Fall 2021 Crimson Quarterly

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Crimson Q UA RT E R LY FALL 2021



Considering the prospects of OU’s looming move to the Southeastern Conference in — and beyond — sports. UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA


Crimson Quarterly Fall 2021


SEC Lineup Zahid Hossain


OU to the SEC

Mason Young & Chandler Engelbrecht



Managing Editors

How We Compare

Blake Douglas

Beth Wallis Rachel Hubbard

Marien López-Medina



Jonathan Dumar Tabytha Jimenez

Game Day Impact Jonathan Kyncl

Copy Manager Francisco Gutierrez

Faculty Adviser Seth Prince

Crimson Quarterly is a publication of University of Oklahoma Student Media. Nick Jungman, director of Student Media, authorized printing of 7,500 copies by University Printing Services at no cost to the taxpayers of the state of Oklahoma.



UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Location: fayetteville, arkansaS

Founded: 1831

Founded: 1871

Enrollment: 37,840

Enrollment: 27,562

Notable alumni: Harper Lee, Sela Ward, Jimmy Wales

Notable alumni: jerry jones, ben rector, Barry switzer

President: Stuart R. Bell

President: donald r. Bobbitt

Public/Private: Public

Public/Private: Public

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $11,580

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $9,574


UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA Location: athens, georgia

Location: lexington, kentucky

Founded: 1785

Founded: 1865

Enrollment: 39,147

Enrollment: 31,110

Notable alumni: alton brown, ryan seacrest, natasha trethway

Notable alumni: mitch mcconnell, thomas hunt morgan, ashley judd

President: jere w. morehead

President: eli capilouto

Public/Private: Public

Public/Private: Public

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $12,080

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $12,610


MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY Location: starkville, mississippi

Location: columbia, missouri

Founded: 1878

Founded: 1839

Enrollment: 22,986

Enrollment: 31,121

Notable alumni: john grisham, dak prescott, marsha blackburn

Notable alumni: sheryl crow, jon hamm, sam walton

President: mark e. keenum

President: mun y. choi

Public/Private: Public

Public/Private: Public

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $9,034

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $13,128




Location: college station, texas

Location: nashville, tennessee

Founded: 1876

Founded: 1873

Enrollment: 65,684

Enrollment: 13,537

Notable alumni: rick perry, frank malina, neal boortz

Notable alumni: al gore, james patterson, dierks bentley

President: m. katherine banks

chancellor: daniel diermeier

Public/Private: Public

Public/Private: Public

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $13,012

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $56,966


Zahid Hossain



Location: Auburn, Alabama

Location: Gainesville, florida

Founded: 1856

Founded: 1853

Enrollment: 30,727

Enrollment: 55,501

Notable alumni: tim cook, octavia spencer, charles barkley

Notable alumni: marco rubio, faye dunaway, stephen stills

President: Jay gogue

President: w. kent fuchs

Public/Private: Public

Public/Private: Public

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $5,913

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $6,380


LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY Location: baton rouge, louisiana

Location: oxford, mississippi

Founded: 1860

Founded: 1848

Enrollment: 34,290

Enrollment: 21,676

Notable alumni: shaquille o’neal, maxime faget, will wright

Notable alumni: william parsons, michael oher, william faulkner

President: william f. tate IV

President: glenn boyce

Public/Private: Public

Public/Private: Public

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $11,962

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $9,134



Location: columbia, south carolina

Location: knoxville, tennessee

Founded: 1801

Founded: 1794

Enrollment: 27,455

Enrollment: 30,559

Notable alumni: lindsey graham, chazwick bundick, darius rucker

Notable alumni: peyton manning, ann taylor, kurt vonnegut

President: harris pastides

President: randy boyd

Public/Private: Public

Public/Private: Public

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $12,688

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $13,244


UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS Location: austin, Texas

Location: norman, oklahoma

Founded: 1883

Founded: 1890

Enrollment: 50,476

Enrollment: 30,903

Notable alumni: wes anderson, owen wilson, neil degrasse tyson

Notable alumni: shannon lucid, olivia munn, bily sims

President: jay hartzell

President: joseph harroz jr.

