If you're an Oklahoma football season ticket holder, you are going to have a hard time squeezing our money's worth out of this 2013 home slate of games.
On paper and prior to having seen a single team play a down of football, this 2013 home schedule is sure shaping up to be a dog.
8/31 - Louisiana-Monroe
9/7 - West Virginia
9/14 - Tulsa
10/5 - TCU
10/26 - Texas Tech
11/16 - Iowa State
That is not pretty.
Honestly, do any of those games even remotely excite you? Maybe TCU who is expected to be a contender for the Big 12, but even with that it's probably not a game that really jumps the pulse of Sooner Nation. Tulsa isn't horrible, but again this is a team the Sooners play and beat on a pretty regular basis so that one won't bring the people out in droves.
Before we decide whether or not there has been a home slate of games in the 2000's worse than those above, we have to start with the one glaringly obvious caveat known as the Red River Shootout.
Obviously both Oklahoma and Texas benefit from their arrangement with the city of Dallas, but they also both lose a home game every other year. A home game that would be almost incomparable to any other and just about every year provide a marquee match-up with which to build a home schedule around.
However the game is played in Dallas, has been for a long time, and will be for the foreseeable future. It's an obvious point, but a necessary one.
Another important factor to consider is the teams that are no longer a part of the Big 12: Colorado, Texas A&M, Missouri, and Nebraska.
The loss of Colorado meant nothing with respect to Oklahoma, so no need to waste time there. But both Texas A&M and Missouri were games that a number of OU fans looked forward to. The Sooners and Tigers had developed a bit of a mini-rivalry having met in a couple of Big 12 Championship games as well as Mizzou's storm-the-field inducing upset win a few years back. As for the Aggies, ever since that 77-0 butt-kicking that got Mike Lupica's panties in a bunch OU fans have looked forward to wins over A&M. Wait...what's that? No, I'm not familiar with this Cotton Bowl game you're referring to.
Then there is Nebraska. Oh, how OU fans long for the day when we used to play Nebraska. Even when the Big 12 was split between North/South and we only played the Huskers at home once every four years it was still a game OU fans looked forward to. Had they stayed, we'd be playing them every year again just like the good ol' days. Oh well, I guess we'll have to be satisfied with waiting until 2021.
The point of all this being ideally you would have a conference that provides you at least one attractive home game. Unfortunately, that no longer appears to be the case. We've already addressed the Texas issue, which leaves OU's only other obvious Big 12 rival, Oklahoma State.
Bedlam will always be Bedlam and no matter how much a large portion of OU fans want to deny it, Mike Gundy has built them into a legitimate threat on a yearly basis. Gone, at least for now, are the days where that game was an automatic 'W' on the schedule. Oklahoma fans have struggled with that transition and as such there has been some hesitancy to truly embrace OSU as a rival. Which sounds odd to say, but when you've dominated the all-time series like OU has it's a strange feeling to suddenly have to take them seriously. Well, that time is here. And OU fans are adjusting, but that will take some time as well.
So when you'll never have a home game with Texas and Bedlam is in Stillwater, your only other options are fellow Big 12 teams or your non-conference schedule.
To Oklahoma's credit, they have taken an approach to non-conference scheduling most are only now starting to adopt with the impending college football playoff just a year away. An approach in which you schedule at least one marquee game that will help to boost your overall schedule strength, whether you win or lose.
In recent years the Sooners have played Miami, Florida State, and Notre Dame. They have future contests scheduled with Tennessee (2014-15), Ohio State (2016-17), and LSU (2018-19). But those are all home-and-home agreements, which obviously means OU has to make a return trip to play in the opponent's stadium at some point. And that's where the Sooners find themselves in 2013 having to play at Notre Dame after the Irish came (and won) to Norman last year. So that's another home game Oklahoma loses from this 2013 schedule.
Some things you can control with your schedule, many others you cannot. In any given year you might only have one really attractive home game with which to build your schedule around, but even if it's only one at least you have that one game. Mike Holder and Oklahoma State have devised an entire ticket sales strategy around that very theory and they would tell you it's been very successful.
But if we're attempting to determine if this is the worst home schedule of the 2000's we'll need a frame of reference. So here are the home schedules dating back from most recent. Before that though, just to be clear this isn't a judgment of whether or not OU won/lost these games so much as the appeal they would offer you as a fan to have attended.
2012 - Fla. A&M, K-State, KU, ND, Baylor, OSU
Obviously built around the strength and appeal of a home game with Notre Dame. K-State was ranked No. 15, but isn't generally a game OU fans are excited about. Bedlam.
Overall pretty strong when you consider three of the six games are, at worst, above-average opponents.
2011 - Tulsa, Mizzou, Ball State, TTU, TAMU, ISU
Okay, 2013 has some competition. None of these teams were ranked at the time OU played them and there really isn't a single appealing game among them despite what we said earlier about the Aggies.
2010 - Utah State, FSU, Air Force, ISU, Colorado, TTU
Pretty much Florida State and nothing else, but as we said above you might only get one game but at least you've got that one game. This schedule is a perfect example of that.
2009 - Idaho State, Tulsa, Baylor, K-State, TAMU, OSU
Yikes. Um, Bedlam. That's all I've got.
2008 - Chattanooga, Cincy, TCU, KU, Nebraska, TTU
Kansas was actually ranked at the time and was one of their better teams under Mark Mangino. Last time the Huskers were playing on Owen Field. And that Tech game was the 'Jump Around' moment, though obviously there would have been no way to know that going in. Still though, decent but certainly not great home slate.
2007 - N.Texas, Miami, Utah State, Mizzou, TAMU, Baylor, OSU
Pretty solid actually. Miami was the "name" opponent, but Missouri was was ranked No. 11 at the time.
2006 - UAB, Washington, Midd. Tenn., ISU, Colorado, TTU
Wow, this may actually be worse than 2013. You know what...I don't even think it's even a question. That is a putrid slate of home games.
2005 - TCU, Tulsa, K-State, Baylor, TAMU, OSU
Another pretty rough year. OU lost that TCU game which obviously leaves a bad taste in the mouths of OU fans everywhere. Coupled with the fact this wasn't a really great OU team even with Adrian Peterson.
2004 - Bowling Green, Houston, Oregon, TTU, KU, Nebraska
This was before Oregon was really Oregon, so the Huskers are pretty much the only saving grace.
2003 - N.Texas, Fresno State, UCLA, Mizzou, OSU, TAMU, Baylor
You could see what they were trying to do with the UCLA home-and-home series, but the Bruins were down at the time (and have been ever since). Texas A&M was the 77-0 game and Bedlam was two Top 15 teams, but the Sooners cruised to a 52-9 win.
2002 - Alabama, UTEP, S. Florida, ISU, Colorado, TTU
Much like with UCLA, this wasn't your typical Alabama but it was still two of college football's blue bloods on the same field and that alone held some level of appeal.
2001 - N.Carolina, N.Texas, K-State, Baylor, Tulsa, TAMU, OSU
No real standouts here and as the No. 4 team in the country at the time Oklahoma was upset on its home field against an unranked Oklahoma State team.
2000 - UTEP, Ark. State, Rice, KU, Nebraska, TTU
Only five home games for a team that went undefeated and won the national championship. Oh, and Nebraska was ranked No. 1 in the country at the time.
Having seen all of that, as bad as 2013 might be nothing compares to 2006. Not sure you could intentionally put together a home schedule that poor if you tried.
So the moral to the story is if you've struggled in the past to find tickets to an Oklahoma football game in Norman, 2013 might just be your year as tickets do not figure to be in high demand.