Berry Tramel: Mid-majors play with a cause

by Berry Tramel Modified: September 18, 2009 at 12:24 am •  Published: September 18, 2009
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NORMAN — Another Saturday, another opponent with a conference cause.

Uh-oh.

Tulsa plays on Owen Field this week, and the Golden Hurricane is dangerous for reasons other than a shifty quarterback and a high-tech offense.

TU is playing to elevate its league, Conference USA, and while that will have little to do with whether Tulsa can block G.K. McCoy or tackle DeMarco Murray, it doesn’t hurt.

Certainly didn’t hurt Brigham Young or Houston.

Two weeks into the season, our state has been Upset Central for college football’s biggest shockers. BYU beat third-ranked OU 14-13, then Houston stunned fifth-ranked Oklahoma State 45-35.

What’s that they say about trouble coming in threes?

BYU’s upset of the Sooners was just the latest confirmation that the Mountain West deserves a seat at the BCS table. The Mountain West has been making noise on the field for three years and now is making noise off it, politicking, with good reason, to be included as an automatic qualifier into whatever post-season array is afforded the six major conferences.

The league of BYU, Utah and Texas Christian deserves an automatic BCS bowl berth as much as the Big East or the ACC.

The Mountain West is 21-21 the last three years against teams from the automatic-qualifying conferences. Mountain West victims include Alabama, Oklahoma, Michigan, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Louisville, Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona. If the Mountain West could ever get home-and-home series against some of those foes, no telling what its record would be.

Now here comes Conference USA, in the Mountain West wake, wanting to make similar noise.

Bob Stoops said the mid-major uprising is nothing new. "It’s always been that way,” he said. "You can go back many years and see that.”

Stoops is partially right. Increasing parity long has been with us, since scholarship were limited and periodically reduced, to the current 85.

But the number of quality mid-majors has increased, as has the scope of their victories, to where now some expect it.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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