B12MD Bob Bowlsby on 11 am kickoffs

B12MD Bob Bowlsby on 11 am kickoffs

Oklahoma AD Joe C. Gets No Sympathy from Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby

At Big 12 Media Days, Bowlsby said Castiglione is "entitled to that position" but "we all signed the TV contract."
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ARLINGTON, TX — Joe Castiglione’s opinions and concerns about Oklahoma’s 11 a.m. kickoff times fell on deaf ears with the Big 12 Conference.

The league’s flagship football program, it turns out, simply has no pull and no recourse when it comes to the conference’s existing television contracts.

When the league and Fox Sports announced this summer that OU’s home game with Nebraska — a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1971 “Game of the Century,” one of the sports’ historical touchstone events — would be played at 11 a.m., as have many of the Sooners’ games in recent years, Castiglione issued a statement saying he was “bitterly disappointed.”

OU had five games scheduled for 11 a.m. last year, five in 2019 (over six successive weekends) and five in 2018.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby didn’t express much sympathy for Castiglione’s perspective on Wednesday morning as Big 12 Media Days got underway with a 40-minute Bowlsby briefing.

Bob Bowlsby

Bob Bowlsby

“He’s certainly entitled to that position,” Bowlsby said, “and he and I talked about it extensively before he made those comments.

“Having said that, we all signed the TV contract. We can change it the next time if we want to change it. But we're going to live by the stipulations of our television agreements and that's what we did on this occasion.”

OU’s season opener at Tulane (on ABC) is also at 11 a.m. OU-Texas this year figures to once again kick off at 11 a.m. With the recent introduction of Fox’s “Big Noon Kickoff,” the network’s most visible timeslot is 11 a.m. central, and the Sooners — owners of six straight Big 12 championships and the league’s only College Football Playoff appearances — are the Big 12’s most prized property.

And yet, Bowlsby’s response seemed out of touch with Castiglione’s concerns.

“Eleven a.m. is an inconvenience for some fans. Some fans prefer night games,” Bowlsby said, before offering his experience with fans preferences when he was athletic director at Stanford — years before the TV contracts and even membership reached their current formats.

Bowslby then devolved into youth sports and geriatric habits.

“It depends a lot on whether your children are involved in youth activities or whether you’re an old person and don’t want to get home after dark,” Bowlsby said. “It depends on who you ask. I think Joe’s position on it was it was a marquee game and he would have liked to have seen in played in prime time.”

Actually, Castiglione’s position is that he’s been planning a days-long celebration around the Sept. 18 game for almost a decade now, flying in celebrities and dignitaries from the No. 1 vs. No. 2 classic, won 35-31 by the Huskers in Norman. An evening kickoff, or even afternoon, would have allowed for more events and activities for those special guests attending the game. Instead, things will be rushed on Friday night, and even more so on Saturday morning.

And given the Sooners’ need to carry the conference’s national visibility with so many 11 a.m. games, the real challenge is for coach Lincoln Riley and his staff, who have been angling for that marquee matchup as a prime time to host recruits.

OU is scheduled to fly in several high-profile prospects, but those prospects have high school football games on Friday night. The challenge for recruits to play on Friday night and then make their way across the country to take an official recruiting visit is significant — more so when a school is consistently strapped with 11 a.m. kickoffs.

Bowslby is right. The contracts are in place, and the networks pay handsome sums of money to determine which schools kick off at which times.

But even a moderate capitulation by the conference commissioner at the first big event of the 2021 football season would have helped sooth Castiglione’s bitter disappointment.

ARLINGTON, TX — Joe Castiglione’s opinions and concerns about Oklahoma’s 11 a.m. kickoff times fell on deaf ears with the Big 12 Conference.

The league’s flagship football program, it turns out, simply has no pull and no recourse when it comes to the conference’s existing television contracts.

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