The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

September 18, 2011

Regents need to be careful about conference decision

ENID — University of Oklahoma regents are scheduled to discuss the Sooners’ future conference alignment at its meeting today in Claremore.

It’s a subject they should tackle with care, knowing the decision could help set the course for the future of college football alignment.

If the Sooners decide to leave the Big 12, it would end an alliance OU has been with since 1928. The Sooners have seen the league go from the Big Six (1928) to the Big Seven (1948) to the Big Eight (1960 in football) to the Big 12 (1996).

It would all but spell the death knell of the conference, which had two defections last season (Nebraska and Colorado) and has another (Texas A&M) all set to join the SEC.

University of Texas regents are meeting on the Big 12  the same day as OU which raises questions whether an agreement has been stuck with the two schools on the matter.

If OU goes to the Pac-12, it’s safe to say Oklahoma State is going with the Sooners. OUºwould certainly want Texas in that deal, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a deal breaker.

Leaving the Big 12 would be emotional, but it’s not the same conference OU fans have grown up with. There’s no longer the meeting with Nebraska in late November for the conference championship.

Until this year, OU didn’t play old league rivals Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State every season because they were in the Big 12 North Division.

Would OU want to stay in the Big 12 if the conference got BYU as a replacement for A&M?  Would that league have stability?

If the Big 12 were to get BYU, Arkansas and Notre Dame, would it be worth it to OU (and OSU) to stay?  But that’s not going to happen.

Would OU be interested in a Big 12 with BYU, Air Force and TCU? That’s another big if.

What would happen if the SEC or Big 10 went after Missouri, which talked openly of wanting to join the Big 10 a year ago. All the schools have to watch out for themselves now.

Going to the Pac-12 would give the Sooners (and Cowboys) more stability and probably, no doubt, a lot more television money.

There are a lot more TV sets in California than in the Midwest.

The Pac-12 is not without its warts.

Remember the poor officiating OU had at Oregon in 2006 and at UCLA in 2005?

The road trips would be longer and there would be at least one late kickoff a year. Get used to 9:30 p.m. kickoffs. Fewer fans may attend road games, but regardless of where the state schools play, it’s expensive to attend road games.

Does OU have as much in common with USC, UCLA, Cal and Stanford than it does with Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri? My mother, who lived in California briefly during the Dust Bowl period, doesn’t want to have anything with that state. She remembers the mistreatment of the “Okies’’ who went there to find work.

“Okie’’ is an offensive word to me. It certainly isn’t used as a compliment and there’s no doubt people from California look down on us.

Ironically, OU turned to football as a way to rid the state of its Grapes of Wrath image.

OU president David Boren reportedly favors the Pac-12 because of the association with academically prestigious schools such as Stanford and Cal.

No doubt a move to the Pac-12 would put more of a travel burden on the non-revenue sports, but football money is going to be the final factor.

Don’t be surprised by anything that happens today.

Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.

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