I have a biased opinion so let me go ahead and get that out of the way. But I will try my hardest to put my bias aside. I make no promises. Since meeting a girl from Oklahoma, dating her, and now being engaged to her, I have had to make an effort to keep up with the University of Oklahoma football team.
I have made an effort to do this for two reasons. First, I write about sports, and if Oklahoma is mentioned in anything I write, her family comes flooding to read what this guy from North Carolina has to say about their beloved Sooners. Second, to understand 95% of the conversation, you must know what is happening in Norman, Oklahoma.
We all know the reason for the movement from Norman to LA. Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL). LA historically attracts big names, it is where people go to make a name for themselves... historically. So when the NCAA would inevitably pass a rule allowing players to profit off their NIL, we knew that these players would begin rushing towards bigger cities, bigger teams, and more prominent brands.
LA County is home to over 10 million people, whereas Oklahoma has under 4 million people. But, do not let the numbers fool you. In May of 2020, a report was put out by College Football News on the attendance over the previous five seasons. Oklahoma was ranked #13 overall with an average of 85,750 attendees per game, and USC was ranked #22 with only 66,250 attendees on average. Oklahoma, over five years, surpassed the maximum amount of people that could fit in the stadium. On the other hand, USC struggled to get 85% of its seats filled. These statistics mean nothing to the new college athlete—money talks, and reasonably so. So let us talk about money.
I did some digging into how far you can take a dollar in the two locations. Let's say hypothetically, Nike signed an Oklahoma athlete for $1,000,000 every year for the next three years while you are still playing ball. To make that money go just as far in LA as you can make it go in Norman, you would have to ask for a $1,025,961 per year raise (BestPlaces.net, 2022). To further make matters worse, in the State of California, you would be paying over double in taxes (TheBalance.com). So, I hope every athlete and coach that transferred from Oklahoma to USC bumped up their pay by at least one hundred percent.
If I know one thing about Oklahoma Fans, their passion for their players before, during, and after their time with the Sooners is unmatched. In California, football is just something that happens to be played on the weekends. There are thousands of other things people could be doing besides watching Pac-12 football. But, in Oklahoma, football is what people live, breathe, and die for. The culture of the state of Oklahoma is heavily influenced by football. By moving to California, you lose that. So, is it worth it?