One man could put a halt to the impending mass fratricide of the Big 12, a conference that makes so much sense and packs such a powerful punch in football and basketball.
His name is David Boren, president of Oklahoma University and former governor of the state where the wind comes sweeping down the plains. It all comes down to a test of this man’s character.
Men and women who hold the top chair at universities like to refer to their alumni and students, especially athletes, as all part of one big family.
So it comes down to this: Boren does what’s best for his family and stays in the Big 12, or he disregards family and chases the euphoria he thinks will come with trying something strange, something new and exciting, something that amounts to a trophy about which he can boast.
Why the fascination with 16-team conferences all the sudden? Where exactly does he feel short-changed that he thinks he has to compensate by joining a bigger conference? Size doesn’t matter in terms of conferences. Or does he think this move makes Oklahoma the Stanford of the region?
Moving from a league that makes so much sense geographically to one that doesn’t strips fans of the pleasure of driving to road games. Great memories of rivalries, things that really mean something to people, are replaced by games with no history and shallow emotions.
Boren exercises the discipline of resisting the short-term temptation to chase the euphoria he thinks might come with closing the deal and experiencing the strange, and he’s a Sooner in shining armor who gets credit for saving the conference.
He might think the grass is greener out West, but he should think long-term. The grass out West might make the music sound better, but it’s not necessarily greener.
Doesn’t Boren know that powerful men who turn their backs on family for what they fool themselves into thinking is a more attractive option leave the world snickering at them behind their backs? The man was a politician. Examples in that profession alone are endless.
Boren takes Oklahoma to the Pac-12 and he’s thinking with the wrong part of his brain. It’s incumbent on the president of a university to act on behalf of the best interests of students. No way he can justify pulling students out of classes an extra day so that non-revenue sports teams piling up frequent-flier miles can participate in lightly attended games against opponents that mean little to them.
If Boren thinks with the right part of his brain, does what’s best for his family and keeps the Big 12 afloat, all the anxiety painting clouds on moods throughout the state of Kansas vanishes.
Kansas will have options, heading to the Big East the most likely one, but no other conference can do for KU what the Big 12 does, and KU can’t do for any other conference what it does for the Big 12.
If Boren takes OU into strange territory, he’ll end up regretting it, the way I imagine those exhausted old guys I see dragging their really young second-family children through airports must.
A U.S. Senator from 1979-1994 and a governor from 1975-79, Boren was the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. It’s time for him to exercise some intelligence and put a stop to the madness.