Mac Engel

Texas and Oklahoma need to try a night game at the Cotton Bowl just once

One of the great scenes in college sports: Texas and Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl during the State Fair of Texas. It should be played at night at least once.
One of the great scenes in college sports: Texas and Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl during the State Fair of Texas. It should be played at night at least once. AP

Not only has UT’s athletic director never witnessed the Texas/Oklahoma game at the Cotton Bowl, until Friday he had never been to the State Fair of Texas.

Because of Chris Del Conte’s schedule every fall, he never had the time visit the biggest and best fair in the United States.

On Saturday, the first-year UT AD will finally make his first Red River Whatever It’s Called when No. 19 Texas plays No. 7 Oklahoma.

We can all agree there are few better scenes and atmospheres in all college football than Texas/OU. Red and burnt orange split down the middle. Fletcher’s Corny Dogs. Big Tex, preferably the version that is not flame broiled.

Texas/OU is one of the few marquee games college football can count on, which is why the timing is always so odd.

This version is slated for 11 a.m. Do you know who else plays at 11 a.m.? Kansas. Virtually every week.

Never once since the game started at the Cotton Bowl in 1929, according to both State Fair representatives and Texas’ media relations staffers, has Texas-OU been played at night.

Just one time the planners who do Texas/OU should push to give this main event the time slot it deserves, at night under the lights before the largest national audience possible.

“My answer to that is, ‘Why buck tradition?’” Del Conte asked.

There are about 80,000 hot and sweaty fans who routinely disagree on this point every fall.

Del Conte’s answer is not horrible, but the tradition is not the time slot. The tradition is Texas versus OU at the Cotton Bowl during the State Fair of Texas.

Why is Texas/OU at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning? The answer, of course, is always, ‘Because TV.’

There are plenty of reasons to keep Texas/OU in the middle of the afternoon, beginning and ending that it keeps the drinking to a moderately reasonable level of stupid. Can you imagine how many kegs will be floated if the kickoff is 6 p.m.?

Beer aside, just one time it would be nice see the best the Big 12 offers, and consistently the most visibly pleasing game available in the middle of the U.S., under the lights.

Per State Fair of Texas vice president of public relations Karissa Condoianis, from the Fair’s perspective Texas-OU, could be a night game.

“We have night events at the Cotton Bowl all the time,” she said. “We have no control of the game time. It’s either 11 a.m. or 2:30 p.m.”

During the weekends, the Fair closes at 11 p.m. If UT/OU began at 6 p.m., even a long college football game would be over well before the Fair’s regularly scheduled closing time.

The Cotton Bowl is a dump; it’s a revamped dump but it’s a dump. That’s part of the place’s charm. The lighting at the stadium is more than adequate for a game, and for the TV cameras.

If the concern is the less-than-great neighborhood that is surrounding communities around Fair Park, Condoianis said, “That is one of the safest areas in Dallas during the State Fair.”

There is plenty of law enforcement on site, and around the Fair, at this time of year.

Now, maybe some of the local restaurants and bars would not be crazy about this game starting at 6 or 7. Maybe a few other local businesses may let out a concern or two.

Moving Texas-OU to night simply may not work. Or it may be fantastic.

As much as these two schools flirt with moving this game to campus facilities, Dallas always comes through to keep the game; neither Texas nor OU wants to be the one to end one of the great traditions in college football.

Since it’s never been done, there is no reason not to try Bevo and Boomer at night time. Just once.

Moving the game to night isn’t bucking tradition; it may be adding a new one to one of the great traditions in college sports: Texas/OU at the Cotton Bowl during the State Fair of Texas, under the lights.

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