Oklahoma basketball: Former mascot Top Daug returns to Sooner hardwood

NORMAN, OK - JANUARY 16: Jevon Carter
NORMAN, OK - JANUARY 16: Jevon Carter /

After a 16 year absence, the once-popular Sooner hoops mascot “Top Daug” will return to the Oklahoma basketball sidelines on Jan. 14, when OU hosts the Kansas Jayhawks.

Top Daug was introduced as the mascot of Oklahoma basketball in the Sooner glory years of the 1980s and served as a symbol OU’s rise to the top in the Big Eight and exciting run-and-gun style under legendary head coach Billy Tubbs.

While Top Daug was roaming the sidelines, leading the cheers and firing up the Sooner crowds that regularly filled the Lloyd Noble Center on basketball game days and nights, Oklahoma won four regular-season Big Eight championships, two conference postseason tournament titles and appeared to in NCAA Final Fours.

After Top Daug was retired at the end of the 2003-04 season, the Sooners haven’t experienced near the same run of success on the hardwood. Since then, Oklahoma shared the Big 12 regular-season crown with Kansas in 2004-05, but that has been the Sooners’ lone league title in either the regular season or the conference tournament.

OU has appeared in 10 NCAA Tournaments (out of 15) since Top Daug left the sidelines at men’s games, making it further than the second round  just three times: all the way to the Final Four in 2016, the Elite Eight in 2009 and the Sweet 16 in 2015.

Top Daug also brought good luck to OU women’s basketball. The Lady Sooners won a pair of Big 12 championships with the canine mascot cheering them on, and in 2002, Sherri Coale’s Oklahoma team reached the Final Four.

“The enduring love that our fans have for Top Daug proves that this is a fixture in our basketball tradition,” said OU athletic director Joe Castiglione in a news release posted on the school’s athletic website.

"“We’re excited to welcome back an OU icon, and it will be here to stay.”"

Top Daug will return as a permanent fixture at both the men’s and women’s basketball games. The former mascot will make its return to OU women’s basketball on Jan. 19, when the Lady Sooners play host to TCU.