The Hits Just Keeping on Coming = The OU Injury Report…

 

True to form, OU continues to lose star-studded players at an alarming rate.  Six season-ending injuries so far this year with the latest being Corey Nelson and Jordan Phillips on defense, and OU’s most versatile player on offense, Trey Millard.  This continuing saga only makes one wonder why this keeps happening to OU and more importantly does it happen more often at OU than at other places.  

Many OU observers will blame Jerry Schmidt, the longtime OU strength and conditioning coach.   While not a friend of Schmiddty’s basic training approach to in-season conditioning, I think the reasons may go deeper than that.   Granted, the body does tend to break down more quickly whenever the muscles are tired and backing off during the season would probably be a good thing.  At the same time giving the longtime strength and conditioning coach too much credit for the plethora of injuries that seem to occur year in and year out may be too simplistic.   I suggest that Schmiddty may not be the only culprit here.      

A quick look at websites that keep track of college football injuries for betting purposes may serve to enlighten us to this issue.  The statfox.com. website underscores that certain teams have suffered an inordinate number of injuries this year and while I cannot attest to a perpetual pattern, one can assume that a pattern does indeed exist.   By using the website to identify teams with excessive injury lists and cross-referencing that information with their strength of schedule, a pattern can be identified.   Teams that play early season soft schedules and as a result have their way with the opposition tend to fair better than those that play tough early season schedules.   The University of Maryland is a great place to start with this theory.   The Terps were off to a great start earlier in the year until injures derailed their season.   As the ACC got tougher this year so did Maryland’s schedule.  Playing three road games in a row did the Terps in as the team has experienced eight season-ending injures.    Similar results can be seen with SEC powerhouses Florida and Georgia.    The Gators and the Bulldogs are both 4-3 going into their cocktail party and the second half of the season and have suffered eight and six season-ending injuries respectively. 

On the other side of the ledger stands the Baylor Bears.  Baylor played a ridiculously soft schedule for the first half of the season and as a result the Bears have suffered no significant injuries.  While only time will tell how good the Bears really are, there can be no argument that their injury free situation has been a big part of their 7-0 start.   Mark Richt at Georgia should sue his AD for lack of support for scheduling the Bulldogs to play Clemson and South Carolina on successive weekends at the beginning of the season, while Art Briles should send his AD a bonus check for the Baylor early season schedule.    

Depth or lack thereof plays a key role in this story as well.   When Maryland lost its two All-American wide receivers last weekend, their lack of depth created by a shallow recruiting base did them in for the game and for the year.    This situation creates a serious dilemma for football programs.  Why would any football program play a rugged schedule and run the risk of excessive injuries.  Why not play a soft non-conference schedule and take the guaranteed seven to eight wins that comes with that territory?  Essentially it comes down to who is in control of scheduling and what is the objective of the program.  Coaches prefer record-padding schedules and athletic directors prefer games that will attract game-day fans and/or television revenue.  For a team like Maryland located within miles of two pro football teams, playing it easy is not an option.  Fans in pro markets will not turn out for Savanna State and William and Mary games. 

Sooner fans have come to expect big time football, which means games against teams that play physical football and unfortunately create injuries. The Sooners invariably play one relatively soft game to open up the season before turning up the heat by playing quality opposition.   Then, the Sooners schedule the likes of Notre Dame, Florida State and Ohio State as part of the non-conference schedule before ending the death-march stretch by playing the traditional Texas game.  This gruesome early season schedule creates a made-for-injury first half to the Sooner season.   Invariably, by the second half of the season the Sooners will be playing against the rest of the Big 12 without key players.  

If OU were to play small-ball, the likelihood for significant injuries would go down dramatically.    While the OU injury list continues to climb, the Cowboys enter the second half of the season virtually injury free.   Another check with statfox.com, shows exactly what I mean.  The Sooner season-ending injury list has grown to six, while the Cowboys have been injury free since early September.   Then again, if OU played OSU’s schedule, no one at the national level would take the program seriously. 

