NORMAN, Okla. -- University of Oklahoma athletics director Joe Castiglione and head coach Sunny Golloway announced the Sooners’ 56-game 2006 regular season schedule on Thursday.
The Sooners, who finished 2005 with a 35-26 record and the program’s second consecutive NCAA Regional appearance, will play 23 games against NCAA Tournament participants from a year ago, including 12 against College World Series teams. In addition, OU will host 26 games at L. Dale Mitchell Park and take part in tournaments hosted by Texas Pan American, Rice and Memphis.
The Sooners will face a total of six non-conference teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2005 including Rice, Long Beach State, Texas Christian, Wichita State, Notre Dame and Arizona State.
“We have once again put together a tough non-conference schedule in order to prepare our team for a very competitive Big 12 season,” said Golloway. “The UTPA Tournament is an early start to our season but we have the luxury of doing that because of the amount of veterans we have coming back from last year’s squad, led by our three senior captains (Chuckie Caufield, Daniel McCutchen and Ryan Rohlinger).”
OU will open the 2006 season in Edinburg, Texas, at the UTPA Classic on Feb. 3, 4 and 5. The Sooners will square off against the host Broncs, in addition to Texas State and Lamar. The tournament is the earliest start to a season for OU since it opened up the 1999 slate on Jan. 29 against Maryland, Georgia Tech and Virginia in the ACC-Disney Baseball Bash held in Orlando, Fla.
After the UTPA Tournament, the Sooners will play their home opener against Western Illinois in a three-game series that begins on Friday, Feb. 10 and ends on Sunday, Feb. 12. OU will return to the road to battle Rice, Lamar and Long Beach State in the annual Rice Tournament (2/17-19) before concluding the tournament portion of the schedule at the Millington Tournament (2/24-26) against host Memphis, Indiana State and Notre Dame.
“As a team, our goal is to contend for a Big 12 championship and get this program back to Omaha,” said Golloway. “We feel that this schedule will help us achieve those goals. Overall, it is a very challenging schedule and if we play like we did at the end of the 2005 season, it will set us up to earn a high RPI and take us into the NCAA postseason for the third consecutive season.”
The 27-game Big 12 schedule will feature home games against Baylor, Missouri, Kansas State and the defending national champions, Texas (March 31-April 2).
OU will hit the road in conference play against Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Kansas, Nebraska and play the annual Bedlam Series at Drillers Stadium in Tulsa, Okla., on Friday, May 12 and the remaining two games at the Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City on May 13 and 14.
For the second consecutive year, the 2006 Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament will be held in Oklahoma City at the Bricktown Ballpark from Wednesday, May 24 through Sunday, May 28.
“The Big 12 is always one of the best conferences in the nation and Nebraska, Baylor and Texas showcased that talent last year, representing three of the eight teams at the College World Series,” added Golloway. “We are also very excited to have a home schedule that is very appealing to our fans with Texas, Baylor, Missouri, Wichita State, UC-Riverside and Rice all coming to Norman.”
The Sooners welcome 13 newcomers for the 2006 season and return 22 players from the 2005 team that finished fifth in Big 12 play with a 14-13 record, including an 8-2 mark to conclude the conference season, and a runner-up finish in the NCAA Oxford Regional.