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Christopher’s Corner: Ranking Our Rivalries

Where does each Big 12 team stand in terms of having a real rivalry with OSU?

Real hate is a terrible, terrible thing. Sports hate, on the other hand, is an absolutely beautiful thing. It runs deep, nearly as deep as sports love. It manifests itself in tireless rants, upside down window stickers, and approximately 93% of fan message board posts. It also produces one of the very pillars of competition and fandom - rivalries. Sure, some "rivalries" are allegedly built on things like healthy competition and mutual respect and blah blah blah. But the real ones? They’re built on hate.

Oklahoma State, like every school, has its fair share of rivals. That list can change somewhat from year to year and can definitely change from sport to sport (I doubt even K-State would list Kansas as a football rival). It can also vary wildly from player to player or fan to fan. So, who are our real rivals? Where do each of the Big 12 teams stand on Cowboy Nation’s hate list? You can read some thoughts on the topic from some of our other writers as part of this Roundtable, but here’s my take on ranking our rivalries with each of our conference foes across all sports.

9. West Virginia - It’s not at all that the Mountaineers aren’t competitive enough to be rivals. They have a pretty strong athletic program that isn’t limited to Dana’s Cirque du Insanity. Huggy has a decent thing going with their men’s basketball program and Morgantown is tough place to play no matter the sport. No, WVU comes in last for me mostly because we haven’t had as much time for the hatred to grow and they really haven’t ripped our hearts out yet. You can’t really tell me your blood boils as an OSU fan when you see Geno Smith on TV the same way it does when you see Blake Griffin.

8. K-State - This, for me, is truly a case of mutual respect. I like K-State. I like Bill Snyder. If I had a son who was good enough to play Big 12 football and for some reason didn’t go to OSU, I’d want him to play for Snyder, assuming the coach was still around. It’s just hard to hate K-State. Football games against them are always wildly entertaining, and yet I never come away from even the losses feeling bitter about the Purple Cats. They bump West Virginia because there’s more history there and we will always have the Earthquake Game.

7. TCU - The Horned Frogs are similar to K-State in color scheme and in the fact that I can’t really find it in me to hate them. They’re different in some ways, being private and located in a major metro area, but for some reason the small school vibe still resonates with me. I ranked them slightly ahead of K-State even though the series doesn’t have near the history because of things like baseball. The regular season record is 5-4 in favor of OSU over the last three seasons, but the Frogs have beaten the Pokes in two of the last three Big 12 Tournaments. There’s also the interesting storylines of Doug Meacham and now J.W. Walsh. Those are steps toward a rivalry, even if I still root for them over most teams.

6. Iowa State - The Cyclones are one day away from being much lower on this list. Unfortunately, that one day is one of the most painful days in the history of Oklahoma State University. That cursed goal post in Ames and everything that was lost on the field that night (which was nothing compared to what was lost off the field) is enough to jump Iowa State up a few spots. Add in an insanely competitive and not exactly unheated series on the basketball court, and we’re starting to get into something that resembles a rivalry. Sort of.

5. Kansas - Yeah, I know. Their football team. Mhmm. I hear you. I just said even K-State wouldn’t consider them as a rival. Yep. Vaguely recall that. But basketball. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the Phog or GIA. It doesn’t matter if one (we won’t say which) team is ranked in the top five and the other is sub-.500. None of it matters when it’s the Cowboys and Jayhawks. It is always exciting. It is always dramatic. It is always testy. From Keiton Page doing his best mini-Hulk impression to Marcus Smart back-flipping on hollowed ground to the Bill Self factor, what has taken place between these two men’s basketball programs is enough to elevate this rivalry even though there’s really very little else to support it. There is not a Big 12 team outside of Norman that has produced more players I sports hate than KU basketball. Truth.

4. Texas - The Longhorns have perhaps the premier athletic department in the entire country - just ask them. In reality, they are relatively strong year in and year out in a number of sports and boast (oh, do they) one of the most well-rounded athletic programs in the conference. While they’ve struggled of late on the football field, they’ve taken Big 12 supremacy from us in golf, which stings. They swept the season series in softball in 2016 and are 8-1 against the Cowgirls over the last three years. Despite an abysmal baseball season that saw the Horns lose three regular season games and the first round Big 12 Tournament game against OSU by a combined score of 27-11, Bevo & Co. came back and knocked the Pokes out of the conference tournament for a second straight year in the fifth and final contest of the year. Even when their football team isn’t great, there is a certain satisfaction that comes with beating them and an undeniable bitterness that comes with defeat. Throw in all they’ve done to the detriment of the Big 12 Conference, and what you have certainly begins to feel a lot like hate.

3. Baylor - What is it about Baylor? No, we hated them before all that. Well, before we KNEW about all that, anyway. Was it how quickly they seemed to rise from obscurity? Was it the politics involved in their inclusion in the Big 12 to begin with? Was it all just Robert Griffin III? Okay, that could be a lot of it. Until the last two years, Heisman or not, the Bears have really been no contest on the football field. And yet, there’s been a steady rise in disgust for Baylor. Maybe we just really hate basketball uniforms that resemble fishing lures? Seems like something Oklahomans could maybe get behind. It’s somewhat confounding honestly, because Baylor’s place in the hearts of OSU fans seems to have much less to do with actual game results than maybe any other school on the list. But whatever the reasons, the sentiment toward the Bears is real.

2. Texas Tech - Oh, the Red Raiders. How we love to hate one another. Somewhere on this Earth, an Oklahoma State fan and a Texas Tech fan are arguing about who hated whom first. It’s happening. You know it is. Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are really the perfect storm for a rivalry - exciting, competitive football games, similar mascots and traditions that allow for bickering about the origins of each, football coaches who go to the same barber (okay, it’s probably a stylist, to be honest), and a shared desire to be the bane of the big dogs’ existence. Of all the rivalries within the conference, I find this one to be the most entertaining. The hatred is no match for OU, and some even claim to not care about Tech at all, though that’s almost always more of a shot at their relevance than a true reflection of emotion. The truth is, Texas Tech, you’re just too much fun to hate, and we wouldn’t know how to quit you if we tried. Except maybe by going to the Pac-12 with Texas, Oklahoma, and TCU.

1. Oklahoma - Shocking, no? Bedlam is far and away our most bitter rivalry and that is news to exactly no one, save for the eye-roll inducing faction of the Sooner fanbase that insists we are not their rival. How dare we consider ourselves worthy of such an honor? Say that as they may, the truth is, deep down in places they don’t talk about at parties, they hate us. The very adamancy with which they deny our rivalry proves its existence. The relentlessness with which Sooner fans attempt to hijack the comments thread of every OSU-related article known to man just to repeatedly proclaim how much they don’t care shows just how much they do. Stop with the charades. Just let the hate flow, I can promise it’s flowing strong the other way. Even with OSU’s recent ascent to a consistent top 25 football program, there are still those within Cowboy Nation that measure entire seasons solely by Bedlam. That is not, and likely never will be, true of any other game on the schedule. Because nothing is like Bedlam. And I grieve for the OU fans who refuse to embrace it and enjoy it.

There are countless ways this list could go. It’s subject to personal preferences, how much you value some sports over others, what certain players or coaches or plays or games just stuck with you and forever changed your perception of a school. And obviously if you just look at individual sports, the list is very different and some include schools outside the conference. All kinds of variables. Sports hate isn’t always logical, it doesn’t always make sense, but it’s always entertaining. So how about you? What’s your list look like?