Tramel's ScissorTales: Kayse Shrum vs. Bob Stoops & the Bedlam battle of capitalism
Kayse Shrum delivered a shot across the bow at the Sooners. Then she delivered another. OSU people kept telling me their new president was a bulldog, despite her demure demeanor. Danged if they weren’t right.
But folks can get feisty in Norman, too. While the OU brass remains mum about entering the Southeastern Conference, some Sooners are without such restraints. Which led to Robert Anthony Stoops firing back Tuesday, not with new-age Twitter but with an old-school op-ed. He wrote up a piece and asked The Oklahoman to publish it, which we did.
Bob Stoops. Citizen journalist. What a country.
And what a mess. Turns out, Baja Oklahoma doesn’t have the corner on conference realignment feuds.
While the Longhorns and Aggies renew their hostilities in boardrooms and the State House, Oklahomans are getting in on the act. In some ways more publicly than down in Texas.
Tramel's ScissorTales:OSU must make itself attractive to TV networks as OU, Texas exit Big 12
OU’s imminent departure from the Big 12 to the SEC has drawn the ire of the new OSU president. Shrum issued scathing statements both Friday and Monday.
Shrum flagged the Sooners for unsportsmanlike conduct, accusing OU of breaking not just Big 12 bylaws, but a “bond of trust between our universities in existence for decades.”
Shrum also hit the Sooners where it hurts. Their relationship with the Longhorns. “It is difficult to understand how an Oklahoma institution of higher education would follow the University of Texas to the detriment of the State of Oklahoma,” Shrum said.
OU does not like to be called Texas’ lapdog. That’s dirty pool. And that’s exactly what Shrum intended.
But Shrum was wrong — it’s not the least bit difficult to understand. OU is following the money; the Sooners are expected to reap as much as $60 million a year from the SEC, a bump of $22 million from the Big 12.
Stoops didn’t call Shrum by name but referenced her points.
“I disagree with any claims asserted that OU’s decision is ‘to the detriment of the State of Oklahoma’ and that OU made it without ‘engagement and transparency,’” Stoops wrote. “Let’s set the record straight: OU’s move to the SEC is what’s best for Oklahoma.”
The irony is rich, of course. Not that long ago, Stoops was Public Enemy No. 1 on ESPN’s Paul Finebaum Show, Stoops having dared to stand up to SEC hype. Now, of course, Stoops is flying the SEC flag.
It all comes down to capitalism. OU is not following Texas; OU is following the money. OSU, via Shrum, is saying the Sooners should forego capitalism in favor of honor.
That’s really the argument, right? That OU should aspire to something higher than just getting more and more money, or more and more exposure. It’s not like the Sooners aren’t winning at a high level in most of the sports they care about.
And while the future might be OK for the Cowboys, it might not be, either. The much bigger piece of the pie for OU could mean a meager slice of pie for OSU, if realignment goes sideways. And that could be a detriment to the state. It’s not good for the state if the OSU athletic profile reaches the status of the University of Houston. The law of unintended consequences.
Conversely, it’s not good for the state if OU’s national status dips due to staying in a stagnant Big 12. Misery loves company but company doesn’t love misery, and the truth about the beleaguered Big 12 is that if Mama OU or Mama Texas ain’t happy...
The capitalism argument is rich. Ironic the sides that have been taken.
OU officials constantly are labeled as liberal by the masses in the state, for everything from Covid protocols to supporting social justice endeavors with their athletes.
OSU fans, in a Trump re-election year, rallied around their coach, not their players, when star tailback Chuba Hubbard took issue with Mike Gundy wearing a One America News Network T-shirt.
Now the roles are reversed. OSU is saying, how about we share the wealth. OU is saying, how about we don’t.
The arguments work both ways.
Universities shouldn’t be all about the money. There are places, even in a capitalistic economy, that capitalism has no place and shouldn’t rule. Maybe a college campus is one of those places.
But since when were big-moneyed athletic departments in lockstep with the campuses they inhabit? The big-time football programs have spent more than half a century pushing for capitalism. Television freedom. Market economies. Self-rule. Financial autonomy.
OU has led the way in that charge (the landmark OU-Georgia television lawsuit, anyone?). But OU’s conferences, the Big Eight and the Big 12, have marched with the Sooners in those pursuits, and in many ways so has OSU, and even moreso, OSU has benefited from the reform.
I don’t blame OU for going to the SEC. Big-time collegiate sports is a dog-eat-dog world. Wall Street veterans would blush if someone made an insider movie about the business of NCAA sports. Corporate raiding, unethical behavior, high finance, rule-breaking galore. It’s all there.
