I'm not sure if I'm understanding you completely, but let me try to explain a couple of things.
First of all, here in Texas, UT was/is the "premiere" school because it's so much truly the school of the upper-class White folks, and so full of legacy and tradition that they were able to keep it full with those kinds of students. It has an alumi club to die for and everyone associated truly takes care of their own.
With the top 10% of every graduating class in every high school being eligible for admission, more Black and Latino students are applying at UT more than any of the other colleges. And while, by the numbers, many of the Black and Latino students do not compete equally with their White counterparts, many, many of them do!! They make honor roll and Who's Who and pull 3.9's. They may write a better essay (as part of the selection process) or may have put in more hours of community service. Many are athletes, etc.
So, UT is a special situation. The Top 10 can apply to any school they want to ... but many are picking UT and that's not going over very well on the other side of the tracks!! Because space is limited and more graduates are applying and more are being accepted, less White students with a 3.6 are able to just slide in. The school is still very selective.
And it's not a school rank, it's an individual merit ranking. And a lot of Black and Latino students who are not accepted at UT will and do choose other schools. But, UT is a symbol here. And the students know it, the parents know it, companies know it ... and everybody wants that notariety.