2013 = A Fun Year for Sooner Fans…
Every Sooner fan begins the season believing that the Sooners will be playing for another national championship. Unfortunately the ugly truth of the matter is that 2013 is not likely to be one of those years. While OU fans with crimson colored glasses may not want to hear this, a 10-2 regular season for the Sooners in 2013 should be considered a smashing success. A 10-2 year would also put the Sooners on course in 2014 for a return to the days of being in the national title hunt. For all OU fans it will be important for us to sit back and enjoy the ride. While 2013 will be a rebuilding year, rebuilding years can also be a lot of fun. Keeping this fact in its proper perspective, rebuilding years are critical to the long term success of any program. Another 9-3/8-4 season would be tolerable, but to be honest another one of those years will put the Sooners further behind the SEC and the College Football Playoff (CFP) 8-ball. It will be much easier to convince top notch recruits to make the move to Norman with a 10-2 year that finishes on an upswing.
Possibly, a history lesson will help OU Sooner fans deal with this issue. Fans must keep in mind that even at a football crazy place like OU there have been lean years coached by legendary coaches. A program with OU’s status can even endure two lean years in a row, as long as there is light at the end of the tunnel. Even the legendary Bud Wilkinson has his off years. After putting together winning streaks of 31 and 47 games Bud had down years in 1960, and 1961. The Sooners bounced back in ’62 to win the conference title. Same goes for Barry Switzer who suffered through down years in ’81,’82, and ’83 with four loss seasons each of those years only to see the program rebound in ’84 with a conference title and a national title in 1985. After last season’s down year, a solid season in 2013 can go a long way in providing a spring board into the playoff era that begins in 2014. At the same time, this team will be a work in progress and patience on the part of fans will be necessary.
Speaking of rebuilding, Phil Steele has OU ranked #7 out of the 10 Big 12 teams and #95 in the country in terms of returning starters. Adding to OU’s dilemma is the fact that OU will be breaking in a new quarterback for the first time in years. While talent abounds at the quarterback position in the likes of Blake Bell, Kendal Thompson, and Trevor Knight, these guys will still lack real game experience. This lack of experience is likely to be evident against formidable road foes early in the season. I know OU has had the Horns number for a while, but Texas is loaded this year, enough so that the Horns are likely to overcome the Mack factor in this early season game. Fans should not be disappointed if the Sooners stub their toe at South Bend and/or Dallas. The key on these days will not be who wins the game, but instead the manner in which the Sooners handle themselves in a hostile environment. The September/October games will allow one the three aspiring quarterbacks to separate himself from the pack and take the leadership role for the remainder of the season. With momentum peaking at the just the right time, successful forays into Waco and Manhattan will be just what the doctor ordered as the Sooners move toward that pivotal final game in Stillwater. The overrated Cowboys will be prime for an upset and the Blake Bell-led Sooners will retake command of this series win a resounding win in Stillwater.
There are numerous encouraging signs in Norman these days including positive reviews from coaching changes. Changes were badly needed as the Sooners had become complacent and fat under the old regime. The players have bought into the changes and evidence of this fact will show more and more as the season moves along. Recruiting has improved as well as 24 of the Rivals100 list still have the Sooners on their list. This number is substantially higher than in previous years and could spell a major break-through for the Sooners if OU can show program momentum this year. More importantly, the talent on hand will be inexperienced, but solid as the Sooners have harvested a top 15 class two of the past three years. Granted a top 15 class is not the OU standard, but it is still an excellent starting point.
My suggestion for OU fans is to stay positive in spite of early season challenges. The Sooners will end up the mid October swing no less than 6-2. With Blake Bell getting more and more reps. the team will take off over the last half of the season heading into its Stillwater showdown. In anticipation of a big win on December 7, I would suggest that OU fans go online and buy up the remaining OSU season tickets in 302 and 333. Sell the extra single tickets to the fans from K-State, TCU, and Baylor and keep the tickets to the OSU game. For a Sooner fan, this move will end up being a bargain as the Blake Bell-led Sooners will crush the Cowboys on their home field. The Sooners will be follow up the Bedlam win with an impressive bowl win and be back on track for the 2014 College Football Playoff (CFP) year.
Buckle up Sooner fans for a fun run in 2013…