Gundy's right, Castiglione's wrong and Venables, playing it cool, will miss the rivalry
As old news sprung new again Tuesday, Sooners took on a bad look, trying to defray their singular role in killing future Bedlam football
In his role as “America’s College Football Insider” for Action Network, a website dedicated to sports betting, what longtime college football writer Brett McMurphy reported Tuesday morning was hardly new.
“Conference realignment has claimed yet another victim,” McMurphy wrote. “This time, it’s the annual Bedlam Series between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
“Both of the schools’ athletic directors told Action Network the series will end once Oklahoma leaves the Big 12 for the SEC in 2025.”
All McMurphy really had were a couple new quotes from OSU’s Chad Weiberg and OU’s Joe Castiglione.
He didn’t need them.
He could have written nothing and let what Cowboy football coach Mike Gundy said back in July stand.
“Well, the future of Bedlam is a year or two left,” Gundy explained at Big 12 media days. “I mean, that’s the future of Bedlam, based on somebody else’s decision.”
So, it’s kind of old news, but there were these new quotes and from there, we could go many directions.
We could address the quotes, which are interesting.
We could bemoan the end of a great football rivalry and say it shouldn’t be.
We could even wonder what Weiberg and Castiglione were doing talking to McMurphy in the first place.
He’s a legit writer who made his bones at big places like ESPN, CBS Sports and The New York Times, but he’s at a sports gambling website now and should a guy from a place like that even have access?
Let’s go with the quotes, because they were making waves on Tuesday.
Weiberg said the Pokes had no openings for the Sooners on their schedule, that they were “full,” adding “unless there are significant undertakings to make the game happen, it can’t happen.”
Castiglione got a shot in, saying OSU “has shown no interest to schedule any future games in football, so we’re moving on.”
You can’t expect EVERYTHING to go your way in this storied rivalry, one that, though you’ve dominated — not last season, of course — recently and historically, you don’t get to write the history of its ending when you’re the one who ended it.
That’s the thing.
OU’s athletic budget will be flush, its non-revenue sports should flourish; most are already and now they’ll be even better funded. Its football program may or may not, though the money’s on the former given Brent Venables' arrival.
Yet, whether it does or not, the end of the Bedlam Series will be on the Sooners.
For worse, I’ve previously argued, but a lot of difference it makes now.
Tuesday, you had to hand it to Venables when the subject arrived at his weekly press briefing, after which he deftly explained why it’s a non-issue for him, even as it appeared clear he’d prefer the series not end.
“If that’s what they’ve decided to do, that’s what they’ve decided to do,” he said. “My opinion really doesn’t matter, but I love rivalry games.”
After which, he said more about loving rivalries, mentioning both the Jayhawks and Wildcats and the Sooners and Cowboys, too.
Is he really that subtly sly or does he just put it out there, trusting his authenticity to win the day?
Fittingly, Gundy, who got the first word way back when, got the last one, too.
Knowing it would come up at his own weekly press conference, he jotted down some thoughts and shared them Tuesday afternoon, breaking after each point for pushback.
“OU officials were in negotiations with the SEC for months and months before anybody in this league or this conference knew about it,” he said.
“During those multi-billion dollar conversations, I wonder if Bedlam was ever brought up at that point, instead of the money,” he said.
Still no pushback.
"Bedlam is history. We all know that. We’ve known that because OU chose to follow Texas and the money to the SEC,” he said.
But for him, silence.
“So now we’re having what I think are childish discussions … over something that’s done,” he said. “And I would like to make this the last statement I have, because I have no hard feelings, but what’s going on now is almost a situation with a husband and a wife, or a girlfriend and a boyfriend, when you know you’re dead wrong and you try to turn the table and make them think they’re wrong.”
Still no objections.
There or here.
Yes, OSU could continue the rivalry out of the goodness of its heart, but it owes OU, our state and college football nothing.
If you read Weiberg’s quotes closely, the Pokes aren’t even slamming the door shut.
In a 12-team-playoff world in which strength of schedule matters and a two-loss Big 12 champ is bound to make it, OSU may want the game back more than OU does.
Still, for all the wrong, offensive and alienating things Gundy’s said through the years, this is not one of them.
If the game’s dead, OU killed it.
The Sooners made their choice a long time ago.