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Thursday, September 22, 2011
More from OU's Big 12 press conference

By David Ubben

Lots of news from Oklahoma's press conference earlier today, but here are some of the other notes that didn't make the first update.

Oklahoma talks its conference shopping spree

Oklahoma president David Boren opened up about the Sooners' search for a conference, stating that a "stable Big 12" was the first choice, but they had conversations with the Pac-12.

The Sooners didn't use any outside sources for the search, and instead consulted with coach Bob Stoops and athletic director Joe Castiglione.

Stoops clearly had reservations about leaving for a league without Texas, but Boren said the Big 12 proved it could be stable and the Pac-12 and Oklahoma came to a near-simultaneous, "mutual" decision for Oklahoma not to join.

David Boren
Oklahoma president David Boren said the school looked at the Pac-12 but that a "stable Big 12" was the first choice.
"We achieved substantial reforms and we were able to make very important steps toward greater stability of the Big 12 Conference," Boren said.

I agree with that if the league can get the media rights turned over to the conference for six years, through the renewal of the league's Tier 1 rights in five years, but for now, that's not official. Oklahoma better make it so, because there's no question the wires were crossed regarding how far along that agreement was.

Will it happen? My guess is the Big 12 eventually gets this done, but Missouri, whose chancellor is the chair of the board of directors, wasn't exactly trumpeting the Big 12's stability like Boren was. Not a good sign, but time will tell how major of an issue this becomes.

Boren said the Big 12's nine presidents agreed that they were in the conference, but I'd hold off on declaring this league stable until the media rights are officially given to the Big 12. Texas and Oklahoma are ready to stay in the Big 12.

Is Missouri?

What school is running the Big 12?

Boren took exception to the idea that Texas had been "driving the train" in the Big 12 over the past year, until Oklahoma took over that role in the Pac-12 negotiations, but handed it back to Texas when the Pac-12 announced it would not expand.

Boren went on a measured, mini-rant that made a lot of good points. I'll let him explain.

"The University of Oklahoma does not have any ambition to drive the train anywhere. We have no desire to dominate the Big 12 Conference. None whatsoever. We have a very strong feeling that those conferences that have been the most stable are conferences in which every member feels valued equally," he said, later adding, "We don't want any one school dominating the Big 12 and we have no ambition to dominate the Big 12. ... All we wanted in this conference was stability so that we could concentrate on winning games and providing quality of life for our student athletes and not having drama every year."

He emphasized that more than just Texas and Oklahoma explored their conference options, and he knew of at least four, acknowledging that more might have done so, but he didn't know for sure.

"I hope no one will write in the future that anyone is driving the train in this conference. That's our goal," Boren said. "I don't care whether that's Texas driving this conference or Oklahoma driving this conference or Missouri driving this conference or Kansas with their basketball strength driving this conference. If we get to a situation where anybody drives this conference, then it would weaken us. Strong conferences are the conferences where there's a great amount of partnership and mutual respect and trust across the board."

Oklahoma, Texas still together, on and off the field

Bob Stoops reiterated his belief that the rivalry with Texas is important for the university, and that he didn't want it to go away, which it likely would have if the Sooners went to the Pac-12 without Texas.

For now, that game will remain at the Cotton Bowl, and Boren expressed a strong desire to keep it there.

As it should be. Texas and Oklahoma play that game every year, but the State Fair is what makes that game special. Moving it to JerryWorld would be a colossal mistake.