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Trust, partnership has crumbled within Big 12

by Berry Tramel Published: September 19, 2011
TULSA – David Boren talked like a man with two feet out the door.

The OU president popped Baylor. He popped the University of Texas. He even popped the Big 12 office, which frankly is an innocent victim of the conference realignment mayhem.

Boren talked like a man whose school is Pac-12 bound.

After the OU regents Monday authorized Boren to put the Sooners in whichever league he deems best, Boren went back to what he said 17 days ago. That stability is the most important factor in his decision.

Uh-oh, Big 12.

Almost everyone agrees that the Big 12 is the best place for OU, and the best place for OSU, and the best place for Texas, and the best place for Texas A&M. Heck, might even be the best place for Nebraska, though you can't complain about parachuting into the Big Ten.

But here's the problem. This isn't the Big 12. This is a ghost league. This is a loose confederation of Middle America schools that sport all the trust of a prison yard. Watch your back. Believe in no one.

Want to know why OU and OSU are suddenly bosom buddies? Maybe it's not political. Maybe in the middle of mayhem, you draw awfully close to the guy you figure won't stab you in the back.

This isn't the Big 12. This is a conference that used to be the Big 12.

Boren said stability ranks No. 1 on his wish list in deciding between staying or going.

“Obviously we do not want to continue to have these kinds of situations,” Boren said, “where our membership in a conference is still undecided, (where) the stability of the conference has to be revisited every year.”

The Big 12 has reached the point where finding replacements for Nebraska, Colorado and A&M is not the problem. The problem is sleeping at night and not knowing who will be there when you wake up.

Will Missouri jump to the SEC? Will the Sooners and Cowboys go to the Pac-12? Will the Kansas schools and Iowa State wise up and align with the Big East leftovers, while there's still room on the train?

Go get West Virginia. Go get Brigham Young. Go get TCU. Three solid football schools that would at least be in the ballpark of what the Big 12 lost football-wise, and still this league wouldn't be stable.

“The question is whether schools truly believe this is the best place for them in the long run,” said a high-ranking Big 12 source. “Could it? Sure, if all members decide to do what it takes to make it so. Of course, if this would have been done earlier, we wouldn't be in this position.”

The Pac-12 option works reasonably well for the Sooners and Cowboys, so long as Texas and Texas Tech come aboard, too, to create a Southwest pod. Boren even trotted out the pod concept of scheduling, which shows you how far down the road the Sooners have gone with the Pac-12. You've got to be in pretty deep to know about and understand the pod concept.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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