Shortly after finalizing his game's 2014 matchup, Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan sat down to review some notes his media relations staff had compiled.
Hoolahan was surprised by what he read: Alabama and Oklahoma, two of the greatest programs in college football history, have only met four times on the gridiron.
“I thought it would've occurred more than that,” Hoolahan said in a telephone interview with The Oklahoman.
The Sooners and Crimson Tide will meet a fifth time inside New Orleans' Superdome on Jan. 2, when the Sugar Bowl gets a one-year jump on its new agreement with the Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences.
If one or both of the league champions are involved in the new four-team playoff, the Sugar Bowl would replace it with another Big 12 or SEC team. A Big 12-SEC Sugar Bowl matchup isn't guaranteed only in years when the game hosts a playoff semifinals.
“It'll give fans an opportunity to get used to the new normal,” said Bob Burda, the Big 12's associate commissioner for communications.
Because of the various rules involved in a BCS bowl's team selection, the Sugar Bowl was essentially down to Oklahoma and Oregon as options to play against No. 3 Alabama.
Hoolahan said a bevy of factors were involved in choosing the Sooners, but that the future partnership was one of them.
“Partnership is certainly one of the variables that we've held near and dear to our heart,” Hoolahan said. “The long-term relationship that we've had with the Southeastern Conference, we expect to develop that type of relationship going forward with the Big 12 Conference.