The Cowboys have cornered the market on small time football.  OSU fans just want to win and for OSU fans the opponent is immaterial.   Give Gundy credit, the practice of playing a weak schedule will allow the Cowboys to enter the hardest part of their schedule in great shape.    If OSU starters were extended to the final bell in early season matchups, the injury list and their record would be different.   Even games against Big 12 bottom feeders K-State, TCU, and Iowa State would likely have found a different outcome.  All the more reason for Mike Gundy to push back vigorously against Mike Holder’s attempt to beef up future Cowboy schedules.   In the end Gundy will win that fight and in doing so will ensure his legacy with 8 to 10 win seasons.   With a watered-down Big 12 to go along with his three power-puffs each year, OSU starts out with a seven-win season to build on before entering the second half of each season.

The Sooners on the other hand realize that the only way to prepare for national championship caliber competition is to play national championship caliber teams.  The Oklahoma way will pay off in the long run.  When the Sooners win their 8th national championship, these challenging schedules that create injury-ridden times will be better understood and appreciated.    There is only one OKLAHOMA and with that name will come major injuries.   As Oklahoma continues its quest to enhance recruiting, improved depth will follow.  As a result in future years the Sooners will be better suited to avoid major drop offs when starters go down.  Until that time the Sooners will continue to struggle whenever a key player is lost. With a couple of top notch-recruiting cycles, the Sooners will have national championship depth to go along with the national championship aspirations of its fans.   As Barry Switzer pointed out years ago, Sooner Magic is much more likely to occur when five-star starters are supported by five-star depth.

Boomer Sooner…

 

 

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Week Eight Recap…

 

Right on cue, OU found a way to win against Texas Tech….The win by the Sooners in front of a fired up crowd and a number of four and five start prospects was just what the doctor ordered.  The defense continued to carry the Sooners as the offense continues to get better.  Blake Bell and Josh Heupel made strides on Saturday as both passed muster on several occasions.   With each win, Bell and Heupel will continue to grow in confidence and get better.   As the Sooners continue its end-of-season Bataan Death March, the Sooners will need for both to step up in a big way.   The win against a very good Tech team will create much needed momentum for the Sooners going into the Baylor road game.  The extra time between games due to its Thursday game placement will provide the Sooners needed time to prepare for the high flying bears and time to mentally deal with the loss of Trey Millard. 

While the Thursday night game is the ultimate trap game for the Sooners, the cavernous Floyd Casey Stadium will be filled with plenty of red clad OU fans coming up from Houston and down from Dallas.   With the exception of the placement of the Thursday night game, the Sooners will catch the Bears at good time.  Baylor has run through its pathetic excuse for a schedule at break-neck speed.   The schedule made up of weak non-conference teams and Big 12 bottom feeders will not prepare the Bears for a test stiff from OU.  While the combined record for Baylor’s Big 12 opponents is 9-21, the Sooners have played a tough schedule that includes pressurized games in South Bend and Dallas.  The Sooners have prepared themselves mentally for this game.  Conversely, first year quarterback Kyle Petty has yet to face any pressure whatsoever.  

Additional good news for OU fans is that the Red Raiders were as good as advertised and will be more than a handful for the overrated Cowboys in Lubbock next Saturday night.  With OU off that day, it will be interesting to see how the Cowboys handle the pressure.  As usual OSU’s luck has been almost uncanny this season as the Cowboys have suffered no serious injuries as they have built up a 6-1 record against a pitiful schedule.   The scheduling gods have allowed the Cowboys to play a schedule made up of seven opponents with a combined record of 17-31.  Similar to the false sense of security created for Baylor, OSU will tighten up when things start going south on the scoreboard.  A look ahead for the Cowboys is even more telling as their five remaining opponents have a combined record of 28-9.  Take KU out of the equation and that record goes to 26-4.  Now, we will see how good the preseason Big 12 picks really are…

While the mettle of the young Texas Tech coach will be tested as his team must bounce back from a tough loss in Norman yesterday, my money is on Kliff Kingsbury to do just that.  He seems like a pretty cool customer.     Playing a ranked team like the Cowboys at home will provide a perfect tonic for this team after a tough loss to OU.  I think Texas Tech will win and possibly win big.  Kingsbury will want to impress BCS voters and recruits and running up the score may be in order.

