NORMAN — When Bob Stoops thought he might have to share last year's Big 12 championship with teams he'd beaten head-to-head, the Oklahoma coach scoffed.
“If you're playing each other, it's pretty simple,” Stoops said before the 2011 regular-season finale at Oklahoma State.
Kansas State and Oklahoma sit tied atop this year's Big 12 standings entering the last week of the regular season. The Sooners play at TCU on Saturday at 11 a.m., and the Wildcats host Texas that evening.
If both teams finish with the same conference record, the Wildcats will share the 2012 Big 12 title with “co-champion” Oklahoma, a squad KSU beat head-to-head Sept. 22 in Norman. Kansas State would earn the Big 12's automatic Fiesta Bowl berth, but each school would receive its very own Big 12 championship trophy.
So, with the shoe on the other foot, will Stoops remain adamantly opposed to co-championships? That remains to be seen.
Shared championships aren't uncommon; Oklahoma claims 12 conference titles from the Barry Switzer era, but four of them were shared.
Officially, Stoops' Sooners “shared” Big 12 South division titles in 2008 and 2010, but emerged from tiebreakers to play in both seasons' conference championship games.
In 2008, OU emerged from a three-way tie with Texas and Texas Tech because of the BCS Standings.
When the Longhorns listed “2008” on its training facility wall with their other division titles, Texas was widely mocked.
In 2010, Oklahoma State ordered its players Big 12 South championship rings, despite losing Bedlam and not playing in the conference title game.
A few months later, Stoops quipped, “You see we got another (Big 12) championship banner up?
“It's not a South Division one, either.”
Beginning with last season, the Big 12 moved to a 10-team, round-robin schedule with no divisions; because of the new format, the conference's preseason marketing campaign centered around the idea of “one true champion.”
But had Oklahoma defeated the Cowboys last December, the Bedlam rivals and Kansas State would've all finished tied atop the Big 12 standings.
OU's head-to-head victories over OSU and K-State would've given it the Fiesta Bowl berth, but the 2011 Big 12 title would've officially been shared between three “co-champions.”
“(The Big 12) can do what they want,” Stoops said days before his team's 44-10 loss to Oklahoma State, which claimed the outright conference title.
“Did you ask them what happened to their whole promotion of the ‘one true champion?' You should have. That's all I heard for two days on the whole Big 12 coaches media circuit down there.
“I kind of took offense to it because we won seven of them. I thought they were all true ones. I thought they were changing it that this was going to be the one true one, and I guess they reneged on that. That doesn't make much sense to me. I'll let them explain it.”
Saturday, if one team — Oklahoma or Kansas State — wins and the other loses, the Big 12 will get another outright champion.
But there remains the very strong possibility that the Sooners and Wildcats end up as “co-champions.”
Stoops didn't like it when he thought OU might have to share conference supremacy with teams it beat; he shouldn't feel right, then, lofting a banner for a title “shared” with a squad his Sooners couldn't conquer at home.