OU's sole focus now on joining Pac-12

University of Oklahoma sources are indicating the school's focus is squarely on joining the Pac-12. By nature of Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis' comments Saturday, it would seem OSU is also focused on the Pac-12
BY BERRY TRAMEL, Staff Writer, btramel@opubco.com Modified: September 3, 2011 at 4:33 pm •  Published: September 3, 2011

“Given what the Pac-12 has announced, there's a place for the Pac-12 and Texas to keep their network,” an OU source said.

The Sooners prefer going to the Pac-12 with three other Big 12 schools, preferably OSU and the two Texas schools. That would keep OU's Texas recruiting ties strong and would help minimize travel.

The Pac-12 last year formed the plan of two divisions, with the four Big 12 schools in an east division with Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah.

If Texas rejects the Pac-12, the backup plan is unknown. But both Texas and the Pac-12 have limited options.

“If the Pac-12 really wants to move (expand), you realize, where else are they going to go?” the OU source said, referring to Big 12 schools.

“Oklahoma is in a very, very strong position. Oklahoma brings enormous value for any group with which it would associate.”

OU football coach Bob Stoops expressed excitement about the Pac-12 both last summer and a few days ago. Boren, too, has been intrigued about the Pac-12 option.

Boren flew to College Station, Texas, last Sunday in an attempt to convince Texas A&M to remain in the Big 12. But the Aggies announced they were seeking membership elsewhere (the SEC), and OU began aggressively considering its options.

Various sources have said Notre Dame, Arkansas and Pittsburgh have rejected Big 12 inquiries, and that the Big 12 options of Brigham Young, TCU and Air Force don't excite OU.

“We obviously want stability in our conference relationships,” Boren said, expressing regret that Nebraska and Colorado left the Big 12 in June 2010. “We want partners that are outstanding, both athletically and academically. A conference that's strong is not only stable, but it's one in which there are multiple relationships, along with sports, between university members.”

Hargis, too, expressed regret at the Big 12's current state.

“We want to be clear that we worked actively to encourage Texas A&M to remain in the Big 12 Conference and regret they decided to leave,” Hargis said. “We are moving ahead.

“Oklahoma State University's athletic program has never been stronger from top to bottom, putting us in a position to explore and pursue options, including the possible expansion of our current conference.”


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