The last time OU went to Waco for a football game, on Nov. 20, 2011, the Sooners were knocked out of the national championship race and Robert Griffin III was knocked into the Heisman Trophy race. And being a football Saturday night, with fans deluged by a dozen televised games including perhaps their own team, only part of America was watching.
That will change on OU’s next trip to Waco. The OU-Baylor game in 2013 has been moved to Thursday night, Nov. 7, and will be televised by either Fox Sports or ESPN. Both teams have open dates the previous Saturday.
Which means Bob Stoops is cool with it. “It’s something we discussed,” Stoops said. “With the new television agreement, everybody’s going to have to have their hand on a Thursday night. In our situation, with a stadium right on campus, it really isn’t conducive for us to host one. So we’re going to have to go play one. In surveying it, we thought this may be the best scenario, and a relatively short trip.”
In 2012, the Big 12 played four non-Saturday games: Baylor-SMU on a Sunday, Baylor-Louisiana Monroe on a Friday, Texas-TCU on Thanksgiving night and Iowa State-West Virginia on a Friday.
In 2013, the Big 12 is contractually obligated to its television networks for four Thursday night games. Those four are TCU at Texas Tech on Sept. 12, Texas at Iowa State on Oct. 3, OU-Baylor and Texas Tech at Texas on Thanksgiving night. Of the Thursday night games, two are contracted with ESPN and two with Fox.
Texas has open dates before both of its Thursday games. Texas Tech has an open date before its Thanksgiving game, but the Red Raiders host Stephen F. Austin the Saturday before hosting TCU. The Frogs, too, play a Division I-AA opponent, Southeastern Louisiana, on that Saturday. Iowa State plays the previous Thursday, at Tulsa.
Other than Nebraska games on Thanksgiving Day or Thanksgiving Friday (12 total between 1971 and 1995), the Sooners have not hosted a non-Saturday game in more than 40 years. The Sooners have played four non-Nebraska, non-Saturday games during that time – 1975 at Miami (Friday night), 1992 at Texas Tech (Thursday night), 2002 at Tulsa (Friday night) and 2007 at Tulsa (Friday night).
OSU hosted Thursday night games in 2009 (Colorado), 2010 (Texas A&M) and 2011 (Arizona). The Cowboy administration would prefer not to host on Thursday but has been willing to.