COLUMN: OU must do what's best for itself with realignment
Kingsley Burns, The Oklahoma Daily
The eyes of Oklahoma may be upon Texas, but that could soon become nothing more than a gaze into the past.
If OU heads to the Pac-12 without Texas, the Sooners wouldn’t automatically continue their rivalry with the Longhorns, OU coach Bob Stoops said during his weekly press conference.
When the conference shuffling is settled, the OU-Texas game could be left in the dust, Stoops said.
But what about the tradition? The history? The recruiting pipeline? Isn’t the annual clash at the Cotton Bowl important to preserve these things?
“I don’t think that’s necessary,” Stoops said. “I know no one wants to hear that, but life changes and you’ve got to change with it, to whatever degree. If it works, great. I love the game, but if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Sometimes that’s the way it goes.”
While that’s something likely to make the crimson-and-cream faithful squirm, the truth is the Red River Rivalry could come to an end — like the OU-Nebraska series — because the Big 12 is shakier than Jell-O.
That’s a shame. This isn’t just a fun weekend in Dallas we get every year in October — we’re talking about 105 games of history thrown by the wayside. This is a rivalry that was born in 1900, when Oklahoma was still a U.S. territory.
But, like Stoops said, things change. The Big 12 has lost Nebraska and Colorado and will see Texas A&M leave at the end of the academic year. With this type of uncertainty swirling around the league, OU President David Boren said last week that the Sooners need to align themselves with a secure conference.
“We are carefully looking over all the options, and there is no school in the Big 12 more active than we are right now,” Boren said. “The fact we have so much cohesion in our leadership team at the university — our coaches, our athletics department, our regents, all of them working together with me — I think that gives us a good leg up on anybody.”
Well, three Big 12 schools jumping ship within a year doesn’t exactly scream stability, so Boren now needs to be ready to make whatever decision is in the university’s best interests.
If that means severing century-old ties with the Longhorns, then so be it.
On Monday, Stoops said although he thought realignment talks would resurface, he assumed the league would survive through the season.
But Texas A&M — apparently so jilted by Texas’ newly launched Longhorn Network — made a mad dash for the door as fast as it could and blew over the Big 12’s house of cards.
This leaves OU debating if it should pick up the Big 12 pieces or bid the conference farewell and head west.
When asked whether he’d join the Pac-12 without Texas, Stoops said, “I’m not lobbying for anything ... whatever Boren and [athletic director Joe Castiglione] want, I’m all in.”
I understand why Stoops is resistant to lobby for what he would like to see — it does him no good. Stoops has a team to run and games to prepare for.
But I can lobby, and I would hate to see the Red River Rivalry end up on the chopping block.
Oklahoma needs to walk away from the mess that is now the Big 12, and Texas needs to swallow its pride and follow the Sooners.
Personally, I believe the Longhorns are lying low. Texas knows it has ruffled enough feathers and could very well be hoping the Sooners deliver the final blow to the Big 12.
If that’s the case, well, then the eyes of Texas are upon you, David Boren.
Chris Lusk is a journalism senior and the editor in chief of The Daily. You can follow him on Twitter at @ChrisLusk.