For the rest of the league, the West Virginia’s, TCU’s, KU’s and ISU’s continue their quest for losing seasons.   K-State staved off this fate for one more week with a come from behind win over the hapless Mountaineers.  As expected, Texas continued to rebound with a win over TCU as Gary Patterson did his part to grease the skids for the Horns.    Gary Patterson started Trevone Boykin instead of Pacahall who on cue grift-wrapped an early touchdown for the Horns.  At that point, it was game-over…Good move Gary…

If given a truth serum, I would predict that given the time, location and critical OU injuries, the Sooners will lose to Baylor.   Many OU fans will need a reality check before and after this game.  Given where OU was after the Texas loss and given the fact that OU has suffered season ending injuries to three key players, getting out of Waco with a moral victory would be a huge lift for this team.   Forget what coaches say, moral victories do matter and getting a moral victory here by staying close to the Bears would be great.  Competing well in this one will propel the Sooners to a ten win season and a berth in the Alamo Bowl against a beatable Big Ten opponent.    Such a move would provide the program with a big lift going into the biggest offseason in years…

Big 12 predictions…

  1. Texas/Baylor winner      Fiesta Bowl
  2. Texas/Baylor loser          Cotton Bowl
  3. Oklahoma                        Alamo Bowl
  4. Texas Tech                       Holiday Bowl
  5. Oklahoma State              Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
  6. K-State                              Texas Bowl

 

Home for the Holidays…West Virginia, TCU, Iowa State and Kansas.

 

 

 

 

 

OU-Tech Pregame…

 

 

These are the times that try Sooner souls…After the Notre Dame win, Sooner fans were convinced that the Sooners were on track for an 8th national championship.  After the Texas loss those same fans feared that OU would be lucky to eke out a winning season in 2013.   This over reaction should not have been unexpected.  The  second victory over the Irish since World War II can have that type effect on any fan.   Let’s face it, we all drank the Notre Dame Kool-Aid and getting our hopes out of kilter should have been expected.  At the same time, to assume the program is headed for the proverbial cliff is also over the top.   

 

Here is a reality check for OU fans.

 

  • Notre Dame is not the team it was last year.  The Irish have suffered major drop-offs at quarterback and on defense.  These factors worked to OU’s advantage in a big way in that game.  That win while historically significant for the Sooners was not a win over a top ten opponent.

 

  • The TCU game that followed was a prototypical trap game for OU as it lay between big games in South Bend and Dallas.  A major drop off mentally was to be expected. 

 

  • Texas is better than previously thought.  In spite of coaching issues, the talent level of 19 starters has to be respected. 

 

  • Lost on many prior to OU-Texas kickoff was the fact that the Sooners were playing the Horns without its two best defensive linemen…With three weak recruiting classes in a row on the defensive line, a major drop off at that position should have been expected. 

 

  • Also lost on many was the fact that OU entered the Texas game with a starting quarterback with only four starts.   The Cotton Bowl is not the place to break in a quarterback.

 

  • Heupel’s game preparation and play calling for the Sooners could not have been worse.  Texas took advantage of the inexperienced offensive coordinator to exploit OU weaknesses. 

 

  • The Kansas game was a prototypical Texas-hangover trap game for the Sooners.  It takes at least a quarter for the Sooners to get over the Texas hangover every year.  This situation is exacerbated for road games. 

 

 

  • Kansas is better than last year with 19 junior college and transfer players playing key roles.  While still not very good, experienced players can slow down any offense.

 

  • Blake Bell will be a painful work in progress at times, but hanging with Bell at this point in time is the only answer for short term success.

 

  • This year’s defensive scheme is much improved over last year…It will take at least two recruiting cycles for the talent level to get back to national levels.   In the meantime, scheming is the only way to overcome diminished talent levels.      

