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Once again counting down the long summer Days until football finally makes its triumphant return
It's a time of alternating monsoons and oppressive heat, and the slowest of the eight slowest months of the year -- the offseason.
The World Cup helps to kill a month, even though we aren't in it. Still, it always seems that when we get under 100 days to kickoff, the clock runs slower and slower. But rest assured, September 1 will soon arrive, with Lane Kiffin's smug mug adorning the Owen Field sidelines in the first of a slew of breakfast kickoffs to start the season.
In an uncommon scenario, our Sooners have seven home games in 2018, which is good and bad.
Good in that Florida Atlantic, Army and UCLA all have to travel to Norman -- and we get one more home game, which is always good. It's bad, though, for those of us who look forward to our usual one good non-conference road game every season.
No such luck this year. Road trips this fall are all in conference -- to Lubbock (ick), Fort Worth (meh), Ames (yawn) and Morgantown (blah), plus the annual trip to Dallas, which is still, well, Dallas.
But we shall be repaid in spades in future seasons for missing out on a good road trip this season.
In 2019, we will visit UCLA at the Rose Bowl, which will be cool, although you must keep in mind the very large difference between the Rose Bowl (the stadium) vs. The Rose Bowl (the game).
Don't go expecting anything like the atmosphere that we experienced last New Year’s Day.
UCLA games are super laid back, the place is half empty, the students there aren't even in school yet in September, and all the surrounding hullabaloo present in January just isn't there. It's way different.
In 2020, it's a return trip to Army, which will be a good excuse to spend a few days in NYC. That's followed in consecutive seasons by trips to Tulane, Nebraska (nostalgia!), Tennessee, Temple and Michigan.
At some point, we will play the home and home with LSU that has been rescheduled multiple times. I advise caution there.
In addition to gifting us with a bunch of early kickoffs already, our conference and its TV "partners" were nice enough to schedule us to play at West Virginia on the day after Thanksgiving. Thanks so much, guys.
So now I have to fly to Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving, since it's unwise to a) fly on gameday; b) rely on airline schedules when flying northeast in late November.
Planning ahead, your intrepid correspondent booked passage out on a certain airline, which shall remain unnamed, but rhymes with Skoonited, since Southwest’s flight schedule was awful.
Leaving out at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving seemed the best of both worlds -- get in the holiday lunch and keep the family happy, then make it out the day before the game. Until the airline emailed me that my flight had been unilaterally changed -- first to leave at 1:30, then to leave at 11 a.m.
Grrr. Still working on figuring that out.
But at least we have football coming soon to be annoyed about. Flight schedules or whatever, it's still football, and that can never be a bad thing.
The powers that be suggested perhaps I talk about my favorite Sooner road trips in this column, but I think I've done that before. Frankly, writing these things for the last 23 years -- geez, I'm going to get old at some point -- has probably resulted in some inadvertent repetition at some point.
I'd rather talk about conference foes, including those departed.
I have, of course, been to every stadium in the conference multiple times, including pre- and post-realignment members.
Except for one, which should be obvious to you.
Of those that are departed, I miss only Nebraska. I would take them and that annual game back in a heartbeat, but it will never happen. Great fans and a great atmosphere, although it was tainted more than slightly during the Bill Callahan #@&% hillbilly days.
Colorado and Missouri can eat it forever, as far as I am concerned. Their fans were always miserable, and I happily wish them more despair and failure.
Texas A&M people were always very nice, but very strange, as most cultists are. They just hired a coach for $75 million to get them where they expect to be -- despite the fact that they have never actually been where they expect to be so as to have any realistic expectation to get there in the future.
Of those new to the conference, I must give a positive shout out to the hillbillies in Morgantown. Although they have historically had a very bad reputation with regard to treatment of visiting fans, they have been unfailingly nice to me and mine, and I have a standing invite to a tailgate there when we visit.
That fanbase was grateful to get out of the Big East and made a concerted effort to treat visitors better. The fact that we are of a stature that was not what they were used to coming to their place may have had something to do with it as well.
Regardless, I recommend Morgantown to all seeking a good road trip experience.
Except if there’s a blizzard.
(Editor's Note: This story appears in the 2018 Football Preview Issue from Sooner Spectator magazine. To read more or subscribe, call 405-364-4515.)