OU or OSU: Which is the better job
In my rankings of college basketball’s best 30 jobs a few days ago, I put OU 18th and OSU 27th. Several years ago, I did a similar ranking and had OSU 19th and OU 20th.
What has changed? Well, not a lot. But it doesn’t take a lot. Truth is, you can put all the schools between 14 or so and 30, pull their names out of a hat, write their names down and no one could argue much. They’re all very close.
But here’s why I went with OU ahead of OSU this time:
1. OSU’s fan support has dropped off. It tailed off during Sean Sutton’s regime, then wasn’t revived in Travis Ford’s first season. At the end of the year, the crowds picked up, but fan support was one of the great selling points about Cowboy hoops, and now that’s no longer a given. OU always has had trouble filling Lloyd Noble Center for all but the big games, but you’d have to say now that the crowd support is about even for the Bedlam rivals. Look at it this way: what we’ve said about OU fans for years — that it takes a big game to get them excited — now is true about OSU.
2. Gallagher-Iba Arena is a much better homecourt than is Lloyd Noble. But OU’s practice facility, training complex and offices are much superior, which matters to coaches. OSU shares a practice court with the women’s team. OSU’s practice court, locker room, training facility and offices are spread all over Gallagher-Iba. OU’s are all together. So I would call this a wash.
3. The best way to determine winning tradition is NCAA Tournament wins, and OSU is strong at 38. OU has 35, which gives the Cowboys a slight edge. However, a greater percentage of OSU’s wins came more than half a century ago. Those wins matter, and contribute to tradition, but more recent success carries more weight. So tradition is a push, too.
4. OU has had more successful coaches. Three have been to the Final Four (Bruce Drake, Billy Tubbs, Kelvin Sampson), two others to the Sweet 16 (Dave Bliss, Jeff Capel). OSU has had only two Sweet 16 coaches (Henry Iba, Eddie Sutton), though Travis Ford certainly appears ready to add to that list. To me, this is the No. 1 factor in rating jobs. Have a wide variety of coaches succeeded at the school? That’s why North Carolina, UCLA, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky are at the top of the list.
5. Finances. OSU is in much better financial shape than it once was, thanks to Eddie Sutton and Boone Pickens, but OSU needs basketball to be a money-maker more than does OU. Financial pressures are not really a worry at OU, which makes a job more attractive.
6. OU has more stable administration. Mike Holder has done a good job as the OSU athletic director, and the hiring of Ford shows that Holder knows what he’s doing. But Holder’s job status depends on Boone Pickens, and there are some lesser OSU boosters not thrilled with Holder. Joe Castiglione is much more entrenched as the OU AD.
Add it all up, and both schools are good basketball jobs. Three years from now, the rankings might be different. But right now, OU’s is slightly better.
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