Because it is the college football off-season, conference realignment talk is back, whether or not there is any real smoke behind it. Oklahoma's future has been a talking point, but the school's president says the Big 12 is OU's home... for now.
Paul Finebaum is among the loudest voices raising questions about Oklahoma's future in the Big 12... and the Big 12's future as a whole.
Oklahoma president David Boren doesn't sound nearly as worried about the situation, though he is leaving all options on the table for when the Big 12 media rights expire, freeing member schools from the league's grant of rights.
During a Thursday Q&A, Boren was asked about Finebaum's assertion that Oklahoma is "desperate" to leave the conference. He very plainly denied that claim, but his answer was also quite carefully worded.
From Guerin Emig at the Tulsa World:
“Oh, no, no, no,” Boren said. “I would say no.”
“I don’t disagree with the whole thought that it’s in our interest that the Big 12 succeed,” Boren said before telling reporters how famously OU gets along with conference rivals Oklahoma State and Texas. “So, no, we’re not desperate to go anywhere else ...
“I would just say that we’re, at this point in time, hoping the Big 12 will improve and succeed.”
As Emig points out, college football fans will likely take a long look at that "at this point in time," and later on, Boren reiterates that options are on the table once the Grant of Rights expires.
“I think for us, it would not be advisable at this point of time to reopen the grant of rights question for a long number of years,” Boren said, “because no one has a crystal ball to see exactly how these conferences are going to evolve. I think there’ll be more consolidation frankly …
“We wouldn’t walk away from the Big 12 lightly, I’ll put it that way. We don’t have any plans to leave right now. There’s not any active conversation going on.”
So don't expect Oklahoma to leave the Big 12 tomorrow, or in all likelihood, the next few years. But if things don't change with regard to the balance of power in the conference, including the Longhorn Network taking away the Big 12's ability to launch its own linear television network, we wouldn't be shocked if the Sooners are one of the major shoes to drop during the next wave of realignment. Whenever that may be.