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Oklahoma ends Big 12's run...time to reflect
When Oklahoma was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, it ended the Big 12 Conference’s hope of landing a team in the Final Four for the second straight year.
With no conference teams left to follow — unless you want to follow Baylor in the NIT on Tuesday — I began to think about this past athletic year in the scope of the two most popular college sports: Football and men’s basketball.
My first thought: Oklahoma was the conference’s most successful team this season in the realm of football and men’s basketball. The Sooners played in the BCS Championship game and reached the Elite Eight in the same academic year.
Furthermore, OU had the national player of the year in both sports. Sam Bradford won the Heisman Trophy and Blake Griffin should eventually win national player of the year. Bradford and Griffin, both sophomores, could have also been the No. 1 overall picks of their respective pro drafts. Bradford elected to return for his junior season, while Griffin is 99.9 percent sure to dart for the NBA this summer.
After Oklahoma, a few other Big 12 schools could have staked a claim to successful athletic seasons.
Missouri won the Alamo Bowl and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament in hoops this academic year.
Kansas won the Insight Bowl and advanced to the Sweet 16.
Texas played in a BCS game, where it defeated Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Oklahoma State lost in the Holiday Bowl and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Not a bad year.
Let’s look back a few years. What about the best athletic year in the history of the Big 12, which began in the 1996-1997 seasons?
It has to be Kansas.
The Jayhawks are the only team in Big 12 history to appear in a BCS game and a Final Four in the same academic year. KU won the Orange Bowl in the 2007 season and took home the NCAA Tournament championship in 2008.
I found it interesting Texas and Oklahoma were no-shows on the BCS/Final Four list.
Aside from Kansas in 2008, the Big 12 has seen a team in the Final Four five other times: Kansas twice (2002, 2003), Oklahoma (2002), Texas (2003) and Oklahoma State (2004). But during those respective football seasons, none of the teams played in a BCS game. Kansas didn’t make a bowl game in 2002 or 2003, while Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State all played in the Cotton Bowl in those years.
Just goes to show how difficult that BCS/Final Four combination really is. Oklahoma was one basketball victory away this Sunday from joining Kansas in elite BCS/Final Four company.
That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss.