David Boren thought he was giving the Big 12 a vote of confidence and closing the door on conference realignment in the immediate future. In reality, the University of Oklahoma president only stirred the pot.
Boren has been Oklahoma's president since 1994, when the Sooners were a member of the Big Eight conference. Though the school have has truly left a conference during Boren's tenure — the Big Eight's eight members merged with some of the Southwest Conference in 1996 — they have been swimming in conference realignment chatter for much of the last decade.
And with Paul Finebaum-driven rumors that Oklahoma "pretty desperately" wants out of the conference, that chatter won't end until the Sooners — and dozens of other schools — sign impossible-to-void media rights' extensions that close the door on major realignment for at least a decade.
“I don’t disagree with the whole thought that it’s in our interest that the Big 12 succeed,” Boren told reporters this week. “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.”
You're hoping the Big 12 succeeds? Sure hope so. It sounds like the dreaded public statement from a general manager backing his head coach when it's clearly his job to back his head coach.
Boren, who also said he expects a new wave of conference realignment in "four or five years" when media rights deals are being renegotiated, added that Oklahoma isn't going anywhere … right now.
“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. I don’t look till four or five years from now for all of these things to become pretty fluid again. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.”
Maybe I'm searching for something between the lines that does not exist. However, it's impossible to ignore Boren tip-toeing around a long-term commitment to the Big 12.