When Big 12 Conference officials decided to resume the conference championship game this season, reactions were mixed.
It was understandable the league opted to revive the title game because of the perception that a lack of a championship game hampered the league’s chances of earning a final four playoff slot. Some were for the move, some were against the return to a title game for the first time since 2010.
It didn’t make sense, at least to me, to force two teams to play each other again. The winning team during the season could miss the playoff by losing the championship game.
That’s the situation Oklahoma faces Saturday against Texas Christian in the Big 12 Championship game at 11:30 a.m. at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Second-ranked OU is assured a spot in the playoff entering the game. A loss could end those hopes.
OU defeated TCU, 38-20, in the regular season meeting in Norman. The Sooners are favored Saturday but it appears the title game intensity will be magnified.
After defeating Baylor, 45-22, in the regular season finale last Friday, TCU was penalized for its role in a third quarter brawl.
The league suspended TCU’s starting safety Nick Orr for the first half against OU for throwing punches during the brawl near BU’s sideline.
Horned Frog coach Gary Patterson was upset. He believes Orr should have been suspended for one quarter. In the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Patterson said, “I am disappointed for Orr because he’s a senior and he’s not going to be able to play the whole Big 12 title game. It’s not like he came off the bench and cold-cocked a guy.”
Orr’s brothers took their disappointment a step further. Zachary Orr, a former Baltimore Ravens linebacker, and Terrance Orr, a DeSoto, Texas, assistant, blasted the ruling, mentioning Sooner quarterback Baker Mayfield in tweets. Both brothers felt Nick was defending himself after being punched and kicked.
Zachary tweeted, “You can’t get up and defend yourself after getting knocked down to the ground and kicked, but you can make obscene gestures and profanity on camera and no punishment?” Terrance tweeted, “What is he supposed to do? I guess if he would have grabbed his crotch and made obscene gestures on National TV he wouldn’t have been suspended. @Big 12Conference is a joke.”
There’s more. Following TCU’s win, Horned Frog sophomore safety Innis Gaines remembered Mayfield reportedly clapping at TCU’s players before the game in Norman. Gaines tweeted “Keep that same intensity” with a photo of clapping hands.
TCU defensive end Mat Boesen was named the National Defensive Player of the Week as well as the Big 12’s top defender after setting a team and league record with five and a half sacks against BU.
In the first meeting with OU, Boesen was ejected in the second quarter for allegedly kicking a Sooner player.
Ron Holt is a sports columnist for the Stillwater News Press. Holt served as sports editor for more than 30 years and resides in Bixby.