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December 17, 2013

Sooners not concerning themselves with SEC vs. Big 12 hype machine

NORMAN — The easiest way to look at bowl games is by pitting conference vs. conference in some sort of end-of-the-season exam. The league that wins the most bowl games — especially BCS games — wins the mythological title.

OU coach Bob Stoops, perhaps, has the most to gain and lose when it comes to the Big 12 vs. SEC matchup. He hasn’t been able to utter the acronym without setting off a national debate over the last year. Stoops declined to start another one Monday.

“There’s always a lot of talk, because newspapers have to be filled and airtime has to be filled,” he said about the conference debate. “You have to talk about something. We don’t concern ourself with it, really. That’s their job to do. Our job is to get ready to play and to do the work we do.”

However, the idea of toting the league banner has never been something they’ve embraced or really even acknowledged.

Players chose to come to OU for various reasons. Most were geographic with a heavy dose of the program’s successful history. The league it plays in was not an overriding factor.

“That stuff doesn’t matter to me,” OU linebacker Eric Striker said. “Fans are

different everywhere you go.”

But there’s no getting around the fact the Big 12 needs to start winning these BCS bowl games. Whether the schools like it or not, the perception of the conference becomes a bigger influence to recruits every year. Most want to be the best and they want to play against the best competition possible.

Just look at the way SEC teams have flooded NFL draft boards with their players makes a very convincing argument.

But the idea of the conference being anything more than teams OU faces on an annual basis is a foreign concept. Its players do not see the Sugar Bowl as the Big 12 vs. the SEC. They see OU vs. Alabama.

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