ARLINGTON, Texas — Mike Gundy’s views on the death of Bedlam haven’t changed over the past year, but that didn’t stop him from receiving myriad questions about the topic at Big 12 Media Days.
His point of view is the same as it was back in September: the Sooners are the reason for Bedlam’s death — they chose to leave for the SEC and killed the in-state rivalry in the process. So, instead of hanging on to the past, let’s look to the future.
Who will be Oklahoma State’s rival after the Sooners leave?
It’s probably something that will happen organically, though I made the argument that OSU’s new rival should be either Texas Tech or Kansas State. A macro-minded CEO, Gundy looked at finding a rival more analytically.
“I like rivals,” Gundy said. “Everybody likes rivals. I don’t know. I think fans like it. We’re in the business of selling tickets, right? So we have to sell luxury seating, and we have to sell as many season tickets as possible to fund the athletic department — otherwise they’re gonna get a new coach because they can’t pay anybody’s salaries. So, fans like rivalry games. Fans like good games. I think there’s enough teams to instigate that now.”
As for the players, it doesn’t seem to be something on the front of their minds (nor should it be).
Preston Wilson likely won’t be at Oklahoma State when OSU finds its new rival because he is a redshirt senior. His younger brother, Sheridan Wilson, plays at Texas Tech, so there could be a friendly family rivalry there, but Preston said he isn’t quite sure who will step up as OSU’s new rival.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Wilson said. “It’s always been OU for years, and we aren’t playing Texas again. I would’ve said Texas, but I guess we’re not playing them again this year either. Who knows? I guess whichever team is up. Anybody in the Big 12 — all rivals.”
Gundy briefly mentioned three teams as potential rival targets: TCU, Baylor and Kansas State.
Oklahoma State and Baylor have played some high profile games against each other the past few seasons. The Cowboys and Bears were each undefeated when they played in the regular season in 2021 — a game that came down to the wire with OSU winning 24-14. Then the stakes raised even higher when they met in the Big 12 Championship that year, a game that had an all-time (heartbreaking) moment with the Bears’ goal-line stand. Even the teams’ 2022 matchup was highly anticipated early in the Big 12 season before both teams struggled to the finish line.
The Cowboys have also had high profile games against TCU in recent seasons. The teams were both 5-0 when they met in 2022 — a game that went to double overtime that helped propel the Horned Frogs along their College Football Playoff run.
Then Kansas State and Oklahoma State have for a long time occupied some of the same space with both teams being consistently solid for a long while.
“TCU and Baylor might already have [a rivalry], I don’t know.” Gundy said. “But, like them. Maybe it’s Oklahoma State and Kansas State and that becomes a yearly rival game. But one of the challenges that they have is once we settle the conference, whenever that is, maybe it’s settled now, I don’t know, what’s the scheduling gonna be? I think there will be a lot of thought put into it by the commissioner and his staff because we still need to be able to invigorate fan support and people wanting to say, ‘I want to go to that game, not just watch it.’”