Tramel's ScissorTales: OSU must make itself attractive to TV networks as OU, Texas exit Big 12
On Nov. 17, 2018, OSU hosted West Virginia in what is now a mostly-forgotten football game.
Heck of a day. The Cowboys trailed 41-31 midway through the fourth quarter, but quarterback Taylor Cornelius scored on a nine-yard run with less than five minutes left to give OSU life, then Corndog took the Cowboys on a game-winning drive, culminating in an 11-yard touchdown pass to Tylan Wallace with 42 seconds left in the game.
That was not a great OSU team. Those Cowboys finished 3-6 in the Big 12, their worst conference record in the past 16 years.
But that was a great day of football at Boone Pickens Stadium. The loss kept West Virginia out of the Big 12 Championship Game.
And America watched. According to sportsmediawatch.com, 3.9 million viewers tuned into the OSU-WVU game on ABC. That game won the television window, a rarity for a Big 12 game in the middle of the afternoon. CBS’ Southeastern Conference game, which weekly dominates the ratings, was not glittering – Missouri-Tennessee – but OSU-WVU also outdrew Notre Dame-Syracuse on NBC (the Orange had a good team in ‘18), UCLA-Southern Cal on Fox, Virginia Tech-Miami on ESPN and Indiana-Michigan on Fox Sports1.
The Tuesday ScissorTales renounce a potential Shai Gilgeous-Alexander trade and check in on Bill Hancock's Olympic adventure. But we start with OSU's predicament with the television networks — and a solution.
OSU (and West Virginia) officials need to put those TV ratings in their hip pocket and have them ready to display at all times.
As OU and Texas continue to sprint toward the SEC, the remaining schools in the Big 12 are scrambling to solidify their future. Can they find a major-conference landing spot? Will they have to trudge on in a diminished Big 12?
The remaining eight do not collectively have much television drawing power. Individually, none is an automatic home run for a conference wishing to upgrade its TV status.
So how much does OSU’s decade-plus of Big 12 success help the Cowboys? Are they the best draw of the remaining eight?
I researched the past four seasons of Big 12 television, and OSU, which did not reach the Big 12 title game in any of those seasons, has some pros and cons.
Here are the average viewers for each Big 12 member on a variety of networks, over the past four years.
1. OU 3.198 million (20 games);
2. Texas 3.15M (13 games);
3. OSU 2.89M (eight games);
4. Texas Tech 2.49M (eight games);
5. Iowa State 2.48M (five games);
6. West Virginia 2.40M (four games);
7. TCU 2.33M (10 games);
8. Kansas State 2.15M (two games);
9. Baylor (2.03M, two games);
10. Kansas 1.78M (three games).
The Cowboys show up very well on Fox. They are helped by some big Bedlam numbers, but every team gets to play the Sooners, and no one takes advantage of it like OSU.
Bedlam in 2019 drew 5.82 million in the night window, and OSU-Texas last season drew 4.04 million in an afternoon window.
1. Kansas State 4.21M (one game);
2. OU 4.02M (14 games);
3. Texas 4.01M (seven games);
4. Baylor 3.78M (three games);
5. TCU 3.63M (four games);
6. OSU 3.39M (nine games);
7. West Virginia 3.0M (seven games);
8. Kansas 2.98M (one game);
9. Texas Tech 2.93M (four games).
K-State's one game was an 11 a.m. game against OU in 2019. One game is not much of a barometer. What’s solid about the Cowboys’ number is that nine games is a lot, and four of those nine games were not against OU or Texas.
1. OU 2.47M (six games);
2. Texas Tech 1.92M (one game);
3. West Virginia 1.81M (nine games);
4. Texas 1.78M (seven games);
5. TCU 1.55M (four games);
6. ISU 1.46M (five games);
7. OSU 1.41M (six games);
8. Kansas State 1.28M (six games);
9. Baylor 1.15M (six games);
10. Kansas 0.95M (three games).
But all the numbers are skewed since OU and Texas are included. Here are the Big 12 averages for each program when appearing on Fox, ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 and NOT playing the Sooners or Longhorns.
