Oklahoma football: With SEC bathing in a superiority complex, Sooners could pull the plug
COMMENTARY — Why the stakes in the Oklahoma-Texas A&M Cotton Bowl showdown Friday in Arlington, Texas go well beyond conference pride.
ARLINGTON, Texas – R.J. Washington was an innocent soul at the OU-Florida Big Bowl four years ago. Then a redshirting freshman, Washington had no clue the impact of conference status upon his sport.
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“I didn't really realize coming out of high school, the stigma that the SEC and the Big 12, the beef they had,” Washington said. “Then we lost, and everybody started chanting ‘SEC.'”
Now the Sooners face their first SEC foe since that Florida game, Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl on Friday night, and make no mistake. This is a game for conference pride and conference honor.
The SEC has won six straight national championships and bathes in a superiority complex.
“I think whatever conference you play in, there's always pride, especially when it comes to bowl season,” said OU split end Justin Brown, who played for Penn State the previous three seasons. “You find yourself watching games, cheering for your conference, no matter what team it is. You want your team to be the best conference. This is one of the times time when you can prove it, the bowl season.”
Plus the plot twist of A&M's exodus from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference. The Aggies proudly proclaim how much bigger and better is the SEC.
“Definitely conference pride” at stake, said OU halfback Brennan Clay. “Especially with them (the Aggies) leaving. It's going to be a test. They're now in the SEC. We know that. We've got to represent the Big 12 well.”
Some discount the import of conference debate.
“I don't look at it that way,” Bob Stoops said. “It all is propaganda and what the media does. We need to win for other reasons. I'm not worried about the media war … I don't get into that stuff.”
He should. Stoops is right. It is propaganda. It is a media war. But it's completely relevant and absolutely impactful.
Conference status matters in college football. Here's an example. In 2006, when the Big Ten clamored for an Ohio State-Michigan rematch in the national title game, the SEC argued otherwise, saying one-loss Florida deserved a shot at the Buckeyes. The voters were convinced by the SEC argument.