Texas A&M's move to the Southeastern Conference has some warning the Aggies about the lessons of Arkansas.
The Razorbacks left the Southwest Conference in 1992. The most recent Sugar Bowl was the Arkies' first major bowl trip of their SEC era. They played in six major bowls their last 17 years in the SWC.
Clearly, the Hogs lost their Texas recruiting base.
But how could the same happen to the Aggies? A&M is in Texas. A&M won't lose its recruiting base. Whatever the Ags lose by fewer games in Texas should be offset by the lure of the SEC.
But the Razorbacks certainly do serve as a warning. To Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are the new Arkansas.
OSU is the school that goes into Texas to nab recruits, either with the occasional swipe from Sooners or Longhorns, or a battle royale with Aggies, or diamonds found among stones.
Since going to the SEC, Arkansas has produced three All-Americans from Texas. OSU has produced five All-Americans from Texas just since 2008. Perrish Cox, Kendall Hunter, Dez Bryant, Russell Okung and Quinn Sharp.
Thus the Cowboys must walk gingerly in conference realignment.
OSU's preference absolutely is preservation of the Big 12. Ties to Texas. Not the school. The state.
Whereas the Sooners recruit nationally and recruited famously south of the Red River long before they bonded with the Big 12, the Cowboys' Lone Star hauls have been Big 12-centric.
Heck, OSU probably would sign off on that Houston-to-the-Big 12 talk. Put the Cougars in the conference, and that's a regular game right in the Cowboys' wheelhouse.
Last summer, when the Big 12 nearly imploded, OSU stood seemingly motionless, believing its friends at OU and Texas would take care of the Cowboys. Which seemed to be the case. State was ready to go west until the Pac-16 plan crumbled at the midnight hour.
The Cowboys still have such friends — not just Oklahoma politics; Boone Pickens' attorney, Bobby Stillwell, is a University of Texas regent — but Big 12 sources say the Cowboys are more proactive this time amid the turbulence.
OSU president Burns Hargis is on the Big 12's expansion committee.
When A&M bolts, which frankly could be very soon, the Big 12 will attempt to refill quickly. The long shots of Notre Dame and/or Arkansas. The solid choice of Brigham Young.
But that can take time. During such uncertainty, the Big 12 would be vulnerable. The Pac-16 could come back in play.
The Pac-16 template from last summer was alluring to OSU. An eastern division that included the Bedlam rivals, plus three Texas schools. Perfect for the Cowboys.
Now, one of those Texas schools is headed to the SEC, and another, UT, has its own cable channel that doesn't mesh with the Pac-12 model. So it's not such a cushy fit.
OSU in a Pac-16 with one or no Texas schools is not so romantic. Not as easy to get guys out of Galena Park and DeSoto, when the Cowboys aren't down there playing ballgames.
Outside of the woebegones — Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State, the schools with no ready landing spot — OSU stands as the school with the most to lose. And that loss would be the fertile recruiting grounds that have lifted State to top-10 status in this 2011 preseason.
The Cowboys need the Big 12, not for the sake of survival. For the sake of success.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.