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How the Big 12 can solve its SEC problem

SEC-OPOLY — The Southeastern Conference is dominating college football, and there's only one solution for the Big 12 — and it's a daunting one.
by Berry Tramel Modified: August 26, 2013 at 9:00 am •  Published: August 25, 2013

Not inane talk like came from Baylor coach Art Briles – “I'm a Big 12 guy; I think it's the best league in American without question.” – or Bob Stoops' propaganda declaration during the offseason, which was at least rooted in some truth.

Until the Big 12 wins, it's the SEC's world, and the Big 12 is just along for the ride. From the pivotal to the trivial, the SEC calls the shots. To the victor goes the spoils.

The pivotal?

Recruiting momentum is going the SEC's way. A&M's success has made College Station a destination point, making it harder for OU, Texas and OSU to get Texas kids.

Heck, even coach recruiting is going the SEC's way. Arkansas hired Bret Bielema as head coach in the offseason. The same Bret Bielema who had taken Wisconsin to three straight Rose Bowls. The same Bielema who a few years ago famously told The Sporting News, “We at the Big Ten don't want to be like the SEC in any way, shape or form.”

More pivotal: In the BCS formulating, the unwritten rule is clear. Tie goes to the SEC. Alabama-Oregon in 2012, Alabama-OSU in 2011, LSU-Virginia Tech in 2007. It's automatic, the SEC gets the nod.

Gone are the days of 2004, when an unbeaten OU and an unbeaten Southern Cal could nudge out an unbeaten Auburn for spots in the two-team playoff. Now, the SEC is automatically anointed.

“The perception on camera and the way people see them kept us out of the championship game two years ago,” Gundy said. “It's just a fact, in my opinion.

“The team we had, the margin of victory we had, and the circumstances (fatal plane crash) we were under when we fell short…

“So I think there's a serious issue with our league.”

And in a clear case of if-you-can't-beat-‘em-join-‘em, the Big 12 signed an alliance with the SEC to send their champions (or a representative, if the champs are in the playoff) to a bowl game. That bowl? The Sugar in New Orleans, hallowed SEC ground.

The trivial?

The Saban statue. And the College Football Hall of Fame moves this year from South Bend, Ind., to Atlanta. Symbolism at its best.

The SEC monopoly has forced the Big 12 to take stock of its football. The Big 12 is trying. New stadiums. New facilities. New coaches. New schemes.

But so far, nothing has worked. And nothing short of beating the SEC will work.

“I don't think you can be the best without playing the best,” Bowlsby said. “So we believe in the best playing the best, and I don't think you can lay claim to it unless you can beat them.”

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at

by Berry Tramel
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 Oklahoman,...
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