Let the Sooners accept the blame for end of the Bedlam rivalry in football.
University of Oklahoma president Joseph Harroz reportedly wants to continue the Bedlam series after the Sooners and Cowboys part ways.
It’s fine for OU to waltz out of the Big 12, even if it came after months of secret meetings with SEC officials. If OU’s leadership believes that the school will have a brighter future as a member of the SEC, have at it.
Just don’t expect OSU to cater to you.
OU is moving to the SEC, and the Oklahoma State football program shouldn’t feel an obligation to maintain the 117-year-old Bedlam rivalry moving forward.
In terms of Bedlam football, the Cowboys have a clear “little brother” syndrome. OU owns the series with 90 wins, 18 losses, and seven ties against the Cowboys, dating back to a meeting in 1904 in Guthrie, Okla. The Sooners have won six in a row, and have only lost to OSU twice since 2003.
It’s been a long, painful mid-season or season-ending tradition for orange-clad fans each fall: to see OSU lose a close game or fail spectacularly against OU. Heck, it’s part of the reason that OU wants to leave for the SEC in the first place. OSU, along with most of the Big 12, hasn’t provided that much competition to the crimson and cream.
OU has consistently vied for the national title in recent years, and OSU, even despite some impressive success, has struggled to match that elite level of play.
OSU shouldn’t tether itself to OU once the Sooners bolt the teams’ shared conference for 61 years. It’s no question that Bedlam would be the biggest draw for Boone Pickens Stadium once every two years, but who’s to say the Sooners won’t change their minds and back out of a non-conference home-and-home agreement with OSU in the future?
The typical SEC team’s non-conference schedule these days involves one marquee opponent in a neutral location followed by three cupcakes, one of whom plays in mid-November. Then, the league’s best teams in opposing divisions barely play each other. Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida are the exception of SEC schools who balance this with another Power 5, in-state opponent.
Let OSU develop different regional rivalries. That will be tough, of course, as Arkansas is a soon-to-be SEC conference opponent of the Sooners (and the Razorbacks aren’t that good, anyway), Tulsa is about as far behind OSU as the Cowboys are to the Sooners, and several Dallas-based schools don’t really move the needle as far as fan base excitement.
Perhaps the question for OSU’s biggest post-Bedlam rivals provides a compelling enough reason to keep the Big 12 together: teams like Texas Tech and Kansas State, against whom the Cowboys already play each season.
The departure of OU from the Big 12 could turn into a bad breakup with OSU, considering the grant of media rights that lasts until 2025 and the absurdity of now imagining the Sooners playing that entire time period out in the Big 12. Cue the soon-to-come legal battles and the ensuing war for public opinion in the state of Oklahoma.
Let the ex move on to the supposed glamour (and real revenue increases) of the SEC, and let’s let OSU forge an independent path ahead on its own. It was OU’s choice to associate with a different league, and OSU shouldn’t feel obligated to continue the rivalry on the Sooners’ terms.