Day of firsts: Classes at OU, work for Trav
CAMPUS CORNER — You know, it’s only fitting my first item filed – online or for the paper – would be produced at a Chick-fil-A. I love Chick-fil-A. The delicious chicken sandwiches. The waffle fries. The friendly service. Did I mention the waffle fries?
Coming from the South, I was admittedly worried there would be no Chick-fil-As in OKC or Norman. (I had been through this before, in Omaha for the College World Series. It was horrifying – especially when South Carolina decided to stay the full two weeks the past two summers.) Before interviewing for the OU gig, I googled and learned, yes, there were Chick-fil-As here. Phew. I’m not saying it would have been a deal-breaker. But let’s just say I’m glad we didn’t have to even see that bridge, much less cross it.
Chick-fil-A aside – and I’ll get into other food topics such as BBQ later – I’m happy to be here. Really happy. I’m working to get settled into my Norman abode, though my stuff will not arrive until (I hope) Saturday because of unfortunate long-distance moving schedule windows. For now, there’s nothing to sit on, unless I’ve purchased it in the past two days. (Just picture me hacking atop a cardboard box or something. Or the floor. Whatever, everything will be here soon enough.)
Everyone has been tremendously kind so far, and I’m very much appreciative of that. Heck, someone I didn’t know until Saturday is about to bring me a desk, gratis. That’s awesome. If anyone has a coffee table or dining room set they’re parting with, let me know. (Not joking.)
I’m 15 1/2 hours and five states from where I was previously, in South Carolina. A lot of people naturally want to talk to me about the similarities and differences between the Big 12 and the SEC, the conference I followed and covered my first 30 years on the planet.
Here’s my educated guess: Football is football, at least at the top of the food chain.
The best teams in the SEC and the best teams in the Big 12 often see one another in the national championship game, or something close. The difference in the leagues, I’m sure, is found in examining the bottom of the conferences. Besides Vanderbilt – and even the Commodores won a bowl game a couple of years ago – there are no weeks off in the SEC. Here … well, that’s sort of changed for the worse in the past few years and conference expansion (contraction in the Big 12′s case) has not helped.
We’re all guessing when it comes to the future of the Big 12. Heck, we thought expansion had been put to bed in early July. Now here we are again. Things change quickly when (big) money and (big) egos are involved.
Seems to me everyone wants to do whatever they can to save the conference. But at what cost? Will they hang on too long to a diluted product that’s only becoming more watered-down?
When you take an honest look at it, it’s difficult to see a Big 12 that will get stronger in the future. And isn’t that what college football is all about, constant improvements and progress? Look at the facilities at top-tier programs. If it’s not sparkling-new, it’s being remodeled or overhauled. Down the street from my house, OU’s under-construction athletic dorm serves as a reminder of that.
And we’re to believe a school as storied as OU will remain in the league that’s damaged and on the verge of collapse? Maybe, but not without something more than cosmetic touchups. You’d think OU would rather be out front on something like this rather than reacting to whatever everyone else does (or does not do).
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