NORMAN — It doesn’t seem so long ago, yet it’s been almost a decade since I wrote a snarky, though not inaccurate column questioning the head-coach-hiring skills of Sooner athletics director Joe Castiglione.
I can’t remember if it was when it became clear he was looking high and low for anybody who might take the Oklahoma baseball job, lest it end up in the hands of Sunny Golloway, or if it was after Gene Stephenson gave the job back and still he balked at hiring Golloway.
It doesn’t really matter, though, because Joe C. has made his way. I’m underselling a little. He’s always run a good department, always been a value-added advocate for the programs he oversees and always been a real pro, all of which is the vast majority of the job.
Of course, hire bad people and the vast majority of the job won’t much matter.
Back in the day, there was Bob Stoops, Sherri Coale, Patty Gasso and Mark Williams atop the OU coaching heap and Marita Hynes gets the credit on the middle two and Chuck Neinas (and whoever was running the Iowa search that eventually landed Kirk Ferentz) had plenty to do with Stoops’ move from Gainesville to Norman.
It was a long time ago.
Today, Castiglione has almost nothing — there’s still soccer — to answer for, and it couldn’t be more clear this very week.
As you may know, Williams’ OU men’s gymnastics team just finished runner-up to Michigan at the NCAA championships. That’s not what the program wants, but when you’ve finished first (five times), second (seven times) or third (twice) every season since 2001, you’re doing fine.
As you may also know, K.J. Kindler, who came aboard in 2006, had long since taken Sooner women’s gymnastics to places it had never gone and six days ago claimed the program’s first national championship, tying Florida for the crown.