Public/Private: Public

Public/Private: Public

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $10,858-$13,576

Estimated in-state tuition and fees: $4,745.75


OU SEC to the

The story behind the Sooners’ seismic conference shift by Mason Young and Chandler Engelbrecht

silent after Cawley asked for those opposed. “Motion carries,” Cawley said once the vote concluded. “Welcome to the Southeastern Conference.” History was made. Alongside its biggest rival and fellow college football powerhouse Texas, OU set in motion joining the most powerful conference in the NCAA, leaving the Big 12 without its two most competitively and financially successful football programs. Though both schools consider the move best for their futures, the decision has come with criticism and praise from voices throughout college athletics. The decision has strained Oklahoma’s relationship with Oklahoma State, and future legal ramifications remain plausible. Oklahoma was a founding member of the Big 12 in 1996 and has won 14 conference championships since. After the conference lost Nebraska to the Big Ten, Colorado to the Pac-12, and Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC by 2012, speculation around OU possibly leaving the conference grew. Nevertheless, the Sooners stayed with hopes of the conference rebuilding itself. The following is an oral history of OU’s transition to the SEC from the viewpoint of 14 individuals directly impacted by the move. “What’s changed between 2012 and today?” Harroz asked board members rhetorically. “The answer is everything.”


niversity of Oklahoma President Joseph Harroz Jr. scanned the Robert M. Bird Library as OU Board of Regents chairman Michael Cawley polled the room. With Cawley to his right and OU athletics director Joe Castiglione to his left, the university president listened intently during a July 30 special meeting as board members committed to a decision that would impact the entire landscape of college athletics. The decision for the Sooners to depart the Big 12 to join the SEC by 2025 was already months in the making, but once the concept became public, it unfolded quicker than one of OU head coach Lincoln Riley’s trick plays. Reports surfaced about OU’s desire to join the conference nine days earlier. After reports were confirmed, the school’s board members were expected to unanimously vote in favor of the move. This came to fruition as each member — excluding Regent Frank Keating, who was absent but said to be supportive — responded with a resounding “aye” when asked who was in favor. The room remained dead


Redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler runs the ball during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic against Florida at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 30, 2020. Trey Young/The Daily


Tommie Harris, OU defensive lineman 2001-03: “I don’t care where we go. As long as we don’t change our logo, we’ll be fine.”

the 2020 season, the Sooners kicked off in the morning television slot in 16 of their past 39 games. That exasperation boiled over when OU’s Sept. 18 game against Nebraska was set for 11 a.m. The nonconference matchup will revive the teams’ historic rivalry while commemorating the 50th anniversary of their battle for the Big Eight title and the No. 1 national ranking during the 1971 Game of the Century.

