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Like Texas last year, Oklahoma taking lead role in conference realignment

by Berry Tramel Published: September 4, 2011

When conference realignment bubbled up last summer, roles were quickly established.

The University of Texas was the prime decision-maker. OU was a quiet partner in the discussions about whether to leave the Big 12.

Now, the schools again are contemplating a move to what would be a Pacific-16 Conference. Only this time, the roles are reversed. The Sooners are driving the train. Texas is the follower.

“Oklahoma's taking the lead role,” said OU president David Boren.

Part of the switch is because of circumstances. Part is because of politics. But part is because Sooner leaders did not like how their school was perceived last summer. That OU was just one of the nine followers of Texas.

“That is so overblown,” said a high-level OU source. “Last year, Texas did all the talking. We have a feeling if you're strong, you don't have to tell everybody you're strong.”

Or perhaps you do. The Sooners clearly have had a change in philosophy. That's why Boren spoke candidly Friday to reporters, admitting that since Texas A&M is leaving the league, OU is looking at options other than salvaging the Big 12. And Boren's point was not lost when he said, “I don't think OU is going to be a wallflower when all is said and done.”

A couple of factors have changed that have put OU in the power position this time around. Texas is less inclined to leave the Big 12 now, because its $300 million Longhorn Network does not fit into the models of any other conference. And should the Longhorns consider leaving the Big 12, Texas politicians figure to get involved, just as they did a year ago. Better for UT if some other school takes the lead in what would be a possible death blow to the Big 12.

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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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