Early kickoffs affecting OU recruiting

OU having an 11 a.m. kick is definitely impacting what the Sooners are doing on the trail.

When the Big 12 schedule was released, it was a pretty safe assumption made by Oklahoma fans and top recruiting targets that OU and Baylor was going to be a primetime showdown.

Whoops. You know what they say about assumptions. With Kansas State and TCU sliding into that spotlight matchup, the Sooners and Bears are relegated to the undercard, so to speak, at 11 a.m.

And in the month of November, 11 a.m. kickoffs are not ideal for recruiting. OU has seen that once again this year as Riverside (Calif.) Polytechnic four-star cornerback Ykili Ross said he will not make his official visit because of the game time.

Ross will play Friday night with his game ending around midnight CST, which would have forced a crazy schedule to arrive in Norman a mere 11 hours later for the opening kickoff and the various flights he would have needed to make that possible.

OU coach Bob Stoops, though, said he doesn’t view it as an issue and said an official visit with an early game isn’t all that different from a later game.

“All the stuff you did in the morning, you do now after the game,” Stoops said. “Simple as that. You can’t change the game so you just work around it.”

But what you can’t work around is November. It can be excused for recruits to leave Saturday morning for an unofficial visit during the beginning or middle part of the season. But November is when things get real for high school football.

In Oklahoma and Texas, this is the final week of the regular season with a lot of teams clinging to their playoff lives. If they make it, high school coaches aren’t as accepting of a recruit leaving Saturday’s film session and missing out on getting prepared for the playoff showdown.

With an 11 a.m. kick, that’s exactly what they have to do. A night start would allow kids from all over Oklahoma and the north part of Texas to do everything required for their high school team and make the trip to Norman to watch a huge game between the Sooners and Bears.

OU is still managing to have quite a few top recruits show up for the weekend, including six official visitors as of Thursday morning. But this weekend has been looked upon as the huge one for OU this season, and the 11 a.m. kick sure feels like it’s going to keep it from reaching its full potential.

This is the second consecutive home game at 11 a.m., and it felt like OU was missing out on some recruits three weeks ago when Kansas State rolled into town because of the early kick. With home games against Kansas and Oklahoma State left after this weekend, it’s possible OU won’t play another evening game this season.

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