 

  • Texas Tech is good, but Tech is still Tech.  The Red Raiders tend to play over their heads at home, while being beatable on the road.  This team should have lost to West Virginia last week, a Big 12 bottom feeder. 

 

  • Playing a home game against a ranked team like Tech this Saturday will be just what the doctor ordered.  The Sooners will win and possibly win big. 

 

  • The positives realized from this win will propel the Sooners to another outstanding season.  While OU is still two top notch recruiting cycles away from playing on the national stage, an impressive win on Saturday will go a long way in making that happen. 

 

Boomer Sooner…

 

 

What Can We Learn From the BCS Poll?

What Can We Learn From the BCS Poll?

The first BCS poll of the final BCS season is in and it tells an interesting tale for Big 12 fans…

  1. Alabama (SEC) 
  2. Oregon (Pac 12)
  3. Florida State (ACC)
  4. Ohio State (Big Ten)
  5. Missouri (SEC)
  6. Stanford (PAC 12)
  7. Baylor (Big 12)
  8. Miami (ACC)
  9. Clemson (ACC)
  10. Texas Tech (Big 12)

The top four teams represent four of the college football’s five power conferences.   While only two of these teams will play in the national championship game and at the end of this season, the number four is important from the standpoint of next year’s final four playoff system.  Of course the one power conference missing from this year’s top four list is the Big 12.  This year’s Baylor story underscores the Big 12 problem.  While some Big 12 proponents will take solace in the fact that the Big 12’s Baylor is ranked #7, my concern is that this ranking puts them behind a one loss Stanford team. 

This ranking also comes on the heels of its 71-7 beat-down of Iowa State.   The Bears caught the Cyclones at the perfect time.  The Cyclones had just experienced a heartbreaking loss to Texas and a close shave to Texas Tech the previous two weeks and were set up for failure.   Don’t get me wrong, Baylor is good, but they are not 9 touchdowns better than Iowa State.  Art Briles ran up the score against Iowa State for style points.  Even with the 64 point win, the Bears did not move ahead of Stanford.   Pollsters see what is obvious.   Baylor has yet to face a decent team in 2013.  Tech and Baylor will both come down to earth eventually. 

For future reference, keep in mind that next year’s selection committee will use a BCS-type power rating system to evaluate teams and conferences as they come up with their final four playoff teams.  In other words even an undefeated season similar to what Baylor is hoping for this year will not automatically secure a place at the final-four table.   

It can also be assumed that unless there is a major infusion of SEC-type linemen onto Big 12 rosters, the conference will be sitting out the final four playoffs for the foreseeable future.  This may be what Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby envisioned when he came up with his backup plan.  That plan came in the form of the much-ballyhooed Champions Bowl which will start up next year.

The Champions Bowl game will pit the best from the SEC and the Big 12 each year in New Orleans.    What has not been universally understood is the fact that for the most part the Big 12 champion will be playing the 2nd and possibly the 3rd best team from the SEC.   With one, possibly two SEC teams locked up for the playoffs beginning in 2014, the Champions/Sugar Bowl will take the 2nd or 3rd place SEC team to play against the Big 12 winner.  While some have suggested that this is a great plan for the Big 12, I would like to offer another thought.  

For my money this setup only serves to underscore the idea that the Big 12 is playing second fiddle to to the SEC.  This time next year we will be looking at a final four made up of the Alabama/LSU winner, Florida State, Ohio State and Oregon.  To expect the current Big 12 to bust that party is nonsensical.  As a result, the Big 12 champion will play the SEC 2nd or 3rd best team in the Champions/Sugar Bowl in a lose-lose scenario.  The Big 12 winner will be given no credit for winning the game against another conference’s runner-up team and will be humiliated once again with a loss.  

Conference officials including David Boren have mismanaged the whole conference realignment situation from the get-go.  The Champions/Sugar Bowl is just one more indicator of how the conference psyche has been damaged over the last several years.  

There is one bit of good news however… Deloss Dodds is out and a new guy will be in at Texas.   This means that those backroom deals made by Dodds, Pickens and Boren will be rendered null and void.   As a result, if the Big 12 continues its slide, Texas may do what it craves the most and make its move to the Big Ten.  This action by Texas will most certainly force David Boren’s hand to make choices that are in the best interest of Oklahoma football.  

