My calendar’s all outta sync. Yeah, I know it’s March, and I’m well aware that it’s Spring (although Winter’s still got a death-grip on things here in the Northeast).
But growing up in Oklahoma (Tulsa), there were only two true seasons – football and spring football. Otherwise, we all hibernated.
Now I’m watching the highlights last night and there’s Bob Stoops, the Sooner football coach, sitting courtside at an Oklahoma City Thunder game, not too far from former OU quarterback J.C. Watts (he spent a bit of time in Congress, too, but we don’t care about that). Both guys looked kinda out of place, but they were there.
A couple of weeks ago, budding-star golfer Anthony Kim, who teed it up at Norman, sat courside at a Sooner basketball game, cheering a team that is threatening to alter OU status as a pure-bred don’t-talk-to-me-’bout-no-hoops football school.
What in the name of Bud Wilkinson….
The Sooners were actually a concussion away from being the No. 1 team in the nation this season. Star/stud Blake Griffin went down early against Texas in late February, and the Sooners lost only their second game of the season, 73-68.
Still, they’re one of the strongest teams still standing in the NCAA tournament (yes, I have them going to the Final Four) and yet they still seem like they’re crashing a party.
Then there’s the women’s team, which stands as one of the few squads with a chance to collar UConn and possesses its own legit star in center Courtney Paris. She magnanimously promised to pay back her scholarship if the Sooners don’t win the national title.
Not a single other school whose team finished the season in the top 20 has a football team that played in a BCS Bowl this past season (OU lost to Florida in the BCS title game; Gator basketball this season was a no-show). And certianly none of them would ever dare call themselves a football school.
Among the men’s Sweet 16, several schools have had decent football teams, but none live and breathe the sport like we do.
This isn’t OU’s first foray into the hoops near-elite. In the 80s, Wayman Tisdale once gave us a reason to don our red. And though it might be hard to recall given recent events, Kelvin Sampson stoked the first fires for Sooner hoops, guiding team to eight consecutive 20-win seasons, 10 NCAA tournaments and a trip to the Final Four (2002) from the mid-90s into just a few seasons ago.
But under vibrant new leadership (head coach Jeff Capel, and his counterpart, women’s coach Sherri Coale), and with Griffin and Paris showcasing Norman as a viable place for the region’s best talent, this team might actually succeed where their predecessors could not – stir Sooner nation for another season.
And I’m sure Bud Wilkinson wouldn’t mind a bit.