John Hoover

John E. Hoover: With fearless Joe C. looking to the future, Sooners schedule series with Alabama

John E. Hoover: With fearless Joe C. looking to the future, Sooners schedule series with Alabama

In a 2002 game in Norman, Oklahoma running back Renaldo Works (47) breaks into the open with Alabama cornerback Anthony Madison (9) in pursuit.OU beat Bama 37-27 that day, and now the teams have scheduled a home-and-home series for 2032-2033. (AP Photo/Jackson Laizure)

Sooner Nation is a patient lot.

Waiting around for more than a decade to play Alabama is no big deal.

OU on Tuesday announced a college football home-and-home series with the Crimson Tide, but fans shouldn’t plan the family vacation just yet. Kids today could be parents by then.

The series is set for 2032 in Norman and 2033 in Tuscaloosa.

Tuesday’s announcement comes just two weeks after the Sooners announced a home-and-home with Clemson — in 2035 and 2036.
“The dates of these two games are down the road,” OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said in a press release, “but working ahead to schedule marquee opponents has become a necessity in today’s college football world. My thanks to (Alabama AD) Greg Byrne in working to renew this home-and-home series between two of the most storied programs in the sport’s history.”

“We’ve worked diligently at adding high-caliber home-and-home series to our future football non-conference schedules, and we are excited to announce this one with Oklahoma for the 2032 and 2033 seasons,” Byrne said. “Alabama and Oklahoma are two of the most storied programs in college football history, and this certainly will give both teams and fan bases a tremendous opportunity during the regular season.”

Maybe it will be worth the wait. Sure, it probably will be a terrific series. But, to borrow from Yoda, always in motion is the future.
Alabama and Clemson are currently the class of college football, but 16 years from now, Kyler Murray will be retired from pro sports (probably), the Big 12 Conference may be long dead, Castiglione will be either lounging on South Beach or in the Governor’s Mansion and Lincoln Riley will be 50 years old.

Who can guess what college football will even look like by then? Or college athletics in general? Today’s four-team playoff may seem a quaint, old-fashioned memory in 2035. College athletes may be full-time employees by then.

Still, this fortifies Castiglione’s reputation as America’s best college athletic director. Nobody has scheduled college football’s premier showdowns better than Joe C. And the reality is that to stay at the top of the food chain, alpha programs like OU and Alabama need to continue to seed the fan base.

OU and ‘Bama played a regular-season series in 2002 and 2003. Also under Castiglione’s watch, OU has played home-and-home series with UCLA twice, Oregon, Washington, Miami, Florida State, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Ohio State. Castiglione has also scheduled the likes of Tennessee (2020, 2024), Nebraska twice (2021-22 and 2029-30), Michigan (2025-26), LSU (2027-28) and Clemson.

“Our last on-campus series with Alabama in 2002 and 2003 reflected the great mutual respect befitting of two iconic programs and fan bases,” Castiglione said, “and we’re happy that a new generation of supporters will also get to experience the best that college football has to offer in Norman and Tuscaloosa.”

So Sooner fans, tip your cap to Castiglione and his fearless scheduling strategy, and don’t forget to mark your calendars — if you think you’ll still use calendars in 2033, that is.

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Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “The Franchise Drive” every weeknight from 6-8 on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and appears throughout the day on other shows on The Franchise. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.

John Hoover
@JohnEHoover

John Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he was co-host of "Further Review" and "The Franchise Drive." Now he's The Franchise college football insider: Oklahoma's state Heisman rep, a voter in the FWAA Super 16 poll, an FWAA media access liaison, and a Big 12 writer at Sporting News and Lindy's preseason magazine. In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist and won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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