 

 

OU-Texas Conspiracy Theory…

 

 

For those of you who are still losing sleep over the Texas fiasco, considering conspiracy theories to explain what happened on that dreadful day in Dallas may help make sense of the matter.  After all, the infamous grassy knoll is only blocks from the Cotton Bowl.

 

While some may contend that what happened last Saturday had to be true because no one could have made that stuff up, I refuse to go down that easily.   I will choose instead to consider a couple other possibilities.

 

Consider these gems…

 

  • Possibly, Bob Stoops is psychic and realized going into the Texas game that unbeaten Stanford and      Michigan would bite the dust.   Then,  once beaten Washington, Georgia and Florida would go down as well.   Stoops must have projected that these losses combined with an OU win over Texas would have catapulted the Sooners up the BCS charts and into the national championship hunt.   With visions of another SEC beat-down swimming in his head, Big

Game Bob said, no thanks…

 

  • Stoops went on to theorize that this weekend’s Clemson/Florida State winner would eventually lose to either South Carolina or Florida State.    Add to the Stoops vision was an upset by Oregon of a one loss Stanford team in late November. 

 

  • The final kicker he surmised would come in the form of an Ohio State loss to a once beaten Michigan team. 

 

In other words, with all the cards were falling into place, Stoops saw his Sooners running smack dab into a SEC team again.   Give Bob credit, he is smarter than he looks.     

 

  • Stoops theorized that even with the Texas loss, the Sooners could still play in the BCS Fiesta Bowl as the Big 12 representative.  This Texas team can easily drop two more games, a move that would open up things for OU and make Stoops look like a genius.        The Sooners would avoid the SEC and pick up a game against at-large team like Northern Illinois. 

 

  • Even if Texas were to run the table and get the Fiesta Bowl gig, Stoops figured that facing this year’s AAC representative in the Cotton Bowl would be better than facing a third or fourth place SEC team.  

 

 

  • Another theory that should be floated out there is that Bob was pressured by OU and Big 12 leaders to throw the game and allow Texas to reestablish itself as a national player.  With OSU going south in a hurry, league officials are desperate to push the Texas envelope and keep the conference afloat.  No conference will survive      in the 2014 playoff world without at least two strong teams at the top of the ticket and these Big 12 guys know it.      

 

In summary, while these theories may appear flippant in nature, given what happened on the floor of the Cotton Bowl last Saturday, anything is possible.  The OU-Texas fiasco and subsequent conspiracy theories surrounding that game make the Kennedy conspiracies seem like child’s play. 

 

OU politicians, athletic directors, coaches and even players have already moved on from the Texas loss.   For the rest of us, a loss like this one hangs around for a while.  All, the more reason to choose a conspiracy theory and run with it.   Otherwise, we will be stuck with the thought that what we saw last Saturday was reality.   I refuse to do that.  I choose instead to believe that what happened last Saturday was a conspiracy. 

 

Boomer Sooner…

 

 

Debacle in Dallas…

 

I have to admit, I did not see that one coming…Yes, the warning signs were there, but I have to admit like most people I let my guard down on this one.  As the debacle in Dallas finally sinks in, it occurs to me that the 2013 OU-Texas game may have been the most misjudged game in the history of the series.  The Sooners were streaking with five straight wins including a convincing win over Notre Dame for only the 2nd time since WWII while Texas was stinking up the place.   Who’d thunk it…

While many people will attribute that mess in Dallas as what can happen in a rivalry game, I’m not buying that argument at all.   The OU-Texas series is not known for upsets.  The favored team in this series wins most the time.  For a two touchdown dog to win by two touchdowns is simply unheard of and Vegas must be scratching its heads about this one.   This one has to be laid squarely at the feet of the OU coaching staff.

