Opinion from OU Senior Associate Athletics Director for Communications Kenny Mossman.
At this time of year, the word "regional" is thrown around rather freely. Baseball and/or softball teams get hot and speculation ramps up as to whether this team or that will be in position to host a regional, the first step in the NCAA Championship.
The decision, of course, rests with a committee appointed to oversee the championship and dole out the site assignments.
The criteria for hosting are a bit of a mixed bag. Competitive success during the season is certainly important, and before we talk about anything else there must be a tip of the cap to the players and coaches, but other factors like balancing the national map with sites, demonstrated success in previous hosting assignments and playing facility all merit consideration in varying degrees.
Of course, no school makes the cut to host a regional unless it first applies to do so, and that's the part of the process that is probably least familiar. When it comes to bidding, Joe Castiglione likes to raise his numbered paddle and raise if often.
With faux exasperation, a smiling Lindy Roberts, assistant athletics director/operations, said, "Joe wants us to bid on pretty much everything." Roberts estimates that OU bids on 80 percent of the events for which it qualifies and only passes, "when we have so many events scheduled that we can't possibly staff another."
Castiglione is motivated, of course, by competitive success, and he understands the term, "home field advantage." But there is more method to the aggressive posture than simply the potential for success on the field.
OU's Athletics Director also understands two other important facets of hosting. One is that post-season competition draws inordinate attention to the host school. Exposure plays a role in hiring quality coaches, recruiting, winning and the much-needed support those things attract, all of which make up the circle of life in college sports.
The other meaningful aspect of regional hosting is one true to Castiglione's administrative roots in marketing. Economic impact means something to him. He knows that a regional in this area translates to more money in the local economy, which in turn, energizes consumers, the university, etc.
Chamber of commerce talk? Hardly. You don't have to connect very many dots to see what the presence of a regional means to all kinds of people.
Roberts, the driving force behind OU's role in hosting the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, does the leg work on submitting bids for the athletics department. In concert with other department staff, she pulls together information on guaranteed revenue, facilities qualifications, airport proximity and local hotel space, all in an effort to help the Sooners put their best foot forward.
Anyone who has attended post-season competition knows that it just feels different. Must be the stakes. Whatever it is, NCAA Championships at the home venue are a whole new level of fun.
It should be noted that those special moments land here because of an aggressive attitude from the top and a lot of can-do people, most behind the scenes, who work very hard to make them happen.
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