Bevo in a sombrero or standing on the Great Wall of China? It could happen if new Texas athletic director Steve Patterson has his way.
The Longhorns could play a neutral-site game in Mexico as part of a plan to expand the program's international profile, Patterson said in an interview with the Austin American-Statesman. But the Red River Shootout against Oklahoma, currently staged annually at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, would not be displaced.
"We're gonna keep playing OU where we are. Another game? Maybe," Patterson said.
Patterson also expressed interest in tapping into places like China and other "big markets we want to activate," echoing the Pac-12's push into the Pacific Rim. Patterson was the athletic director at Arizona State before taking over at UT and saw some of the 70 retail stores UCLA has in China during a men's basketball tour with the Sun Devils, a number he called "staggering."
Every sport in America wants to expand globally, as the NFL showed by expanding its International Series to three games at London's Wembley Stadium next season. NFL commissioner Roger Goddell has also indicated London could be home to an NFL team in the future. There were also attempts to stage an NFL preseason game in Beijing in 2007 and 2009, though it was ultimately cancelled.
At the college ranks, however, such efforts are about more than selling jerseys and increasing sponsorship opportunities. They can reach potential students -- about 6,000 of the 52,000 student enrolled at UT are from outside the United States -- or lead to joint projects in research and other avenues with other institutions of higher learning.
As Patterson said, the question he wants to emphasize is, "What games do we play to benefit the broad interest of the institution, not, did we go and beat some team?"
The first emphasis for Patterson is to get UT competing for championships again in football and other high-profile sports. After that, the sky -- the globe? -- is the limit.