“I can always hug Sooners,” Pickens said, grinning, “if they don't beat us.”
We've seen the Bedlam bond play out time and again. When then-OSU athletic director Terry Don Phillips took out a full-page ad congratulating the OU football team on winning the 2000 national championship. When then-OU men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson outfitted his team in orange warm-up shirts for Bedlam a few weeks after the OSU plane crash. When OU president David Boren turned down SEC overtures for the Sooners last summer because the league wasn't interested in the Cowboys.
Such acts might anger rabid fans, but a vast majority of folks on both sides of the Bedlam divide realize a good relationship is best for both sides.
The teams compete fiercely. The fans rail intensely. But because the leaders of both universities see mutual benefit in the other, they coexist quite nicely.
Do they razz each other?
Tuesday night, OSU athletic director Mike Holder introduced Pickens and told about him transferring from Texas A&M to OSU. He ended up giving hundreds of millions of dollars to OSU, but his money might've gone elsewhere had he not been cut from the Aggies' basketball team.
“Not the only bad decision made by the Aggies,” Holder needled. “We could talk about which one's worse.”
Together, Sooners and Cowboys guffawed.
When Barry Switzer stepped to the microphone to introduce Lucious Selmon a bit later, the legendary Sooner football coach pointed directly at Pickens.
“Hell, Boone,” Switzer said, “we play basketball at Oklahoma and have a geology school, too.”
Again, Sooners and Cowboys guffawed.
Listen, I'm not trying to soften how intense this rivalry is. I understand that each side wants to pound the other to a pulp when they meet on the field or the court. But OU and OSU have shown that rivals can battle and still be civil.
Texas A&M and Texas would be smart to follow that lead.