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Why OSU is Opening the 2017 Football Season on a Thursday-Friday Schedule



The Big 12 must play at least four Thursday games per season, according to its 13-year TV deal with ESPN and FOX Sports, and Oklahoma State is on the slate for 2017.

As many of us know, OSU opens its highly anticipated season at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 31, a Thursday, at Boone Pickens Stadium. Then, the Cowboys face South Alabama at 7 p.m. Sept. 9, a Friday, in Mobile, Alabama.

For most, the game time is more of an annoyance than anything, but it does raise some questions, namely: Why did the powers that be choose OSU to put on a Thursday and Friday night?

That’s unclear, but with the proximity of OSU and Tulsa, BPS will still likely fill up. With the hype around the season and the students’ itch to get back to football, plus a long weekend with Labor Day, attendance should be strong. In fact, because Labor Day is a lot of students’ first chance to get back home, a Saturday game might even be worse.

OSU also has history with non-traditional start times, and that does not include an absurd amount of 11 a.m. kicks. According to The Oklahoman, the Cowboys have played Thursday games in 2009, 10, 11, 14 and 2015. This hasn’t necessarily been something Mike Gundy has wanted.

“The conference and their affiliation with television, there’s a certain number of games that they like us to play on either a Thursday or Friday night,” Gundy said recently. “I don’t think it’s mandatory, but it’s strongly suggested. We play on Labor Day Weekend, and in order to get what we think would be a great home crowd based on an in-state opponent, we thought by playing on Thursday it would be really good.

“When that happened we follow up with two road trips. The science behind putting 75 guys on an airplane and traveling halfway across the country and playing a game and then coming back and then doing it again the next week is that, whether we like it or not, it can fatigue them and it can be a little bit of a factor. So we said why not get a Thursday night game and a Friday night game to facilitate the conference in a year when you can play a game, get an extra day off, travel and play a game, come back, get an extra day off and then travel again.”

Essentially, Gundy thinks OSU will be more rested for the Pitt game the following week after South Alabama because OSU is playing them on a Friday.

“It really worked out, and it should exclude us for a number of years from not being in a Friday game. I want to play Saturday games. I want to play eight games at home. I want to play at 2 o’clock. That’s what I would like to do. I think that’s what college football is, but the television pays the money and we have to do what’s best. This was a good year for us to facilitate that with what the conference asks us to do every so often. The Friday worked out well for us based on the two road games and then if they bring it up in a year or two I can say, ‘We just played on Friday night.’ So you kinda kill two birds with one stone. I told (Big 12 commissioner Bob) Bowlsby we did it for him.’”

Point being, maybe this Thursday strategy will work, and it likely will bring in just as many people as it would have on a Saturday during Labor Day weekend. Plus it satiates the conference for the near future and gives Gundy what he wants: Saturday games at home.

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