By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
It’s with some pain one sees what the All-College Classic has come down to in Oklahoma City.
What used to be a three-day basketball extranganza featuring some of the nation’s top talent has come down to a one-game Saturday afternoon affair between Oklahoma and Texas A&M on ESPNU.
The Sooners would be better off playing that game in Norman.
This game doesn’t have the same excitement as the upcoming Cotton Bowl game between the two former Big 12 rivals.
One remembers how much excitement the All-College used to bring when it was an eight-team tournament over the Christmas holidays.
Think of all the players who have played in that tournament — Elgin Baylor, K.C. Jones, Bob Lanier, Karl Malone, Pete Maravich, Calvin Murphy, Robert Parish, Bill Russell, Dave Stallworth and Nate Thurmond.
Maravich would draw sell-out crowds at the State Fair Arena when the roads were ice slick.
When I was growing up, OU and Oklahoma State would be playing in the Big Eight preseason tournament in Kansas City, but Oklahoma City University might have been the best team in the state then.
The Chiefs (now the Stars) more than held their own as the host team.
OU and OSU would eventually join the field as the event scaled down from a tournament to a one-night classic.
Having OU and OSU playing a doubleheader in Oklahoma City was good for basketball. With OSU not there this year, it’s not so good.
The Cowboys are better off playing Central Arkansas at home Sunday as it builds up the local fan base.
It’s difficult for Oklahoma City to get excited about the college game with the NBA Western Division champion Thunder.
Especially since OU still is in a rebuilding period.
Christmas tournaments have become a thing of the past. They have been replaced by Thanksgiving tournaments in far-away places.
That’s too bad.
The All-College event used to have ticket deals for high school teams. The prep teams could scrimmage in the morning at a gym in Oklahoma City and then catch, at least, the matinee games at the All-College. I remember when I was in Elk City, the coach there saying how much fun his team had there.
For a one-night affair, one would like to see the resumption of the Big Four Classic.
OU and OSU used to alternate playing OCU and the University of Tulsa in a doubleheader to open the season. Oral Roberts could replace OCU (now an NAIA team). But that, too, is a thing of the past.
But let’s give a laurel to OSU booster Boone Pickens, who purchased 4,000 tickets to the Gonzaga-OSU game set for Stillwater on Dec. 31.
Those tickets were free to the first 4,000 fans requesting them. OSU announced Wednesday the game was a sell-out.
A sold-out Gallagher-Iba Arena is one of the nation’s best venues. If somebody doesn’t go to a game like that when the tickets are free, they don’t bleed orange and black.
Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.