If the Sooners didn’t follow the money, maybe the SEC adds Clemson and Florida State, and OU and Texas could be sitting there wondering how valor is going to pay the bills required to keep up with Alabama.
But I don’t blame Shrum for pulling out her sword. She’s been on the job 15 minutes (July 1) and is in a fight for her campus’ life. Just because OSU doesn’t make as much or spend as much money on athletics as the Sooners and Longhorns doesn’t mean OSU doesn’t spend a ton. The Cowboys’ pre-Covid athletic budget was around $95 million. That’s a tremendous investment and one that must be protected.
I’ve met Shrum a couple of times and don’t know her at all. But those that do say she’s smart and tough and demanding, which are good presidential traits.
Shrum knows this is a precarious time, and what OSU needs the most right now is for all Cowboys and Cowgirls to stick together.
Some ignorant OSU people are saying good riddance to the Sooners, and some fearful OSU people are cowering, predicting Doomsday. Neither attitude is helpful.
This is a time for everyone at OSU to be resolute, down to the fans. Do your part. If you buy tickets, show up. If you don’t buy tickets, buy tickets. Let the administration know you’re in for the long haul and trust them to find a way to financial prosperity, without the Sooners and Longhorns.
That’s what Shrum was doing with her tweets. Rallying the base. The dastardly deeds of the Sooners are common ground for everyone in orange. Shrum got the OSU faithful fired up and maybe off their duff.
Getting fired up is step one.
Step one is the easy step. Now comes the hard part of embracing the unknown, navigating capitalism without the help of OU.
NBA Draft: Should Sam Presti trade down instead of up?
Trade up, trade up, trade up. That’s been the refrain about the Thunder draft since the danged pingpong balls came up snake eyes on lottery night.
OKC, with a 25% chance at two top-five picks, ended up with selections six and 18, courtesy of chance. You know all those casino commercials that show delirious winners? Video editors have told you one small side of the story. They have left on the cutting-room floor the footage of hundreds of dejected customers walking out with nothing in their pockets save their hands.
That’s the Thunder after the lottery. It could have been worse. But only slightly. OKC conceivably could have gone home with picks seven and 18.
Finally, we’ve arrived at the underrated draft, leaving behind the overrated lottery. Evaluate well, scout thoroughly, select wisely, and it’s amazing how insignificant those pingpong balls become.
Which brings us back to the refrain. What if Sam Presti zags instead of zigs? What if the Thunder trades down.
OKC has picks six, 16 and 18. Instead of dealing some of those to move up, what if he deals some of those to move down?
What if Presti stages his own personal lottery? Instead of depending on the chances of pingpong balls, rely on the chances of multiple picks. Four of the first 18 picks are better than three of the first-round picks.
Be a wildcatter. Strike black gold, Texas tea, not with luck, but with sheer numbers.
Most NBA drafts have 10-12 really good players and 2-4 star-caliber players. Those 10-12 do not all come in the first 15-20 picks. Those 2-4 do not all come in the top five. They are sprinkled throughout the 60-pick draft.
Advantageous draft order helps. It does not assure.
So what if Presti decides not to play the move-up game? That would mean no chance at Southern Cal’s Evan Mobley or Florida State’s Scottie Barnes. The former is deemed the best fit for OKC, since he’s a big man who can shoot, which seems the perfect sidekick for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Barnes latter is billed as the Draymond Green clone, perhaps with a less-abrasive personality, who can do everything well but shoot.
Would it be a draft disaster if the Thunder comes out with neither?
Some have suggested Presti could back up the track to get to No. 1 and pick OSU’s Cade Cunningham. I love Cunningham. Wonderful player. Excellent prospect.
And I assume Cunningham will have a better NBA career than does Arkansas’ Moses Moody. But I’m only pretty sure. I don’t know. Cunningham was great in Stillwater. He was not Bill Walton.
The Thunder draft excess is rare. This could be a fascinating experiment. Quantity of picks over quality of draft order.
A few weeks ago, I studied whether a team would have been better off with picks 6-16-18 or one of the top five picks. I used the 10 drafts of the 2010s.
I found that teams would be better off with the overall No. 1 pick. But picks 2-5? Nope. Picks 6-16-18 were just as beneficial.
So what if Presti trades down? I don’t have specifics. Maybe Golden State has someone it loves at No. 6 and offers No. 7 and No. 14. Maybe the Knickerbockers have someone they want at 16 and offers OKC the 19th and 21st picks to trade.
I don’t know. But it seems like getting more picks and using them on guys outside of the glory circle is a way to find a gem. Or a gusher.
