in the Big Ten, Pac-10, SEC or still in the Big 12. Byrne reinforced that with him comments Wednesday.

"We really enjoy our relationship with Texas. We enjoyed beating them the other day in baseball, that was fun," Byrne said. But we have had a long relationship with them. We have the Lone Star Showdown between Texas and Texas A&M in every sport, and they won it this year, 10-9. That was hard for us to give the trophy back, but I can't imagine us ever not competing with the University of Texas."