We’ve seen a lot of culture word clouds from across the nation so far. Some have been very similar Clemson’s, others have been distinct in their own way, while others have been generic. We are now looking at the Big 12 conference, which is a group in flux. We’ll start with the two teams that have been most influential to the conference over the years, but will soon be departing for the SEC.
Ugh! Not again! C’mon UT, you can’t come up with something better than ‘culture’? This may be the most generic of all the ones we’ve seen. I did notice that the abbreviation ‘OU’ snuck in there. Rent free, I guess. Next.
Better. Much better, thank you Sooner fans. Centerpiece here is ‘loyalty’. I must admit I surveyed this fanbase after Lincoln Riley fled Norman to join the USC Trojans. Perhaps the concept of loyalty has been stoked by that betrayal, but it is possible it was there all along. Look at previous coaches: Stoops was there for two decades, Barry Switzer for fifteen years, Bud Wilkinson for almost two decades. All three retired from college coaching following their tenure at Oklahoma. Maybe it wasn’t front of mind back in November, but I suspect it would have still been floating around in this cloud. ‘Pride’ is also featured, but that darn ‘culture’ is still hovering there in the middle. Another funny: while Oklahoma’s archrival does not appear in their cloud, as OU did in UT’s cloud, they do have Kansas. I guess they are in basketball mode. Then again, if you look just right of ‘loyalty’, you see the word ‘shitheads’. Maybe Texas did show up in their cloud after all.
While these two have been the flagship programs of the Big 12 during its existence, they will be leaving the conference by 2023. When we look at the remaining candidates, we are faced with a question: which school remaining has a strong culture? There was one school I had a good feeling about:
They may be a more recent addition to the conference, but my daddy is a WVU grad, and this is a program near and dear to my heart. I was not shocked when my eyes were drawn to ‘hard’, ‘working’ & ‘people’. West Virginians have a reputation to be blue-collar. ‘Blue’ and ‘collar’ are, in fact, present in the cloud. As I expected, ‘family’, ‘proud’ and ‘God’ were present, as well as ‘hospitality’ and ‘friendly’. If I were to ask Clemson fans if West Virginia’s cloud would be like Clemson’s, I suspect many would have said no. It might be because they don’t see the two state’s cultures as similar. It might be because there is still a bitter taste from 77-33. WVU’s fanbase has a reputation for being rowdy and burning couches when they win, but I could have told you there would be more similarities than differences here. In case you are curious: ‘pepperoni’ comes from pepperoni rolls, a popular gameday feast in Morgantown. And yes, another four-letter word. I’ll let you look for this one, but it is the second example from the Big 12. Work hard, play hard.
Our first school that has a team color as a centerpiece, one that Clemson fans can appreciate: ‘orange’. I can only presume that Cowboy Nation sees their identity very closely related to their team color. I wasn’t exactly sure what that said about Oklahoma State’s culture, but it sure wasn’t the generic response we get from a lot of schools. We also see ‘family’ and ‘loyalty’ featured again. The aspect of loyalty could be stoked in this case because their in-state rival Oklahoma, long thought to be politically tethered to State, is leaving the Cowboys behind to join the SEC. The irony is strong in this state.
We’ve considered the exiting members of the conference, and then a couple members who will be remaining with the conference. Now let’s look at an example of a school joining the Big 12 soon.
Brigham Young University isn’t like most universities. They are closely tied to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the school itself has a unique culture, even compared to other universities that are strongly related to religious organizations. One of their best-known concepts is the Honor Code, which is the product of the Mormon Church, and is applied across all higher-education institutions affiliated with LDS, not just BYU. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the most prominent words are ‘honor’ and ‘code’. Other words featured are ‘family’ and ‘love’. ‘Service’ is included, as many LDS members do mission work at a young age. On the other hand, one can’t help but notice a word like ‘hating’ hovering amongst the cloud. Upon review, it was a reference to hating their in-state rivals, the Utah Utes, who left the Mountain West Conference years ago for the PAC-12, leaving the proud BYU program behind. A program spurned? Sounds familiar. I think BYU will feel right at home in the Big 12.
Unfortunately for the Big 12, the rivalry that might have the best culture, BYU vs. WVU, also involves two schools that are 1,872 miles apart.
I very much would have liked to show you a Cincinnati word cloud, as they are joining the conference and just became the first Group of Five program to earn a playoff berth, but their representation on social media is limited, and I didn’t get nearly enough responses to produce a cloud.
Next: Notre Dame, the Group of Five and what we have learned so far….