Someone like Turkish center Alperen Sengun, who turned 19 last week and was most valuable player of Turkey’s Super League. Sengun is a scorer and a rebounder. When you’re the best player in your nation at age 18, and you’re not from Sri Lanka, seems like you might have an NBA future.
Someone like Spanish forward Usman Garuba, who was a good player for Real Madrid last season, during which he turned 19. When you can play in the Euro League at 18, you can play in the NBA.
Someone like Moody, whose combination of 7-foot wing span and scoring ability has me intrigued. He’s fallen on draft projections since winter. I don’t know why.
Someone like Virginia Commonwealth’s Nah’Shon Hyland, a shooting guard with deep range. He made 1.4 3-pointers from beyond 25 feet last season. In college, not all 3-pointers are created equal. Some translate to the NBA. Some don’t.
Someone like Baylor guard Jared Butler, who was unquestionably the leader of the NCAA champion. Then we got to draft season, and Baylor’s Davion Mitchell was all the rage. Maybe Mitchell will be a better pro; he’s projected top half of the first round, with Butler bottom half of the first round. But Butler and Mitchell were teammates for three years, and Butler was the better player. And Butler is younger than Mitchell. Two years younger.
Hey, I don’t know if any of these guys will hit. I’ve already told you more about the draft talent than I actually know.
But this I know. High picks are not the only way to find talent in the NBA Draft. And the more picks you have, the more bullseyes you might hit.
Bill Hancock’s Olympic adventure
Another Olympiad has arrived, and you know what that means – daily dispatches from everyone’s favorite Oklahoman, Bill Hancock.
The Hobart native who has carved a career as director of college sports’ biggest events – the Final Four for decades, now the College Football Playoff since its 2014 inception – is a long-time Olympic volunteer, going back to the 1984 (summer) and 2006 (winter) games.
Hancock writes a daily letter to family and friends, giving them an inside look at Olympic life. He and his wife, Nicki, are in Tokyo. And today, even I got a shoutout:
“(Please excuse the typos and bad writing in this friendly message to family members. They are sweethearts and so will not object to sloppiness. Must hurry, because there is a vast Olympics to explore.)
“My cell phone freaked out at 3 a.m. It was a sportswriter in Maryland. It exploded again at 3:40 a.m. A sportswriter in Kentucky; 3:50 a.m., Maryland again. I didn’t pick up. They weren’t calling for tickets to tonight’s Olympic women’s gymnastics team event.
“They didn’t remember that I was in Tokyo. I got back to both of them before my 6:15 a.m. Zoom with college-sports colleagues.
“The ‘typhoon’ caused drizzle here this morning, sort of like the misters that keep you cool at Six Flags on July 28. That was it. So far. If Dylan Dreyer were here, she would tell us. (She’s not here, is she? We don’t see the NBC celebrities.)
“By the way, I am not starstruck by nature. I have met three presidents, a slew of college coaches and Berry Tramel. If Red Skelton or Donna Reid walked in, I would say, ‘Hey, Red, how is Clem Kadiddlehopper?’ ‘Oh, hi, Donna. Did Harry Bailey return to the war after he flew all the way to Bedford Falls in that blizzard?’
“But I was pleased get to know Mandalit del Barco this week. Now if only Silvia Poggiloi would show up.
“Breakfast: Fruit cocktail (it’s back!), carrots, corn, eggs, three tasty little sausages, roll with butter and jelly and BPSE (the best potato salad ever.)
“Commute by bus this morning was exciting. We took a different route across the city and got to see the outskirts of the famous fish market. Maybe we will get to see the inskirts someday.
“People were riding bicycles with one hand while carrying umbrellas in the other. One guy clipped a traffic cone, tipped over, soaking his white shirt before gamely reboarding the bike.
“THEN the bus went along the triathlon route and we saw the woman athletes zoom past on the cycling stage.
“Remember, when it’s 8 a.m. Monday in Grapevine, it’s 10 p.m. Monday in Tokyo.
“Volunteer du jour: Randy ... not actually a volunteer, but a Japanese-American whose father was interned at Manzanar. I listened to Randy longer than I should have, out of (1) respect and (2) interest. Let’s call him the ‘person du jour.’
“My trusty Dell auto-corrects ‘jour’ to ‘journalist.’ Make your own interpretation from that...
“Today a reporter told me he struck up a conversation with an older gentleman in Munich several years ago. The German said he had visited the United States once. Where did he go? ‘Oklahoma,’ the guy said. ‘I was a prisoner of war there. I loved it. The sky is bigger.’ (I suspect a summer and fall in Oklahoma was preferable to being shot at by Russians.)
“Lunch: Peanut butter sandwich. Pringles.
