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OSU, Arizona might be conference game preview

by Jenni Carlson Published: September 5, 2011

By Jenni Carlson

STILLWATER — Oklahoma State and Arizona are playing so regularly you might think they're in the same conference.

They aren't.

Not yet anyway.

Less than nine months after playing in the Alamo Bowl, the Cowboys and the Wildcats meet in a must-see-TV Thursday night game in Stillwater. Next fall, they're slated to play in Tucson.

By then, OSU-Arizona could be a conference game.

Conference realignment is all the rage in college football, and the talk over the weekend indicates that OSU and Bedlam brethren Oklahoma are focused solely on heading to the Pac-12. No more trying to patch up the Big 12. No more working to prop up a broken conference.

Time to head west.

Maybe such talk is premature or even in poor form only a year after the Big 12 schools agreed that they were in it for the long haul. Perhaps the Big 12 could actually be saved by adding a team or three. But Cowboy and Sooner power brokers seem skeptical.

“I don't think it'll be in existence,” OSU megabooster Boone Pickens said Saturday when asked whether the Big 12 would be around in five years. “I think this discussion's going to come up every year as long as the conference is not equal. You've got to have an equal deal like the SEC or the Big Ten. If you don't have it, it'll always be a sore spot that'll be continually discussed.”

No doubt the equality in the SEC and the Big Ten works. The thing is, the Big 12's profit-sharing structure is one of the original cornerstones of the league. It lured schools in. It brought hesitant partners together.

Changing it wouldn't be easy.

Honestly, changing conferences would be easier.

If Pickens knows anything about the Cowboys' future — here's betting that he's been clued in as much as anyone — the move would be to the Pac-12.

“You can come up with all sorts of scenarios,” he said, “but I think the likely one ... is stay in the Big 12 and add a team or go west. I think that's kind of where you are.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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