Thursday, September 8, 2011


OU prez holds key to league


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.


LAJayhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

I still believe this was a power move by OU to get financing for their network through ESPN. It doesn't mean they won't leave to follow through on the threat if they didn't get what they want, but I think it was the main motivation. I also believe Texas turning away from the Pac 12 was a reaction to this power move that was probably advised on by ESPN. Call OU's bluff. Worse case scenario, Texas could go anywhere, or even be independent. Best case scenario, OU sticks around and Texas stays in a conference that does the most for them while keeping their rivalry in tact.

Texas is fairly quiet in all of this because they can't come to OU's defense due to TLN contracts, and they don't want to turn on their long time rival that brings considerable revenue to their school. They will walk the middle, winning big if the Big 12 sticks together, or winning slightly less if it falls apart.

iluvdbskxjayhawks 6 years, 9 months ago

oic. I was wondering how come Texas is so quiet nowadays.

GridironHawk 6 years, 9 months ago

I agree that I don't think OU is going anywhere. I think it is a power move as well. They were feeling left out and want to feel "needed" again... I say let A&M go (they will regret it) but the Big 12 must attract, convince, trick (whatever it takes) another school or 3 in. If they don't, it will be in the same boat as soon as some conference takes the bullet and invites MU. They have wanted out for some time but they just can't convince anyone to take them. They will be the next team to leave and it won't take long.

Hank Cross 6 years, 9 months ago

So Boren is doing his OU "family" a favor by denying it a chance to be in a league with top tier universities like Cal, Stanford, and UCLA because staying preserves the "family" roadtrip to Ames and Waco. Got It. Makes perfect sense.

Disregarding the treacly sentimentality of this piece, it's absolutely true that Boren holds the B12 in his hands. As a former Governor and Senator he's used to dealing with tough customers and isn't going to be pushed around by Dodds. If he backs off his comment about the only option OU was interested in was the P12, he's going to look like a tool.

selfishhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

Yup, the irony in this is pretty thick. I also didn't see any of this crap when Nebraska bailed.

doctorWho 6 years, 9 months ago

Probably two reasons you didn't see "any of this crap" RE: Nebraska. First, people are sick of it all during round two of the Thing that Ate the Big XII, but also because Nebraska is a reasonable fit in the geography of the Big Ten.

I keep reading all this stuff about alumni not being able to travel to away games. I'm sure there is truth to that - for Oklahoma based alumni. But I bet there is a lot of OU alumni in California that are stoked about the possibility of OU joining the Pac-12.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the suggestions that Air Force (and less frequently CSU) be courted as a new Big XII member are from KU alumni in Colorado who are despondent over the loss of AFH West - count me guilty of that infraction.

hawkalumN2011 6 years, 9 months ago

"The grass out West might make the music sound better, but it’s not necessarily greener."

Great line, Keegs!!

milehighhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

Gotta give props to Keegster on that one - that was hilarious.

LAJayhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

Agree. His metaphors often tend to be a little forced and unnecessarily esoteric, but that one was absolutely hilarious.

And quite accurate.

jhox 6 years, 9 months ago

Boren has already damaged the conference, by sabotaging efforts to replace A&M. What school in their right mind would want to join the Big 12 at this point, with all the infighting? Perhaps some second tier school like SMU or Houston, but not a school like BYU who would actually bring something to the table.

Don't expect him to do something now to save it. If OU stays, it will only be because they fear legal action. Not because they're trying to save the conference.

Marc Frey 6 years, 9 months ago

I hope that the "terrible" Big 12 stays together and that they do find some schools that will add to the conference. TU needs to quit being so greedy too. Take your LHN and show your programs and do not use to it recruit. I do not want KU in the PAc 10 unless it is a last resort.

Ethan Berger 6 years, 9 months ago

the LHN really won't help recruiting. Texas already finishes in the top every year and get's the best Texas Recruits. If your out of state and even in the state in some areas, you have to pay to have it. Most the kids don't come from rich familes. The LHN is over hyped.

Robert Brock 6 years, 9 months ago

Even if OU decides to stay in the conference, I expect another school will come forward with their desire to jump ship. Whack-A-Mole...