Kayse Shrum, Oklahoma State president, on July 26: “This action was strategic, deliberate, and is the result of months of planning with the SEC. We believe these conversations, which developed over a long period of time, are in clear breach of the bylaws of the Big 12 Conference and broke a bond of OU’s decision to leave the Big 12 sent shock- trust between our universities in existence for Harroz: “It became clear that the Big 12 waves through the college football world. decades.” was last in line in terms of media negotiations. Reactions ranged from elated to distraught. ... Being last in line has consequences. “There are a lot of conversations about Letter signed by 34 Oklahoma lawmakBob Stoops, OU coach 1999-2016: “I think ers on July 29: “We are disappointed in the money. But there are also other critical facit’s going to be a big boost in recruiting. I don’t lack of transparency and making decisions of tors. A big factor is which time slots are filled think there’s any question. Players are going such magnitude at a time when the Oklahoma by those that negotiated before you. You’ve to know they’re going to play in some great legislature is out of session. It is our desire to heard conversations with Joe Castiglione and exciting games, and this gives us more see collaboration and parity for our state’s two talking about not enjoying 11 a.m. kickoffs. of a presence in the Southeast where I think comprehensive institutions. Moving forward, … It impacts things in a material way, and it it’s been proven through the years there’s just we ask that you keep legislators and the pub- translates to disadvantages in recruiting the a greater number of scholarship athletes that lic informed as this situation is of great impor- top talent, disadvantages for our student-athwe can recruit in that area. So I think it’s going tance to the state of Oklahoma.” letes and a detriment to the fan experience.” to be a big plus for us.” Castiglione on May 27: “We are bitterTrey Millard, OU fullback 2010-13: “As Mike Leach, Mississippi State coach, a move, it’s good and bad. I kind of have split ly disappointed that the great OklahomaOU offensive coordinator 1999: “It’s proba- positions on it. Financially for the universi- Nebraska rivalry, on the 50th anniversary of bly going to have quite a ripple effect around ty, it seems like it makes just a ton of sense. the Game of the Century, will kick off at 11 the country. … You’re not going to be able to Unfortunately, as much as we want college a.m. We tried every possible avenue to proacthrow a dead cat without hitting a lawyer on football to be an amateur sport, with (the tively make our case. The Big 12 Conference this subject.” NCAA’s name, image and likeness policy), this also supported our strenuous efforts to secure deal and everything else that’s coming out, it’s a more traditional time that would honor this moving away from that. And I agree with some game and our fans. However, in the end, our of it, but it just kind of loses some of its pageantry. So it’s kind of TV partner chose to exercise its full contractusad, some of the rivalries, and then just the geographical loca- al rights and denied our requests.” tions and breaking some of that stuff off, it’s kind of sad.” Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 commissioner, at Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN college football analyst in a July 14 conference media days: “I think Joe’s SportsCenter segment on July 30: “What’s becoming abun- position on it was it was a marquee game, and dantly clear, and I hate to say this because I’ve always tried to he would have liked to have seen it played in fight it, is people are trying to stay at the top. They’re trying to prime time. He’s entitled to that position, and compete with the SEC, and it’s all about money. It’s no longer we talked about it extensively in the time beabout tradition. It’s no longer about the things that I think col- fore he made his comments. Having said that, lege football has always kind of tried to stand itself on top of and we all signed the TV contract, and we can really look at and appreciate rivalries and tradition and things change it the next time around if we want to change it, but we are going to live by our stipof that nature.” ulations on the television agreements, and Michael Cawley, OU Board of Regents Chairman: “The en- that’s what we did on this occasion.” tire university thrives when our athletics program thrives. The Instead of continually reaping those conseOU Board of Regents proudly stands behind this essential move to best position the University of Oklahoma and Sooner athlet- quences, OU chose to jump to the SEC. There, ics for stability and excellence. We are confident that, by taking the Sooners will be first in line for most media control of our own destiny and joining the SEC, OU will be in the negotiations through the SEC Network and the best possible position to continue advancing our institution’s conference’s contract with ESPN. They’ll also increase their average yearly television reveoverall mission.” nue earnings from $37 million to $60 million, according to CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd.


Finances and logistics presented formidable tipping points in OU’s decision. One of Oklahoma’s greatest frustrations with the Big 12 has been the frequency of 11 a.m. kickoff times, which the Sooners are already scheduled for twice this season. By the end of

Harroz: “What does all of this tell us? What this tells us is the importance of the conference you are in and it being the one that best fits your institution’s needs and landscape is greater than ever.”


Sophomore safety Pat Fields tackles an LSU player during the Peach Bowl in Atlanta on Dec. 28, 2019. Caitlyn Epes/The Daily

‘WE WANT THE BEDLAM RIVALRY TO CONTINUE’ Oklahoma’s decision to leave the Big 12 isn’t without consequences. Some believe the conference will implode because of the Sooners’ and Longhorns’ departure. Additionally, the future of OU’s historic Bedlam rivalry with Oklahoma State, which started in 1904, is now in limbo. Harroz: “We’ve looked at solutions for us to move together, but that simply is not what the market we are pursuing allows. That was true then, and it’s even more true in this changed landscape. We believe this move is not just best for OU, but we believe this move is best for our state. The opportunity was for one university. And if we didn’t seize it, the opportunity would be for none.” Shrum: “It is difficult to understand how an Oklahoma institution of higher education would follow the University of Texas to the detriment of the state of Oklahoma. Nevertheless, we are turning our eyes to the future and looking at what is best for Oklahoma State University. Over the last few


