Claremore Daily Progress

September 13, 2012

HORNING: Not a network, but it could be fun

CNHI News Services

NORMAN — Joe Castiglione calls it “the best of all possible worlds.” Oklahoma’s athletic director may be right. Even if we know what it isn’t.

It isn’t a network.

The programming that is Sooner Sports TV began Sept. 1, before OU kicked off against UTEP.

It’s what we’ve all been waiting for — if only because we’ve been hearing about it’s coming for such a long time — even if it’s not exactly what we thought we were waiting for.

Sooner Sports TV will be branded Oklahoma athletic content, separate from all the other OU stuff that will be a part of the recently announced Big 12 television agreement, and “getting at least 1,000 hours of programming on a multi-platform network was really exciting for us,” Castiglione said.

However, the multi-platform network does not belong to OU. It belongs to Fox.

Castiglione said it’s “at least 10 times” the programming OU has previously offered, and that’s clearly exciting.

On the other hand, there is no 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week destination channel, where finding the latest Sooners news, via a crawl across the bottom of the screen or an OU version of “SportsCenter,” is as easy as turning on the television.

Maybe the best way to put it is, Texas has the Longhorn Network which is absolutely a burnt orange version of ESPN, right down to the graphics. And Oklahoma now has this: a ton of programming on a “multi-platform network,” which in addition to being Castiglione’s phrase of the day, really means any conceivable Fox Sports outlet and mostly means Fox Sports Oklahoma, Fox Sports Southwest and Fox College Sports.

It may take a 40-something like me to regret there being no “channel.” Because the idea of a dedicated space on the “dial” may be just too antiquated. Nonetheless, you know what I’m going to do when I get home tonight?

Turn on the TV.

I know where ESPN can be found. Ditto for USA and TNT, the news channels and the networks. I know where my Fox Sports selections are. I’m just never sure if it’s going to be the Rangers, Cardinals, Astros or Royals when I get there.

Perhaps OU will seek to make it very clear where and when everything can be found rather than simply thinking, with 10 times the programming, folks are bound to run into it.

Also interesting, John Heidtke, senior vice president of Fox Sports Southwest, who was on a teleconference with Castiglione Wednesday, seemed to like one thing the Sooners have to offer more than everything else.

“The other thing OU brings to the table is they’ve got a tremendous amount of archival footage going back into the ’30s and ’40s and the Bud Wilkinson days,” Heidtke said. “I think … the OU fans are going to enjoy this when we bring that to life.”

They will, no doubt.

But Santiago Restrepo has built a pretty good and very fun to watch volleyball program that could use some airtime. And Sunny Golloway’s diamond Sooners tend to be pretty good. And the atmosphere for wrestling inside McCasland Fieldhouse can be pretty electric and should really come through on television, no matter which version of Fox Sports picks it up.

Not to mention a track and field program that has leapt many hurdles under Martin Smith, or Patty Gasso’s OU softball team, which is probably the perfect TV team, because it’s really good and already fills all its seats.

By the way, are club teams eligible?

The Sooners’ open a new hockey season Sept. 21 at Blazers Ice Center.

Just saying.

Football built it.

That much is clear.

And who’s going to put OU on the air “10 times” more without the heavyweight champ leading the way? But, from here, the best thing about Tuesday’s announcements are the possibilities of seeing a whole bunch of stuff we’ve not seen much of before.

Tennis, anyone?

It would be nice.

Assuming we can find it.