Anyone that follows college football knows how much the Oklahoma Sooners hate the Texas Longhorns. On the football field, recruiting battles, the actual states, the hatred is real. However, there was a brief respite of their hatred, and it’s pertinent here.
As the entire conference realignment m ess started in the mid 90s, the hatred was put aside for a brief moment. The old Southwestern Conference, which was pretty much Texas and Texas A&M running over everyone, and the Big 8, which was Oklahoma and Nebraska doing the same, decided to merge. Half of the SWC was left in the dust, and Oklahoma ditched their yearly battle with Nebraska to form this unholy alliance.
Now they are back to hating each other full swing. Texas wants to keep all the money, and think they are more relevant to college football than they really are. Think Oklahoma State, but with multiple T. Boone Pickens throwing cash and some actually on the field success, just not a lot.
To sum up, the Big 12 is a hot mess, and multiple members are looking to jet or expand. Since successful programs don’t want to join the Big 12, jetting seems the more likely option for a program as prestigious as Oklahoma. The Big Ten, Pac 12, and SEC have all been mentioned. Hell, the ACC probably has too.
Why not the MAC? Or more appropriately, why the MAC?
A lot of people, myself included, believe the Super Conferences are coming. 16 or more teams, with more regard to television than geography and shared history. Oklahoma joining the MAC is a stretch, I get it. Obviously for this to work, Oklahoma would need to benefit, and so would the MAC. How could it work for each?
For Oklahoma, they want money, and prestige. Both are obstacles that I believe can be overcome, with preferential treatment for the Sooners. First, let’s say the MAC expands to 16 teams and has two divisions. Everyone would be required to play all the teams in their division to determine the division champs. Everyone but Oklahoma would be required to play 2 games against cross division teams. This would free Oklahoma up to schedule either home game money grabs, their Texas rivalry, and a game or two against the likes of Ohio State or USC for even more money. The other catch would be that if Oklahoma makes it to a NY6 bowl game, they get to keep the money. A schedule like that could keep Oklahoma on the national forefront if they win, which they would do more often than not.
I don’t want to get too hung up on the financials, because I don’t care, and I don’t fully understand them. The point is that with a quasi-independent football schedule, I am sure they could make it work.
As an aside, the Sooners basketball team would either win the MAC, or have a solid chance of making the NCAA tournament as an at large, which would benefit both. I might delve deeper into Oklahoma basketball joining the MAC in a different post. It’s a long off-season, never say never.
What does the MAC get, if not a boat load of cash? Prestige, which it probably cares less about than me. What else it gets is an anchor school to snag other teams. Maybe a deal could be negotiated with West Virginia, and Iowa State. The possibilities are there, and it would raise the overall profile of the conference and the bottom line. All the sudden, missing out on the OU bowl money isn’t so bad if the Toledo Rockets get to play the Iowa Hawkeyes in the IDGAF Bowl that pays 1.5 million instead of the 600k Family Dollar Bowl. An uptick in prestige would likely land at least one or two more bowl games against power 5 schools, which brings in more money. Lower bowls would make the gamble that they could get a 9-3 Oklahoma squad on an off season.
Heck, maybe even Oklahoma State would ask to join, and telling them no would be totally worth it. Also, imagine if WMU did what they did this year, and knocked off OU from Norman instead of OU from Athens in the MAC title game. Maybe both could have made a NY6 bowl game. We’d all be making it rain.
The Big East, AAC and others have made a stab at being the 6th power conference. Snagging OU could be the MAC’s push, and it would also destroy the Big 12, making success a little more likely. Crazy? Sure. Could it happen? It’s somewhere between hell no and F no. Is it fun to think about?
Disagree? There is a comments section below. Just remember, there are guidelines, and it’s the off-season. You are probably the only one reading this.