days, I have received countless phone calls, spot, whether it’s an expanded Big 12 or it’s a texts and emails from high-ranking officials merger with the Pac-12.” and members of the Cowboy family showing their support for OSU as we navigate the road As unlikely as a future standing nonconferahead.” ence matchup seems, OU says it will be looking for ways to keep Bedlam alive and well. Stoops: “I hate that this will impact Oklahoma State, but in this instance, we Riley during Aug. 5 local media day: “Our didn’t have a choice in the matter, and we leadership has made that clear, that we hope didn’t get to make all the decisions in how this to be able to do that. (We) certainly respect was all going to unfold. They’ve got an excel- the history of that game. It’s been a lot of fun lent athletic program, they’ve got an excellent to compete against those guys, to play a game football team; hopefully we can still play, but that means so much to this state and certainly, who knows. One way or another, we’ll see how I think everybody here at OU, it’s our hope that it plays out.” we can continue that. It has been a great game, great matchup, university (and) program that Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt in an Aug. we have a lot of respect for and a lot of respect 19 interview with Fox 23: “As governor for ... for the history and what it means for this state.” both schools and the state, obviously I’m torn. I’m concerned for Oklahoma State. I want to Harroz: “We want the Bedlam rivalry to make sure the Big 12 finds a home or expands, continue well past the expiration of this media and that’s a concern going forward. But at rights agreement. Even with this change, we the same time, I’m excited for the University want to play Oklahoma State in every sport of Oklahoma and the opportunities and the and in every year. more money at that conference. “And we also know this — we know OSU “I would love to see OU bring Oklahoma will continue to grow and flourish. They have State and both of those schools go together exceptional leadership. They’re an excellent to the SEC. The SEC appears to have the most program, and they will do well.” money and the most leverage with TV contracts. So, we’re working behind the scenes to make sure Oklahoma State gets into a good

‘WE’LL HAVE A STRONG PRESENCE IN THE SEC’ The SEC has a rich football history that includes 43 team national championships, led by Alabama’s 18 titles. Oklahoma fits in well with seven NCAA titles and 30 bowl victories. Additionally, its .726 all-time winning percentage trails only the Crimson Tide among SEC schools. Stoops: “I think that we bring a lot to the SEC in that you look at the number of national championships, conference championships and the overall success over the last 40 years. (We’re) almost always a top 10 program if not top five. We fit well in the SEC, I don’t think there’s any question, and of any other league, that might’ve been a possibility, this fits us best. And I think it protects our long-term interest of best maintaining this rich tradition that we’ve had through the years.” Millard: “It goes a long way. There’s not a lot of programs in that tier. You’ve got Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, maybe USC, Georgia and Florida are close there too, but I think as far as perennials, not just in this generation, when we talk about the rich tradition, those are really the schools. … This makes that conference traditionally, and even how they look right now, the powerhouse of college football and what college football really means.” Eric Gray, current OU and former Tennessee running back, during Aug. 5 local media day: “Being in the SEC before, OU definitely fits that bill. Being here, it’s just like being in the SEC. The SEC is a great conference. It’s a great league to play in. This is a great school, a great program, great team, so (OU) definitely fits in that league. “It’s normal, it’s just football wherever you go. This team is an SEC team. This program is one of the greatest programs ever built. The SEC is just a league — it’s a great chance for them to join that league and be a great powerhouse in that league.” The competition OU will face in the SEC is considered better than the opponents it has dominated the last six years in the Big 12. The SEC has won 12 of the last 20 football national championships. Leach: “The difference (between the SEC and Big 12) is at the bottom of the conferences. (The SEC) is just solid from top to bottom. When I was in the Big 12, the Big 12 South was the toughest division in all of college football. That was before the SEC West was (now). In the top of the (Big 12), there would be some combination of Oklahoma and Texas.

Then there would be Nebraska, Kansas State and Texas A&M. Colorado, Missouri and Oklahoma State could get hot. … It was quite a war. The SEC is, too.” Millard: “OU fans are going to be in for a rude awakening of not winning six straight titles, and so there’s going to be some differences there. But depending on what year we go in, I think they’ll use what Lincoln’s got going on, what (defensive coordinator Alex) Grinch has got going on, what they’ve been able to do on the recruiting trail here recently.” Although some, like former Florida linebacker James Houston IV said before facing the Sooners in the 2020 Cotton Bowl, believe OU isn’t ready for SEC-level competition, those who have seen the Sooners at their best would beg to differ.

‘TELL THE OU STORY ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY’ Ultimately, those who have OU’s future in mind believe the move to the SEC is in the Sooners’ best interest. Millard: “We may not be in a better position than we have right now to compete and win at that stage. I think it’s going to be bittersweet. There’s pros and cons to both parts of it.”