1. TCU 1.86M (14 games)
2. OSU 1.74M (22 games)
3. Iowa State 1.6M (15 games)
4. West Virginia 1.56M (22 games)
5. Texas Tech 1.56 (11 games)
6. Kansas State 1.31M (14 games)
7. Baylor 1.14M (eight games)
8. Kansas 0.97M (four games)
TCU is No. 1 thanks to its 2018 game on ABC against Ohio State, which drew 7.23 million viewers. Without that boost, OSU would rank No. 1.
But there is a ready path to OSU clearly being the best draw. Retain the Bedlam Series as an non-conference game, which would make the Sooners part of OSU’s television rights every other year.
The Bedlam viewers for the past four seasons: 4.1 million (ABC primetime), 5.82 million (Fox primetime), 3.91 million (ABC mid-afternoon) and 2.4 million (Fox Sports1 mid-afternoon).
In fact, there’s a quick route to doing that. OU has seven games scheduled against SEC opponents from 2023 through 2033.
OSU should get on the phone right now and broker a deal to replace the Sooners on those schedules. Georgia 2023 and 2031. LSU 2027 and 2028. Alabama 2032 and 2033. OU is scheduled to play at Tennessee in 2024, and the Volunteers were scheduled to be in Norman in 2020, before Covid canceled the game. Maybe that’s a series that gets ditched.
So that would be three more prime games coming to Stillwater. If OSU served as a replacement on those games, the Cowboys from 2022 through 2033 would have home games against OU six times, Alabama twice, Arkansas twice, Georgia once, LSU once, Oregon once, Nebraska once, Arizona State once and Colorado once.
That’s 16 marquee games for television, and while three would be lost in realignment if OSU lands in some sort of Pac-12 expansion, that’s still a bunch of quality games, plus the conference slate.
The networks would perk up.
Tough non-conference schedules have not been a Big 12 staple in recent years, and OSU is included in that. But those days are gone.
The Cowboys must do all they can to entice the networks. They’ve shown they can draw eyeballs in the right circumstances. OSU must create the right circumstances.
Thunder-Pistons trade: Keep Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
NBA Draft Week sends Twitter into overdrive. We’ve been spared some of the madness courtesy of a different frenzy; college football conference realignment. But that just means we haven’t had the attention span to give to the NBA rumors.
But a hot-and-heavy report arrived Monday that made us temporarily pause on OU to the SEC and OSU to parts unknown.
Some say the Thunder has offered Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the No. 6 pick to the Detroit Pistons for the No. 1 overall pick in the Thursday draft.
I have no idea if it’s true. I didn’t see the OU-Texas thing coming, didn’t really believe it when I first saw the report and the next thing you know, I’ll be eating Dreamland barbeque in Tuscaloosa.
So I’m no Nostradamus or even a Notre Dameus. I have no clue what’s going to happen. I just know what has happened. Future events are not my expertise. But past events, I sort of keep up.
And let me say this about the theorized Thunder-Pistons trade.
If Sam Presti makes that trade, he’s a nitwit.
If Presti offered that trade, and his old pal, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver, turned it down, Weaver is a moron.
Reminds me of the salad days, when Mavericks owner Mark Cuban besmirched the superstardom of Russell Westbrook and Dallas’ Charlie Villanueva did some goofy talking. Of Cuban, Kevin Durant said, “He’s a idiot.” Of Villanueva, “He’s a idiot, too.”
I suppose you could construct some theory that SGA’s ascension into NBA stardom doesn’t mesh with the Thunder’s rebuilding timeline. I wouldn’t buy it. Gilgeous-Alexander, at age 22 last season, averaged 23.7 points and 5.9 assists while shooting 50.8% from the field and 41.8 percent from 3-point range. Heady production and exquisite efficiency equal the highest levels of NBA stardom.
OSU’s Cade Cunningham, the presumed No. 1 pick and apparently the object of Presti’s desires, appears to be a fabulous prospect with a glorious future. And if Cunningham before age 23 averages 23 points a game while busting the 50/40 percent combo, his team would celebrate the way those kids in Seward, Alaska, celebrated their schoolmate swimmer’s Olympic gold medal Monday.
Of course, I am a little sensitive on these draft subjects. I’ve just come from 20 straight weekdays of posting NBA draft repicks of the 21st century.
