ARLINGTON, Texas — Oklahoma coach Brent Venables offered a strong statement on Thursday in support of continuing the Bedlam rivalry series against Oklahoma State during his Big 12 Media Days appearance. With the Sooners set to join the SEC by 2025, at the latest, the future of the annual showdown has remained up in the air. The first-year Sooners coach, however, chooses to remain optimistic.
“It’s an incredibly important game,” Venables said. “It’s got a long history and tradition for over 100 years. Regardless of where the schools have been, it’s important from a foundational standpoint. You’ve got to have some hate in your heart for your rival.”
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy sang a different tune during his time with the media on Wednesday, though. The Cowboys coach, entering his 18th season leading the program, threw cold water on the idea that Bedlam would remain a priority in Stillwater when Oklahoma moves to the SEC.
“Bedlam’s history,” Gundy said. “Bedlam is not going to be Bedlam when they leave the conference.”
The Bedlam rivalry between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State dates back to 1904 in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and has been played every year annually since 1910. The Sooners lead the series 90-19-7, but Oklahoma State topped the Sooners in Lincoln Riley’s final Bedlam to earn a trip to the Big 12 Championship Game in 2021.
While the schools will be joining different conferences, there’s a history of historic rivalries finding ways to survive in different conferences. Florida and Florida State play every year, along with Kentucky and Louisville. Iowa and Iowa State’s Cy-Hawk Rivalry remains one of the longest-standing, cross-conference rivalry games on the board.
“For us in our state, we’re really fortunate,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said about the annual rivalry game with Iowa. “There are no pro sports teams. To have two Power Five conference programs compete against each other, I think that means a lot to the entire state. For us, we’re really grateful that this has continued and has the opportunity to continue heading forward.”
Unfortunately, college football has begun to move away from that focus. Texas and Texas A&M have not played since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012, though the rivalry will renew with the Longhorns heading to the SEC. West Virginia lost traditional rivalries with Pitt and Virginia Tech after the Big East folded. Oklahoma lost another rivalry game with Nebraska when the ‘Huskers joined the Big Ten.
Venables still remains optimistic that he will have many more opportunities to coach against the Cowboys during his time as Sooners head coach. He was part of 13 Bedlam games as Oklahoma defensive coordinator under Bob Stoops.
“For us, when the time comes, that’s a tremendous focus,” Venables said. “Year round in this state, it’s important to so many people. It brings a lot of joy and a lot of heartache to so many people.
Gundy is less optimistic.
“The future in Bedlam is a year or two left,” Gundy said. “That’s the future of Bedlam, based on somebody else’s decision.”