Stoops: “I really believe our leadership is just looking out for the long-term best interests for our university and our athletic programs. And then in football, let’s face it, in the end, I think this is going to be a boon for the entire city of Norman and Oklahoma City. It’s Stoops: “I don’t know who would have going to ensure our stadium capacity is filled ever said that. That’s laughable. That would for 85,000 people for years and decades to be the minority speaking there.” come with these exciting games. And, let’s face it, the TV contract, you can’t ignore. The Millard: “I do think they are the best con- money involved is a difference maker.” ference top to bottom in college football. I don’t think it’s necessarily as drastic someCastiglione: “This decision today allows times as they make things sound, and it hasn’t us to ensure we’re doing all we can to further always been like that or to the extent that it OU’s long-standing record of athletics excelhas been, and so I definitely am kind of tired lence; attracting top student-athletes from of hearing that. I hope we never chant the SEC across the country and giving this institution chant. the exposure it deserves. The special history, “You can’t really tell me that (the SEC is) energy and character OU will bring to the SEC so much better that (the Sooners) can’t com- will only make us and our new conference pete or anything. What OU did to Florida last stronger.” year in the bowl game even shows that they’re not good enough to just roll out there and not Harroz: “We are confident that this tranplay some of their best players and be good. sition will reap extraordinary success for our … And so you don’t get beat that bad if it’s not athletics program. We will be able to continlike that, so it’ll be interesting to see in the SEC ue to attract top student-athlete talent from what OU can do week in and week out once across the country. We’ll provide an even you make that switch.” greater world-class fan experience. All told, we’ll set up our programs for even greater sucHarris : “When you look at Lincoln cess and be able to better tell the life-changing Riley, you’re literally looking at the (Mark) OU story all across the country. Zuckerberg of football. People don’t give him ​​“We change lives, and the role of athletics enough credit. Lincoln Riley’s a genius. I’m plays a critical role in the life of a university. It talking about beyond football. He is literally is additive well beyond the playing fields.” taking over social media, all the internet. He knows what he’s doing. So I believe if he goes Stoops: “Our President Harroz and Joe (to the SEC), he’s going to affect it the same Castiglione realized if we don’t take this opway.” portunity right now, it may never be there again, and that would not be very positive for Perrion Winfrey, OU defensive lineman, us moving forward in the next 10, 20, 30 years. at Aug. 5 local media day: “When I saw that You’ve got to protect that, and that’s what they it happened, I was honestly excited. Because did. I really believe it was the wise move and I can’t stand the noise saying that we’re in the the best move for our university.” Big 12 and we can’t handle the SEC. I honestly got excited because I can’t wait to see my felHarroz: “The entire Sooner Nation and low alumni going against them and show how Oklahomans throughout the state stand to we can stack against them and actually prove benefit from this move, and we’re thrilled for to everybody else in the country that we can a new platform to tell the OU story all across stand with them.” the country.”



he University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas will be joining the Southeastern Conference after the schools’ Boards of Regents voted unanimously on July 30 to accept the invitation to join the conference. The shakeup between two of the Power Five conferences — considered the elite of collegiate football — could manifest a boost in funding to academics and an increase in academic standards. According to a Feb. 21 press release from SEC Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, the SEC divided $657.7 million of total revenue among its 14 universities for the 2019-20 fiscal year that ended August 31, 2020. Each university received an average amount of slightly over $45.5 million, excluding bowl money retained by participants. With the potential for an influx of new money, OU academics could also stand to benefit from the switch, like how the University of Kentucky athletics department contributed $65 million toward building a new science building, which opened in 2016. Michael T. Benson, president of Coastal Carolina University and a veteran administrator of higher education, spoke to The Daily about the impact of OU joining the SEC on the university’s admissions and academic standards. He argued football conferences should put a higher premium on academic performances and “institutional fit” when selecting new members. “Simply defined, institutional fit means how a proposed member institution might mesh with other universities within a conference,” Benson said. “Do they have comparable student body populations? Are their endowments similar in size? Are they large land-grant institutions

