It’s High Noon in the Big XII. Go on, Texas. Keep staring down the school at the other end of Main Street.

The sun beats down as you feel the sweat roll into the corner of your eye. Pockets of dust swirl in a breeze like the Devil’s kicking dirt as you feel your iron hanging heavy, slung low on your right hip.

Let your hand brush the ivory stock. It’s nickel-plated, one of the finest pistols money could buy.

Goodness knows you have plenty of money these days. For whatever that could be worth in the next few minutes.

You’ve backed yourselves into this moment of truth by being proud, and now there are only two ways out — alive, but with no one able to look you in the eye, or in a pine box.

Nebraska had pride. So did Texas A&M. But they just found other work at other ranches. They saw where your pride was taking things and they wanted no part of it.

Colorado? Headed west. Saddled up and gone before sunrise last spring.

You’d hoped it might be Baylor that came after you, didn’t you Texas? Those Bears are cantankerous and a mite feisty these days. Baylor gets that way after a drink or two.

Nothing like the threat of losing work as a foreman at a big ranch to get a school riled.

But, Texas, all you’d have had to do is cock an eyebrow, wait for the saloon to get quiet, and Baylor would’ve snuck out the back, the way it came in.

It isn’t the Bears, though. It’s Oklahoma.

The Sooners can’t match your money, but they do have the name and they’re quick on the draw.

You just wouldn’t back down when OU tried to get everyone a better deal out West. Now, you’ve forced the Sooners’ hand and pricked their pride.

Everyone had a laugh imagining the look on Colorado’s face when you and OU rode onto the Pac-12 Ranch, but nope. You wanted your own brand and to keep all your own money.

Too much for the Pac-12 to deal with, so now there’s no deal at all.

As it was, you were trying to force the other cowboys to let you brand some of their cattle, and you even got the Big XII to go in with you on the venture.

There was a lot of grumbling, but that wasn’t your concern. It’s a hard land. Takes hard people to tame a hard land.

Things can sure change in a hurry in this game, though. Those damned Okies have some of that pride, too.

Now look at the pair of you.

The telegraph operator keeps saying a new sheriff by the name of Chuck Neinas might be coming to help settle things. Could be amusing if he gets here before Sheriff Beebe rides out.

Then again, you haven’t seen much of Beebe since he as much as sold you his stake in the Big XII when you nearly left last summer.

Word is Sheriff Neinas is a tough old hand. Hear he ran things when the Sooners worked for the Big 8.

But he isn’t here, and you are. And so is Oklahoma at the other end of the street.

You’d like to think you could stare OU down. Maybe you could. Do you call the bluff?

What if you lose this draw, Texas? What if everybody just decides to leave you on your own? What if Oklahoma has other options?

ACC? SEC? Word is, those ranches are hiring.

That old buzzard up there sure is flying low. Reminds you of what you’ve heard about Neinas. Wonder if he’ll get here on the next stagecoa…

Wait, was that a flash?