Oklahoma and Texas’ announced move to the SEC was undeniably the biggest college sports story of the summer and its ripple effects are still being, and it will continue to be, felt around the country.
Someone who has taken it on the chin more than anyone amongst the chaos has been Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who has been heavily criticized for allowing the league’s two richest members to become so disgruntled to the point of leaving.
On Wednesday, Bowlsby was present at Big 12 Basketball Media Day in Kansas City and, naturally, he was asked further about the blockbuster move the Sooners and Longhorns pulled in dipping to the SEC.
He did not pull any punches, clearly expressing significant frustration with how the situation unfolded.
Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman talked at length with Bowlsby on the subject.
He asked Bowlsby why he feels like OU and Texas decided to leave the Big 12 — to which the Big 12 commissioner said he simply did not know and that they have never told him directly.
“Haven’t the vaguest idea,” Bowlsby told Davis. “To this day, they’ve given us no answers to that question. Either one.”
“You’ll have to ask them that. I’ve asked repeatedly, and they never made us aware of any concerns in advance. When we’ve asked the question since then, we’ve gotten no response.”
When presented with the idea that perhaps they are switching conferences for the monetary gain from playing better opponents year-in and year-out, Bowlsby discarded that notion.
“They’re thinking they’re going to recruit better and they’re going to get more money,” Bowlsby said. “Anybody that thinks Texas’ football problems have been a result of league affiliation are completely delusional.”
When told Texas fans weren't necessarily thrilled about having to play Kansas or the other teams that represent the Big 12's soft underbelly, Bowlsby retorted sharply.
“Well, here comes Vanderbilt,” Bowlsby said. “Every league is structured similarly to what ours is. There’s three or four bell cows and there’s the rest.”
Clearly, Bowlsby has a lot of pent up frustration with how the move was handled and that the move is happening at all.
But, he remains steadfast that they will be able to coexist in the meantime for the betterment of the Big 12.
“I have to get over the sense of personal betrayal and do what’s necessary for our eight continuing members,” Bowlsby said. “And that’s what we did.”
“We’re going to have to find ways to get along. We have to work together, and we will. But I would say trust is at a relative low.”
As for Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione specifically, Bowlsby was asked about that relationship by Eric Bailey of the Tulsa World.
His answer was chilly, to say the least.
"Joe has been a longtime colleague and friend, and you know, we will work together because we have to,” Bowlsby said. “But friendships are based on trust. And I would say trust is at an all-time low.”
Time will tell how much longer Oklahoma and Texas will actually be present in the Big 12, with the television rights deal not letting them out until 2025 without paying a huge buyout.
The general belief is that the move will happen sooner, but until it does, it certainly seems like it will be an icy relationship between the league’s two biggest schools and the commissioner.
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