By Marien López-Medina

or flagship universities within their respective states? What are their alumni bases like? Are those alumni bases congregated in cities within the conference footprint? Does an institution have a teaching hospital or medical school or other professional schools that are similar to other institutions? All these factors, and many more, figure into the calculus of ‘institutional fit.’” OU President Joseph Harroz said in his speech during the Board of Regents meeting on July 30 that the university’s conference shift is “a significant decision in the 130-year history” of OU, as it will impact not only athletics, but also the “broader university.” Harroz said OU shifting to the SEC has two primary focuses that are “imperative” for its intercollegiate athletic programs: to remain a premier national caliber athletics program and to continue having an athletic budget not subsidized by the state. “We have to ask the question: ‘Are we


Rachel Hubbard/The Daily


putting ourselves on a path to be worthy of a legacy?’ We have to advance it over time,” Harroz said. “We look at those things that are absolute because it impacts so much.” According to the College Athletics Financial Information database from the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, UT ranks first in the Big 12 athletic revenue rankings with a total of $223,879,781, followed by OU, whose total athletic revenue was $163,126,695 in 2019. In a July 30 email from Harroz to the OU community, he said joining the SEC is the best option to preserve OU’s athletic reputation. “It’s our obligation as stewards of our institution to ensure that OU has a conference home that will best position us to honor, preserve and continue our tradition of athletic excellence for decades to come,” Harroz said in the email. Academically, Harroz said OU’s conference shift will advance the university’s purpose of fulfilling its Strategic Plan in order for OU to become a member of the Association of American Universities in the future. “Much of our plan speaks to our aspiration to become an AAU-caliber institution, with benchmarks based on the criteria by which AAU institutions are judged,” Harroz said in the email. “A move into a conference with more AAU institutions provides us the chance to align OU further and more closely to the standards we will need to meet to reach our goal.” Benson said the AAU, which he considers to be the real “power conference,” is the most “prestigious” and “exclusive” university

association in the U.S. According to the AAU membership policies, the organization has two phases of requirements to evaluate the possibility of a university’s membership, with phase I divided into four criteria: competitively funded research support, membership in national academies, faculty awards, and fellowships and research citations. Although Benson said the institutional fit is “paramount” for any football conference considering possible members, he said he is unsure whether the SEC considers membership in the AAU to select future members. “How much sponsored research a university engages in annually or members of the faculty in learned societies or faculty

citations in prestigious journals are all factors for AAU membership,” Benson said in a follow-up email. “But I’m not sure these factor into the equation as much as brand and program recognition and athletic success might weigh in the balance for presidents, chancellors and directors of athletics.” Once UT joins the SEC, it will become the fifth AAU university in the conference alongside Vanderbilt, Mizzou, Texas A&M and Florida, bringing the AAU membership in the SEC to over 20 percent. According to the National Science Foundation, U T is ranked 35th at $652,187,000 annually by total research and development expenditures as of 2017, and


Rachel Hubbard/The Daily

Rachel Hubbard/The Daily (Note: University of Missouri, Texas A&M and University of Texas do not report this data.)

OU is ranked 84th at $272,239,000 annually. According to OU’s research metrics for fiscal year 2020, the Norman campus spent $188,090,700 on research and sponsored programs. “That’s a pretty big disparity in terms of sponsored research,” Benson said. Benson said although college athletics are a hot commodity in the U.S., universities must not lose sight of their main purpose to teach and develop new knowledge. “Sports are an important part of our kind of cultural identity as a country — a big business in many ways. Whether it’s athletics, student life, (greek) life or dining halls, these things are ancillary,” Benson said. “Now, what happens in the classroom, that relationship between faculty and students — particularly those that go on to develop new knowledge — that’s what universities are about.” Benson said he expects OU to boast more scholarship opportunities after it joins the SEC since it will count on a larger athletic budget. According to the NCAA finances ranking, the university’s total revenue — which reflects the latest 2018-2019 fiscal year — is $163,127,000. UT leads with a total revenue of $223,879,781 from the same year. Although Benson said in his article that he is aware of the “multi-billion dollar industry” that college athletics represent, he also recognizes the importance of the universities’ research aspects and their impact on societies. “I’ll be in here, in our (Coastal Carolina University stadium) in two weeks for a football game, and I’ll be cheering alongside all of our other fans,” Benson said. “But at the end of the day, institutions are about educating citizens to improve themselves, but also to improve the lives (we) live every single day that are positively impacted by products that have come out of research universities.”