Draft order is overrated. There is no other way to put it. Draft order is important. Draft order is crucial. Draft order can make or break a roster. But it’s overrated.
Unless LeBron James or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Tim Duncan comes along, nobody knows anything for sure. You’re just taking your best guess. Teams that spend valuable assets – quality picks or players – to trade up in a draft are in defiance of draft history.
You want to spend a second-round pick to move up from 21st to 19th? Fine. But give up SGA AND the No. 6 pick to get the No. 1 pick?
You’ve gone from trying to get into the lottery to actually buying a lottery ticket.
In the 20 drafts from 2000-19, the No. 1 pick has proven to be clearly better than the No. 6 pick only 12 times. Four times, the No. 6 pick has been the more productive ballplayer, and four times it’s been a wash.
Don’t believe me?
Shane Battier over Kwame Brown in 2001, Brandon Roy over Andrea Bargnani in 2006, Yi Jianlian (no great shakes himself) over Greg Oden in 2007 and Nerlens Noel over Anthony Bennett in 2013.
And four of those years, the No. 6 pick proved to be the same caliber of player as No. 1. No. 6 Danilo Gallinari and Derrick Rose in 2008. No. 6 Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis in 2012. No. 6 Marcus Smart and Andrew Wiggins in 2014. No. 6 Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz in 2017.
Cunningham is a wonderful prospect. Is he a transcendent prospect? Is he an absolute home run? Even if he were to be, would he be worth SGA and the No. 6 pick?
SGA for the No. 1 pick might be a good discussion. But no way should the Thunder toss in the No. 6 pick, too. If Cunningham three years from now averages 23 points and six assists, while shooting 50/40, the Pistons would be beyond thrilled. So why wouldn’t the Thunder be thrilled to have Cunningham?
'Building on that lineage':Thunder's Gabriel Deck representing Argentina in Tokyo Olympics
If the Thunder rebuild is going to be laborious, and SGA figures to be in his late 20s by the time OKC is ready to win again (God help us all), trade him then, when he’s in the middle of his second contract, the hefty deal, not when he’s still on a rookie contract and there literally is no limit on his potential.
Most likely, such rumors stem from someone trying to build up the trade case for a deal that might actually have a chance.
Presti is loaded with draft picks. Three first-rounders and three second-rounders this week, bunches more to come in the next six years.
Strike it rich with those picks. Don’t try to strike it rich by trading a ballplayer with whom you’ve struck it rich.
Mailbag: OU-Texas kickoff time
Richard: “The optics that may stand out the most to an ordinary fan is this: the Big 12 was always in the business of catching what was left of the major conferences such as the continuous 11 a.m. OU-Texas kickoffs. We would leave Oklahoma for a game like 4 a.m.-5 a.m. to park at a DART station and ride the train to the game. We are to believe that one of the top two or three rivalries in college football is not prime time? Or at least a 3 or 3:30 p.m. slot? I hope that changes with the SEC.”
Tramel: I don’t know if it will change. Probably will. The 2:30 p.m. television window will be fascinating. For several years, the SEC on CBS was in that 2:30 slot and generally was the lynchpin for the rest of the college football schedule. Networks, including ESPN and ABC, tried to build around it, avoiding putting compelling games in mid-afternoon so that it wouldn’t swamped by the SEC game.
Now, OU-Texas will be an SEC game, and ESPN has all of the SEC’s content. The CBS deal is a goner after the 2023 season and perhaps even sooner.
The SEC and ESPN won’t necessarily put their marquee game at 2:30 p.m. It will move around. Will it move into 11 a.m.? Rarely. But sometimes, this new SEC could have three showdown games on a Saturday. They will be split up. Someone will have to play at 11 a.m.
It will be interesting to see if OU-Texas retains its objection to a night game. OU-Texas would have been prime time almost every year, but both schools refused to play that game at night. They had one card to play, and that's the card they played.
That meant a lot of 11 a.m. kickoffs. That should change with the SEC.
Bill Hancock’s Olympic adventure
Another Olympiad has arrived, and you know what that means – daily dispatches from everyone’s favorite Oklahoman, Bill Hancock.
