Oklahoma's 'Unique Relationship' is With Texas, But Sooners Want to Keep Bedlam Alive

As OU regents vote unanimously to join the SEC, AD Joe Castiglione and president Joe Harroz described their affinity for playing Oklahoma State.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Joe Castiglione loves a good rivalry. Every part of it.

That’s why he was so effusive with his praise Friday for the University of Texas.

“Our two institutions enjoy a very unique relationship since we first played a football game in 1912 in the city of Dallas,” Castiglione said during the Oklahoma Board of Regents meeting at the OU Health Sciences Center.

“While we remain fierce rivals in the field of any competition, we know that we share some characteristics and goals, and that alignment serves us both very, very well.”

And that’s why the Sooners have partnered with their hated rival south of the Red River on their way to membership in the Southeastern Conference.

Joe Castiglione

Joe Castiglione

OU regents unanimously approved the measure at Friday’s special meeting.

“Welcome to the SEC,” said regent chair Michael Cawley.

Everyone talked about July 1, 2025, as the start date for the Sooner and Longhorns in the SEC, even though they’ll do everything in their power to make it happen faster than that.

Things are moving fast, after all. News broke just 10 days ago, and now, after Thursday’s unanimous approval of SEC leadership to admit OU and Texas, it’s official.

“The timing,” Castiglione said, “was not of our choosing.”

Castiglione applauded the work of his UT counterpart, Chris Del Conte.

“This was not a decision any of us made lightly,” Castiglione said. “But we’re charged with making choices that are in the best interest of our programs, and our universities.”

Although the unspoken bottom line is profit — the SEC wanted Texas and OU and no one else from the Big 12 — Castiglione and OU president Joe Harroz described the Sooners’ multitude of reasons for pairing with Texas.

“If you think it’s about money, you missed the point,” Harroz said.

As for OSU, Harroz said OU tried.

“We looked at solutions to allow us remain together,” Harroz said. “That’s just not what the market we’re pursuing allows.”

Harroz’s 24-minute statement — he and Castiglione took no questions from the media assembled in the auditorium — felt more a show of remorse about statements made over the past week by OSU president Kayse Shrum and hurt feelings by the OSU fan base.

Joe Harroz

Joe Harroz

“We want the Bedlam rivalry to continue well past the expiration of this media rights agreement,” Harroz said. “Make no mistake. We want the Bedlam rivalry to continue. Make no mistake. Even with this change, we want to play Oklahoma State in every sport in every year.”

OU has placed that ball squarely in OSU’s court. Castiglione even detailed the success and intensity of other in-state, interconference rivalries like Florida-Florida State, South Carolina-Clemson, Georgia-Georgia Tech and others.

"We’re committed to continuing Bedlam,” Castiglione said. “We expect our rivalry to be as intense as ever. Just like we see in other states, the rivalries … can endure.”

It just won’t be as conference rivals.

Castiglione and Harroz both talked about the respect they have for their colleagues in the Big 12, and said OU remains a “proud” member of the league it’s been with in one form or another since 1920.

How long the Sooners’ membership continues is unclear. The 2022 season is not out of the question.

“Relationships are very meaningful to me,” Castiglione said. “We look forward to being a contributing member of the Big 12 through our remaining time in the conference.”

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