Rachel Hubbard/The Daily



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GAME DAY IMPACT Jonathan Kyncl

As the OU community begins to examine its future with the Southeastern Conference, many are excited about the impact it will bring for the university and Norman. Scott Martin, CEO and president of the Norman Chamber of Commerce, former state representative and 1995 political science alumnus, said as soon as he heard about the conference change, he began thinking about what it would mean for Norman businesses. “I immediately assumed (the switch would have) a positive impact to our local businesses on game days,” Martin said. “Many of the powerhouse institutions that are in the SEC, they have huge fan bases that reliably travel with their teams. And so, my initial thought was that it’s going to be a positive economic impact (on) Norman going forward.” Martin said game days in Norman bring in upward of $10 million under a normal scenario, and he expects it to grow with the move. “That’s really changeable dollars that are being infused into our local economy. Getting into restaurants, retail shops, hotels, motels — those are real jobs, real people that we’re talking about. They’re going to be positively impacted,” Martin said. With the average distance between Norman and SEC towns being 612.26 miles — compared to 356.88 miles for Big 12 — many teams in the SEC will be traveling farther than Big 12 teams. Martin said this will lead to longer stays in Norman, which could translate into a boost to the local economy. “It’s not as simple as driving up or down I-35. Teams from the SEC will probably be making a weekend of it,” Martin said. “When you imagine that side of college football, you’re talking about three- or four-day trips that involve hotels, dining, shopping. Not to mention, of course, the impact that will have on the university through game tickets and refreshments during the game.” In 2019, OU received $42,947,375 in ticket sales, leading to $163,126,695 of total revenue and a $5 million profit for the season, according to USA Today. Campus Corner businesses could also benefit from the expected rise in visitors during future SEC game days. Gordon Coyier, the store manager at Pickleman’s, said the influx of game day tourism will allow all of Campus Corner to prosper. “I think (the move) is putting Norman even more on the map,” Coyier said. “I think it’s going to solidify that football atmosphere. … I think everybody down here on Campus Corner, if they’re doing what they are supposed to (in order to provide quality customer service), will benefit greatly.” Fans are also looking forward to what will happen in Norman. Bobby Howard, a 2019 public relations OU alumnus, said he is expecting a large change in the town for the future with the SEC. “I think, initially, it’s going to be a big, big boom for Norman,” Howard said. “I think it’s going to be a big deal for the local economy.” Another aspect Howard is looking forward to is the possible change in the tailgating atmosphere and

Tailgaters gather at The Grove on the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, Mississippi. Christian Johnson/Daily Mississippian

policies as OU moves into a conference with rich tailgating traditions like the Grove for Ole Miss, the “sailgating” at Tennessee, the “midnight yell” for Texas A&M and “Gamecock Park” for South Carolina. In multiple collegiate tailgating rankings, SEC schools hold four out of the top five places. “The SEC is the gold standard for tailgating. ... OU needs to step their level up there — they might not even be bronze,” Howard said. “(The SEC) takes it to the next level. … We have the ability, if the university could just give us some more damn space. You know, give us more leniency to really be at that level.” In 2017, OU athletics implemented new regulations prohibiting tailgating on parts of Lindsey Street and Jenkins Avenue to ensure “the comfort and enjoyment of game day patrons.” According to Tailgate Concierge — a website that provides tailgating guides for several campuses — OU has controlled tailgating policy that prohibits alcohol on school grounds apart from the stadium, which began selling alcohol in 2019. The university’s current tailgating policy also prohibits people from setting up tailgates before noon on the day preceding the game. Howard said tailgaters don’t agree with these policies. “I think a lot of tailgaters are frustrated,” Howard said. “The move to the SEC, in terms of tailgating, it’s going to make things better. And I think it’s going to be a situation where we’re all going to have to step up (to) provide an atmosphere that is on par with the SEC.” Beyond tailgating and economic growth, Martin said he believes Norman will receive more exposure and visitors as the school transitions into the SEC. “The exposure that this move will have for the university and our community will be significant, and I think you’ll find that a lot of people — once they come here for a gameday weekend, and they enjoy themselves — they’ll most likely come back and visit on non-game day weekends ... to spend even more of their dollars here in our community,” Martin said. “I think that this move — while it’s a transition, and it’s different — I think it could have some really positive, long-lasting impacts for the university and our community.”

13 Additional reporting by Taylor Jones and Peggy Dodd



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