Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops isn't much of a complainer, but in terms of environment equality, it's hard to draw up worse scenarios than Stoops has found his teams playing in during three of their four trips to the national title game.
Stoops' Sooners found success in 2000 when they knocked off Florida State in Miami, which is anything but a short drive, but it's not hard to find plenty of Seminole faithful in Florida.
The same thing happened in 2008 when Oklahoma faced off (and lost to) Florida in Miami. Perhaps the worst environment came in the 2003 BCS National Championship, when some guy named Nick Saban and tens of thousands of his biggest fans (at the time, anyway) made the 80-mile trek to New Orleans to see LSU deny Stoops his second national title and Oklahoma its eighth. Stoops has seen those kinds of crowds that can be "80/20" or "70/30" in favor of the other guys, and it's anything but enjoyable.
"You feel like you’re playing an away game and the other team’s playing a home game," Stoops said.
Very soon, Stoops may get a chance to let a few other coaches feel his pain. The College Football Playoff begins in 2014, and the first championship game will be played in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, less than three hours from Oklahoma's campus.
It won't be the last title game in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, either.
"I think all of the schools in this region, to have Dallas as one of those sites is great for everybody in this region," Stoops said. "Obviously, everybody knows what a great and quality and an awesome stadium it is, and then the location for us is an advantage, or should be."
Oklahoma's played in the BCS National Championship more than any team in the Big 12, but if other nearby schools like TCU (20 minutes), Texas (three hours), Baylor (90 minutes), Oklahoma State (4.5 hours) or Texas Tech (five hours) reach the title game, the same advantage would be theirs.
Texas played in the game twice, facing Alabama in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and got a taste of the Sooners' road-game treatment when it beat USC in the 2005 game in the same stadium, about 15 miles from the Trojans' stadium.
"If anyone in this region can be in that situation, it’ll be the same thing, that we get a chance to have the crowd on your side, plus even travel for fans and for everybody to be able to get to it, I think it’s a great thing for everybody with proximity to Dallas," Stoops said.
Simply having a major bowl game back in the Big 12 footprint is a welcome development for the league after the advent of the BCS meant the Cotton Bowl, despite its pageantry and history, was relegated to second-tier status, though the matchup, crowds and venue remained first rate.
Next season, it won't be able to get any better.
"I’m all for it. I’m all for a national playoff and all for it being in Dallas, because it’s a great stadium," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "I think it’s great and I believe football is best down here in the southwest, so let’s put the best game down here."