Since its completion, Arlington’s AT&T Stadium has served as a defacto championship arena for Texas high school football. The marriage has been one of both convenience — Texas’ University Interscholastic League governing body is familiar with Cowboys leadership and the facility’s enormous size provided constant room for growth — and authenticity. After all, if AT&T Stadium is anything, it is a monument to modern football in all its glory and glorious excess.
Now it appears that AT&T Stadium may have unwittingly filed for a premature divorce, with the release of the 2015 NFL schedule rendering it all but impossible for UIL to host its 2015 championship weekend slate at the Cowboys’ home. Such a move would hasten a departure from the site where UIL has hosted the state title games in each year since 2010.
Corbett Smith of the Dallas Morning News delves into all the reasons why the Cowboys’ Dec. 19, 7:25 pm televised home game against the Jets all but ensures that UIL will have to host the 2015 title games away from AT&T. There are multiple seemingly irreconcilable problems: the NFL is highly unlikely to change the kickoff time of a nationally televised game on its own network to accommodate high school football, UIL is unable to start the football season earlier for legal reasons, and UIL is unable to push the title games a week later for fear of interfering with the Christmas holiday.
There are other logistical challenges as well, but these initial problems are already enough to all but ensure that the 2015 slate will be played somewhere else, likely either in Houston’s LRG Stadium or San Antonio’s Alamodome.
Both of those facilities are excellent, NFL-grade options for the state’s high school football finals, so fans and athletes should still be excited about the sport’s future in the state. (As if there were ever any concerns about the health of football in Texas. Ha!)
Still, a departure from AT&T now will feel bittersweet, with the site boasting the two largest high school football crowds in state history the past two seasons … and with a one-year option to play the games at AT&T Stadium still on the table, allegedly at UIL’s sole discretion.
It sounds like the Cowboys will probably miss the games as well.