Growing up, I remember watching Oklahoma take on Nebraska on a consistent basis. I recall watching the Red River Rivalry on a Saturday afternoon with my brothers and my dad, rooting for OU to take home the Golden Hat. I remember watching the annual Bedlam game and Oklahoma winning once again. I remember watching Sam Bradford face off against Colt McCoy, Graham Harrell, and other great quarterbacks. Now that I’m 18 years old, I look back at those times and remember why all that happened in the first place. Because of the Big 12 Conference.
We’ve all heard the rumors and talk of how the Big 12 may or may not add two more teams to honor the name. But there’s a loud voice of Sooner fans that say stuff like this: “OU should leave the Big 12″…“The Big 12 is falling apart”…“If OU wants national respect, they have to leave”. But is it true? Will leaving the conference actually give Oklahoma more respect? Let’s talk about this.
Oklahoma has always been respected. With the rich tradition, history, and commitment to winning, OU has always been seen as one of, if not, the best program in all of college football. How much did the conference affect that? Maybe a little. Playing Texas and Nebraska regularly gave OU viable opponents. But did people really look at the conference? Probably not. They noticed that Oklahoma has always been committed to winning national titles and conference championships and began to respect the program because of it. Not because of the conference OU played in.
Take a look at Boise State. It’s true they haven’t made a National Championship Game yet, but from 2006-2012, when they had their 12-1 and 11-2 seasons, they were always in talks of sneaking in to the title game. I believe they would have if they had not lost late in the season in multiple years. In the two seasons they were undefeated, they made a BCS Bowl. If Boise State could make a BCS bowl while playing in a non-AQ conference, Oklahoma can easily make the College Football Playoff if they go undefeated in the Big 12.
It’s true that the College Football Playoff requires teams to play tougher schedules, but Oklahoma has already planned for that. Take a look at OU’s schedule for the next 12 years or so.
- 2014 vs. Tennessee
- 2015 at Tennessee
- 2016 vs. Ohio State
- 2017 at Ohio State
- 2018 vs. UCLA
- 2018 vs. Army
- 2019 at UCLA
- 2020 at Army
- 2021 vs. Nebraska
- 2022 at Nebraska
- 2025 vs. Michigan
- 2026 at Michigan
- LSU dates to be determined
As you can see, Oklahoma’s out-of-conference schedule looks strong for the future. Winning those games and going undefeated in a Power 5 Conference will surely get Oklahoma into the College Football Playoff.
Also, look at other conferences. In a top-heavy SEC, do you really want to play Alabama, LSU, Auburn, South Carolina, Missouri, Texas A&M every year? Or in the Big 10, face Ohio State, Michigan, and Nebraska on a yearly basis? Or even in the Pac-12, have to slow down Oregon and face USC and an up and coming UCLA? In the Pac-12, OU’s away games would be at 10:00 pm CT at night. Just think about that.
Wouldn’t fans rather stay in the Big 12, where the Sooners know all their opponents well, face good opponents that will still get OU in the CFB Playoff? Where OU has great rivalries, and are the leaders of the conference?
Oklahoma was one of the teams to receive offers to leave, but stuck around despite four others ditching. Bob Stoops said a move to the Pac-12 was very possible.
Stoops on OU’s near departure to Pac-12: “We’re not tied to Texas. The world changes. It was real possibility. It was very real”
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 23, 2014
If OU would’ve left, Texas and Oklahoma State would’ve gone as well. With Texas gone, Tech and Baylor may have followed them. The Big 12 would not exist right now. It’s true the Pac-12 rescinded their offer to Oklahoma, but I am sure if OU would’ve wanted to join them, the Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott would’ve greeted Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione with a cake.
Instead, Castiglione and the Sooners decided to stay put, and Oklahoma State and Texas followed suit. Because of that, the Big 12 still exists today. Oklahoma are the leaders of this conference, and fans can’t abandon it.
The Big 12 is not dying, as people say. Baylor is becoming a powerhouse with Briles leading them. Oklahoma State is becoming consistent, as is Texas Tech under Kingsbury and Kansas State has always been good under Snyder. Texas is recovering from their rebuilding years and will be back with a new coach, Charlie Strong.
Including Oklahoma, that’s six very solid teams in the conference. Add the pesky Cyclones who like to ruin seasons, and TCU with the good defense under Patterson only adds to the true strength of the conference. Charlie Weis is slowly but surely rebuilding Kansas, and Holgorsen will surely do the same.
Remember the good memories of this league, and let’s stop all this nonsense of wanting to leave the Big 12.