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OU football: Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby on Sooners' 11 a.m. kickoff time woes — 'We all signed the TV contract'

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Bob Bowlsby

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby during the 2021 Big 12 Media Days at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on July 14.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Jeremiah Hall had to study the OU-Nebraska rivalry this offseason. 

Hall said the matchup is a bit before his time, as he was in middle school in North Carolina when the Sooners and Cornhuskers last played in the 2010 Big 12 Championship game. But now, Hall understands just how much this storied game matters to both fanbases.

So, the redshirt senior H-back is ready to bring the rivalry back — even though it doesn’t have a prime time slot.

“Even though it's in the middle of the day,” Hall said at Big 12 Media Days on Wednesday, “we're still gonna make sure that game is fun and go out and compete.”

The 11 a.m. kickoff time for the 87th meeting between OU and Nebraska was announced on May 27, much to the dismay of OU Athletics Director Joe Castiglione. Shortly after the time was announced, Castiglione released a statement saying he was “bitterly disappointed” that the game couldn’t be played at a later time. On Wednesday, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby addressed Castiglione’s comments.

“Well, 11 a.m. is an inconvenience for some fans,” Bowlsby said. “Some fans prefer night games. When I was at Stanford, I did a survey, and there were those that wanted to play afternoon games exclusively and hated night games. There were those that played night games exclusively and hated afternoon games. … 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 it played in prime time.

“He's entitled to that position, and we talked about it extensively in the time before he made his comments. Having said that, we all signed the TV contract, and we can change it the next time around if we want to change it, but we are going to live by our stipulations on the television agreements and that's what we did on this occasion.”

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Game of the Century matchup between the Sooners and Cornhuskers. Nebraska won that meeting, 35-31. The Cornhuskers left the Big 12 for the Big Ten in 2011, making their 23-20 loss to OU in the Big 12 title game their last game in the conference.

Overall, Oklahoma holds a 45-38-3 series advantage over Nebraska. When asked about morning kickoffs, head coach Lincoln Riley told reporters at Big 12 Media Days that even though 11 a.m. start times may disrupt recruiting, he understands it’s just part of the sport. Ultimately, Riley said, “just tell us when and where… we’ll adjust with it.”

The Sooners open their 2021 season at 11 a.m. on Sept. 4 in New Orleans against Tulane.

Chandler Engelbrecht is a journalism senior and the Daily's assistant sports editor. He currently covers OU football and has previously covered OU men's basketball, volleyball and men's gymnastics.

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