LVDeserthawk 6 years, 9 months ago

Boren would be wise to remember what Californians did and said about the Okies in the 1930's when many went west. Trust me, the California arrogance is as strong as ever. USC, UCLA, Stanford and Berkely will not welcome you with open arms.

hawksince51 6 years, 9 months ago

Perhaps the former politician is just playing politics here and hoping to get Texas to back off on the money grab. If so, power to him. OU is the only school with enough "political capital" (aka elite FB program) to force Texas to make the playing field more equal. But, I fear the Big 12/10/9/? is too far gone to save at this point. I hope I'm wrong because I certainly agree saving it is the best outcome for KU.

WilburM 6 years, 9 months ago

David Boren has more political savvy and University President credibility in his little finger than Keegan has in his entire being. Ordinarily I'm not a TK basher, but he's way out of his depth here. Boren will do what's best for Oklahoma, in a well-considered and coherent way. Not that KU fans will necessarily like it. And I have no idea of what obligations he has to the Big 12 in the new world of big-time college sports.

jgkojak 6 years, 9 months ago

Simple solution:

In a new 12 team Big 12, make sure Texas and Oklahoma are in separate divisions. Most years it'd make for a hell of a title game.

kureader 6 years, 9 months ago

If Boren's chest pounding was just rhetoric from an old politician, fine. I hope that's true. Losing A&M was one thing, but Boren (and Pickens from Oki State) have certainly made it difficult to attract a top tier school to replace A&M. Every potential A&M replacement will be reluctant to join such an unstable conference.

nuleafjhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

I've finally figured it out.

The Big 12 is just a guinea pig. Every other conference will be due for massive change in the next couple of years.

It's the master plan of J. Randolph Babbitt, head of the Federal Aviation Administration.

It will start with the Big 12, and soon there won't be a single car in America on the highways on Saturdays, from September to January,except for the vehicles that are headed to the airports.

UCLA will play their home games at "The Swamp". Rutgers will be lacing up their Nikes at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Or. (former home of the ducks) Houston will saddle up for their home games in Bozeman, Mt.

This will resolve the age old problem of the "Home field advantage" that has always plagued college sports, AND provide a much needed boost to the slumping airline industry.

It will also drastically lower our gasoline prices, reduce the hole in the ozone and .....dare I say it?

YES!! I will say it - it will bring World Peace. There. Problem solved.

Heavy sarcasm, J Randolph - lighten up.

Jack Brooks 6 years, 9 months ago

Why don't we just dump Texas, tell A&M to stay, invite BYU, and be done with it? Texas is the problem here. They're the one who started this mess last year and again this year with their little network. Texas is toxic and bad for ANY league with their self-centered approach to everything. If they want their own thing the league should let them do it on their own and then pick up a school that wants to be part of the team.

What's really galling is that Texas is where it is BECAUSE of the Big XII. We provided the foil for them to improve their athletics. Look at what they were doing in the last few years of the SWC. NOTHING. And now they want to play primadonna. Screw them. Cut Texas loose. We'll be a better conference without them.

Randy Bombardier 6 years, 9 months ago

Unfortunately, we are stuck with them unless someone can broker a conditional contract such as "Should the Big12 dissolve, should all members waive the right to sue one another, the undersigned will reform a new conference ...." The first to sign, OU, Second MU, TAMU, and so on. There is a place to sign for everyone but Texas. Texas can threaten to sue all the others but they won't. You dissolve the conference without worrying about everyone going their own separate way. That is not hard to do. All we need is someone with some guts.

truman 6 years, 9 months ago

someone should do some research and find out what happened when the old Southwestern conf. folded...was Texas a key player in that?

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 9 months ago

"was Texas a key player in that?"

Funniest question of the day. Rewind the clock 18 years, talk to Arkansas and LSU, and you will find Texas was behaving the same way then.

Yes, UT single-handedly destroyed the SWC, and they are doing it again to the Big teIXas.

truman 6 years, 9 months ago

That is why I laugh every time when I read someone suggesting Arkansas join the Big 12. The people who suggest it don't know their conference history or maybe too young to know.

truman 6 years, 9 months ago

someone should do some research and find out what happened when the old Southwestern conf. folded...was Texas a key player in that?

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 9 months ago

Boomer Sooner in the Pac 12!

Best decision Boren could make. Why should Oklahoma tolerate Texas' shenanigans and play second fiddle to a team that they have dominated in nearly every way?

