STILLWATER — Oklahoma State's spring football format is, of course, ultimately up to Mike Gundy and the rest of the coaching staff.
Athletic director Mike Holder just insisted on providing an event for the fans.
“They buy the tickets,” Holder said, “and getting them excited about football in April helps season tickets sales in May through August.”
The recently announced “Orange Blitz,” which will be a free open practice on April 5 rather than a traditional spring game to cap off the 15 workouts, certainly accomplishes that.
Yet the decision to change the format impacts more people than Gundy and the Cowboys.
Like Remember the 10 Run founder Kerry Don Alexander, whose event this year will not be paired with the open practice.
This year's run takes place on April 19. But Alexander was already prepping for the chance that football could opt for a different date, because the 19th is in the middle of Easter weekend.
“It makes for a great day when both are on the same Saturday,” Alexander said. “But there are also logistical challenges for our runners that do not plan on staying for the entire day. I would expect us to have a strong crowd this year either way.”
Chase Carter, the OSU Alumni Association's director of communications, has a similar outlook.
He already expected attendance for the Remember the 10 run to take a hit because of Easter weekend. Additionally, his group did not have any specific events scheduled around the spring game, though it has traditionally set up a booth at Eskimo Joe's on that day to promote membership and programs.
Since the spring football event and the Remember the 10 run are not on the same weekend, it has not yet been determined if that booth will be at Joe's this year. Carter did note, however, that the Stillwater Arts Festival is the same weekend as the Remember the 10 run, giving folks the chance to participate in multiple activities on April 19.
“We will continue to promote both events (Remember the 10 and the open football practice) separately to alumni in Oklahoma and surrounding states, just as we would have done if they were together,” Carter said. “Ultimately, the decision to hold a spring game is up to Coach Gundy and the athletic department, and we will support them in whatever decision they make.
“There are still plenty of activities in Stillwater throughout April for alumni and fans to come in for, and we'll continue to market those to support both the university and the community.”
Fan reactions to the change, as expected, are mixed.
Some, like Scott King of Tulsa, are simply not pleased.
“I hate the decision,” King said. “And after attending spring games for 20 years, I will not attend this practice.”
Yet others noted that the public event, regardless of format, and a home baseball game against Texas Tech later that day give fans plenty of reason to gather together in Stillwater and spend the day around campus.
Some even pointed to last year's watered-down scrimmage as evidence that format does not matter.
“The spring game was pretty horrible last year,” said Zach Rowin of Tulsa. “Maybe the practice will be more exciting.”
The open practice should, at least, provide a different look.
There will be individual drills not typically seen during a two-hour scrimmage. The “team” period will directly match the offense against the defense, though it's unclear how much the Cowboys (or, more specifically, the quarterbacks) will show.
One thing that won't change? The opportunity for fans to meet players and coaches on the field at the end of the event.
Count Holder as someone who's curious to see how the whole Orange Blitz works out.
“I am anxious to see how the fans respond to the change in format,” he said. “We're hoping that having an opportunity to interact with the coaches and players will be a big plus.”