NORMAN — Oklahoma and Nebraska have agreed “in principle” to a home-and-home series beginning in a game on Owen Field in 2021 — the 50th anniversary of the “Game of the Century” — the Omaha World-Herald reported Monday.
Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne said the contracts aren’t signed yet, but that should just be a formality.
Sources told the newspaper that the first game would be played in 2021, with OU making a return trip to Lincoln, Neb., the next year.
The 1971 “Game of the Century” in Norman was won by Nebraska, 35-31. That year, Osborne was Nebraska’s offensive coordinator; Barry Switzer held the same position for Oklahoma.
Both Osborne and Switzer became head coaches at their respective schools in 1973, and went on to meet 17 times, with Switzer’s teams winning 12 of those contests.
Each coach won three national championships; Switzer won 12 conference titles before he resigned as OU’s coach in 1988, and Osborne won 13 conference titles during his time at Nebraska’s helm. He retired from coaching after the 1997 season.
“I think it would be a neat deal,” Switzer said of a potential OU-Nebraska home-and-home.
“They used to be so damn good when Tom was there. We had to play Texas as a nonconference, and for them to swap now — with Texas as a conference and have to play Nebraska as a nonconference — makes it kind of about what it used to be on the schedule.”
Texas and Oklahoma were nonconference rivals until 1996, the Big 12 Conference’s first season.
The intense OU-Nebraska rivalry took its first hit in 1996, when — as part of the Big 8’s expansion into the Big 12 — the conference was split into North and South divisions, which meant the two programs were only scheduled to meet in regular-season games two out of every four seasons.
The Sooners and Cornhuskers have met 86 times, with Oklahoma holding a 45-38-3 advantage in the series. The last time the two met was in the 2010 Big 12 Championship game, which the Sooners won 23-20.
That was Nebraska’s last game as a Big 12 Conference member; the Cornhuskers are in their second season in the Big 10.
Osborne will step down as Nebraska’s athletic director on Jan. 1, 2013, and told the newspaper that scheduling an Oklahoma-Nebraska series is something he wanted to achieve before he left.
Switzer and Osborne always maintained a cordial relationship — one of the reasons the Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry was always seen as intense, yet respectful — but the former Sooner coach said they don’t speak often.
“I’d see Tom at conventions and on the game field, but I never was a coach who would pick up the phone and call coaches,” Switzer said. “There were certain coaches I did call; they were usually ones that coached with me and were on my staff.
“But if I was just a competitor of theirs, and the only time I ever saw them was when I played them, I never called.”
When asked what he thinks about Nebraska and Oklahoma meeting again in Norman on the 50th anniversary of the “Game of the Century,” Switzer laughed.
“Why would I give a damn about that? I’m probably not gonna be around,” said the 75-year-old.
“No, I’ll plan on making that one. ... In 2021, I’d be 85. I can make that.”