With all the talk about conference realignment lately, fans of every school are speculating where their team will land, and who they will share a conference with should realignment actually happen. "Will we go here or there?" they all say all the time. Well in the case of Oklahoma State fans, the gigantic inferiority complex we so noticeably wear like a 2010 NFL draftee wears a watch with a 9" diameter face, clouds our judgment so much that we can't reasonably determine where Oklahoma State would fall in all of this. We are too close, and too pessimistic.
Well I am here (yes here..in person) to tell all of you (and myself) that we are a big time athletic program (relatively speaking). Sure we aren't a Texas or Iowa State but we are a good sized program. No matter what happens we will most likely end up playing in a conference with other big athletic programs - and not necessarily because of a tethering deal with OU. Why do I think/know this?
It is simple... let's just look at revenue. While I know athletic revenue isn't the only ball in play here it can certainly be used as an indicator of an athletic programs potential value to a new conference. So let's take a look at where OSU's athletic revenue fits with the rest of the NCAA.
The source I am using for these numbers is the Equity in Athletics website mostly because they have a .gov in their url (and who doesn't trust a dot gov?).
Here is a quick list of the Top 60 revenue generating programs over the past 4 years:
Click here for full list with actual revenues.
Do you see that? Do you see Oklahoma State at #23? If this were the current Billboard album chart we would be one spot ahead of Ke$ha! Yes, you read that correctly.. we are bigger than that Ke$ha thing.
And of course there is some T Boone money in those figures (however this data does NOT include the 165-ish million dollar donation from 2005), but T Boone is a part of our athletic program no? He is incentive for another conference to want us. We can't remove him from the equation completely. Every school has their backers that help make them more desirable, ours just happened to give us one giant-ass sum of money at one time.
And on top of the revenue rankings we are competitive enough to expect post-season success in just about every sport we play (much rarer than you would think) and have won 48 national championships.
The point I am making here is not that we shouldn't be speculating about where we may end up should/when conference realignment happens, my point (!!!?) is that "we" need to stop thinking that OSU will be shunned to a revamped mid-major conference because no one will want us. We need to stop thinking that the only reason the SEC or PAC-10 would want OSU is because of the popularity of Bedlam. Oklahoma State generates more revenue than a lot of schools that we would never consider as potentially being left out of a super-conference. So let's focus our talk on what super-conference OSU would go to instead of having the "no one will want us" discussion. (When are these fictional discussions happening btw? I would like to attend the next one.)
Most of us grew up hearing about nothing but OU football which planted the seeds of a massive inferiority complex that has grown out of control thanks to being fed season after season of underachieving football. But when you take a step back and judge Oklahoma State's value based on who we are as a program, and not based on who we are not... you can not deny our merit. Merit that the SEC, PAC-10, and BIG-10 no doubt see as well.