Kirby Hocutt hasn’t given up on altering Texas Tech’s 2017 football schedule, but the Tech athletic director acknowledges the Red Raiders, in all likelihood, will have to play the hand they’ve been dealt.
Hocutt doesn’t like the Red Raiders having an open date Sept. 9, the second week of the season, but needs cooperation from non-conference opponents Eastern Washington and Houston to change that. At this late date, multiple teams rearranging games is unlikely.
“Not unless there’s a magic bunny in the hat,” Hocutt said. “We’re going to try to pull it out, but probably not.”
Tech is scheduled to host Eastern Washington on Sept. 2 and Arizona State on Sept. 16, then visit Houston on Sept. 23. Big 12 Conference play starts the following week.
Tech had preliminary talks with Houston about making a change, but got nowhere.
“No progress,” Hocutt said. “It’s probably dead. But there’s another option that we may try to spend some time on and ask them to reconsider — just all focused on not having a bye in week two. But it’d require about six dominos to fall, and the likelihood of that’s not strong. It’s close to dead.”
In early December, Hocutt said he was open to a Tech-Kansas State Big 12 opener on Sept. 9 in Lubbock, because both teams were open that weekend. Instead, Kansas State elected to move a non-conference game against Charlotte from Sept. 23 to Sept. 9 to be open the week before its Big 12 opener.
“They said they’ve opened up the Big 12 schedule the last five years on the road, K-State has,” Hocutt said, “and so they really were adamant that they did not open the Big 12 schedule on the road. And they didn’t want to play a Big 12 opponent in week two, so to each their own.”
Still in works
The contract for a proposed 2018 season opener that matches Tech and Mississippi remains unsigned, though Hocutt said he continues to be optimistic the neutral-site game will come to fruition. Tech rearranged its schedule in the summer, clearing Sept. 1, 2018, for a Tech-Ole Miss matchup at NRG Stadium in Houston.
“Right now, the issue is the television piece between the Big 12 and the SEC and ESPN and whose game that is,” Hocutt said. “That’s the only holdup I’m aware of.”
He said he expects it to be worked out after this year’s bowl season.
“I’m still optimistic,” Hocutt said, “but that contract has not been signed.”
Tech’s other 2018 non-conference games are Sept. 8 against Lamar and Sept. 15 against Houston, both at home. In the summer, Tech moved a game against Missouri State, first booked as the 2018 season opener, to Sept. 16, 2023.