“I need to say this: even for us devotees of the Geary Tournament, the Olympics is the greatest sporting event in the world.
“By the way, Japanese cows give good milk.
“Covid-19 Countermeasure of the day — the Japanese have instituted many countermeasures, of course, and we thought you’d be interested to hear about a few of them. We get tested every day. When I arrive at the MPC each morning, I go straight to the testing center and expectorate into the little test tube. Sometimes I collect the expectorant in my mouth when I’m walking over there — hoping no one stops to talk. We put a little sticker onto our test tubes, enter the sticker number and our accreditation number into an app, seal the test tube and toss it into a box.
“One day, I forgot to seal the test tube and the saliva spilled. Gross! I borrowed a Kleenex from one of giggling young women and cleaned it up. Then I had to re-spit.
“Weather: High 86, low 72. The ‘typhoon’ was a bust.
“Japan Fact that surely must be true because somebody told me: Most common girls names in Japan are Rin, Mei, Yuauki, Yuina, Aoi, Riko, Mio, Haruna.
“Note from niece who lives in Germany: Did you know there's a robot hotel and robot restaurant in Tokyo? The place is operated by robots and when you arrive, you're greeted by a robot dinosaur! Maybe you guys could move there and the robots would hook you up to some extra fast WiFi.
“As I said, when you see people in line at the Olympics, you get in it. Period. Free stuff might be available — maybe pizza, maybe pins, maybe taxi vouchers or even clean socks. But this queue was different. There’s a smoking area surrounded by a lovely outdoor terrace here at the MPC. It is surrounded by a tall hedge. The space holds six people with social distancing. People were lined up to enter the smoking corral. When one person snuffed out his butt, the next person went in.
“It was tag-team smoking.
“The MPC is a smoke-free facility, by the way. So is our hotel. So are the buses.
“We visit a different terrace outside the MPC because of its spectacular view of the city. (Athens had one, too, and it was really swell because the Greek organizers set up a bar there. That’s another story.) But our terrace was closed today because of high winds. Maybe they thought people might blow off like little kites with computer cords for tails.
“Dinner: Cold pizza. Oreos. Milk.
“We took a taxi from the MPC to the Hotel Sunroute Ginza, enjoying the dandy city lights and grinning when we passed a Denny’s restaurant. I’m still not accustomed to the cars and buses driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the street. Or maybe they’re right here and we’re incorrect. It all feels like a Twilight Zone episode and Rod Serling is perched on a traffic light.
“Back at the hotel, we switched the TV in our room back and forth between women’s gymnastics — poor Simone! — and softball, with excited commentary in Japanese. You can watch baseball and softball for a long time and not witness a goofier play than what happened to the USA in the sixth inning, when the rocket that had ‘double’ written all over it ricocheted off the Japanese third baseman into the shortstop’s glove. It was a game-changer, like Eric Hosmer’s slide.
“Weird stuff happens every day in the Olympics. Buckle up. More to come.
“I don’t have an opinion about the Biles matter. Golly, everyone in our society these days has an opinion about everything. Sometimes it’s OK to say, ‘I don’t know.’ (In sports, usually the people who talk don’t know, and the people who know don’t talk.)
“It was yet another brilliant day at the most unusual Olympics of our time.
“What a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. Sayonara, for now.”
Take a Ride on the Reading: Intercollegiate Athletics
The history of OSU sports is underserved on the book market. I buy every OU and OSU football book I can get my hands on. I’ve got 30something on the Sooners, and there are some I don’t have. I’ve got three Cowboy football books, and two of them are pseudo-biographies (Barry Sanders, Dexter Manley). The other is Pat Jones’ book, written by my cousin Jimmie Tramel over in Tulsa.
But there is a jewel of a book that is invaluable to anyone who cares about OSU sports. Doris Dellinger’s 1987 Intercollegiate Athletics was commissioned by the university as part of a centennial histories project, and Dellinger meticulously chronicles Cowboy sports going back to the dusty days of the 1890s.
The book is not a lyrical masterpiece. It wasn’t intended to be. It’s not a book of high drama. But it fills in all kinds of cracks, particularly the pre-World War II athletic history in Stillwater.
And the book has insights into OSU’s decades-long attempts to join the Big Six or Big Seven Conference. That odyssey finally ended on July 1, 1957, when the newly-named Oklahoma State University was admitted to create the Big Eight.
Dellinger supplies details of Henry Iba’s long efforts to get his school into the conference. It’s not a tell-all book. The conference intrigue is sprinkled in with cross-country results and wrestling duals.
Intercollegiate Athletics does not possess a spiffy title or a robust text. But it has information about something a lot of us care about, information that is hard to find anywhere else.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.