DALLAS — Many of the characteristics that have made Oklahoma vs. Texas one of sports' greatest, most nationally appealing rivalries — the emotionally charged environment, the State Fair of Texas and the crowd's 50/50 split between crimson and burnt orange — are also complications, keeping the game far from primetime.
Many of the Sooner faithful who will head south on I-35 to witness this year's Red River Rivalry game don't like that it begins at 11 a.m.
For lots of them, it means either paying for a hotel room Friday night, or waking up to make the long trek in Saturday's wee hours, when legions of Sooner fans create heavy traffic.
And even once they've arrived, fans are left with little time to enjoy the fair before kickoff — and might be too tired for it after the game ends.
Joe Castiglione has a message for those disgruntled fans: He hears you.
“We try to balance all the different demands, requirements and commitments that we've made in doing what's best for our universities and the people we serve,” said Castiglione, OU's director of athletics.
“It's not gonna be perfect.”
The Red River Rivalry's uniqueness, tradition and stakes — both teams are usually ranked, and several recent championships have hinged on the game's outcome — make it seemingly ripe for primetime.
But that's not happening, at least not anytime soon, Castiglione said.
“Both universities unequivocally oppose an evening kickoff,” he said.
“We get requests all the time from the television networks to move the game into primetime. ... We've reached conclusions consistently that it's just not something we want to do.”
The Cotton Bowl sits in Dallas' Fair Park, and the OU-Texas game is always played on a Saturday during the State Fair of Texas.
That means thousands of Saturday fair patrons who aren't OU-Texas ticketholders — including supporters of both schools, and non-football fans alike — are clustered together in high density.
With the emotions this game can bring out in both OU and Texas fans — and the alcohol available for purchase all day at the state fair — keeping any potential problems in the light of day is preferred.