The Hobart native who has carved a career as director of college sports’ biggest events – the Final Four for decades, now the College Football Playoff since its 2014 inception – is a long-time Olympic volunteer, going back to the 1984 (summer) and 2006 (winter) games.
Hancock writes a daily letter to family and friends, giving them an inside look at Olympic life. He and his wife, Nicki, are in Tokyo:
“Please excuse the typos and bad writing in this friendly message to family members. They are sweethearts and so will not object to sloppiness. Must hurry, because there is a vast Olympics to explore.
“Commute by bus from the Hotel Sunroute Ginza through the thrilling city, then across the graceful Rainbow Bridge — 50 minutes to the Media Transport Mall, then seven more easy minutes on a different bus to the Main Press Center.
“I absolutely love riding the bus to the office. The big Ferris wheel — like London’s eye — is a fun landmark. I assume it is closed because of Covid.
“The MPC and IBC (International Broadcast Center) are in the splendid Tokyo Big Sight convention center. It’s a big ole place.
“Breakfast: Carrots, corn, three tasty little sausages, two orange slices, roll with butter and jelly and BPSE (best potato salad ever.) No fruit cocktail today! One of the French journalists asked for it, and Mitsuka inquired of the kitchen guy, who said something like, ‘We don’t got no fruit salad today.’
“Remember, when it’s 8 a.m. Monday in Evanston, it’s 10 p.m. Monday in Tokyo.
“Today’s Experiment with Japanese Fruit – lavers with taste. I need to check on Nickipedia to see what a laver is. They were indeed ‘with taste.’ ‘Nuff said.
“Volunteer du jour: Hiroka, MPC staff member. Smiled with her eyes. Giggled when I asked how old she is. Then admitted said she’s 26. Tiny. Golly, everyone is tiny here. Nice as she could be!
“Note from back home in America: ‘When I represented Nissan I spent time in Tokyo. I happened to be there one year at the height of the cherry blossom season. It was beautiful, but I will say the D.C. version is much larger. I thought.’
“I apologize because some people get these (accompanying) journal photos in the dreaded winmail.dat, which no one on the planet can open — not even people who got the chips in their arms through the Covid vaccines. Does anyone know how I can kill winmail?
“Our really cool, worldly and smart great-niece (we have nine of those) sent a lovely photo of herself with blossoming Tokyo cherry trees. Beautiful! Darn, I can’t recognize cherry trees in the summer.
“Lunch: Well, I left my lunch bag on the bus this morning. (As opposed to ‘I lost my lunch on the bus.’) So, someone else will get to enjoy the BPSE, carrots, corn and a roll. I wound up having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and the crunchy Japanese Pringles.
“Random facts from an Olympic veteran who is staying home this time: ‘Random fact #1. Spielberg’s favorite sushi place is in Ginza. I’ve eaten there. It’s amazing and expensive. Will send you a WSJ story on it if I can find it. Random fact #2 — only city in USA with more cherry blossom trees than D.C.? Newark, NJ. I swear. Learned that this year. We went. Was beautiful.’
“Reporters visit the USOPC office for conversation and an island of Americanism, like watermelon and root beer floats. That’s part of the USOPC’s role here: helping people in need and representing the United States as a warm, friendly entity and citizen of the world. I listen to whatever the wayward reporters want to talk about. Usually it’s the American athlete they encountered yesterday. Sometimes it’s American football. (The news back home is a hot topic among the people who know my day job.) Sometimes they talk about what they had for breakfast. Others want to worry about the Dodgers.
“One American and longtime resident of Tokyo said he is disappointed by Royals season — although the team has now won five in a row. He wondered what has gone wrong with Soler and Dozier. That was the last thing I expected when he wanted in the door — a Royal fan in Tokyo!
“By the way, Royals games generally begin about 9 a.m. here.
“Around the corner from our Hotel Sunroute Ginza is a Domino’s Pizza restaurant.
“I need to say this: even for us devotees of The Masters, the Olympics is the greatest sporting event in the world.
“I took tickets to the swimming venue this morning and hung around to watch three races. Nicki joined me. It’s a beautiful facility. Sometimes the swimming venue can be the Cameron Indoor Stadium of Olympics — raucous but respectful. Mostly.
