Archive for Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stoops: Friday nights belong to high schools

September 18, 2007

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For years and years, an unwritten rule in college football said you never schedule games on Friday nights.

Those belonged exclusively to high schools. It was sort of a gentleman's agreement between universities and secondary schools because colleges did not want to cut into high school attendance or harm high school programs in any way.

And they still don't, Bob Stoops says as he prepares to send his fourth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners against Tulsa in a made-for TV affair this Friday night.

"I think this is the only Friday night game we have had," the Oklahoma coach said Monday, apparently forgetting his season opener at Tulsa in 2002 also fell on a Friday.

"And it isn't something you'll see us doing again for a long, long time."

Oklahoma State played at Troy on Friday night, so Oklahoma's three biggest schools will all have broken the unwritten rule this year and apparently incurred the wrath of quite a few high school officials around the state.

"It's an absolute travesty for high school football," Butch Peters, head coach at Norman, Okla., High School told the Daily Oklahoman. "It's going to kill a lot of gates, a lot of crowds. I'm very upset about it. ... I can't believe the NCAA would allow any network to broadcast games on Friday nights."

Apparently, there are two main reasons universities have begun scheduling on Friday night - television money and television exposure.

"It's sad that money causes shifts in decades-old traditions," said Gary Savely, athletic director at Oklahoma's McGuinness High School. "But it is a fact of life that cannot be ignored."

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy also said it's something the Cowboys do not do lightly.

"If we play a game on a Friday night, our thought is to play it out of state, not in-state," said Gundy. "Nobody wants to affect high school football. But then again, do you want to play on national TV? It's kind of a double-edged sword."

Stoops said Oklahoma consulted with high school officials about their plans.

"Our athletic director, Joe Castiglione, did go to the high school coaches association and check with them before we agreed to do it," he said.

"They were OK with it because it isn't something we're going to make a habit of."

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