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Oklahoma State football: Next up for the Cowboys: The defending national champion, Florida State

OSU athletic director Mike Holder likes the idea of the Cowboys kicking off their 2014 schedule against the best team in the country.
By Gina Mizell Published: January 7, 2014

But Holder sees the big-picture benefits of playing such a premier game on college football's opening weekend.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, of course, is prime recruiting ground for OSU athletes and general students and home to a big alumni base. The trip is an easy drive for fans who live in Oklahoma. The game will garner tons of national attention and television eyeballs, which will be exposed to the OSU logo for the better part of four hours, even if they originally tuned in to watch the Seminoles.

And the contest is, simply, a compliment to the Cowboy football program.

“(These games are) only by invitation, and 10 years ago, we wouldn't have been getting these invitations,” Holder said. “So it's flattering to be asked. I think it's important to accept some of the invitations, or you may find that you're no longer asked.”

Holder admits playing these types of neutral-site games two years in a row is a bit more than he had anticipated. Cowboy coach Mike Gundy has also consistently and publicly voiced his opinion that he wants to play the easiest nonconference schedule possible.

But with the College Football Playoff on the way next season — and a committee deciding which schools get into the four-team tournament — Holder said OSU has decided to be “a little more aggressive” with its nonconference scheduling.

OSU recently scheduled home-and-home series with Pittsburgh (Stillwater in 2016, Pittsburgh in 2017) and Boise State (Stillwater in 2018, Boise in 2021). That's the way Holder prefers it — getting some of those bigger opponents to Stillwater.

But Holder is on board with the occasional neutral-site game against a big-time opponent.

He's confident OSU players woke up Tuesday excited about their season opener, and that the motivation will carry through offseason training and fall camp. He expects Cowboy fans to show up in droves at AT&T Stadium. He views the game as an immediate gauge for an OSU program that wants to consistently compete with the best teams in the country.

So no regrets for Holder as he watched Florida State hoist the crystal football Saturday.

He was rooting for the Seminoles, after all.

“I liked the idea (of opening the season with them) in 2012,” Holder said. “I like it even more now.”


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