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Bob Stoops: Oklahoma 'is taking control of its own destiny' with move to SEC from Big 12

Bob Stoops
Special to The Oklahoman

There’s been extensive discussion in the state of Oklahoma about OU and Texas moving from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference. I believe this is a good and necessary move for the future of our school and football program. I disagree with any claims asserted that OU’s decision is “to the detriment of the State of Oklahoma,” and that OU made it without “engagement and transparency.”

Let’s set the record straight: OU’s move to the SEC is what’s best for Oklahoma. The reality is that conferences are now more important than ever and, with limited spots, the strongest conferences would not accept OU if we were to require OSU to join as well. By joining the SEC, we ensure the state’s flagship university will be represented nationally while protecting our rich football history for many years to come. To move forward in any other manner would be to the detriment of OU and the state of Oklahoma.

The advantages are many — greater financial opportunities, better exposure, stronger recruiting and increased competition. Playing in front of full, huge stadiums will be attractive to our players, recruits, and our supportive fans. OU will be competing at the highest level of college football, which is exactly where we should be. I can’t wait for SEC programs to face our teams and our fans — I think both are the best in the country.

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Former OU coach Bob Stoops shakes hands with Kyler Murray before Murray worked out for NFL scouts during the Sooners' pro day ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft.

The prospect of moving to the SEC also excites me for our fans. Not only will the move energize our fanbase and provide great trips for road games to new venues, but the city of Norman stands to win as well. SEC fans loyally travel with their teams. Many fans from the SEC have never been to Norman and they’ll be eager to make the trip and experience an OU football weekend. Tickets will be in high demand and OU, Norman, and all of Oklahoma will reap the benefits.

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Change is always hard. Moving to a more competitive league is unnerving to some. OU and OSU have a history of being in the same conference — I understand that. Of course, OU and OSU should work together when they can for the betterment of our state, but there are times when that is not possible (I don’t recall sharing my game plan with Coach Gundy every year). The reality is, in today’s world, conference realignment doesn’t allow for it.

With this move, OU is taking control of its own destiny. And all Oklahomans — no matter who they root for — can trust that when the state’s flagship university makes a decision, it always puts Oklahoma’s interests first.

Moving forward — BOOMER SOONER!

Bob Stoops was head football coach at the University of Oklahoma from 1999 until his retirement in 2017. He led the 2000 team to the BCS national championship. He also didn’t back down from SEC opponents, going 7-4 — including winning the last four games he coached against teams from the conference — and taking on what he called “propaganda” surrounding the league.