In 2008, the Thunder arrived and the economy dipped. The Thunder's soaring, statewide popularity — sellouts every home game; television ratings that rival OU football — means college basketball is fighting for its life in a crowded marketplace.
To both schools' credit, they have embraced some of the marketing advances brought by the Thunder. Both schools have made vast improvements in their game presentations for fans. OU's video screen is excellent. OSU's is lacking.
“Success certainly plays an enormous role in the interest level,” Castiglione said, “but it is also a result or outcome of the culture of doing things right.”
Both Lon Kruger and Ford have reached out to their fan bases, particularly the students. Kruger routinely hosts groups from the community for OU's practice. Ford more than once has bought pizza for students waiting in line for choice seats at Gallagher-Iba.
Castiglione said Kruger “has and continues to immerse himself in numerous programs to reach out to people and build interest. He deserves a lot credit for doing the little things which are a difference.”
Little things help. But winning is the big thing. The Cowboys and Sooners won this season, at least compared to recent seasons, if not to the standards of a decade ago.
Said OSU forward Michael Cobbins, “If our fans are willing to stay behind us, we'll continue to show what we can do.”