Bill Self understands the importance of college basketball rivalries.
Self’s teams at Oral Roberts and Tulsa annually played in the Mayor’s Cup game. His squads at Illinois and Kansas had hard-fought battles with Missouri.
As a former Oklahoma State player, Self knows how much Bedlam basketball means to his native state. And while many mourned the loss of the KU-Mizzou series when the Tigers joined the Southeastern Conference, Self said a similar situation brewing at Oklahoma would be rough if Bedlam isn’t continued.
“OU-OSU not playing would be the equivalent of maybe even more so than Kansas-Missouri. That’s a big one,” Self said last month during Big 12 Media Days in Kansas City. “I hope that doesn’t happen. I don’t know if devastation is the right word because it’s not. But it will certainly take away from the interest level in the state.”
On Saturday, the schools will play an important game that will draw the eyes of the college football world. With OU’s potential departure to the SEC as early as 2023 and as late as 2025, the number of conference basketball games is quickly evaporating.
The men’s teams are scheduled to play Feb. 5 in Stillwater and on Feb. 26 in Norman.
“I would think OU would want to play (in nonconference games),” Self said. “Oklahoma State would want to play too, but they may feel right now that they can’t. It’s kind of jilted. I don’t have any idea.
“Or it may be a situation that OU feels like we don’t have to do that right now. The thing about playing, you really don’t like playing people who you have given an agenda on why they come at you, if that makes any sense at all.”
During the conference’s get-together last month, Oklahoma coach Porter Moser was asked about the future of Bedlam.
“(OSU coach) Mike (Boynton) is a friend of mine and we truly haven’t talked about it yet,” Moser said. “We’re both competitive. We both love college basketball. We both love what’s good about college basketball. I know those conversations will come.
“I love college rivalries. I love college basketball. Everything I’ve read and heard and watched — I’ve watched the Bedlam games — it’s a great rivalry.”
Boynton also weighed in on the subject during Big 12 Media Days.
“I expect (Oklahoma) to continue to be good. As far as it relates to the league, no one really cares what I think about that. I don’t really give it much thought. I’ve got a job to do to make sure Oklahoma State is as good as we can be. I don’t know if anybody is going to ask if I want to play them moving forward. If we do, we will. If they say no …,” Boynton said.
“Those decisions are going to be made way above me. I’ll do what the people in charge of the athletic department as a whole, (athletic director) Chad Weiberg, our president, Dr. (Kayse) Shrum, we’ll follow their orders and do what they think is best.”