There aren’t many slow seasons anymore in college football with the 24 hour news cycle, year round recruiting coverage, and spring football to supplement the actual season, but with campuses emptying and a two-week dead period in progress on the recruiting trail, the end of May has a tendency to drag for fans. Luckily, there’s a growing feud between Big 12 coaches and the SEC to fill the void.
A little over a week ago, Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops called the allusion of the Southeastern Conference’s football dominance “propaganda.” Then Kansas Jayhawks head coach and former Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis reiterated that sentiment with a statement of his own.
Today, Oklahoma State Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy was the latest to take a swipe at the SEC. Gundy didn’t do so by taking a verbal swipe like his Big 12 peers, but instead refused to allow transferring quarterback Wes Lunt a release to any SEC schools or Southern Miss.
Transfer rules have been a rather fiery issue in college football, as coaches are often allowed to dictate the future of transferring athletes by narrowing their options prohibitively via technicalities in their release. In the case of Lunt, Gundy’s decision is a curious one because the true sophomore to be only was seeking transfer to the five schools on his list (Southern Miss, Illinois, Louisville, Vanderbilt and Tennessee).
None of those schools play in the Big 12, none compete directly against Oklahoma State in recruiting and none are on any of Oklahoma State’s future schedules. Common courtesy generally dictates that Wes Lunt–who left under good terms and in good academic standing according to Mike Gundy himself and Oklahoma State University–be allowed to transfer to the school of his choosing.
So why, pray tell, is Gundy excluding SEC schools and Conference USA resident Southern Miss from the running?
Well, when it comes to Southern Miss the easiest conclusion to arrive at is that Mike Gundy is taking a shot at his former offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who is now the head coach at Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles are not a threat to compete with Oklahoma State in any imaginable scenario, and if Lunt were to transfer to play in a familiar system at a Conference USA school, that’s conceivably where he’d pose the smallest threat.
I’m not sure if there’s bad blood between Gundy and Monken, but it certainly looks like a bit of gamesmanship on behalf of Mike Gundy.
However, the SEC blow is similarly peculiar. Oklahoma State isn’t naturally competitive with the SEC in any way, and only Mississippi State is slated to play the Cowboys at any time in the future, so, once again, it looks like Gundy’s just flexing his muscles at the SEC as a whole.
The Big 12 and the SEC currently make the most convincing case for best conference in the land, and that discussion inevitably spills into message board forums all over the Internet. However, it’s hard to understand why Big 12 coaches seem to care about the SEC’s perception SOOOOO much.
The only debate of consequence we’ve had about the best conference in college football is of whether or not the SEC is AS dominant as we think they are. In other words, we’ve conceded that the SEC is better right now, but in interest of arguing for argument’s sake, we’re yelling about how large the gap actually is.
It’s become commonplace to accuse the SEC of lacking depth, although advanced statistical analysis simply doesn’t agree. However, there are some reasonable arguments to be made that the Big 12 is starting to reel them in.
But, the problem for the Big 12 is that they’ve allowed themselves to get wrapped up in perception at a time when the perception simply doesn’t matter anymore. They don’t have a particularly great case, but even if they did, they’re ten years late to the party.
The BCS is history beginning in the fall of 2014, and where the SEC’s perceived strength allowed them to steal national championship bids in the past, the playoff essentially eliminates that concern. Finally, the Big 12 will have it’s chance to prove themselves on the field.
Also, do you think Nick Saban gives a damn if people operate under the assumption that the Big 12 is deeper than the SEC? And even if he did, do you think he’d let everyone see how much it bothered him?
No. He’d go out and schedule Texas in their own backyard (Cowboys Stadium, of course) and tell them to go out back and pick their own switch. Then he’d scowl in the postgame press conference about how his young defensive backs have a lot of room for improvement (that third quarter touchdown pass when Bama was up 35-10 was simply unacceptable).
Sure, this argument is fun to have as a fan, but if you were a coach why would you want to get involved? Stoops and Weis look agitated. Mike Gundy, on the other hand, looks genuinely spiteful, AND hypocritical to be quite frank.
Gundy himself was on the verge of taking a truckload of money from Tennessee, and now he’s denying Wes Lunt the chance to seamlessly transfer there. And he can’t go get a phenomenal education at Vanderbilt, for what? The 1-in-10,000 chance that Oklahoma State plays the Vols or the Commodores in a national semifinal during Lunt’s three remaining years of eligibility?
I get that there’s a rivalry here. I get that the Big 12 feels slighted, too, but I’m not sure how Big 12 coaches taking their junk out and waving it at the SEC makes it any better.
Worst of all, a kid who just wants a chance to play ball is caught in the middle of it.