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With Game against Pac-12 Foe Upcoming, Gundy Says Big 12 ‘Ahead’ in Battle of Conferences

‘I just think that we all realize that, at some point, (the Big 12) is gonna grow. And the Big Ten is gonna grow. That’s what’s gonna happen.”



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — A war is raging behind closed doors in conference realignment as different leagues fight to stay relevant, but two of the hardest battling soldiers are set to have a battle Saturday.

Oklahoma State hosts Arizona State at 6:30 p.m. in Boone Pickens Stadium. With the Big 12 losing Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC and the Pac-12 losing USC and UCLA (for now) to the Big Ten, the Big 12 and Pac-12 have been pinned against each other to fight for survival over recent months, a battle Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy says the Big 12 is winning.

“The Big 12 is already ahead,” Gundy said. “We’re fine. Big 12 is already working on it. We’re in good shape. … I’m getting good information. I’m just saying the Big 12 is in good shape.

“… I just think that we all realize that, at some point, this league (the Big 12) is gonna grow. And the Big Ten is gonna grow. That’s what’s gonna happen.”

Gundy said Saturday’s on-field battle will have little to do with what ends up happening long-term.

Reports have surfaced for much of the summer that linked Arizona State, Arizona, Colorado and Utah (four Pac-12 schools) with the Big 12. Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff accused the Big 12 of trying to “destabilize” the Pac-12 (after the Big Ten took two Pac-12 schools and is reportedly looking at others to poach).

“I’ve been spending four weeks trying to defend against grenades that have been lobbed in from every corner of the Big 12 trying to destabilize our remaining conference,” Kliavkoff said this summer. “I understand why they’re doing it, when you look the relative media value between the two conferences. I get it, I get why they’re scared, why they’re trying to destabilize it. I was just tired of that. That’s probably not the most collegial thing I’ve ever said.”

On the field, the Big 12 finished Week 1 of the college football season 9-1. The Pac-12 is 9-3. The first on-field battle between the two conferences took place this past weekend when TCU (Big 12) beat Colorado (Pac-12) 38-13.

Gundy said coaches won’t play a major role in conference realignment, saying it’s moreso up to the athletic directors and conference commissioners. When asked whether he thinks Arizona State would make a good addition to the conference, Gundy spoke bluntly that it’ll come down to dollars and cents, not points on a scoreboard.

“If they pay us good media money and budget-wise in the conference, we don’t take cuts and athletic directors can divvy up the money amongst the athletic department and we can stay on the same curve, it was a good move,” Gundy said. “That’s all it comes down to. It’s all turned into money.”

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