Just what the doctor ordered…
The artist renderings of the changes planned for Memorial Stadium are just what the doctor ordered…The renovations will finally demonstrate to the world that the University of Oklahoma is serious about football. To be honest there have been many times in past ten years that I have wondered about that fact.
In the George Lynn Cross days, there was never a question regarding where OU football stood in the overall scheme of things. President Cross made the statement that he wanted to create a university that the football team would be proud of. With Bud Wilkinson at the helm they made it happen. While President Cross may have a bit over the top at times, OU football fans everywhere should applaud his drive.
President Boren has taken a different approach. Hoping to create a balance between football and academics he has systematically worked to make the two areas complimentary of each other. Both the Cross and Boren systems have worked to a tee. Given the recent goings on in Stillwater it is easy to see why Boren took his direction.
At the same time, it must be pointed out that Boren’s approach was becoming woefully close to the edge. The west side of the stadium has deteriorated badly over the past several years as anyone making restroom or concession run during that time can attest. Halftime in the concourse area had become reminiscent of a day on the midway at the state fair. References by high school prospects to the facilities at OSU had gotten old.
With new stadiums popping up in Stillwater, Waco, and Fort Worth and major renovation projects going on in Lubbock, Austin, Manhattan and even Ames, OU was falling desperately behind the rest of the region in the area of facilities.
Then it finally happened…. The University is on the verge of keeping up with the Jones in a big way. The $370 million dollar project will create a second to none venue at Memorial Stadium. Quoting a line from a Seinfeld episode, the stadium changes are real and they are spectacular. No program in this part of the country will have a recruiting advantage over the Sooners with these new digs. Even more impressive is the fact that Boren will not be forced to turn the university’s keys over to a Pickens-like donor. Many friends of the football program will be involved in this project.
If the Sooners can put together a couple of stellar seasons on the field, the Sooners will become untouchable over the next decade when it comes to recruiting talent to Norman. Top ten recruiting classes will become the standard at OU once again. Even rumors of the renovation project have paid off as twenty four (24) prospects listed on either the Rivals or Scout top 100 lists have expressed an interest in visiting Norman this fall. Recruiting top quality players just got a lot easier.
What changed things? First, the University under David Boren’s leadership is on the cusp of becoming a top 100 U.S. News and World Report university. This fact allows him to move forward with the football makeover without selling out to football. OU fans will now have the best of both worlds. Boren can sell the football team to conferences that may come calling while boasting about his top 100 academic program.
Secondly, David Boren is a genius when it comes to fund-raising. He realizes that football success can be directly tied to fundraising efforts for the university at large. Studies have shown that student enrollments spike anytime a team wins a national championship or a big game. It can be assumed that OU will be turning students away this fall after the OU win over Alabama last January. Same goes for fund raising for infrastructure needs. Donors love a winner and they are much more likely to give to the Geology Department when the football team is producing big wins over rival schools.
Boren realizes that there is no point on waiting for Aggie lawmakers at the State Capitol to loosen up their purse strings for higher education. Boren has decided he must circumvent state politicians by putting oil billionaires in football suites. This move will translate to millions for both stadium renovation projects and classroom additions. Boren knows that for every dollar he raises for football, another dollar will be raised for university infrastructure.
Lastly, a final reason for David Boren to sign off on this project is his feeling that OSU has turned the corner. Boren’s affection for OSU is well-documented and he has made it clear that OU will never leave little brother behind. The Pickens renovation project coupled with on-field success for the Cowboys has apparently assured Boren that OSU has turned the corner. Boren hopes that the positive energy coming out of Norman will overcome the OSU albatross and make an OU/OSU package acceptable to future conference suitors.
One last positive note: In terms of the future of the Big 12, OU and not Texas will be calling the shots.