I was skimming through Twitter last night, and I saw a link to a thread on an OU message board. Around this time of year, I guess conference realignment is a fun topic of interest, and about a year ago, Oklahoma was the subject of a rumor listing OU and Kansas as candidates for Big Ten membership.
Now, the Sooners are quite comfy in the Big 12 Conference. They have made that perfectly clear. However, it would be interesting to see the Sooners in a different landscape.
While it is not happening in the foreseeable future, would it not be a nice change of pace to replace an 11 a.m. home game with Iowa State for a different conference bottom feeder?
Personally, I like the Big 12 opponents Oklahoma plays every year. Every school in the Big 12 has really made football season fun with the parity. Also, Big 12 basketball is the best pound-for-pound conference in the nation, and you can not tell me otherwise.
But for arguments sake, let’s look at the other conferences. Where would OU fit in? Where would they succeed? What would be good for the program?
I NEVER do this, but I am going to put on the crimson glasses for a second as I look at potential new homes for Oklahoma.
Atlantic Coastal Conference
Pros: Right now, this is a very winnable conference, football-wise. Top to bottom, Oklahoma would be one of the conference’s elite. They probably would be able to make a decent bowl game every year, much like in the Big 12. And while the ACC fields a few decent football teams, Oklahoma would probably feel safe scheduling Texas out-of-conference every year if that was ever a concern with fans. Plus, during basketball season, who wouldn’t want to see Syracuse, Duke, North Carolina, and more make frequent trips to Norman? Also, they wouldn’t be forced to go to Lubbock, Texas ever again. So that’s a plus.
Cons: Basketball-wise, OU would struggle. However, conference strength could be a big recruiting tool. Geographically this move would not make sense, and honestly, the ACC does not do much for the OU brand or helping them get in to the College Football Playoff with some weaker competition. Thankfully, a move to the ACC would never happen.
Big Ten Conference
Pros: I really like the idea of Oklahoma playing Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin on a regular basis in football. Same goes for basketball—those are pretty some balanced athletic programs. A move to the Big Ten would be reminiscent of the Big Eight days when Oklahoma was the most south team in the conference. Also, what Sooner fan wouldn’t want to see Oklahoma and Nebraska’s rivalry restored? Plus, OU wouldn’t ever have to play Texas Tech again. And that’s awesome.
Cons: The style of football is much different from the Big 12. Big Ten football and basketball is notorious for slower-paced games and lower scores. The Big Ten is a solid conference at the top, though, strength of schedule could affect Oklahoma’s odds at a spot in the College Football Playoff. Traveling would be a bit rough with Nebraska and Illinois being the two closest schools. Like with the Big 12, OU would be the “West Virginia” of the Big Ten, and who wants to be that guy?
Pacific 12 Conference
Pros: PARTY ON THE WEST COAST! This would be huge for OU’s already large footprint in West Coast recruiting. OU against USC, UCLA, and Oregon (not all at once) would be great match-ups on a consistent basis. The trips to Palo Alto, Salt Lake, and Los Angeles would be fun for the fans, and it would create more primetime opportunities with some bigger name Pac-12 schools like the Trojans and Ducks. Style of play-wise, OU would fit in with the up-tempo, spread offenses of the Pac-12. Also, OU would never have to step foot in Lubbock, Texas again.
Cons: The West Coast lifestyle would be fun, but this is another geographic nightmare. Oklahoma would be playing much later games as well in a different time zone. While it would not be every week, some of the older fans won’t enjoy staying up past midnight for the end of Oklahoma and Washington State and what have you. Also, the Pac-12 is notorious for its Thursday night games, and I am very anti-Thursday night game.
Pros: Last, but not least, the SEC. Oklahoma would finally be taken seriously. Playing the best of the best every week. Oklahoma would get credit for National Championships they didn’t win. AND THEY WOULD NEVER HAVE TO GO TO LUBBOCK, TEXAS EVER AGAIN. The rivalries would be great. Also, OU getting Kentucky and Florida in basketball would be tortuous, but fun. If the Sugar Bowl and A&M and Mizzou’s success is any indication, OU could probably do some damage in this conference. Life in the SEC would be like upgrading from the public course to the country club. And man, what a life it would be.
Cons: Oklahoma’s schedule would probably prevent them from scheduling Texas out-of-conference. Also, the fans of the other SEC schools can be annoying (at least from my experience on Twitter). Honestly, I do no want to ever hear a booming S-E-C! chant in Norman, OK or Vanderbilt or Ole Miss claiming one of Oklahoma’s titles or Heisman winners (that’s how they operate, right?). Even though OU would be considered as a member of the best conference in the country, there would be many consequences that go with it.
THE VERDICT: I think Oklahoma should just stick with the Big 12. Adding at least two more teams would help the Big 12′s cause, and put them in a more stable position. While it won’t happen in the near future, adding a program like Louisville helps balance out the addition of West Virginia. And maybe the conference could add UCF just to give Baylor fans some scares.
Anyway, tell us what you think. What conference would you like to see Oklahoma join or are they fine where they are?