Oklahoma's game at Army canceled

Army running back Kell Walker runs against Oklahoma Sept. 22, 2018, in Norman. (AP Photo)

NORMAN — Oklahoma's long-awaited trip to West Point, New York, this fall won't happen following months of uncertainty.

The Sooners were scheduled to meet Army on Sept. 26 at Michie Stadium. The game was officially canceled Tuesday, Army's athletics department announced in a press release.

"We are disappointed to lose Oklahoma from our schedule this season, however, we respect the Big 12's difficult decision," Army athletics director Mike Buddie said in a statement.

"I am saddened for our players, coaches, alumni and fans to miss out on what has been such a highly anticipated contest since it was first announced. Given the rapidly changing environment in college athletics, we've been working on numerous contingency plans in the event of decisions like this, and have already begun the process of finding a future date to host the Sooners."

The decision follows the Big 12's Monday announcement to limit its member schools to one nonconference contest — required as a home game — this upcoming season. The scheduling model falls in line with other Power 5 conferences, which have scrambled to restructure their football schedules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

It seemed increasingly unlikely OU and Army's meeting would happen amid health and safety concerns. Last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a travel advisory requiring individuals from Oklahoma to quarantine for 14 days upon arriving to the state. He also issued a restriction on sporting events, barring spectators from New York venues this fall.

OU and Army originally agreed to a home-and-home series on Aug. 4, 2009. OU won the first meeting, played Sept. 22, 2018, in Norman, 28-21 in overtime.

The Sooners' lone nonconference game left on their 2020 schedule is an Aug. 29 home date with Missouri State. OU and Tennessee's clash in Norman, planned for Sept. 12, was canceled last week after the Southeastern Conference nixed all nonconference contests.

It is still unclear when OU will play Missouri State. The Big 12 plans to revise its schedule, but the league did not specify the week when conference games will begin, which could impact the Sooners' season opener.

"The start of conference play will be solidified in the coming weeks, with an anticipated start sometime between mid- to late-September, with the expectation that non-conference games are contested prior to beginning league games," the league said in a press release.

It had not been discussed to move the Sooners' game against Army outside of New York, OU athletics director Joe Castiglione said last week following a Board of Regents meeting.

"You have to really think about entirely different place and that’s not really workable at this stage," Castiglione told reporters July 28. "We’re not talking about alternative sites. ... The only thing that we’ve talked about briefly is if the game can’t occur, how we can find a place in our schedules to reschedule it. That’s going to be difficult. We both have schedules that are set for several years."

The earliest the programs could reschedule is the 2025 season.

OU has its nonconference schedules booked for the 2021, 2023, 2024 and 2026 seasons.

OU's 2022 slate offers one free date with UTEP visiting Norman on Sept. 3, 2022, and at Nebraska on Sept. 17, but Army's schedule already has 12 games.

OU has an open date in 2025, while Army only has 10 games scheduled for the season. The Sooners host Michigan and visit Temple, making it unlikely they would schedule two road nonconference games in the same season.

The last time the Sooners' nonconference slate included two away games was 1999 when they traveled to Louisville and Notre Dame.

Based on OU's scheduling trends, the earliest its game at Army could be rescheduled is more likely to be 2027, which currently features a home game against LSU and two free dates. Army only has seven games finalized for its 2027 season.

Army, which is a Football Bowl Subdivision independent program, still expects to play football this fall.

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