DALLAS – Finally, a poker table where the Sooners feel comfortable. A poker table where they hold some cards. A poker table where they can win.
The Sooners have always felt comfortable on the Cotton Bowl's 100-yard green felt, with two-eyed Jacks like Jacobs, Mitchell and Mildren; with kings of heart like Glenn and Kenny and maybe even David in this season of 2011.
This football game of poker, the Sooners can play. The wishbone installation in 1970. Marcus Dupree's reverse in 1982. Quentin Griffin's draws in 2002. Multiple fake field goals ordered by Bobby Stoops.
The Sooners aren't bluffing in the Cotton Bowl. Texas takes notice when the Sooners sit at that table.
The other table, not so much. The Big 12 boardroom, the Sooners often leave with barely the crimson shirt on their backs.
Bevo holds all the conference cards.
Play a full house hand – three Texas schools, two Oklahoma schools headed West – and the ‘Horns trump it. Try to bluff Texas into thinking the Sooners could go somewhere without them? The Longhorns call.
UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds, sitting there like he's in a Sam Peckinpah film, hasn't smiled or blinked since 1983. He's holding three aces or a flush, The Longhorn Network or all that oil money or the flagship university in the nation's second-biggest state, which happens to be ga-ga over the gridiron.
You can't beat Texas at that game. You can't beat a foe that holds all the aces.
The Sooners looked weak last year, when Texas dictated conference realignment. The Sooners looked silly this year on conference realignment.
OU president David Boren's Sept. 2 declaration that his university would not be a “wallflower” was absolutely true. Three weeks later, being a wallflower didn't seem so bad, when the Sooners cosmetically declared allegiance to a Big 12 minus Texas A&M, with no Longhorn concessions that mattered to OU.