Thursday Presser: Five Things We Learned

NORMAN, Okla. — OU President David L. Boren, athletic director Joe Castiglione and head football coach Bob Stoops met with the media Thursday evening at the Stadium Club and announced their satisfaction with staying in the Big 12 Conference, but just what really came out of that conversation? Sooners Illustrated breaks it all down right here inside.

1. Some reforms are already meeting the Sooners' needs--Whether the source who claimed the other day that OU was just using the Pac-12 as leverage was correct or not, a few of OU's hopes for if it remained in the conference are coming true. First, commissioner Dan Beebe has resigned. Second, a grant of rights, by which each school would have to make a six-year pledge to the conference, is now in order. Third, the expansion committee to add one or three teams to the league has again been activated. So, change is already taking place.

2. To say the Sooners had genuine interest in moving to the Pac-12 would be an understatement--Boren said it himself how serious the Sooners were about that potential opportunity. Everything just fit in terms of Boren's hopes for the university, quality academics along with quality athletics and a stable conference.

"We certainly did, as everyone knows, have some conversations with others on the other coasts, particularly with the Pac-12, and I think those conversations were very positive in terms of building a great relationship between us," Boren said. "And we have a lot of admiration for their academic standards. I think that will be a further incentive for all of us in the Big 12 to continue to work on improving our academic standards and working together on joint projects."

3. There were multiple reasons why the Pac-12 did not work out--Most media members and everyone else around the country alike will label the reason OU did not head west simply because of the fact that the Pac-12 would not accept Texas with the Longhorn Network as is. But that's only half the story. In fact, it might not even be that much. OU and OSU were assured they had an invite to the conference should they declare they were leaving the Big 12. OSU was on board with what its big brother preferred. Well, big brother preferred Texas to come along. That's where the conversation of the Pac-12 not accepting Texas comes in. It's not that OU wouldn't have been accepted alone with OSU, but OU didn't want to disband its rivalry with Texas, which is something the three hinted at tonight.

"It could have gone away as you know, especially if they enforced the rule," Boren said. "They have rules of the Pac-12, for example, you can't play out-of-conference games without some special exception beyond the first three games of the season. Of course, the fair wouldn't be going on yet and some things, so I think that's something else the vast majority of Oklahomans and Texas [want]. I think the fans in each state were equally anxious that we keep this great rivalry in that setting alive."

Because of that, OU was held back. But equally important is the concept of the cost of travel if it was just a 14-team league. Neither OU nor OSU were that intent on being the only teams in the conference in the central time zone. On top of that, the Pac-12 simply preferred 12 or 16 teams, nowhere in between. So, it was more about numbers and OU's unwillingness to isolate itself than anything else. Don't be fooled. The Pac-12 did not simply turn down the Crimson and Cream.

4. OU wanted to keep its historical ties with Big 12 schools--Boren talked specifically about the institutions the Sooners have been in a conference with for so many years. Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and the list goes on in the Big 12 for the teams OU has associated itself with over time.

"We like all the teams in our conference," Boren said. "We have good relationships with everyone..."

It's hard to simply throw those relationships to the side in one quick moment, and keeping those was a definite positive.

5. Texas A&M is not going to reconsider--Boren said the conference will make one more run at convincing the Aggies to stay in the Big 12, but he was positive about it. He figures they are still headed for the Southeastern Conference, as they've indicated from step one back in the summer.

"I would just say that nothing happened today that would make it more difficult," Boren said. "If anything, I think the actions taken today would make it less difficult for Texas A&M to stay, but I don't express any optimism that that will occur."

In the end, the major point is that OU leaders seemed satisfied with the decision to remain put in the Big 12 Conference, and that decision is basically final for now.

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