“Although he [OU president David Boren] passed on opportunities to directly criticize the University of Texas—whose television network has been blamed by many for destabilizing the Big 12—Boren made it clear that the two schools may not end up in the same athletic conference.”
—Wayne Greene, “Boren in charge,” Tulsa World, September 20, 2011
I had planned to publish a different post this week. However, because of the current question and even controversy of whether the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University should leave the Big-12 football conference—to some degree because of the actions of the University of Texas—I decided to substitute this one.
It is a letter that I wrote back in the 1980s to the governor of Oklahoma about his recent appointment as the chairman of the Southern Growth Policies Board, and particularly about his suggestion that the state of Texas be invited to join that same board.
Since the sentiments I expressed in that letter twenty-eight years ago seem to be resurfacing in today’s headlines, I have decided that it is my civic duty to pass them along for the consideration of loyal football fans from both the state universities of Oklahoma and Arkansas.
A Letter to the Governor of Oklahoma
About the State of Texas
“We don’t give a d—- about the whole state of Texas,
the whole state of Texas,
the whole state of Texas.
We don’t give a d—- about the whole state of Texas,
cause we’re from Arkansas!”
—1960s Arkansas Razorback Football Cheer
In 1983 after I had lived in Oklahoma for six years, I wrote a letter to the governor of Oklahoma about an important recent event involving the governor and the state of Texas.
This was during the time when the University of Arkansas was the only non-Texas team in the now-defunct Southwest Conference and regularly played the University of Texas in football. The University of Oklahoma, just across the Red River from Texas, also played its arch rival and ours.
1926 S. Bixby St.
Sapulpa, OK 74066
July 23, 1983
The Hon. George Nigh, Governor
State of Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Please allow me to offer my congratulations on your recent honor of being named chairman of the Southern Growth Policies Board, such august body with which you were instrumental in associating the great state of Oklahoma.
As a displaced Arkie, beneficiary of a long and illustrious Southern heritage, now living in exile in your state for lo these six long years, I cannot but laud your courageous stance, to say nothing of your unquestioned integrity and obvious good sense and taste, in opting to thus link yourself and your fair state to the rising SOUTHERN STAR.
You are to be commended for your foresight and vision, attributes that will serve you well in your new position of leadership.
A French-speaker and travel enthusiast (I have had applications on file for months with both the Oklahoma and Arkansas departments of tourism), I wholeheartedly concur with your stated views on the importance of developing international tourism and investment in the South.
However, Sir, with all due respect to your honored person and eminent position, I cannot but question the wisdom of your obviously ill-considered statement that it might prove beneficial to solicit to membership on this revered board the state of Texas!
Surely you jest! Shall we also consider inviting the Russian bear to join NATO? Shall we grant statehood to Cuba? Perhaps, Sir, you would suggest that we award the Nobel Peace Prize posthumously to Attila the Hun!
I ask you, Sir, a Texan sitting on the same honored board (not to mention at the same table!) with decent, honest, down-to-earth, unpretentious Arkies and Okies? Unthinkable!
Why, have you so quickly forgotten the past villainy of these grandiose braggarts, these merciless marauders of the gridiron, these orange-shirted, finger-pointing, Stetson-strutting scourges whose avowed purpose and heart’s desire is to grind forever under their boot-shod heels the very flower of young Arkie and Okie collegians?
Are the bitter lessons of so many heinous Saturday afternoon massacres to be so easily cast aside in the headlong dash to embrace our common (oh so common!) and ruthless enemy? Shall we, the last great hope of modesty and humility, also bow the knee to the arrogance and tyranny that are synonymous with the very name of Texas? God forbid!
Must I remind you, Sir, that among themselves Texans refer to Arkansas and Oklahoma as “outlying provinces of Texas”—as though anyone could ever outlie Texas!
Shall we truly be sacrificed to the “Mouth of the South”? Never! And again I say, NEVER!
ARKIES AND OKIES ARISE! REMEMBER FAYETTEVILLE AND LITTLE ROCK! REMEMBER NORMAN AND STILLWATER! (FERGIT YOU, DALLAS AND AUSTIN!)
PS I shall be on vacation in Paradise the week of July 31; however, I shall be crossing back over the Oklahoma line August 6 or thereabouts and shall be available for personal consultation on this momentous issue at that time.
cc: Governor of the State of Arkansas (Bill Clinton)
Governor of the State of Texas (Mark White)
The Tulsa World (David Averill, OK Mag, Sports Ed., Gary Percefull
The Oklahoma City Daily Oklahoman (Editorial Ed., Sports Ed.)
The Arkansas Gazette (Robert McCord, Forum Ed., Sports Ed.)
The Dallas Morning News (Editorial Ed., Dave Smith Exec. Sports Ed.)
The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (Tyler Hardeman)
The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department (Director)
Note: When I shared this letter recently with a Texan he responded, “There must be something in the water in Oklahoma and Arkansas,” to which I replied, “You’re right, there must be, since Texas has been trying to buy water from both states for decades!”