Tramel: OU-Army & OU-Tennessee games won't be easily rescheduled
OU-Army has joined OU-Tennessee and OSU-Oregon State as canceled college football games of substance involving our state teams.
All had varying degrees of importance. OU-Army, you know all about. The grandeur and splendor of the Sooners playing at West Point for the first time since 1946. An home-and-home series with Tennessee, including a return trip to Neyland Stadium in 2024. And while OSU-Oregon State has no special meaning, the Cowboys made the trip to Corvallis, Oregon, last season. You want the trans-America trip reciprocated.
But rescheduling football games is a Rubik’s cube:
* Limited slots. Big 12 teams play just three non-conference games, same as the Big Ten and Pac-12. SEC and ACC teams play four non-conference games.
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* Models to follow. Both OU and OSU almost always play just one non-conference game against a fellow Power 5 Conference opponent, and almost never play more than one non-conference road game.
* Advanced scheduling: Schedules, particularly for marquee games, are produced years in advance. OU has a name-brand opponent lined up every year through 2036. OSU has a name-brand opponent lined up every year through 2027, then again from 2032-35.
Schedules always can be changed. Dates adjusted. Years moved. Contracts broken. But that rarely happens. It’s too difficult to get games arranged to change them haphazardly.
Here are the future schedules for the Sooners and Cowboys:
2021: at Tulane, Western Carolina, Nebraska.
2022: Texas-El Paso, at Nebraska.
2023: Illinois State, Georgia, at Tulsa.
2024: Temple, at Tennessee, Tulane.
2025: Michigan, at Temple.
2026: Texas-El Paso, at Michigan, New Mexico.
2028: Temple, at LSU.
2030: Tulsa, at Nebraska.
2031: at Georgia.
2034: at Alabama.
2035: at Clemson.
2021: Missouri State, Tulsa, at Boise State.
2022: Central Michigan, Arizona State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
2023: Central Arkansas, at Arizona State, South Alabama.
2024: Arkansas, at Tulsa.
2025: at Oregon, Tulsa.
2026: at Tulsa, Oregon.
2027: at Arkansas, Tulsa.
2028: at Tulsa.
2030: at Tulsa.
2033: at Arkansas.
2034: at Nebraska.
With that in mind, here are some of the factors at play in the rescheduling of OU-Army, OU-Tennessee and OSU-Oregon State.
OU-Army: Athletic directors Mike Buddie of Army and Joe Castiglione of OU have said they would try to reschedule the game, and that’s no doubt true.
The Sooners – administration, fans, media, everybody except the defensive coaches – have been looking forward to the West Point trip for almost a decade. It would be an historic adventure.
And for Army, it would be a return to yesteryear. In 1973, the Cadets hosted Notre Dame, Miami, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and California at Michie Stadium. The next year, Penn State came to West Point.
But since then, the biggest names to visit Michie Stadium probably were Pittsburgh (1980, 1982) and Stanford (2013). Oklahoma would wake up the echoes from days of yore.
But it won’t be easy. Army’s schedule is full in 2021 and 2022. The Black Knights have a 2023 opening but already plays at LSU and at Syracuse that year? Would Army want to add OU? The Sooners are full, too, including a game at Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane cherishes home games against the Sooners and might be willing to move only for future considerations, like an extra game in Tulsa against OU.
But OU already has non-conference road games every season until 2027. That might be the easiest date. Sooners at West Point, 2027.
OU-Tennessee: Without a model change, this will be a difficult add. Georgia and Florida, among others, have begun scheduling more than one Power 5 Conference foe per year. If the Sooners get on that train, then adding the Volunteers would be much easier. Otherwise, someone would have to be removed to make room for Tennessee.
But the Volunteers don’t have a huge backlog of games. Here is Tennessee’s upcoming schedule. 2021: Bowling Green, Pittsburgh, South Alabama. 2022: Ball State, at Pittsburgh, Army. 2023: at Brigham Young, Connecticut. 2024: Oklahoma. 2025: none. 2026: at Nebraska. 2027: Nebraska.
OSU-Oregon State: The Cowboys don’t need another Power 5 opponent until 2028, unless they change their model. A home game against Oregon State, coupled with a home game against Arkansas, wouldn’t exactly be like an Ohio State-Alabama duo. a
But Oregon State has a full schedule through 2025. After that, the Beavers have three straight years of already-scheduled non-conference road games. Oregon State has no non-conference games scheduled for 2029, so barring rearranging of schedules, that would be the first fit for the Beavers’ trip to Stillwater.