When it comes to the Bedlam football rivalry ending, coach Mike Gundy adamant that ‘Oklahoma State has no part in this’
After a week of speculation about the future of Oklahoma State-Oklahoma football rivalry, it appears that the rivalry has come to an end. For good. No more “Bedlam” as we know it. The series between the two schools will not continue after the 2020 season. Oklahoma State and OU had scheduled five games from 2021 to 2026 — all at neutral sites. Athletic directors and coaches from both schools declined comment on why they would not play each other beyond that final game in 2026, but OSU sources indicated it’s because of OU’s unwillingness to continue playing at neutral sites every third year as well as a lack of trust in OU as a partner in negotiations because of past issues with contracts and dates.
Mike Gundy on the Ending of the Bedlam Rivalry
Gundy’s preference for the future of the rivalry has been for a two-year home and home series with rotating sites. He said he’s been in contact with people at OU about doing just that, but no one from OU has ever responded to his overtures. He said he’s also spoken to the Big 12, who he said has been trying to facilitate talks between the schools but with no success. He said ending the rivalry is a “big mistake” that will have negative consequences for both schools. “It’s a damn shame,” he said. “That’s not who we are. It’s not who we’ve ever been and it’s not who we should be.” He pointed out that the rivalry is one of the best in the country, is popular with fans and, more importantly, is a big source of revenue for both schools. He said the revenue from the Bedlam game “pays a lot of bills” for OSU athletics. Gundy said OSU has no need to end the rivalry and that once the series ends he doubts “you get it started up again.”
Alternate Possibilities for Bedlam Games
One alternate possibility for Bedlam games after 2020 is for the Sooners to play Texas at the Cotton Bowl. That game currently is played in Austin, Texas, and Gundy said he’s heard some discussion of moving it to the Cotton Bowl, where OU played both Texas and OSU in the past. Another possibility is for the Longhorns to play at the Sooners’ stadium, which has a much larger capacity than the Cotton Bowl. UT and OU have played in Dallas once, in 2004 when the game drew a Cotton Bowl-like record crowd of 84,129. The Longhorns also have played at the Sooners’ stadium, in 1976 when they drew just 12,429.
Fans’ Responses to a Potential Bedlam Ending
One OSU fan on Twitter said the decision to end the rivalry was the result of OU being “whiny babies” and claimed that OSU is not concerned about their marketability with the absence of the rivalry. A different OSU fan tweeted that the school should play UT if an OU game can’t be scheduled. One Sooners fan said that the two teams “shouldn’t play each other every year” and that it’s “not healthy for either program.” Another OSU fan said that the two teams should “play every year or not at all.” A third OSU fan tweeted that the rivalry is “too good to end” and added, “It’s the best rivalry in CFB.” A fourth OSU fan said it is “not right” to end the Bedlam game due to “bitter feelings” between the two schools.
While the rivalry might be ending, it is important to note that it is ending because OU is choosing to end it. No one will force them to keep playing OSU, but they are the ones choosing not to. The rivalry is ending because of OU, not OSU. The Sooners have not played OSU since the 2016 season due to a contractual dispute over the Bedlam game in 2022. The Sooners want the game to be played after the 2021 season, but OSU officials have said the proposed date is unworkable for them. The games in 2017 and 2018 were played as scheduled.