Finally, after years of dialogue involving University of Tulsa athletic director Derrick Gragg and Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder, and with OSU deputy AD Chad Weiberg having been involved more recently, the universities have agreed on the terms of a football-scheduling relationship.
The word “relationship” is appropriate because this is a significant, long-term arrangement. It’s beneficial for each side.
For TU, it’s fantastic.
TU and OSU have finalized an eight-game, football-scheduling contract. This is a straight-up, home-and-home deal — the kind of deal that TU people have wanted for decades.
The TU and OSU football teams already were scheduled to meet this year (on Sept. 14 at TU’s H.A. Chapman Stadium), and in 2020 and 2021 (both at Stillwater).
The eight-year agreement begins in 2024 at TU. The Hurricane hosts OSU also in 2026, 2028 and 2030. OSU hosts in 2025, 2027, 2029 and 2031.
Money details: For each of the eight games in 2024-31, the home team keeps 100% of the ticket revenue. The visiting team receives $300,000 for expenses.
Just the fact that TU and OSU officials got together, listened to the other’s pitch and wound up with a successful negotiation — that’s the story of the day.
The Tulsa and Oklahoma State campuses are separated by only 73 miles, and the result of this deal is a steady run of interesting nonconference football and, hopefully, really competitive football. Holder wants this Bank of Oklahoma Turnpike Classic series to develop into big-event weekends.
“The two biggest markets for OSU fans are Oklahoma City and Tulsa,” Holder said. “We can’t play a football game in Oklahoma City, but we can in Tulsa every other year.
“We do a lot of our recruiting of students in Tulsa. A lot of our students will graduate and go to work in Tulsa. The benefits of this football contract transcend just the playing of football games.”
For each school, it’s an easy, inexpensive trip to the other’s stadium. On a consistent basis, OSU gets an American Athletic Conference opponent on its schedule. In five of the past 12 seasons, TU recorded at least 10 wins. When the Hurricane is competitive, that type of Tulsa squad enhances the Oklahoma State schedule.
“Our expectation is that when we play against Tulsa, we’ll face a very good team,” Holder said. “That’s the way we want it to be.”
Future Hurricane schedules include an OSU program that during this decade has ranked among national leaders offensively while averaging 9.4 wins per season.
Plus, it’s infinitely more interesting to watch a TU-OSU football game than TU-New Mexico or OSU-South Alabama.
Actually, the Gragg-Holder-Weiberg process began long before Weiberg became the No. 2 figure in OSU’s athletic department. He moved to Stillwater from Texas Tech in May 2018.
TU-OSU discussions have been ongoing for at least three years.
“I’m open to it and we’ve had discussions about it,” Gragg said in 2016. “But at the end of the day, we’re always going to do what’s best for TU.”
In 1914 through 2000, there were 69 TU-OSU football games. That series was a staple on the state’s football calendar.
In 2001-18, there were only four TU-OSU games.
OSU’s Terry Don Phillips and Les Miles didn’t seem to want TU on the Cowboy schedule. Meanwhile, TU battled against the 2-for-1 handicap in OSU football contracts.
For a long time, this was the OSU preference: We’re more than happy to play football against Tulsa, but only on a 2-for-1 basis. Two games in Stillwater. One at TU.
TU’s position: This series can become a real and marketable rivalry. We bring value to the table. We want a home-and-home schedule with Oklahoma State.
Starting in 2024, TU has exactly that. Gragg wanted what’s best for TU, and he got it.
In 11 of the next 13 football seasons, the Hurricane clashes with OSU. Five of those games are played on TU’s turf.
Everybody wins in this deal.
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