Financially, OU would be better off in the Pac 12, and they wouldn't need to be pestered by UT.

Tony Bandle 6 years, 9 months ago

All I needed to hear was that he was a governor and a U.S.Senator to classify him as a manipulative, short-sighted, egotist with delusions of grandeur.

I think those are the basic qualities required of today's politicians. Heck, virtually all of them start out as lawyers.

That tells you something, right there!!!

Brad Avery 6 years, 9 months ago

As an U.S; Senator from Oklahoma, Borden had the guts to express his sincere regret for voting for the confirmation of one of the worst Supreme Court justices ever, Clarence Thomas. While the ill-conceived formation of the Big 12 is not a decision of that magnitude, Borden is rightfully looking back an saying it was a mistake, "Let's move on." KU should do the same.

jay381 6 years, 9 months ago

I lived in OK for about 16 years. One of the primary reasons I always voted for David Boren was the integrity, honesty, and a dedication to Oklahoma. He would go beyond the narrow constraints of political party and be a statesman unlike far too many of our representatives today. God only knows how much we need some men of his character in the Senate and House today.

I do not pretend to know the direction David Boren will take but I do know this at the end of the day he will do what he thinks is best for OU and Oklahoma. He elected to accept the Presidency of OU while a sitting US Senator after winning his last election (taking 81% of the vote) because he felt OU had problems in multiple areas that were not properly addressed. He left a secure Senate Seat to correct the problems. Under Boren’s leadership, the University of Oklahoma now ranks first in the nation among public universities in the number of National Merit Scholars per capita. Total endowment has grown five-fold to more than $1 billion during the years of his presidency. A teacher at heart, Boren is in the classroom every semester leading a first-year course in political science. The campus looks like one continuing expansion and construction site.

Yes the man is a Yale graduate, a Phi Beta Kappa, a Rhodes Scholar, achieved a master’s degree from The University of Oxford however; he is also unlike many University Presidents a man with real life experience. He is also actively engaged with athletics. He is a big time football fan.

I absolutely want the best outcome for KU and frankly I agree with some of the text of your arguments. I only hope Bernadette has the same dedication and exercises the same amount of effort in advocating the interest of KU. I only wish she commanded a small amount of the respect he commands.

However the allegations about the character of this man are just not what those of us that have lived in Oklahoma have experienced. The man holds the respect of former Presidents of both parties.

The simple fact is OU has options that unfortunately due to the state of our football program do not allow us. I was in communication with an older sports writer and commentator from Oklahoma I knew while living there. He made a point it is really a crime that after the success and the BCS bowl victory just a few years ago KU football again fell off the map. It would be so different for KU if they had continued to build on that success. It just closes too many doors. Harsh yes, unfortunately also correct.

Randy Bombardier 6 years, 9 months ago

Chip Brown Tweet: Sources tell if OU would commit to B12, SEC would be released from liability to take A&M. Odds of that happening?

Why would any school make such a poor business decision as to say that it will not sue when no one knows what the future holds? Won't happen. Furthermore, this could be a ruse. One day, its I'll stay if you'all don't sue the SEC. Next year, OU bolts for PAC and Texas says "I'll stay if ya'all don't sue the PAC. Then, the next year, MU says I'll Stay if you don't sue the Big10 when Texas and Notre Dame sign up. And on it goes. Hold your ground. Never give in. A&M had an agreement and they lied through their teeth. Hold them to it. This isn't desperation. This isn't weakness. It is just like everything else. Yeah, its about business and we are going to take care of business. No more warm fuzzies. I'm ticked and I hope all the rest of you are too.

I am sick and tired of the second best football conference being made to be a joke. It is not a joke. And if we have to get a bunch of lawyers to prove it, I'm all in. I signed up for Twitter but when I think about it, it is a joke too. Hardly news. It is one giant rumor mill.

Kyng77 6 years, 9 months ago

Obviously, few of you in Kansas know the force that you are dealing with in David Boren. "Former Governor and Former Senator" aren't accurate. "Most powerful man in Oklahoma's history" is more appropriate.

