By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Who would have thought we would be seeing Oklahoma State against Baylor for the Big 12 football championship?
And ESPN’s Gameday will be onsite to heighten an already exciting atmosphere with the game in prime time on ABC.
How far these programs have come is a sign that parity indeed has come to the Big 12 Conference.
It didn’t seem so long ago people were trying to figure out how to get Baylor out of the Big 12.
It was just a few years ago when the Bears appeared to be left out in the cold when it appeared OSU, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech would be leaving the Big 12 for what would have been the Pac- 16.
Just a decade ago, Oklahoma State’s Lewis Stadium was jokingly called “Rustleoum Stadium.’’
Now, the refurbished Boone Pickens Stadium gives OSU a palace that ranks among the elite in college football as far as facilities go.
Tonight’s game is a sellout, but it might even have been more of testament of where Cowboy football has gone the past few years when OSU sold out the Lamar game earlier this season.
Meanwhile at Baylor, instead of covering seats to avoid embarrassment, the Bears are set to move into a new stadium that is supposed to rank with the Big 12’s finest.
Two years ago, people wondered if Baylor could survive the graduation of Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. Kyle Petty has followed the tradition of Baylor quarterbacks under coach Art Briles quite nicely.
Former OSU head coach Pat Jones told his radio audience Monday the Cowboys and the Bears coaching staffs have done the best job of evaluating and coaching over the last five years in the Big 12.
Jones, having coached OSU coach Mike Gundy, may not be the most objective person on the subject, but the facts hold up his argument, especially with the Cowboys.
OSU, since 2009, has a 49-13 record with one outright Big 12 championship. OU, over the same period, is 48-15 with one outright Big 12 title and one co-championship.
Baylor has beaten the Sooners twice over the last three years. The Bears clearly beat up OU physically in a recent 41-12 thrashing.
The Sooners are 3-1 against OSU over this period, but the criticism of coach Bob Stoops’ staff in recent years is they haven’t “coached up’’ their players (a.k.a. some blue chippers not living up to expectations).
Texas coach Mack Brown was once called Mr. February for his success in recruiting. But he may be forever haunted by recruiting two Heisman Trophy winners from the state of Texas — Griffin and Johnny Manziel as defensive backs.
Briles was smart enough to recruit Griffin as a quarterback. Nick Florence and Petty have followed to lead Baylor to back-to-back bowls after Griffin. Baylor was able to pound OU with a third-string running back (Shock Linwood), a testament to the depth of Baylor’s recruiting.
That’s why Brown could be on his way out at Texas and Briles has a new 10-year contract.
If Brown does leave Texas, the Longhorns might want to check out Gundy or Briles as a replacement.
The Bears’ non-conference schedule was laughed at (Buffalo, Louisiana-Monroe and Wofford), but no one is laughing at a 10-0 record.
OSU and Baylor fans should savor and appreciate the moment.
Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.