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Berry Tramel

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Hail to OSU for renewed Tulsa series

by Berry Tramel Published: July 30, 2014
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Justin Gilbert breaks free of Tulsa defenders en route to a kickoff return for a touchdown during the 2011 OSU-TU game. (Photo by Nate Billings)
Justin Gilbert breaks free of Tulsa defenders en route to a kickoff return for a touchdown during the 2011 OSU-TU game. (Photo by Nate Billings)

Oklahoma State and Tulsa have announced a football and basketball series, and that’s very good for the state and very good for the concept of common sense. OSU-Tulsa and OU-Tulsa are games that ought to be played on a regular basis.

In football, OSU-Tulsa was a staple for decades. The Cowboys and Golden Hurricane played every year from 1926 through 1965, then played just twice in 15 years before the series against resumed in earnest — 19 games in 20 years, 1981-2000, missing only 1997. But the series has hit a lull again, with just three games since: 2004, 2010 and 2011, and that 2011 game darn near got called off when weather delayed kickoff until virtually midnight.

In basketball, OSU and Tulsa have played 107 times, but many of those came while both were in the Missouri Valley Conference. The series resumed in November 1973 and was played all but two years through November 1996. But then it stopped. A four game series was played 2008 through 2011.

OU-Tulsa football has been played just 26 times in history; the schools did not play between 1943 and 1979. But in the 2000s, that series has been much more prevalent than OSU-Tulsa. The Sooners and TU have played seven times in the 2000s, including games in Tulsa in 2002 and 2007. The teams play at Tulsa’s Chapman Stadium on Sept. 6.

OU-Tulsa basketball has been played just 39 times, with occasional meetings recently.

OSU and TU already were scheduled to play football in Stillwater in 2017, and now the schools have added three more years: in Tulsa in 2019 and in Stillwater in 2020 and 2021.

That’s a very good sign. Four games in five seasons. That’s the frequency with which in-state schools ought to be playing, if not more.

The Sooners and the Golden Hurricane play again in Norman in 2015. That will complete the third three-game series since 2001 and will complete a four-games-in-five-years run.

Tulsa has not been as competitive with its in-state rivals in recent years. TU has beaten OU only once since 1943, a 31-24 victory in 1996, and since then, a 31-15 OU victory in 2005 has been the only game decided by less than 31 points. Tulsa hasn’t beaten OSU since 1998, and only the 2000 game, 36-26, was closer than two touchdowns.

But they remain good series. It’s good politically; it gets OU and OSU into Tulsa every few years for a football game, and that can only help with donors. It keeps the big payout for opponents in-state. That’s a very good thing. It makes travel easy on all three opponents. When you’re in conferences with West Virginia and Temple, a bus trip up or down the turnpike seems awfully inviting.

And Tulsa is a solid name. The Hurricane was very competitive in Conference USA and now is in the American Athletic Conference with schools like Houston, Cincinnati, South Florida and Central Florida.

OU and OSU are playing two-for-one series anyway, with two home games in exchange for a road game. The Sooners recently completed a two-for-one series with Texas-El Paso. The Cowboys are in a two-for-one series with Texas-San Antonio and have similar upcoming series with Central Michigan and South Alabama.

Tulsa over the years has been both open and opposed to playing OU and OSU in the same season. With TU’s AAC schedule plus an ambitious non-conference schedule (Tulsa plays at Ohio State in 2016), one in-state foe a year probably suits the Hurricane just fine.

But the Sooners and Cowboys ought to be playing Tulsa in basketball every year. The sport cries out for games that matter before New Year’s. OU and OSU ought to be playing both Tulsa and Oral Roberts every year; that would give each a trip to Tulsa every season, plus an in-state (non-Bedlam) foe at home. Anything to break the Coppin State/Southeastern Louisiana/North Texas type of home games that plague non-conference hoop schedules.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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