NORMAN – Lemme guess. You're frustrated that the Big 12 football schedule has not yet been released. Join the club. Who isn't in this part of the country?
And if you find it distressing, with respects to your tailgate and travel plans, just imagine the conference and school officials. Don't you think they would like to know?
Instead, we're all left panting on the edge of our seats. Some, it seems, are too close to the edge.
Take those at Texas Tech, for example. Athletic director Kirby Hocutt said Thursday that he expected the schedule to come out the following day. And it did at his school – but only at his school. Oops.
A hiccup Friday morning prevented the league-wide release, but Tech's schedule did reach those who use that school's mobile application.
The leak did not please those around the conference. Hocutt was being optimistic, but naively so. It was an act of gun-jumping – and another blemish that the Big 12 could have done without.
I presumed the latest holdup was related to West Virginia's lingering legal entanglements as it tries to wiggle from the Big East. Turns out, though, that it was more than just that.
As of Friday, one Big 12 official told me there were still eight different schedule models being kicked around. Eight. The release date is coming, and maybe even this week, but there are still a variety of details to be finalized.
There are about a dozen schools still looking for games because of the latest round of realignment. Officials at those schools, including Oklahoma, are looking for the “best worst options.”
Overscheduling is a danger. Coaches growl. So is underscheduling. Fans yawn.
It's a certain mess, frustrating those inside and outside the universities' walls.
That said, those I have spoken with tell me discussions are far enough along to allow for some general expectations about OU's schedule. Of course these items come with a subject-to-change disclaimer, but many expect the bulk of these things to come to pass.
Expectation 1: The Sooners will start the season on the road.
Brace yourselves for this one, and maybe you already have been.
At this juncture, just about the only teams willing to come to Owen Field the first week are FCS schools. That's not an overly appealing proposition, to fans or the Sooners, so officials have scouted any and all road options.
The Rutgers game reported in recent weeks ultimately was torpedoed because it would have resulted in too much early season travel for the Sooners (see Expectation 2).
Opening week travel for fans is made more palatable in OU's eyes because it's a holiday weekend and, well, it's the opening week and anticipation for football will be at its height.
UTEP is the name we continue to hear, though officials have declined to confirm it. (They also did not deny it.) Hey, the Sun Bowl was good to the Sooners in their last visit.
Expectation 2: The Sooners will start the Big 12 season at West Virginia.
Think about it: Big-time TV matchup right out of the gate. The traditional bar-setter visits the dangerous newcomer to redefine the conference. The game could even decide the league title. Perfect fit for the second weekend.
Again, this had to have been a consideration when OU shied from the Rutgers game in suburban New York. Not only did Rutgers not want to return to Norman, but it would have meant the Sooners – and their fans – would have had consecutively long trips to the eastern part of the country. That would have been too much, too early.
Expectation 3: The Red River Rivalry could move in the month of October.
This one is up in the air for now, but there are three possible dates for the OU-Texas game. One is Oct. 6, the regularly scheduled date. It could be played the following week, the 13th, or the week after that, the 20th.
The 27th is out for two reasons: The Sooners and Notre Dame are locked in to play that date in Norman. And the state fair would be over. It ends the 21st.
School officials want to keep this as traditional as possible – and the second week might actually fit better with that in mind – but they're having to be flexible in respects to everyone's needs.
Expectation 4: There will be one FCS school on the schedule.
Yeah, I know you wanted to avoid it. So did OU. But the demands from FBS schools were too outrageous or just pure nonsense.
For instance, Florida State did call about a game after West Virginia recently dropped the Seminoles. But did you want to go back to Tallahassee? Didn't think so.
Voila, September FCS game in Norman.
North Dakota State is the school that keeps popping up in conversations. If you've got to play one, at least play the defending FCS champ.
Again, avoiding two FCS teams was OU's goal, and it figures to succeed in that regard. SEC schools regularly play FCS schools, so it's not as if this is beyond the norm. And remember that Notre Dame is coming to Owen Field in 2012, so that is offsetting.
Expectation 5: The Sooners will not have to play at any school where it visited in 2011.
That's right. No Stillwater in 2012. Or Waco. Or Manhattan or Lawrence. At least that's the idea. There's still a very, very slight chance that could change. Rest assured, though, that OU would join the Southland Conference before it played at Pickens Stadium for the third year in a row. The home-and-away schedule should be flipped from 2011, with trips to TCU and West Virginia taking the place of trips to Missouri and Texas A&M.
Bonus Round: This could all happen again next year.
The Big 12 is looking to add more teams, perhaps as soon as 2013. BYU and Louisville are the names that have continually surfaced, and they make a fair amount of sense.
Presuming it goes back to 12 members, the league could again be back in this scheduling dilemma by this time next year. The divisions would have to be redrawn, the championship game would return – and things would again change.
But let's cross that bridge at the appropriate time. Each year has enough trouble of its own when it comes to scheduling in the Big 12.