Opinion from OU Senior Associate Athletics Director for Communications Kenny Mossman.
With apologies to Joe Castiglione, there are times when nearly all of us decide to play athletics director for a day.
We debate coaching moves, suggest facilities upgrades and pass judgment on halftime entertainment, all while gathered around the safety of the water cooler.
It's not long before those sessions turn to the matter of scheduling. "We should play so-and-so," we proclaim. Or we ask indignantly, "Why would we dare play so-and-so when so-and-so is such a better opponent for us?"
After all, dozens of athletics directors are probably sitting anxiously beside their phones waiting on that call to come play in Norman.
If only it were that simple.
Scheduling has few peers when it comes to creating headaches for administrators.
There is the matter of creating a competitive schedule that appeals to the fans and yet fits with the perceived readiness of the team. Then there must be some balance between what a particular year in the Big 12 might present versus what should be tackled in the non-conference slate.
And always there is a thought towards schedule strength and what it might mean on the national landscape, and an eye on tradition and the kinds of opponents that should be searched out by other tradition-rich programs.
Beyond all of that, one must consider the plight of the other guy; the potential opponents. Some are looking for competitive games, some for certain victories, some for their own home games and some for lucrative guarantees. That last group might indicate an interest one minute, while essentially auctioning off their availability to someone else the next.
When it's all said and done, that little Chinese gal who kicks the bowls up to the top of her head while riding a tall unicycle has nothing on AD's trying to balance a list of interests as long as, well, that unicycle.
Amid the maze of such a complicated process, Oklahoma has emerged as somewhat refreshing in the fact that it still seeks out other high-profile programs for games that remind us of a day when the classics were perhaps more appreciated by coaches and athletics directors.
The future OU non-conference football schedules feature Florida State (2010), at Florida State (2011), Notre Dame (2012), at Notre Dame (2013), Tennessee (2014), at Tennessee (2015), Ohio State (2016), at Ohio State (2017), LSU (2018) and at LSU (2019).
Is it right for a program the stature of Oklahoma to take on games of that kind? The traditionalist in all of us screams, "Yes!" But be reminded, such an approach is not necessarily the norm at a lot of other places, and it's most certainly not a requirement.
Instead, it's a choice, and that's what makes it worthy of our praise.
The Big 12 opponents present enough fits that looking for something easier in September could be forgiven. But that's not the choice that has been made by this coach and this athletics director, and we have benefited greatly from that decision.
In just the recent years, how much fun was the Alabama series? How much more did we appreciate Antonio Perkins' three punt returns for touchdowns because they were accomplished against UCLA? Even if one of those games had resulted in a loss, wasn't there just something inherent about our approval of simply playing those games? I hope so, and as competitive as we are, I hope we never lose our grip on that fact.
Sooner football is fun no matter what; the fans all but guarantee as much. But we can be forgiven for having a bit more spring in our step when the name opposite our own on the scoreboard is that of another football powerhouse, even if it represents a significant risk.
For all the things we appreciate in the university and athletics department leaders, the regard for tradition and a challenge, long-held Oklahoma staples, should not be forgotten.
an inside perspective from the OU
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Senior Associate Athletics Director for Communications Kenny
provides his thoughts in his online column