Baker Mayfield = What’s the big deal…

 

Some have questioned why Baker Mayfield would transfer from Texas Tech to OU.  Some have even suggested that Mayfield must be a head cased to quit the Tech team prior to their bowl game and if so why would OU or anyone else take a chance on this guy.   While a final end to this story will not be known for a while, a Mayfield move to OU could pay huge dividends for the Sooners in 2014.      

As you may remember Baker Mayfield came out of nowhere at the start the season as he led the Red Raiders to a win over SMU.  As a true freshman Baker Mayfield was only a few months out of high school when he walked on at Tech and led the Raiders to victory.  With Baker Mayfield at the helm Texas Tech went on a seven game winning streak.   After being injured and replaced by Davis Webb the Red Raiders went on to lose five in a row.    

Baker Mayfeld never regained the starting position as Kliff Kingsbury decided on Davis Webb to start the bowl game against Arizona State.  From all appearances in the Holiday Bowl Kingsbury made a good choice in Davis Webb.  At the same time this fact should not diminish the value of Baker Mayfield to the OU program.  If anything, the exceptional performance by Webb in the Holiday Bowl may expedite Mayfield’s move to OU. 

Baker Mayfield came out of Austin Westlake last sprint with a lot of confidence in himself, but few college takers.  He eventually turned down Mike Leach and Washington State to walk on at Tech.  While direct communication between any OU coach and Baker Mayfield would be violation of NCAA rules, a family relationship between the Mayfield family and OU assistant coach Bobby Jack Wright may prove extremely beneficial to OU in the long run. 

At this point, it appears that Tech is out and OU may be in for the future services of Baker Mayfield.  Fortunately Baker Mayfield is not easily discourages and the fact that some have suggested that bringing in Baker Mayfield to the current crowded quarterback situation at OU would be a mistake will not deter him from enrolling at OU for the spring semester.    Not enough snaps during spring drills for the OU quarterbacks already on campus some have suggested.   With Blake Bell, Trevor Knight, Kendal Thompson, and Cody Thomas already on campus, and Justice Hansen set to join the competition in January, why would OU need or want another quarterback? 

History, this is why… If history has taught us anything, it is that you can never have too many quarterbacks on campus.   Back in 2006, it appeared that the Sooners would enter the season with too many quarterbacks.     Things happened and before we knew it OU was down to a wide receiver playing quarterback.  

Due to a backlog at quarterbacks, OU’s four star prospect Tommy Grady transferred to Utah during the off season.  Rhett Bomar was booted from the team just weeks before the season opener.    Future great Sam Bradford was on campus, but clearly not ready to make his first start.   That left not-ready-for-primetime juco transfer Joey Halzle and wide receiver Paul Thompson to lead a team that was projected by Vegas as a 5-1 favorite to win the national championship.   Thompson did a serviceable job at quarterback, but the Sooners national championship season never materialized.  With OU approaching a critical year nationally in 2014, having a seasoned another seasoned backup in  camp could be a very good thing.      

Given OU’s bad luck of late, this worst case scenario could occur again and wreck what could be a break out year in 2014 for the Sooners.  Let’s say that Trevor Knight wins the quarterback battle in the spring,  a move that could prompt Blake Bell to transfer in order to play immediately somewhere else.   Kendal Thompson, being the loose cannon that he is gets suspended, again.   That leaves baseball phenom Cody Thomas and true freshman Justice Hansen.   The jury is still out on Cody Thomas and Hansen like Sam Bradford could use a redshirt year. 

Enter Baker Mayfield to save the day.   Mayfield can provide the Sooners with an experienced quarterback who can step at in anytime for the off injured Trevor Knight.  With college football becoming more and more physical, it has become imperative for championship teams to have more than one able bodied quarterback.

2014 will be a critical year for the Sooners and for that matter the Big 12.  With a ton of returning starters to go along with a sweet schedule, the Sooners can make a serious run at a final four playoff spot.  Baker Mayfield could be a big part of that run…I say, the more the merrier….

Note:  Baker Mayfield will have to jump through a number of NCAA hoops to become immediately eligible at OU.  Normally, a player must sit out a year when transferring from on D-I to school to another D-1 school.  Transferring to another school in conference can add another year to the wait process.  I think there may be a loop-hole ion the rules however.    The fact that Baker Mayfield walked on at Tech and was not actively recruited by the Red Raiders and the fact that he was a non-scholarship player in 2013 may work to his advantage.  We shall see…

 

 

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Bowl Season = Predictions and Implications…

What a great time of the year…While I know there are way too many bowl games, bowl games do serve a purpose.  Coaches love bowl games because of the extra practices that the teams that get for the next season.   The first two weeks of practice are used to work with young players while the final week is used to hone out the game plan for the bowl opponent.   While coach-speak will say otherwise, the truth of the matter is winning the bowl game normally takes a back seat to other benefits to the program.  Getting to the bowl is much more important to a program than winning the game itself.   This is a lesson that OU fans should keep in mind as the Sooners play Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. 

Athletic Directors use the bowl games to reward fans for their loyalty, a move that keeps these fans buying season tickets year in a year out and donating big bucks for campus building projects.   AD’s will also boast about the BCS paydays that start at $17 million dollars, but to be honest this issue is overstated as this money is distributed equally among all the conference schools.  