“Anyway, now the only ‘fans’ were the athletes’ fellow competitors. Those folks did make a little noise; so, by comparison with the other stadiums, this one might still be the raucous. A little rauc is better than zero rauc.
“The bus took us through a different neighborhood, with 12- to 20-story buildings, many with laundry flapping in the fresh breeze on the balconies. Shirts, slacks, socks, unmentionables, rugs, towels and an occasional pair of shoes seemed to be waving a cheerful ‘good morning’ at us. Monday must be laundry day.
“We passed a gas station. I don’t know the price because converting from liters is too much for me. But I’m sure it was more than the 20 cents we paid back in 1968.
“The road was elevated and we sat even higher on the bus, so we looked down on little parks and alleys and wiffleball fields like Olympic voyeurs.
“I wondered who collects and trash and when and where they dump it. This is one super-congested city.
“Olympics Covid Countermeasure of the day — the Japanese have instituted many countermeasures, of course, and we thought you’d be interested to hear about a few of them. We take our temperature every day (we brought thermometers from home) and complete an online questionnaire. (Hey, who knew that thermometers are different from the ones we used back in the 1950s. Where’s the mercury?)
“Weather: Cooler. High 88, low 77 but it felt cooler. John D. Rockefeller or Andrew Carnegie or Cornelius Vanderbilt will be here tomorrow. You know, a tycoon is coming.
“Japan Fact that surely must be true because somebody told me: Most common boys names in Japan — Haruto, Yuto, Sota, Yuko, Hayato, Haruki, Ryusei, Koko.
“While we’re here, we missed seeing hearing grandson Will playing the part of Jesus in ‘Godspell’ back home — and his brother doing a nice turn, too. They have promised a DVD.
“Note from a friend back home in America: ‘When it’s 11 a.m. in Gotebo it’s 1 a.m. in Tokyo’…is the finest, most wonderful, most awesome missive I ever have received, largely because it means so much to so few.’
“Oh, it’s thPHOON, not tycoon. The semi-panic about the storm here in the Main Press Center reminds me of the folks getting excited about a tornado watch back home.
“Dinner: Hamburger from the nice little spot downstairs in the MPC. Darn fine. Fries, too. And the Japanese Heinz ketchup tasted just like American Heinz ketchup.
“Tonight I got caught up helping a guy with tickets and missed the 8:10 bus from the MPC to the Hotel Sunroute Ginza. So I took a taxi. The taxis are clean and the drivers wear coat-and-tie. Tonight the cab went through a different part of town than I had seen before. It was beautiful with bright lights like Times Square. But I did check Google Maps to make sure we were actually headed for the Hotel Sunroute Ginza and not toward a back-alley mugging. Sure enough, we pulled up in front of the hotel and alongside a limo that spewed forth six laughing, unmasked guys who clearly had spent the day in more liquid pursuits than working at the Olympics.
“Wondering about the size of Japan? I attached a map.
“What a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. Sayonara, for now.”
Good eats: Trappers Fishcamp & Grill
We went out to dinner last week with some friends who are new to town. They wanted seafood. Oops. Tough assignment. Mexican? Barbeque? Steak? Fine dining? Diners. I’ve got a long list.
Seafood? Not so easy. Not in Oklahoma.
But we decided to try Trappers, on West Reno just east of Meridian. I had never eaten at Trappers; Trish the Dish had eaten there years ago. She generally isn’t crazy about seafood, though I am.
And Trappers was outstanding. Trappers is part of the Pearl’s Restaurant Group, which also includes Pearl’s Oyster Bar and Pearl’s Crabtown (which I love).
Paul Seikel founded Pearl’s Restaurant Group more than 30 years ago, and Trappers opened in 1994; it has withstood the rest of time.
Trappers’ decor is that of a backwoods fishing lodge. A 12-foot Kodiak bear greets customers at the dining room, game trophies adorn the walls and aquariums with turtles ring the tables.
The Cajun dishes are great – I had the Tilapia Orleans ($22); the Dish had the cedar planked salmon ($24).
Trapper’s touts its prime rib and pasta dishes, as well as unorthodox selections like quail and alligator.
I’d like to dig in to both. I’ll return to Trappers.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.