Share “OU's Bob Stoops intrigued by Pac-10 merger”

by Berry Tramel Modified: June 9, 2010 at 10:23 am •  Published: June 9, 2010

NORMAN — The two coaches Sooner fans care about most feel differently about the possibility of Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-10.

Football's Bob Stoops is excited.

Women's basketball's Sherri Coale is not.

"It's kind of exciting to me, what the possibilities are for our program,” Stoops said. "What actually it will be, I don't know. In the end, it'll be positive.”

Coale is not so enthusiastic.

"It's not something I want to happen,” Coale said. "We have one of the premier conferences in women's college basketball. We've been No. 1 in attendance, No. 1 in RPI the past two-three years.

"The Big 12 is a great conference for our sport. I would hate to see it broken up.”

While Coale believes a Pac-10/Big 12 merger might not be the best thing for OU women's basketball, Stoops thinks it stands to benefit his program.

"(The Big 12) has been great for us. We have been in a good number of Big 12 championship games and won a number of times. Obviously, it's been good for us,” Stoops said. "But the more people are talking about (the Pac-10), the more people are thinking, 'That's exciting. That's pretty cool. That has a chance to be special.' It's win/win. Best of everything.”

Stoops says a chance to play against Pac-10 schools in conference could open the window to one of the nation's largest recruiting hotbeds, California. With the Big 12 South schools expected to join OU in the event of a merger, the Sooners would keep their traditional recruiting base of Texas strong, too.

"When I first heard it, I thought it was exciting. Thought, that has a chance to be pretty good, by bringing the West Coast recruiting into play,” Stoops said. "For us, especially to play down in Texas, has always been positive. I think that has a chance to be the best of everything, a good number of games we have in the South and then out West.

"It brings everything out West into play, particularly California.”

Coale, however, has cause to hope the Big 12 stays together.

Over the last decade, the league has become a powerhouse in women's basketball, and OU has thrived in that environment.

Both in performance and in interest.

The Sooners ranked sixth nationally in attendance, and advanced to their second straight Final Four.

The Big 12 has also thrived in women's hoops.

A national-best seven schools from the conference made this past season's NCAA Tournament.

And for the 11th year in a row, the Big 12 also led all conferences in women's basketball attendance, with an average of 5,247 fans a game.

In fact, the Big 12 had five schools rank in the top 10 nationally in average home attendance in women's basketball, with Iowa State, OU, Nebraska, Baylor and Texas Tech all averaging more than 7,200 fans per home game.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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