So Bob Stoops says OU’s ambitious non-conference scheduling is “high risk, low reward.” Stoops is suffering from short-term memory loss.
Stoops clearly still is smarting from two non-conference losses last season, to BYU and Miami. Stoops lost his quarterback, Sam Bradford, to a shoulder injury in the BYU game.
Stoops is right on concerning the “high risk” part of playing the likes of Florida State and Cincinnati, as OU is this September. But he’s misguided on the “low reward.”
Has Stoops forgotten the events of 2008? OU came out ahead of Texas and Texas Tech in the BCS rankings. Those three teams were tied for the Big 12 South Division title, so the tiebreaker was BCS. That’s right, BCS. And OU won the tiebreaker, in part because it played a challenging non-conference schedule, including Cincinnati (which went to the Orange Bowl that season) and TCU (which went 10-2 in the regular season).
Both the computers and the pollsters rewarded the Sooners and not Texas, which that season played Florida Atlantic, Texas-El Paso, Rice and Arkansas.
OU also won BCS logjams in 2003 and 2004. In ’03, OU played Alabama, Fresno State and UCLA. In ’04, Oregon and Houston, though the Cougars were not at the status they enjoy today.
This whole discussion is actually sort of funny. No program in America has been treated so well by the BCS, and OU’s non-conference opponents are a big part of that.
That’s one reason the Sooners have remained committed to a good schedule. Florida State in 2011. Notre Dame and TCU in 2012. Notre Dame in 2013. Tennessee in 2014-15. Ohio State in 2016-17. LSU in 2018-19.
And here’s the irony. In the wake of the Big 12 dropping to 10 teams and committing to a round-robin schedule, Texas has grown some fangs and resumed a philosophy of tough scheduling.
The ‘Horns have added series with USC, BYU and Notre Dame, just this summer.
Clearly, OU’s and Texas’ Big 12 schedules are about to get easier. An extra game a year against a North Division opponent, but no more Nebraska.
Hopefully, Stoops is talking out of 2009 frustration when it comes to scheduling. Otherwise, OU would be bucking national trends. As the Pac-10 and Big Ten get with the program and expand to 12 teams so they can play league championship games, the Big 12 contracts and gets out of the league title game business. Couple that with a weaker non-conference schedule — while other powers are beefing up — and OU is flirting with hurting its well-earned national reputation.