The Big 12 is dead. Long live the Pac-16, or whatever they’re going to call it.
The time for ruminations and remembrances will come soon enough. For now, let’s concentrate on what’s most important.
What does it all mean for the Oklahoma Sooners?
The answers to some burning questions:
*Will OU make more money as a member of the Pac-16?
Duh. From a financial standpoint, I don’t see any way this move won’t be a home run for all involved.
If the new conference can secure a TV deal approximating that of the Big Ten Network, we’re talking about possibly collecting a fee for every cable subscriber in California and Texas, the two most populous states in the country. Factor in a new broadcast agreement with ESPN/ABC or CBS, and that’s a serious chunk of change, even when splitting all that moolah with 16 teams.
*Is Dr. Taub really qualified to run a major college football conference?
So far, I’d say he’s proving his worth.
*Will the new conference schedule make traveling a bitch?
To a degree, yes.
A 16-team conference almost has to function like two separate conferences with a scheduling agreement. The 16 teams will split into two divisions of eight, with all all teams within the divisions playing each other. Assuming the powers that be decide to play nine conference games per season, that would mean each team would play two more inter-division games.
For OU in the Pac-16, a normal conference slate might look something like:
@ Texas A&M
Texas (in Dallas)
@ Arizona St.
Pretty much any way you slice it, replacing trips to schools like Kansas and Nebraska with Arizona St. and UCLA is more demanding and less fan-friendly.
*Will OU have a new toehold on the California recruiting scene?
Only if we’re talking about the pinky toe.
A big reason the Sooners can successfully recruit in Texas is the number of games transplants will end up playing close to home. Given how few games OU would play in California based on the Pac-16 set-up above, OU can’t offer the same benefits to recruits from the west coast.
Count on keeping the status quo in the recruiting game.
*Will the officiating be better than this?
No. At least now, however, the Sooners are more likely to be the beneficiaries of the screwjobs.
*Will OU regret hitching up with the Pac-10 over the SEC?
Not at all.
First, that assumes the SEC would invite Oklahoma to join the party — not really a sure thing.
I’d say the finances are probably a wash.
And let’s get back to the recruiting angle. OU needs those ties to Texas to continue hauling in highly regarded talent. Moving to the SEC entails cultivating a new recruiting base and establishing relationships with coaches and schools in a region where the competition for top players is already fierce.
*Will this affect the Sooners’ scheduling philosophy?
Assuming that the Pac-16 will play nine conference games, the Sooners will likely dial back their aggressiveness out of conference.
As the Big 12 currently has an eight-game conference slate for every team, one additional conference game gives the athletic department less flexibility. Given the financial boon that home games are for programs like OU, that probably means more “money games” against the Rices and Idaho States of the college football world.
The high-profile matchups with programs such as LSU and Ohio State will still be there. There may not be room for a Cincinnati or TCU, though.
*Will the move hasten Bob Stoops’ departure from Norman?
Sorry, Sooner fans, but I think so.
Competing against your kin is never fun. In a world as cutthroat as that of major college football, it can be excruciating.
That’s why Bob and Mike Stoops reportedly asked not to be paired against each other last year during the bowl season.
Now, though, the brothers will be going head to head in not only the same conference, but the same division. That also involves competing in the nasty world of recruiting.
I don’t see that being a situation Bob can tolerate. Don’t be shocked if big bro steps down or takes a pro job sooner than later once OU changes conferences.
Hell, his replacement may even be coaching in Tucson right now.