1) It is NOT in Oklahoma's best interest to stay in the Big 12. The fans and administrators no longer want that, and the mistrust in the conference will not be able to be overcome. Texas pushing its hand more and more each year is not a good situation for OU. And running the risk of not moving now and getting stuck in an overwhelming SEC that could risk the historic strength of the OU program or an inferior amalgamation of the ACC/Big East is not favorable when OU can carve a good place in the PAC-12 now, before it got to 16 without us.

2) David Boren is not concerned with OU athletics. OU athletics will always be on a footing to compete with anyone, particularly in football. But he would also love to have OU linked with Cal, Stanford, USC, and UCLA academically, rather than Kansas State, Iowa State, and Kansas. As a Yale graduate and academic, this is of particular interest to Boren.

3) For those who want to lump Boren in as a typical politician, you're a joke. Boren has been out of politics since 1994. While he was in Congress, he was known as a reasonable man with good ties to both sides of the aisle and always able to command consensus, which is also proven by his record in Oklahoma and at the federal level. Safe to say that 2011 politics is not remotely the same as 1994 politics any more than 1984 politics was the same as 1967 politics. You cannot possible view politicians today to a bygone era, and consideration of the man through that absurd lens demonstrates the absurdity of that view.

4) The only thing accurate I read here is that Boren IS in command of the outcome, and the most surprising thing here is that nobody in the Big 12 could see that coming. That is always Boren's M.O. The man NEVER acts until he holds all the cards, and he never acts without exactly the amount of force and vigor to complete the task once the act has begun. The guy is a power-broking assassin nonpareil. The beauty here is that he has always been in control. If things went the way he wanted without him, he loses no capital. If he has to act, then he knows the timing is perfect, that he holds all the power, and that the action will get done the way he needs or wants it to, and he loses no capital, because he's won the game. With Boren it is ALWAYS a thing of Machiavellian beauty....he'll knife you while you smile and ask for more, all while agreeing that it was what had to be done.

Sorry, little sisters of the's just your time, and the reaper is deciding your fate, and whichever way it goes, you'll like it.


jay381 6 years, 9 months ago

Why did not have to ruin the post with your sarcastic little last sentence? That type of comment really is not needed about either university. See you in basketball. Jay381

Other than the last comment, I enjoyed your post on David Boren. Anyone that underestimates David Boren does so at their own risk. I lived in OK for 16 years and totally respect the man. See my comment above.

rufnek 6 years, 9 months ago

Hey, Kyng77, you're making us look cheesy here! Many of us (OU fans) and OU itself cringe when we think of hurting our long time friends in the old Big Eight. It's been said over and over that OU was still happy in the Big XII until A&M lost heart and wanted out. That should shake all of us! OU does not walk away without much thought and emotion. I personally, hate to leave our Big Eight brothers, but what do you do in this kind of mess we have found ourselves in? OU might even leave its own kinfolk, OSU, before all is said and done. The SEC is also still on the table for OU, but nothing has been decided yet. Good luck to all our Big Eight brothers, we might actually weather this storm together. Boomer Sooner!

MDHawk 6 years, 9 months ago

Okay, so you have the better football team. Can't really argue. What we have is a better academic institution with more highly rated research status. Unfortunately, other conferences aren't as concerned with academics as they are with sports revenue. Sisters of the poor? We also have a larger endowment than you. Again, unfortunately other conferences are more interested in sports revenue. Despite having a blue-blood basketball program, we cannot match your football earnings, though our program is more dominant in its sport than yours.

People want to buy your football team...they don't care about your state. I'm sad that you take that as an opportunity to inflate your ego and bash your brethren, and amused that you think it means your school is superior. What a joke. I like OU, and I like the Big XII...I would hope you might think twice about criticizing your neighbors.

Kyng77 6 years, 9 months ago

Also, the difference between Boren and other University Presidents.....if Boren were trying to do what A&M was, and Baylor wanted to rattle its tiny little saber, Boren would immediately agree to indemnify the SEC, make the move, schedule Baylor for a non-conference road series for 20 years, win the Baylor lawsuit, recoup its costs and fees through the schools first 3 trips to the Rose Bowl in 4 years, and hang Baylor with an 0-20 record against his school before asking if they wanted more. The roads from Oklahoma to Washington are filled with the metaphorical bodies of the careers of those men who have tried to make their bones threatening David Boren. That's partially why you see Baylor threatening A&M and the SEC to leverage Oklahoma and not taking on Oklahoma directly. It won't work.

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