On the opening weekend of college football, 78 games were played involving Division I-A squads. Thirty-eight of those games, virtually half, also involved lower-division teams. In September, 265 games will be played involving major-college teams. Seventy-six of those are against lower-division teams. This grand sport, this game that rivals baseball and trumps the NFL in its tradition, has lost its balance. Lost its moral compass. College football’s caretakers are on hiatus. They have let September dissolve into a series of one-sided, meaningless games, interrupted only by a few games a week that honor the sport. Our own teams have done their share to lift the profile. Oklahoma-BYU. Oklahoma State-Georgia. Oklahoma-Miami next week. They also have contributed to the shame. OU 64, Idaho State 0 last Saturday; OSU-Grambling in a name-the-score mismatch this Saturday. Which is why college football cries out for centralized scheduling. Minimum scheduling requirements for the schools entrusted with the sport’s good name. A year ago, I trotted out a plan in which the Big 12, SEC and Atlantic Coast conferences — the three major leagues with a dozen teams each — would agree to play an opponent from each of the other two conferences every year. That would guarantee two legitimate non-conference opponents every season for every member of those three leagues. Some liked my idea. Bob Stoops endorsed it. Joe Castiglione was open to the idea. Of course, the Sooners are not the problem in college football scheduling, so I’m not sure I’ve got a consensus just yet. So let’s raise the stakes. Time to call for commitments from all the BCS leagues — the Big 12, SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-10 and Big East — to require their teams to adopt scheduling standards. Teams that play four non-conference games would be required to play at least two against fellow power-league foes. The Pac-10, which plays nine conference games, would be required to play just one non-conference game against a BCS-league school, though the Pac-10 usually schedules tough without the mandate. And the Big East, which has five non-conference games, would be required to play three within the agreement. For good measure, let’s invite the Mountain West Conference into the coalition, since the Mounties play good football and deserve a seat at the BCS table anyway. Such a step toward centralized scheduling would have profound and wondrous effects on college football: →More good games in September, a month rife with mismatches. The television networks would love it; rights almost surely would go up. →A clearer picture in the national championship race. The bowl system would be enhanced, since more competitive games would weed out the contenders. And remember who most supports the bowl system: the conferences in question. →Fiscal sanity in the payouts to schools sacrificing their teams for a huge check. Idaho State received $500,000 to play at OU. Some payouts to lower Division I-A schools have approached $1 million. Cut the demand for those dates and you cut the price. Such a system would require some sacrifice on the part of the major-conference schools. Namely, win-loss record. Schools will be saddled with more defeats, and fans would have to understand that goes with the territory. OU could have been 3-0 right now simply by not playing BYU, a late addition to the schedule. The Sooners could have written an $800,000 check to Louisiana-Monroe or New Mexico State or somebody and guaranteed a spotless September record. But there is no honor in purchasing victory. OU-BYU was a fantastic spectacle and a wonderful game, and just because the Sooners came out on the short end is no reason to wuss out and play only automatic-victory games. Some schools also would have to sacrifice a home game or two. Under the minimum-requirement plan, no more eight home games, like OSU, Auburn, Michigan and others enjoy this season. Teams could play seven home games if they desired, and they also could maintain some power over who they schedule, even within the mandates. Iowa State already plays Iowa every year, so the Cyclones could try to schedule someone closer to their level. A Vanderbilt or UNLV or Washington State. Texas A&M has an extensive contract with Arkansas. The Aggies wouldn’t have to play Southern Cal; they could try to arrange a series with UCLA. This simple mandate would double the number of legitimate September games. "I think it would be worth pursuing,” Stoops said. "I don’t know how you could get people to do it.” It would have to come through the conferences. Conference cooperation is absolutely necessary. And for the conferences to come aboard, individual schools will have to support it, which will require some arm-twisting. OSU athletic director Mike Holder was not enthusiastic about the idea. "It’s a balancing act,” Holder said. "We’re in the Big 12 South. The Big 12 as a whole is brutal. There’s wear and tear. That’s a pretty big mountain to climb.” Except look back three weeks ago to what victory over Georgia did for the Cowboy program. That’s the kind of success major-college football teams should desire. The other kind, the victories over Rice and Utah State, over Idaho State and Grambling, are hollow. They are not fair fights, and they are suffocating a wonderful sport. Time for the caretakers to return to duty. Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.