STILLWATER — Nonconference scheduling has remained a hot topic at Oklahoma State in recent months, with coach Mike Gundy continuously expressing his strong desire to play an easy slate while the university scheduled neutral-site season openers against Mississippi State in Houston for this fall and against Florida State at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington in 2014.
And the Cowboys have snagged another marquee foe, as OSU and Boise State on Friday announced the schools have signed a contract to play a future home-and-home series. The contest in Stillwater will be on Sept. 15, 2018, while the game in Boise will be on Sept. 18, 2021.
“It's a good nonconference matchup for both of us,” Gundy said in a release. “It gives us each a quality opponent out of conference play, which is ultimately going to factor in when we get to the four-team playoff.”
College football's national champion will be decided by a playoff beginning in 2014, with the four participants being selected by a committee that will certainly take the difficulty of a team's nonconference schedule into account. Boise State has arguably been the sport's most successful mid-major program in the past decade, winning the Fiesta Bowl in 2007 and 2010 and totaling 61 victories over the past five seasons to tie for the most in the nation.
But this move, again, goes against Gundy's scheduling philosophy, which became such an issue between him and athletic director Mike Holder during the winter that it essentially caused the coach to entertain interest from Tennessee and Arkansas for their head coaching vacancies. Gundy has frequently pointed to the physicality of the OSU's openers against Georgia in 2007 and 2009, saying preparing for and playing in those games prevented the Cowboys from entering the Big 12 season at full strength.
Even with the playoffs perhaps giving teams more incentive to beef up their nonconference schedules, Gundy told The Oklahoman earlier this month that his feelings on the subject have not changed.
“I see it going both ways,” Gundy said. “I talked to some people at big programs that are going the other way. Then you talk to some that feel like they need to schedule what some would call up to par.
“I have a philosophy what I feel is best for Oklahoma State. That philosophy may not be best for OU or Texas or Michigan or Notre Dame or Florida or whoever.
“I just know what I think are the ingredients for success here. And I've made that very clear. That doesn't mean somebody has to agree with me.”
In addition to the Georgia series, OSU also recently played a home-and-home with Washington State in 2008 and 2010.
Two other prominent series scheduled with Air Force (2015 and 2016) Clemson (2019 and 2020), however, were canceled last summer. Clemson bowed out of its series because of the ACC's move to a nine-game conference schedule, while OSU and Air Force mutually decided to drop their series. Additionally, OSU already had three other nonconference games against Central Arkansas, UTSA and Central Michigan scheduled for 2015.
The rest of OSU's 2013 nonconference slate includes a contest at Texas-San Antonio on Sept. 7 and a home game against Lamar on Sept. 14.