NORMAN — Oklahoma baseball coach Pete Hughes knows rivalry.
Boston-New York. Boston College-Notre Dame. Virginia Tech-Virginia.
Tuesday night, he gets his first taste of Bedlam when Hughes’ Sooners host Oklahoma State at 6 p.m. at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
“I’ll be completely honest with you, I’d never heard of Bedlam before I got the job,” said Hughes, who replaced Sunny Golloway in the offseason. “I was in a foreign land compared to what we’re in now. Since Day 1, we’ve talked about Bedlam. I’ve certainly researched it. I’ve certainly been part of it in different sports that have come through our campus with football and both basketballs and wrestling.
“I think it’s just an awesome rivalry. I think it’s great for college athletics, I think it’s great for our school, so I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
The teams will play five times this season — one non-conference game on each campus and then a three-game series split between Oklahoma City and Tulsa in mid-May as part of Big 12 play.
The Sooners (20-9 overall, 4-2 Big 12) travel to Stillwater on April 15. The teams play May 15 at Bricktown Ballpark and May 16 and 17 at Tulsa’s ONEOK Field.
Before he left for Auburn, Golloway was instrumental in getting the series expanded in part to bolster his team’s RPI.
Hughes isn’t a big fan of playing the Cowboys (19-9, 3-3) five times, though he said Oklahoma’s RPI certainly won’t suffer by playing OSU an additional game.
“I don’t know that we’ll get a great benefit from it,” Hughes said. “I don’t know that we need to play them five times. I don’t like to play anyone five times, no one does.
“But I do love the fact that one game out of the year we can bring it to each other’s campus to promote college baseball to the specific campuses and in the state in general.”
Hughes hopes that goodwill will extend beyond this weekend.
“We have some loyal fans that show up at our place, but I’ll be honest with you, there’s a lot more room in those stands for some more people to see a high quality of baseball at the right place in a family environment,” he said. “Hopefully this will help bring numbers and popularity to our game.”
The Sooners are averaging about 915 fans in their first 17 home games. The biggest home crowd so far this season was 1,671 at the March 22 game against Kansas State.
Hughes said he had a strong respect for the job OSU coach Josh Holliday does on the field and in recruiting. And although Hughes didn’t know anything about the rivalry until June, he quickly immersed himself in Bedlam.
“You take a job, you automatically become part of that rivalry whether you know anything about it or not,” Hughes said. “As soon as you get entrenched in that job, it becomes part of who you are and in your job description. When I was at Boston College, automatically it was Notre Dame. When I took the job at Virginia Tech, I immediately had to have a disdain for the University of Virginia, which I didn’t the day before I took the job.
“That sort of holds true for Oklahoma-Oklahoma State.”