STILLWATER — In keeping with the spirit of our Main Event theme, let's take a look at Oklahoma State's nonconference football opponents for 2012.
The Cowboys will face one team that I honestly did not know had a football program this time last year (Savannah State) and two that OSU has become quite familiar with in recent years (Arizona and Louisiana-Lafayette).
Here's a summer update on each of those programs.
Sept. 1: Savannah State
Since scheduling a game in Stillwater to kick off 2012, Savannah State added a date with Florida State in Tallahassee the following week.
That's a tough way for any team to start the season — much less a squad that went 1-10 as a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference last season.
And the Tigers are going through the summer without two assistant coaches. Former quarterbacks coach Tony Haynes left SSU to become the offensive coordinator at Butler County College in Kansas, while former linebackers coach Mitch Doolittle took a defensive job at Mercer.
“Typically, if you lost a decision maker (an offensive or defensive coordinator), you'd be in a tough bind,” coach Steve Davenport told the Savannah Morning News. “I expect (the new assistants) will be able to jump right in.”
Davenport hopes to fill both positions before players report for fall camp on July 29.
Sept. 8: at Arizona
Are we sure the Wildcats aren't a new member of the Big 12? For the third season in a row, the Cowboys will take on Arizona.
But the Wildcats will have a much different look in 2012 with Rich Rodriguez taking the reigns as head coach and quarterback Nick Foles moving on to the NFL.
Senior Matt Scott, who redshirted last season, has five career starts and will take over for Foles. The Wildcats also added transfer QB Nick Isham from Louisiana Tech, but he will have to sit out the 2012 seasons due to NCAA transfer rules.
Projected starting middle linebacker Brian Wagner has left the program, he told the Tucson Citizen. Wagner, a graduate transfer from Akron, ranked second in the nation in tackles a season ago (147).
Wagner would have been eligible to play immediately because of the NCAA's rule that allows a player to transfer without penalty if they have earned their undergraduate degree and enroll in a graduate program not offered at their previous school. He participated in spring practice at UA.
“I don't have love for the game anymore,” Wagner told the Tucson Citizen. “I told Coach that, and that was it. It was something I was thinking about for a long time. That's kind of where I'm at right now.”
UA also added a copper helmet to its uniform repertoire.
Sept. 15: Louisiana-Lafayette
That comment about UA being a new Big 12 member? The same could apply to ULL, as it's also the third consecutive season the Cowboys will take on the Ragin Cajuns (one of my favorite team nicknames in all of sports, by the way).
Since that 61-34 defeat in Stillwater to start 2011, ULL staged an impressive 9-4 campaign in Mark Hudspeth's first season as head coach, capped by a dramatic 32-30 victory over San Diego State in the New Orleans Bowl. It was the Ragin Cajuns' first nine-win season since 1976.
Hudspeth was a hot name during the offseason coaching carousel but stayed at ULL. But Dwight Bentley (the cornerback who picked off Brandon Weeden twice last season) and tight end Laradius Green were drafted by the Detroit Lions and San Diego Chargers, respectively.
The Ragin Cajuns have gone through typical roster turnover this summer — backup safety Cooper Germani is one player who will not be back in 2012, The Advertiser reported — but returns senior starting quarterback Blaine Gautier, who set school records for passing yards (2,958), touchdown passes (23), completion percentage (.628) and passing efficiency (153.6) last season.