When you ask Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops about an arguable topic, his reply tends to be measured if he’s willing to offer an opinion at all. When it comes to issues of like finances or conference affiliation, he defers to OU President David Boren and athletic director Joe Castiglione.
But you could tell last week he wasn’t thrilled about what today’s game at Iowa State.
“You have to do your part to earn TV money, right?” he said.
The Sooners are fulfilling their weeknight obligation that comes along every three years. It’s written into the Big 12 Conference’s contracts with ESPN and FOX. At some point, everyone has to make themselves available for a non-weekend game. The Sooners meeting with the Cyclones at Jack Trice is their second since the deal went into effect.
OU’s last Thursday game was at Baylor in 2013. Stoops, Castiglione and Boren are unified that if the Sooners are going to play on a Thursday or Friday night, it will be on the road.
The Sooners’ have no interest in hosting one of these games.
“Yeah, that won't be happening I'll bet,” Stoops said. “We wouldn't do that to our fans.”
A weeknight game would be a disaster for the Sooners. It’s hard enough getting to Norman on gameday as it is. Throw in normal Thursday rush-hour traffic in Oklahoma City down through Norman and it would be travel chaos.
The hit Norman business owners, who depend on gameday Saturdays as part of their business models, would be massive. The shot they take is harsh when an 11 a.m. kickoff takes away pregame business. A weeknight game cuts the postgame out as well.
Luckily for them, the Sooners lack the setup to make a weeknight a game plausible. Owen Field’s on campus location means it’s impossible to be open for class and absorb 85,000 fans.
Among Big 12 schools, at least Iowa State’s, Texas Tech’s, Kansas State’s stadium are at least on the far edges of campus. Hosting a Thursday night game is doable.
OU can also thank its biggest rival — Texas — for keeping the Sooners’ home games as strictly Saturday affairs.
OU has a long history of hosting games on Thanksgiving Day or the day after. The Sooners’ rivalry with Nebraska became a staple of college football programming because of the holiday.
But the Big 12 doesn’t ask the Sooners to host on the holiday or the day after anymore because Texas plays a home game then every year.
At the conception of the Big 12, the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry was played on Thanksgiving Day up until the Aggies left for the SEC. Texas continues host games the day after Thanksgiving.
It doesn’t look any college team has to consider playing on Thanksgiving Day anymore. Once the NFL added a primetime game on Thanksgiving night, the major conferences virtually gave up. The lone major conference game this is LSU-Texas A&M.
The Red River Rivalry gives the Sooners another excuse not to host. Fall breaks are a convenient time for some schools to do it. Campuses are typically empty for a Thursday or Friday or both.
The Sooners’ break is in conjunction with the Texas game. That rivalry isn’t changing its October date.
So OU fans will have to rush home from work tonight to get in front of the television by 6:30 p.m. But if you want to see the Sooners play on a weekday in person, it will either be a bowl game or on the road. Owen Field is only open on Saturdays.
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