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.