Recently, OU Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione appeared on Sports Morning with Bob Barry Jr. and to talk about the new video board situation.
BBJ: Was this something that was on the books for some time? Or was this a move to keep up with the Jones', so to speak, with new massive video boards at Texas and Texas A&M?
JC: "Since the article in The Oklahoman (one on new message boards needed at OU to keep with Texas and Texas A&M), but it is not necessarily all about the largest scoreboard or scoreboards. I really think it is the way that we integrate technology and visual images that relates to the game itself. Obviously, we are trying to create the best possible atmosphere in college football. Because everybody's stadium in college football is designed differently, we all have to think about what best suits the stadium that we have.
"For instance, we couldn't build the kind of scoreboard that Texas put in. That thing would be so high in the air that I think it would almost look awkward in our stadium. Having said that, we need to have a large enough video screen that really suits the kind of stadium that we have, and that has a really a good view by every fan regardless of where they sit. That is the thinking behind having two video boards instead of one large one — so that everyone will have a good view to a video board. That makes us one of the few stadiums in the country that has multiple video boards, and certainly very few will have HD capable systems.
BBJ: It wasn't too long ago that you put in the currentscoreboard in the South end zone that was bigger than anybody else had at the time.
JC: "When it was put in 1997 it was the first LED display of its kind in the country. I was at the University of Missouri then and we were putting in a video board as well and there was this sort of discussion about LED and what is called CRT technology. The CRT Technology is still around and it is very similar to what Texas A&M put in. In fact, one of the companies left doing it is the one that put the board in at Texas A&M. But the LED displays have become so crystal clear that really there is not a whole lot of difference any more.
"We are trying to find the best quality, the best size and the best way to serve our fans. I think, more than anything, that is the group that is being served the most in this case. We wanted our fans to know we hear what they say, we know what they want, and we want to make sure for all that they do for our program that they are being treated best of any fans in the country because we feel our fans are the best in the country."
JH: Could you lay out the plans for what you are going to do at the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and the Lloyd Noble Center ?
JC: "We are going to start with replacing the North end zone matrix board with the HD capable video replay board in time for this season. We are going to take what is called the ribbon boards on the side, and those are actually made from reworking the original video screen in the South end zone scoreboard and putting them on the side. We did that when we opened up the renovated stadium in 2003.
"We are going to replace those as they are old now and we can't even find parts for them, and we are going to have new ribbon boards that are going to run the entire length of each side of the stadium. They are basically 100-yards long. That gives us a chance to do a lot of other things from trying to increase the spirit in the game, to stats, to scores of other games and to all kinds of other information that we want to convey to the fans. Those two things will be done prior to the start of this season.
"Then, before the start of the 2008 season, we will replace the South scoreboard with a larger system. In fact, the whole South end zone scoreboard will be completely redone. It will have a similar look, because we are trying to use the existing steel structure that supports it all. Obviously, this has to be engineered based on the way our stadium has been constructed, but all that will be done prior to the 2008 season. While we have talked a lot about scoreboards we are also upgrading our sound system in the football stadium.
"In basketball, we are going to replace the center hung scoreboard with four-sided LED replay boards, which is of higher quality than we have ever had in there by a longshot. Then it will have some other component video boards that go with it that will allow us to display information. Obviously, we have to display those sponsors that are helping to make this happen. We will replace what we call the hustle boards, which are in each corner of the Lloyd Noble Center , with new video matrix.
"We will have a chance to do a lot of different innovative things using these boards, including continuing to provide the same information that we have for fans over the last 10 years. That will all be in place prior to the start of this basketball season. We are also going to replace the sound system in the Lloyd Noble Center."
BBJ: What are your thoughts on how big your women's basketball program is getting? And what was your assessment of Jeff Capel in his first season as head coach of your men's basketball program?
JC: "While we always want to go further in the NCAA Tournament, we certainly have to be very, very proud of the job that Sherri Coale continues to do in leading this women's basketball program. They capture more and more fans as they go along, and the imagination of those fans is really fun to watch unfold. I can't tell you how many new fans have been created over the last year. As you can see, we have had many, many sellouts for women's basketball this year and setting all kind of attendance records.
"Of course, I think it was really great to be able to cap it all off with a Big 12 Tournament Championship at the Cox Center in Oklahoma City . It absolutely shattered attendance records for women's basketball in terms of Big 12 Tournament. So we have a lot of excitement to look forward to with obviously a great team still returning with quality players who have helped us win two straight championships. We have great recruits coming next year and we are excited about the direction of our women's basketball program.
"I don't know if we can really value the leadership of Jeff Capel anymore than we do. I know people say they did better than we expected, but I don't know if people realize just how many challenges we had to face in making this transition. Of course, they were all laid out for him before he every accepted the job, except of course he had no idea Scottie Reynolds would not want to come to Oklahoma and that Damion James would decide not to come to Oklahoma. Those were things that developed after Coach Capel was hired.
"He was fantastic, and his staff was as well. I always have to tip my hat to the players, because every player returning on this team stayed. That doesn't always happen. We see that when new coaches come in sometimes players leave immediately. Every player stayed and they committed themselves from Day 1, and I think they accomplished a lot. Now, being at Oklahoma we expect to be in the postseason play,and we expect to compete for championships. So on the one had we are never going to say we are totally happy when we aren't in that position. But I really feel strongly about where we are headed with this program with this coach. This team is going to be competing for championships again, and I know Sooner fans are going to want to be right there with them when they do."