For many college football fans, the annual spring game is an opportunity to break the doldrums of the offseason and get a glimpse of what their team will look like in the fall.
In recent years, attendance to spring games at schools like Ohio State and Alabama have been notably high. It’s often not unusual, however, for attendance at these events – which are scrimmages where a team is usually playing against itself – to be relatively low.
Lincoln Riley is out to change that at Oklahoma, however. In January Riley announced that he wanted 80,000 people at Oklahoma’s spring game on April 14th. That would almost double the attendance from last year’s spring game where the Sooners had 43,723 in attendance.
What could be in store to draw such a big crowd? Thus far, Riley has declined to say. He’s done plenty of hinting, though, to try and build the anticipation. At one press availability, he noted that the football program has been working hard “behind the scenes to create something that everybody is going to be really proud and excited about”.
A possible clue could be the events surrounding another big event that weekend – a statue of Bob Stoops is set to be unveiled the day before on Friday, April 13th. Former Oklahoma offensive lineman and current radio host Gabe Ikard revelaed via Twitter that Toby Keith (a long time fan of the Sooners) will be performing at the celebration.
OU is honoring @OU_CoachStoops April 13th. The invitation is 🔥🔥! @tobykeith is performing 😳.
My sources tell me there are still tables available to be purchased for the event from the @SoonerClub. pic.twitter.com/HuIsAJzVqk
— Gabe Ikard (@GabeIkard) March 9, 2018
Could Riley and his staff be planning a concert to surround the spring game? Such a move wouldn’t be unprecdented. Florida State recently announced that they will be hosting a concert following their own spring game this year, with Vanilla Ice, Salt-N-Pepa and Rob Base set to perform.
One obvious motivation for Riley to make such moves is that it could be advantageous in trying to convince recruits to come to Norman.
If a postgame concert is in store with other headliners like Keith on the ticket, Oklahoma’s spring game would by far be the most eventful in the Big 12. Texas Tech, for example, will be playing scrimmage in Midland, TX and Frisco, TX before hosting a final one in Lubbock in order to boost their visibility in Texas.
Likewise, Texas recently announced that the spring game for the Longhorns will start later this year at 6:30 p.m. That later start date will make the event feel more like a night game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, something which will surely make an impression on visiting recruits.
These other efforts are not expected to draw the kind of crowd the size that Riley is dreaming of for the Sooners. Whatever will be going on in Norman, expect an announcement to come soon with the Oklahoma spring game less than a month away.