If you still have a team alive in the NFL playoffs, you’re one of the lucky few. For the rest of us, mid-January leaves an empty feeling. College football season is officially over. Just reading that last sentence out loud is almost enough to make my eyes wet.
So now we can turn our full attention to basketball. Or can we? I’m sorry, I just can’t do it. I feel no buzz, no excitement, and no anticipation for hoops right now. I don’t think I’m the only one. In this state, no one is talking basketball. Sure, the newspapers and local media will cover the games because they have to, but trust me, the fan bases of our state schools are not fired up. There is far more interest in the next football season than there is in the current basketball season.
Part of that is simply the climate in our state. Oklahoma is a football state, always has been, always will be. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of basketball tradition here. Henry Iba, Eddie Sutton, Wayman Tisdale, Billy Tubbs, the Griffin brothers, Nolan Richardson, and countless others have contributed to the hoops history of Oklahoma. But the truth is, no matter how many Final Fours the colleges rack up, and no matter how many dunks Kevin Durant throws down, basketball is never going to overtake football in the hearts and minds of Oklahomans.
Part of the basketball apathy is due to the unbelievable success of football in 2010 and what could transpire in 2011. OU is already one of the favorites to win a national championship, while OSU is getting its stars back and should start the season in the Top 10. Tulsa finished in the Top 25 for the first time in nearly 20 years, and the search for a new head coach is dominating the headlines in this part of the state. If there’s one constant in Oklahoma sports, it’s that it’s never too early to start talking football.