Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The NBA is coming to Oklahoma City with the arrival of the Seattle franchise. It will be the first big-league franchise for the state in history -- except the two-season relocation of the New Orleans Hornets there after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The Norman Transcript's Clay Horning had an interesting article about the franchise's arrival and its potential in terms of competition for the Oklahoma Sooners.
With a worsening economy and escalating gas prices, fans will have to choose between college and pro sports. And the Sooners could be hit -- even as new Oklahoma City NBA owner Clayton Bennett's family helped provide much of the financial support for recent expansions at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Bennett married into the Gaylord family and his picture is prominently displayed in the lobby of the new luxury boxes at the stadium with the rest of his family.
Horning's point about sports competition was well taken, but I believe the biggest concern might be directed 50 miles north of Oklahoma City to Stillwater, where Oklahoma State is in the midst of a massive transformation. A planned expansion at Boone Pickens Stadium will be completed in 2008. The recent men's basketball coaching change from Sean Sutton to Travis Ford was done in part because of the trouble the Cowboys had in filling Gallagher Iba Arena.
The battle for the hearts and minds of Oklahoma sports fans will play out this fall. Of note will be story placement in the state's newspapers and on nightly sportscasts.
It will be another reason for a little extra pressure on OSU coach Mike Gundy and maybe even OU coach Bob Stoops as the season plays out.