How Bedlam football’s demise can be Bedlam basketball’s gain

How Bedlam football’s demise can be Bedlam basketball’s gain

As Oklahoma and Oklahoma State break the conference ties that bind them, maybe it’s exactly what was needed to revive Bedlam basketball

Todd Lisenbee

By Todd Lisenbee

| Mar 1, 2024, 8:00am CST

Todd Lisenbee

By Todd Lisenbee

Mar 1, 2024, 8:00am CST

(This story appeared in Todd Lisenbee’s newsletter. Subscribe here to receive Sellout Crowd in your inbox here.)

As Javian McCollum turned a bad possession into a good Sooner memory last Saturday, many people celebrated Oklahoma’s win in the last conference meeting between the Sooners and their Payne County rivals, but let’s be honest — Bedlam basketball hasn’t exactly been a flash point in the rivalry recently. A game that used to be like a spark in a tinderbox has turned into a dud in the last decade.

Have the games been close? Yes. But has interest been high? Not hardly. Mike Boynton’s Cowboys have been mired in mediocrity and until this season, the Porter Moser experience in Norman hasn’t gone as planned. The two teams have made the same NCAA Tournament twice in the last nine years. Bedlam football has become king during that period. It’s become more important to both team’s fan bases as basketball has become less and less of a point of pride.

For many reasons, Bedlam football is going to be nearly impossible to schedule in the future. Softball and baseball can be made to work, but a three-game series is going to be tough to pull off, especially with uncertainty over what the new-look Big 12 and SEC conference schedules will look like in those sports. But basketball, theoretically, can remain unchanged. Basketball can still be played home-and-home every season. More so than any major other sport, it’s possible to make it happen. It’s possible to keep Bedlam alive, in its current scheduled form.

Of course, the dates of the games will change. In a perfect world, you would play one game in December, in the spot between football conference championships and the new college football playoff. You would then play a second game in January/February. Surely the Big 12 and SEC would work to make the scheduling work if both teams wanted to stop down conference play for a Saturday. 

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. In the absence of football, the basketball rivalry between the state schools could make a resounding return to relevancy. Both schools’ leaders would be best served to try to keep Bedlam basketball alive, and alive on home court sites. Both coaches should be asking for every opportunity to get the fans engaged in their product, and a home-and-home non-conference set can keep the Bedlam fire burning, at least until the next big (and inevitable) changes to college football.

 

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Todd Lisenbee is the host of The Todd Pod with Todd Lisenbee on the Sellout Crowd network. He has been a producer/talk show host at WWLS, The Sports Animal and 107.7 The Franchise during a Oklahoma broadcasting career that spans to 2002. Todd has broadcast high school basketball, football and soccer play-by-play since 2003 and is currently the voice of the UCO Bronchos, a role he has been in since 2018. He can be reached at @ToddOnSports on Twitter/X or Instagram or via email at [email protected].

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