NORMAN — The Sooners' plane landed around 3 a.m. in Norman last October. Players returned to campus around 4 a.m. Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops wasn't pleased.
The following week, a severe thunderstorm delayed the kickoff against Texas Tech. For the second consecutive week, OU played a game that ended around midnight.
Stoops always has been a no-excuses, play-the-next-team, whenever, wherever, coach. But he felt there was some injustice last season.
Because OU produces higher television ratings than most programs, TV executives, given the choice, put the Sooners in prime time slots as often as possible.
Last season, they played nine of 13 games at night. It would have been 10 of 13 if OU officials hadn't asked FX executives to move Iowa State on Thanksgiving weekend to a day game.
“Hopefully, there will be some regulation on that,” Stoops said. “I don't think it played to our advantage whatsoever to have so many late night games. It seems to be taking advantage of one team and giving the others some pretty good advantages.
“You would think in a TV contract with a league it would be dispersed that everybody has their late games and everybody has their afternoon games and not one team should have to play six, seven, eight night games.”
Even if the Sooners balance the day-night discrepancy, the 2012 schedule is far from ideal.
OU opens on the road, Sept. 1 at Texas-El Paso, but it was the best alternative.
“It was a big hurdle for us,” Stoops said. “We didn't have much choice other than to find a game and not have (two) I-AA opponents. About all we could do was to go to UTEP. It's a place we've been before, playing there not long ago in the Sun Bowl.”
The most glaring issue with the 2012 schedule is OU's two bye weeks are both in September followed by a grueling stretch — nine games in nine weeks — to end the season.
Late in the season is when teams can get beat up. Injuries mount. At the back end of the nine-game stretch await West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU.
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2012 OU football schedule
Sept. 1 at UTEP
Sept. 8 FLORIDA A&M
Sept. 15 bye
Sept. 22 KANSAS ST.
Sept. 29 bye
Oct. 6 at Texas Tech
Oct. 13 vs. Texas
Oct. 20 KANSAS
Oct. 27 NOTRE DAME
Nov. 3 at Iowa St.
Nov. 10 BAYLOR
Nov. 17 at West Virginia
Nov. 24 OKLAHOMA ST.
Dec. 1 at TCU