Mike Kays

Mike Kays, Phoenix Sports Editor

Clearly, Saturday’s Bedlam battle between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in Stillwater represents one where the bag of marbles is bigger than in nearly all of the matchups the two schools have initiated.

And it may be the last.

Earlier this week, Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy suggested that the future of the rivalry is in doubt, citing the move by Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC — a move that while scheduled for 2025, could come as early as next season.

For those who’d like to see it continue, there is still a glimmer of hope. The SEC has an eight-game conference schedule and a requirement that every school play a Power Five nonconference opponent every season. Four schools — South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Kentucky -— have nonconference games built into their schedules with in-state rivals from the ACC. 

In basketball, the Big 12/SEC Challenge is a legitimate spot for a continuation.

Yet in this relationship’s basis of necessity, obligation or pure tradition, I can’t help but remember Bob Stoops’ response to criticism of the school’s decision to bolt from its in-state neighbor and the Big 12 last summer.

“Let’s set the record straight: OU’s move to the SEC is what’s best for Oklahoma,” Stoops wrote in an op-ed that ran in the state’s two largest newspapers. “The reality is that conferences are now more important than ever and, with limited spots, the strongest conferences would not accept OU if we were to require OSU to join as well.”

Stoops is right about being “best for Oklahoma.”  The SEC’s share of TV revenue alone is reason enough to justify a move to greener pastures.  Gate-wise, it shouldn’t make much difference. OU games are generally sell-outs, and any unsold visitor’s allotments are scarfed up by Sooner fans looking for deals. Also, Iowa State fans spend the same money on rooms and hotels and restaurants as Alabama’s.

Stoops went on to say this:

“To move forward in any other manner would be to the detriment of OU and the state of Oklahoma.”

I’m not sure he’ll find much agreement in Stillwater on the second half of that statement.

The Big 12 has taken steps to survive, and even thrive. After all, it’s losing a team that, ahem, won’t even qualify for a bowl this year and gained four that have.

Basketball, apples to apples, looks like an advantage to the Big 12.

Sure, the tradition of Bedlam has some intrinsic value.  But one school was willing to walk away from it, hand-in-hand with the high-wheelers from Austin.

Oklahoma could easily fill that spot with other attractive matchups. They’ve stated quite clearly they don’t need OSU, spoken by one of their most noted ambassadors.

Skipping over sentiment, OSU should weigh any willingness to continue it with what’s really best for OSU.   Texas and Texas A&M discovered they could live apart. Only by force of a remarriage via conference, one A&M’s folks strongly objected to, will it resume.

Maybe a regular matchup with Arkansas and not just an occasional one, is just as good. The Hogs are on the way back up and they travel well. It would certainly beat South Alabama.

But on the other hand, Bedlam can continue. At this point, it should be Oklahoma State’s determination whether it is worth it or not. 

It’s rival has clearly decided what’s best for them.

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