A feud between LSU and Texas would have drawn interest in any era or circumstance, but the fact that the Tigers and Longhorns are whacking antlers at this point in time carries a maximum of intrigue.
When Texas was a member of the old Southwest Conference, and the Bowl Championship Series had not been created (or even the Bowl Alliance, for that matter), college football powers existed in their own separate silos on a scale which doesn't exist today. What mattered for Texas was being able to go to the Cotton Bowl, for LSU the Sugar, for Oklahoma and other Big Eight teams, the Orange. Without the BCS elevating the national title over the conference championship -- and offering the possibility that the champions of two conferences could meet for the whole ball of wax -- schools such as LSU and Texas were less likely to run into each other's path. They could flourish in their own conferences and New Year's Day bowl games and not think the other school impeded their own progress.
The BCS changed that, and the College Football Playoff -- combined with the New Year's Six -- has accelerated the changes which have marked college football.
Most of all, though, Texas A&M moving to the SEC has redrawn conversations about recruiting in Texas and Louisiana, and how much the schools in major recruiting centers such as Houston and New Orleans need to win those turf battles to defend their interests and ultimately prosper. Those conversations represent the center of the kerfuffle between Tom Herman's Texas and Ed Orgeron's LSU, with former SEC head coach Hal Mumme (then of Kentucky, now of Division III Belhaven) getting caught in the middle because his school lost money while players were deprived of an opportunity to showcase their skills at the camp LSU called off.
Whether Herman or Coach O -- Texas or LSU -- is in the right is not at issue. What matters is how this episode reshapes the pressure points and expectations for coaches and fans in and around the SEC West.
A Texas-LSU clash could have been explosive anytime, but now, it is freighted with more intrigue than it would have been in 2004 or 1994 or 1984.
Inquiring minds want to know -- are SEC West communities outwardly happy that LSU and Orgeron stood up for themselves against an outsider, but privately worried that LSU will benefit in the long run from its actions?
Consider the flip side: Are SEC West communities outwardly unhappy at the restrictive nature of what LSU did, but internally happy that Orgeron is heaping even more expectations on his back?
Many people who are reading this will gravitate toward the parameters and political tension points of the satellite camp issue, in light of the furor (and media overkill) Jim Harbaugh of Michigan generated last year. I am more interested, however, in how this Texas-LSU incident changes or amplifies the situation for Orgeron, whom I wrote about earlier this spring.
There's no great need to rehash or dive into the details of the circumstances in which Orgeron gained the LSU job. The main point to stress is that Orgeron cleverly and alertly responded to a highly fluid and uncertain political situation, seizing upon the lack of a Herman-LSU marriage (ironically enough, in light of this spat with Texas) to win over athletic director Joe Alleva with a mapped-out plan.
The relevant part of Orgeron's plan in relationship to the feud with Texas is that by hiring star offensive coordinator Matt Canada and pairing him with inherited defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, Orgeron ceded X-and-O expertise to his two main assistants. Orgeron's number one job as LSU head coach is to lock down the recruiting side of the football business. Orgeron, more than most head coaches at brand-name FBS schools, feels tethered to his recruiting prowess as the main measure and revealer of his capacity to thrive.
Nick Saban at Alabama, Dan Mullen at Mississippi State, Gus Malzahn at Auburn, Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss, Kevin Sumlin at A&M, Bret Bielema at Arkansas -- all six other SEC West head coaches own far greater X-and-O chops than Orgeron. They -- like fans at home -- know that Coach O is leaning on his assistants for the tactics while he tries to handle the more operational aspects of program maintenance.
Are their thoughts gravitating to how well Orgeron is defending his castle, or to the idea that this doggedness in the recruiting realm magnifies his underlying weaknesses and increases the heat on Canada and Aranda to perform?
It is no small thing that Herman -- while tearing it up on the recruiting trail for Texas -- is also a superb X-and-O man, the guy who outflanked Nick Saban's Alabama defense in the 2015 Sugar Bowl, part of the first College Football Playoff and Ohio State's climb to the national championship victory podium a week later.
That Sugar Bowl took place in... New Orleans, and now Ed Orgeron is trying to keep Herman off a separate but valuable piece of Louisiana real estate.
SEC West coaches and fans probably like Texas being shoved back, and they probably like the fact that Coach O is exposing himself to a degree...
... but what if Tom Herman is the next great college football coach, and what if Orgeron's coordinators validate his head coaching plan?
What do SEC West coaches feel? Regardless of what anyone thinks or says about that question, the most blessed thing of all is that we'll begin to get answers in three months or so.