Here are my theories…

  • First, the rooster kickoff did not help as the Sooner staff apparently did not get the wakeup call and were late getting to the stadium.    They quickly put together a game plan that went sour right after kickoff.   Not being a staff that can make adjustments on the fly, the game was pretty much settled by the end of the first quarter.   I have often wondered what the OU staff does at halftime of games like this.  Not known for making half-time adjustments this one was even worse than normal.  Basically, the coaches decided at half-time to stay the course with their pregame strategy and as they say the rest was history.   Players take their cues from their coaches and when the coaches threw in the towel, it was over.    

 

  • Secondly, Bob Stoops should be given credit for his staff renovation project over the past two years.  Dispatching long time Sooner Jackie Shipp could not have been easy, but there is still work to be done to get OU up to speed….While Sooner fans appreciate Josh Heupel’s contribution to restoring the program to its former glory, he is obviously in over his head in today’s high powered football world.    Simply put, Josh made UT Defensive Coordinator look like a freaking genius on Saturday.   

 

Now that I have that off my chest, here are some additional thoughts…

 

  • Let’s enter the 21st century college football era by developing a duo threat at quarterback.   If Blake Bell can’t get it done, go to the next guy on the list.  If Josh can’t get it done, go to the next guy…
  • Texas wanted it more and it showed from the get-go.  Mack’s job was on the line and his players played hard for him.  I wonder if Bob could ever generate that kind of “win one for the Gipper” emotion. 
  • Texas is better than we thought…Losses to BYU and Ole Miss are not as bad as previously believed. 
  • Winning the Thursday night game at Iowa State gave the Horns a needed win that created momentum going into the Dallas game.  The two extra days for preparation were huge.
  • Texas will always have athletes and they should always be good…They have more players with four and five stars by their names that any other team in America.  Many of these players were part of the 19 returning starters that Texas returned this season.     
  • Conversely the Sooners have not recruited well in recent years and when that happens it shows up the depth area.   OU’s depth will make it hard for OU’s defense to absorb key losses like Corey Nelson and Jordan Philips…We have to recruit better linemen…

 

  • All is not lost…
    • While any loss to Texas is painful, it is still just one loss.   Players are resilient.  They will bounce back quickly…
    • Kansas can be just what the doctor ordered for this team if the coaches make the trip to  Lawrence.   
    • Sooner fans must keep in mind that this Sooner team is still a work in progress.  The defense is still better than last year and the offense can’t play any worse than it did on Saturday.
    • Blake Bell’s meltdown will hopefully encourage coaches to expand his game and/or get Trevor Knight some additional playing time.  There is a reason why Knight was named the starting quarterback back in August. 
    • Ahead for the Sooners…
      • A just what the doctor ordered Kansas team…
      • A Texas Tech team that only beat Iowa State by one touchdown at home…
      • A Baylor team that has finally come down to earth…
      • A bad Iowa State team at home…
      • A Kansas State team that is 2-4 midway through the season…
      • An OSU team with a suspect offense and overrated defense…

A lot of football is left to be played and a 11-1 season is still doable…Going into the season most OU fans would have loved to have an 11-1 season.    

Boomer Sooner…

 

 

The Mack Factor…

 

 

With Deloss Dodds stepping down as Athletic Director and with David Ash ruled out of the OU-Texas game, the question for Texas fans has become not “if, but when” for  Mack Brown to step down as head coach.  Before the season it was believed that even a good season might not save Mack’s job.   With losses against BYU and Ole Miss and a one point, controversial win at Iowa State only one more nail in the coffin is needed.  That final nail will come in the form of a third straight beat-down by the Sooners in the Cotton Bowl next Saturday.  Mack put all his eggs in the David Ash/Chase McCoy basket after the Vince Young years and now is paying the ultimate price, his job. 

 

The only question left to be answered is whether school leaders will allow Mack to finish out the season or cut their losses and begin the coach search early.   A likely scenario will be for Mack to announce sooner than later that he will retire at the end of the season and assume what he will now describe as his dream job as the UT Athletic Director.    Regardless, of when it happens, the end result will be the same.   For Sooner fans who have basked in the glory of the Mack Fastor year in and year, the end of the Mack era will come far too soon.   In any case, Mack’s departure will be a major game changer.  All, the more reason for OU to pull out all the stops in preparation for this event.

