Big 12 Commissioner: When it comes to more early kickoffs, 'we all signed the TV deal'

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Jul. 14—Sooner fans shouldn't be too hopeful about later kickoff times this season.

In May, Sooners Athletic Director Joe Castiglione voiced frustrations shared by Sooners fans regarding the 11 a.m. kickoff time for their September 18th matchup with Nebraska, calling it "bitterly" disappointing in a statement posted to the university's Twitter account.

At AT&T Stadium on Wednesday, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby didn't mince words in his response.

"We all signed the TV deal," he said.

He didn't stop there, making it clear that he took some exception to Castligione's comments.

"11 a.m. is an inconvenience for some fans. Some fans prefer night games... It depends on who you ask. I think Joe's position on it was that (the Nebraska game) was a marquee game, and he would've liked to have seen it played in primetime. He's certainly entitled to that position, and he and I talked about it extensively in the time before he made his comments."

In his original statement, Castligione mentioned that the decision for the 11 a.m. kickoff was not ultimately the Big 12's decision.

"We tried every possible avenue to proactively make our case," Castligione said. "The Big 12 Conference also supported our strenuous efforts to secure a more traditional time that would honor this game and our fans. However, in the end, our TV partner chose to exercise its full contractual rights and denied our requests."

The Sooners have played at least five early-kickoff games in each season since 2017. Nebraska and the season opener against Tulane, the two games on the Sooners schedule this season that currently have a time set, both kickoff at 11 a.m.

The Big 12 has TV contracts with both ESPN and Fox Sports that run through 2025.

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