KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The temporary Big 12 configuration speeds to its final signature event, the conference basketball tournament, which convenes Wednesday and includes a Texas A&M-Texas women's quarterfinal and a hoped-for Kansas-Missouri men's final.
A salt-in-the-wounds tournament.
Until West Virginia and TCU jump aboard and we start focusing on what we've gained, this week will amply remind us of what we lost.
And how lucky we are down in Oklahoma.
Collateral damage has mounted through the realignment craze of the last 21 months. Trust is gone. So is geographic sense. Soon enough, the Big East might be, too, as a viable football league, if not in totality.
But nothing has taken a hit like rivalries. You know, the bitter feuds that spice sport.
The worst result of realignment will be lost rivalries. What has the athletic marketplace come to when Kansas doesn't play Missouri, or Texas doesn't play A&M? When Georgetown and Syracuse don't share a hoops conference, or West Virginia and Pitt can't find rooms in their schedule for the Backyard Brawl?
Which is why the Oklahoma schools have emerged with few scars in these tumultuous times.
Lay aside devotion to the Big 12. Discount any SEC or Pac-16 aspirations. Forget the conference alignment portion of conference realignment.
And focus on the simple question of who our schools will play.
OU-Texas lives. Bedlam lives. The rest is just details.
University campuses promote themselves as fortresses of wisdom and deep thought. But such a notion falls flat when Kansas and Missouri no longer share a basketball court, or Longhorns and Aggies no longer share a football field.
You want civility? You want common sense? Go to the pros, where neither pride nor ego could get in the way of the Yankees playing the Red Sox, or the Packers playing the Bears.
I'm not here to take sides in the KU-Mizzou or A&M-UT conflicts. I'm just here to say we're blessed that our treasured rivalries remain intact.
Yes, OU-Nebraska died, but truth is, the Sooners allowed the rivalry to wither, which in part ignited the Huskers' disenfranchised feeling. In other words, while realignment led to the end of KU-MU or A&M-Texas, the end of OU-Nebraska in its meaningful form led to realignment. Kansas-Missouri dies a sudden death; OU-Nebraska gradually faded away.
But the games that matter most to Oklahomans live.
Oklahoma-Texas is a hallowed tradition. When Bob Stoops started talking last autumn on how the game didn't have to be played, he fundamentally was correct. The world is full of idiots; some of them make decisions about college athletics. If Kansas and Missouri can walk away from each other, OU and Texas could divorce.
Where Stoops was off his rocker was in declaring the Sooners could find a replacement.
No way. I know that in modern America, we dispose of most everything, from diapers to cars to marriages. Just get another one.
Great rivalries are not disposable. They can't be replaced.
Arkansas' move to the Southeastern Conference 22 years ago has been good for the Razorbacks. But Arkansas never has found a replacement for Texas. Never has found a foe that boiled Ozark blood the way the 'Horns did when they came to the hills.
And you still hear from OU fans scheming to scrap the Bedlam Series. Such madness stems from complexes of both superiority and inferiority, plus a general lack of IQ.
Yes, OU leads the terribly one-sided Bedlam football series. And so what's the point? That beating Oklahoma State is no more satisfying than beating Iowa State?
That's kooky talk and you know it. Our sporting lives would be all the poorer without Bedlam, just as Texans are going to achingly miss 'Horns-Aggies, no matter how much they bow up and say otherwise.
Arch-rivalries fuel competition. Lose them, and games become antiseptic. Texas A&M-Auburn can't replace A&M-Texas and Missouri-Tennessee can't replace Missouri-Kansas.
In Oklahoma, we're lucky. That's a lesson we're not going to have to learn the hard way.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.