 

With unlimited capital to hire any coach in America the sky or in this case the bank account will be the limit as the Horns replace Mack with a bono fide coach.  Only time will tell who that person will be, but it can be assumed that the selection committee minus Deloss Dodds will go to great lengths to hire someone outside the “UT good old boy” family.    This fact presents bad news for future Texas opponents.   With the talent on hand after several outstanding recruiting classes and a class in 2013 that will now improve, the talent stockpiled in Austin will give the new coach a talent base that will allow for a quick start up.   With a starving fan base reeling from the A&M/SEC saga, the enthusiasm from the Horn Nation will be off the chart as the new coach assumes the coaching mantel.   Good times are headed for Austin and OU must stay ahead of the curve.

 

OU has had its way with Texas in recent years and from all appearances the good times should continue on Saturday.   Of course in a streaky series like this one, it was assumed by most observers that the good times would not last forever.  This does not mean that Bob Stoops and his retooled coaching staff cannot be successful against the Horns and the new Texas coach, but similar success over the next decade will now become exceedingly more difficult.  Losing Mack is the worst thing that could happen to the Sooner Nation.  At the same time OU fans must look at the coaching change as inevitable and think glass half full. 

 

The Mack situation can present a couple of silver linings… First, the Big 12 conference with its current set up is not long for this world.  The conference is sinking fast and in need of immediate help.   OU officials have tied OU and Big 12 Conference wagon to Texas and as a result a strong Texas program is unfortunately in the best interest of OU and the conference.   Currently the conference is sitting at number five among the five power conferences one year away from the four team playoff.     In order for the conference to have a strong enough RPI for a final four appearance in 2014 topflight OU and UT programs at the top of the Big 12 ticket becomes essential. 

 

Another silver lining is that Bob Stoops has already taken the first step in going toe to toe with whoever the Horns install as head coach.  Stoops retooled his coaching staff over the past two years and now OU has the staff in place that can not only coach up OU players, but also recruit against the best teams in America.   With OU recruiting efforts looking increasingly to the west coast, dependence on Texas high school talent has become less critical.  Don’t get me wrong, OU will always mine the Texas high schools for football talent, but the westward movement has given the Sooners another avenue for success.   Regardless of the new Texas coach, Texas will continue to have its pick of the Texas high school litter.  The new coach may take a different approach and become less dependent on early commitments which will likely ensure a better recruiting class.    This is all the more reason for the Sooners to develop a back-up plan.  

 

Two final positive notes on this subject…A viable Texas team will elevate OU’s computer rating in future playoff years.    This year’s situation paints a perfect picture of what a weak Texas team means for the conference.   Even with a 6-0 record after next Saturday’s win in the Cotton Bowl the Sooners will not likely break into college football’s top 10.   Unlike today when the OU-Texas winner will mean nothing to the computers, a strong Texas team in the future will mean that OU-Texas winner will likely be assured of a playoff spot.  Additionally a strong OU-Texas winner will allow the victor to avoid the SEC champion until the national championship game.     This year the conference is assured of a BCS Bowl appearance regardless of the final ranking, but in 2014 and beyond all of this will change.  A CFP selection committee using conference RPI ratings will make those calls beginning next year.

 

Until OU leaders are convinced to consider other conference options, creating a Big 12 conference that will allow OU to play for national championships becomes priority one.  While replacing the Mack Factor may look like a bad thing on the surface, it may be the best path for enabling OU to win 8th national championship.   

 

A final silver lining for OU fans will come in the form of the final nail in the OSU coffin.   A strong Texas football program will eliminate any future talk of OSU as preseason conference favorites.    OU and Texas may take turns at the top of the league standings with the inevitable ebb and flow of talent, but the Cowboys will be playing for third place every year.  High school prospects want to play for championships and not trips to the Meinike Car Care Bowl so even with OSU’s sock money” the chances of the Pokes keeping up with OU and Texas will become slim and none.   

 

 

Boomer Sooner…