Big 12 football: Golden age is now for best programs
I made an offhand comment in my Thursday column that the five best programs in Big 12 football, excluding the exiting Aggies, are all as good as they’ve ever been or better. I said OU, Texas and Missouri are as good as they’ve ever been, while OSU and Tech are better.
I didn’t have room to go into deep explanation, but I’ve got room here. So let’s examine the questions. What are the golden ages of each Big 12 program? Where do they stand now?
First, let’s examine the question. How do you define golden age? We’ll look at won-loss record and championships, both over five- and 10-year totals. So here goes.
Best five-year stretch: 51-2, .962, 1954-58. Five Big Seven titles, two national titles.
Best 10-year stretch: 97-7-2, .924, 1949-58. Ten Big Seven titles, three national titles.
Current five-year stretch: 54-15, .783. Four Big 12 titles, zero national titles.
Current 10-year stretch: 109-26, .807. Six Big 12 titles, zero national titles.
Result: No program ever has had the five- and 10-year runs of Bud Wilkinson’s Sooners in the ’50s. Barry Switzer’s dynasty didn’t match it, and Bob Stoops’ teams haven’t, either. But a couple of things. 1. Stoops’ teams have been ultra-successful. Four Big 12 titles in the last five years. And taking out Stoops’ injury-marred 2009 season, his record the last 10 years is 100-21. 2. OU plays a much tougher schedule now than it did in the ’50s. Switzer’s teams in the ’70s and ’80s played a much tougher schedule, too. In the ’50s, the Big Seven had little prowess beside the Sooners, and Texas was mostly down. So you can go either way. I say considering the competition, the program is just as stout now as in the ’50s.
Best five-year stretch: 44-15, .746, 1984-88.
Best 10-year stretch: 73-40, .646, 1979-88.
Current five-year stretch: 43-22, .662.
Current 10-year stretch: 75-50, .600.
Result: The Cowboys of the ’80s won at a slightly higher rate than the contemporary Cowboys. And at the end of that run, OSU was hit with a back-breaking probation that set back the program almost 10 years. And their stadium still was atrocious. Now, no probation, talent galore and a glittering new ballpark with facilities second to none. This is the best era in OSU football history.
Best five-year stretch: 48-6-1, .882, 1968-72; 41/2 SWC titles, 11/2 national titles.
Best 10-year stretch: 89-17-2, .833, 1961-70; 5 SWC titles, 21/2 national titles.
Current five-year stretch: 50-15, .769; 1 Big 12 title; zero national titles.
Current 10-year stretch: 106-23, .822; 2 Big 12 titles; 1 national title.
Result: Darrell Royal’s great teams won at a higher rate than Mack Brown’s, but just like the current Sooners, the current Longhorns are in a much tougher environment. The bottom half of the old Southwest Conference was discharged. UT has been competing against Oklahoma and Nebraska.
Best five-year stretch: 41-16-2, .712, 1972-76.
Best 10-year stretch: 72-41-2, .635, 1969-78
Current five-year stretch: 45-20, .692.
Current 10-year stretch: 86-42, .672.
Result: Few remember the great Tech years in the ’70s, when the Red Raiders went 11-1 under Jim Carlen and 10-2 under Steve Sloan. But Tech is winning more than ever before and has a beautiful renovated stadium. The only question: Can Tech keep it up without Mike Leach?
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