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Fans put up with 11 a.m. kickoff for OU-Texas game

by Jason Kersey Published: October 10, 2013

— Broken Arrow native Daniel Harrison is a die-hard Oklahoma football fan, and a staunch traditionalist as well.

Even small, subtle changes to the Sooners' uniforms — a gold patch and gold outlines around jersey numbers — for this weekend's Red River Rivalry clash with Texas nearly sent the 28-year old into a fit of rage.

“I think it looks awful,” Harrison said. “They shouldn't touch the jerseys. I don't care if recruits like alternate jerseys.”

That respect for OU's hallowed football tradition is why fans like Harrison will continue to begrudgingly accept 11 a.m. OU-Texas kickoffs, just as long as the annual rivalry game remains at Dallas' Cotton Bowl Stadium during the State Fair of Texas.

Five of the last six Red River Rivalry games have kicked off at 11 a.m., and circumstances beyond either university's control make it likely the game stays there for the foreseeable future.

The rivalry's pageantry, tradition and championship implications would seemingly make it perfect for prime time, and television networks have asked many times for that to happen. But both schools remain firmly opposed to an evening kickoff.

With alcohol readily available around the State Fair all day, the emotions the game brings out on both sides and the thousands upon thousands of folks clustered in the area — most of whom aren't ticket holders — both OU and Texas view a kickoff after dark as a disaster waiting to happen.

The schools would prefer a 2:30 p.m. kickoff. ESPN/ABC owns first-tier rights to Big 12 football games, though, and its other obligations make that window almost impossible to clear nationally, meaning a midafternoon start would likely limit the game's reach to a regional television audience.

“I understand why they moved it,” said 26-year old OU graduate Jason Downing. “It just kinda sucks.”

Downing, an Ada native who now lives in Tacoma, Wash., will attend his eighth straight OU-Texas game Saturday. He said he typically rides a DART light rail train to the game to avoid traffic.

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