ESPN sportscaster Rece Davis, a University of Alabama graduate, discussed OU's and OSU's prospects in football next season and the Big 12 basketball race on Wednesday while doing interviews to promote the Capital One Cup, an NCAA Division I athletics award honoring the top men's and women's college athletics program in the country.
OSU leads the Big 12 in the men's competition at No. 14. Alabama, Indiana and North Dakota State are tied for first, followed by Notre Dame. In the women's race, North Carolina and Penn State are tied for first, followed by Stanford, Texas and Oregon. The winning men's and women's athletics programs will get $400,000 in scholarship money.
Q: What do you like about the Capital One Cup?
A: Every single sport gets its due as an impact in the standings. We try to get the fans involved. They want to brag about anything. We give them the avenues online, on Facebook and Twitter, to keep up with the standings. We have a great Capital One Cup advisory board. People like Doug Flutie, Clark Kellogg, Lisa Leslie. Until (Robin) Ventura ran off and became a manager, he was involved with us as well.
Your alma mater has dominated college football in recent years. Is there hope for schools like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to get back in the hunt for the national title?
There's no question what Alabama has done is remarkable. I think certainly there's a great opportunity for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to break through. I picked Oklahoma to play in the national championship game against Oregon before the season started. I thought that maybe this would be the year they go over the hump, avoid that head-scratching loss that has plagued them the last few years and be able to take the next step. It didn't really turn out that way. But they certainly have a great deal of talent.
I think they are going to have a different chemistry, a different dynamic next year with Landry (Jones) being gone and they have a lot of changes. They have recruited well. Sometimes when you've hit a little bit of a patch where you're not really competing at the highest levels, a little change of chemistry is a good thing. This will be the second year of Mike Stoops running the defense and maybe a different cast of characters playing different roles on the field might actually enhance that when they have a pretty good core coming back on the offensive line.
As for Oklahoma State, I thought what Mike Gundy did this year with young quarterbacks and all the injuries to the quarterbacks was nothing short of remarkable. I thought they did a fantastic job this year and proved they were more than a good team from the year before, that Mike had turned them into a good program. They too have some holes to fill. They have a lot of returning starters. The quarterbacks will be much more mature. They will have to replace (offensive coordinator Todd) Monken, which is certainly is going to be important because I think that guy is a really sharp coach. I think Oklahoma State will be a very good team. They open with Mississippi State early, so they have a chance to give the SEC a black eye right out of the gate. That will make everybody in the Big 12 happy, I'm sure.
How do you rate the Big 12 men's basketball race?
I think that Kansas is the standard-bearer in the Big 12, but I think there is some depth there. I know Baylor and Kansas State are off to a good start. Oklahoma's record is good, and Lon (Kruger) is doing to a great job there. I saw a little bit of Oklahoma State in a game earlier this year. They are a team that is talented and capable in the right set of circumstances. They lost a couple of tough games recently against really tough teams. It's probably a little disappointing that this is not one of Huggy Bear's (West Virginia coach Bob Huggins) better teams, venturing into the Big 12 for the first time. Eventually, he'll have good teams because he always does.