I didn’t do a lot of laughing or crying last week. I was too busy thinking.
Joe Castiglione gave us all something to think about during his appearance on Norman’s KREF Radio last Friday morning. When morning show host/Oklahoma play-by-play man Toby Rowland asked Castiglione how he was feeling about things, the OU athletic director responded:
“Still hopeful and optimistic. We continue to try to stay closely focused on all the different changes. However, it’s not yet clear when we will have all the right medical protocols in place (and) more importantly, the ability to facilitate the medical protocols. If things such as testing would be required, particularly if testing is required often, we don’t have that kind of information yet.
“So it’s really still tough to be able to say to our coaches, our staff or fans when we will have student-athletes back on campus. I continue to maintain that it’s great to talk about the games this fall and be optimistic that they’re going to occur, but until we have that important element addressed the right way, we aren’t able to move forward yet.”
Here is another example of the pandemic-centric theme of optimism vs. reality.
Castiglione is right be feel hopeful. Hours after his radio appearance, OU interim president Joe Harroz made news when he professed: “Our intention is to return to in-person educational operations on all three campuses by this fall, offering traditional instruction and residential life.” Other universities, Oklahoma State included, have expressed similarly optimistic intentions.
This is important, since conference commissioners aren’t crazy about athletes returning to campus before the rest of the student body. This is promising.
And yet Castiglione’s caution is just as noteworthy. He strikes the right chords about “medical protocols” in general and “testing” in particular.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a national voice of medicine and reason, says we must double our COVID-19 testing capacity as parts of the country gear toward reopening. Optimism vs. reality.
Dr. Bruce Dart, playing Fauci’s role for us locally, is concerned about testing as Tulsa gears toward reopening. Optimism vs. reality.
We all want this to be over. We want doors to offices, restaurants and classrooms to swing open and people to gather inside. This has to be done with the utmost care, however, and only to the extent that science and medicine tell us it’s safe.
It’s no different for athletic directors considering when to open locker rooms, practice fields and stadiums.
We know these ADs are following the money, since their million-dollar budgets are at stake. We must trust they are also following the science, and factors like testing capacity.
It sounds like Castiglione is doing just that, and tempering his optimism accordingly.
Something else that made me think
LSU resembled a team for the time capsule as they pulverized OU in the Peach Bowl and then ran away from mighty Clemson for the national championship.
Now that 14 Tigers have been drafted, tying Ohio State’s seven-round record from 2004? Bronze this juggernaut for all time.
LSU owned draft weekend despite Biletnikoff Award-winning receiver Ja’Marr Chase missing out on draft eligibility by a year, and despite tight end Thaddeus Moss (Randy’s son who made the prettiest catch of LSU’s win over Alabama last November and then totaled 99 yards against OU) going undrafted.
I mean, the Tigers’ long snapper was drafted.
The Sooners didn’t play well in that College Football Playoff semifinal. They were shorthanded. I get that.
But they also lost to a one-of-a-kind team of pros, sort of like they did to USC in the 2005 Orange Bowl.
Will it take the sting out of 63-28 for the Sooners? No. It didn’t ease their pain from 55-19 15 years previously.
Just offering some perspective is all.
One more thing that made me think
The majors and minors met last week to work out a new Professional Baseball Agreement. Reports circulated that 40 Minor League teams would likely be contracted as part of the deal, something first considered last November before the pandemic arrived to give impetus to the streamlining.
Baseball America listed the Minor League teams endangered at the time. It consisted mostly of short-season or rookie-ball organizations. The Double-A teams included were based in Chattanooga, Erie, Binghamton and Jackson.
The Double-A Tulsa Drillers appeared safe, as did the Drillers’ Texas League.
I wanted to get an update just the same, and so I asked Tulsa Drillers general manager Mike Melega for one when we spoke last Thursday.
“It’s been a fluid list of teams they’re talking about shrinking. It is mostly the lower levels,” Melega said. “There’s never been a Texas League team, including the Drillers, on there or in danger. We all have wonderful facilities and tremendous support. Our parent clubs all love playing in the Texas League. Our relationship with the Dodgers has always been strong.
“So I have not seen any reason for us to be concerned about any inclusion in anything like that. I can feel 100% confident that we’re going to continue to play affiliated ball.”