Joe Simpson and I were talking last night at the ol’ ballpark, and we’re of like minds on one salient notion: We both believe Oklahoma could well have landed in the SEC. (What, you expected us to discuss baseball?)
Joe, as you doubtless know, is both an Oklahoma native and an OU alum. And he was saying the e-mails were already flying toward Norman — some of them written by him — asking the burning question: “Why should we follow Texas to the Pac-10?” And I’m guessing that enough other OU backers felt the same, and that the much-rumored Big 12 westward exodus might not have included the Sooner Schooner.
Yes, it’s a moot point now. The Big 12 renegotiated its TV package and Texas agreed to stay put and what one highly placed collegiate athletics administrator foresaw as “chaos” never actually occurred. But I’m still thinking a Texas move to the Pac-10 would not have induced Oklahoma to follow meekly along. I’m thinking the Sooners would have questioned the wisdom of joining a lesser and more distant league and would have responded favorably to the overture sure to come from the SEC.
You’ll be shocked to hear this, but OU folks don’t much care to think of themselves as the northern outcropping of Texas. They like to think they have an identity unto themselves, thanks very much. And they still could have kept the Texas-OU game in Dallas without being part of the Longhorns’ conference. Don’t Georgia Tech and Georgia meet on an annual basis? Don’t Clemson and South Carolina? Don’t Florida State and Florida?
And now, since we’re still fantasizing, we might as well go whole hog. Figure Auburn would have moved from the SEC West to the East, and figure Oklahoma and Texas A&M would have slotted into the SEC West. And these would have been your new divisions:
East: Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
West: Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
Pretty stout league, it would have been. Especially that Western side. And it would have been fun, some fine year, to see the Sooner Schooner rolling across the floor of the Georgia Dome the first Saturday in December. With Joe Simpson driving.