Given a truth serum, coaches will admit first and foremost that bowl trips are about recruiting.   Teams that can promise a prospect bowl trips have a leg up on opponents. High caliber prospects will only consider playing for football programs that go bowling year in and year out.  The best prospects are expecting to play in BCS bowls or in the future the playoff and national championship series.   It is for this reason that OU wins over K-State and OSU were sooooo big.  

Basically, OU moved up from the Buffalo Wild Wings/Holiday Bowl pecking order to the Sugar Bowl.  More importantly, five star athletes like Joe Mixon, Steven Parker and Michaeh Quick are still interested in the Sooners.  This likely would not have been the case with a lesser bowl.   The latest 247.com recruiting rankings puts OU Sugar Bowl season into perspective.    If OU were to land all three of these blue chip players, the Sooners would move from #29 to #13.

Finally for college football junkies like me, the bowl season extends the football season one more month.  Adding to the bowl season fun can be predicting the outcomes of all 35 bowl games.  Personally, I avoid viewing point spreads to make the experience more challenging.  This also allows me to take into account those teams experiencing last minute coaching changes or those teams that have more to play for.  If you are interested in testing your bowl game know how, click here and register under the BCS.net group. 

Good News for OU = Texas has a new AD

 

 

What does the hiring of Steve Patterson as the next AD at Texas mean for the Big 12 and OU?  First and foremost the Patterson hire signals a new day for Texas football and as result a new day for OU.   DeLoss Dodds was the ultimate good old boy and his removal was good news for both OU and UT fans.  While it is true that over the past several years OU has lived the good life with Mack at Texas, but the Sooners have pretty much sucked that turnip dry. Beating Texas has been good for our egos, but unfortunately has done little for the Sooners nationally. 

 

Basically, Deloss is out and the new guy is in.  The reason for the change is simple.  The UT Regents want to restore the Longhorns to their former the national prominence.   The Regents also realize that Mack cannot make that happen.    The only thing left to be resolved is how to make the Mack exit happen in a manner to respect Mack and what he has accomplished at Texas.   Mack is a really good guy and a solid coach, but from time to time changes are needed.   In the end, Mack will fight for his job as he negotiates a

Texas-size severance buy-out for himself.     Regardless, Mack will be out…

 

Times have changed dramatically since Mack won a national championship with Vince Young at quarterback a few years back.  Texas A&M’s move to the SEC has taken the state and the nation by storm and the A&M Regents and the obnoxious Aggie fans have lorded this fact over the Longhorn faithful.   Texas fans are not used to such treatment by anyone much less the hated Aggies.

 

While Texas officials have only themselves to blame for the A&M-SEC move, they are not interested in finding fault with themselves, so finding a scapegoat has become paramount of late.  While, Mack with his recent national championship and decent winning record is not a perfect fit for the scapegoat suit, he will have to do.   Don’t get me wrong there is no reason for any coach not to win big at Texas so I do not feel too sorry for Mack.    

 

Using the SEC template that encourages top level teams to continue to get better which in turn makes the rest of the league better is a move that will help the Big 12 and OU.   At first I was like everyone else seeing Mack as a good thing for OU as we took advantage of weak Longhorn teams.   Times have changed however, and no longer can the Big 12 survive the cut-throat playoff world without strong UT and OU football programs.   Listed in most circles as the # 5 conference among the five power conferences, serious changes are needed to elevate the conference into 2014 final four playoff discussions.   

 

A Texas program coached by a high profile coach will be good for the long-term health of the Big 12.  The move will be particularly good for OU.   A strong Texas program will force OU to up the ante to keep up for the Jones.   With the T. Boone hay already in the OSU barn and with the NCAA likely to take a closer look at the OSU play-for-pay “sock” money  program, a slip in the OSU program can be expected sooner than later.  Now is a perfect time for both OU and UT to separate themselves from OSU.

 

OU leaders realize that Texas is the key of OU’s survival.    OU cannot afford to lose the OU/Texas rivalry.   This game is at the core of OU football.  With the loss of the OU/Nebraska rivalry keeping a strong OU/Texas match-up is a must.   While some may suggest that losing the OU/Texas rivalry could never happen, the same was once said of the OU/Nebraska and Texas/Texas A&M rivalries.   In the changing world of college football anything is possible.

 

Finally, I hope that UT hires a fire-breathing coach to replace Mack Brown.   A lackluster Texas program combined with a watered down Big 12 will be the death of the Big 12.   If changes are not made and quick, the conference will disband within five years.    The four power conferences, SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Pac 12 will simply devour a weak Big 12.    

 

A strong Texas football program that forces OU to get better will elevate the Big 12 to compete with the power conferences and give the Big 12 and OU a fighting chance.   For this to happen, Mack must go…

 

 

 

There is only one OKLAHOMA…

 

About the time we decide to give up on Bob Stoops, he does something special like pulling out all the stops in a win over the Cowboys.   True to form OSU played not to lose and OU played with reckless abandon and for the 84th time in the series, the Sooners came out on top.   The butt cheeks of OSU fans were not only cold on that Saturday morning; they were tight as they saw their season slipping away yet again.   

As you know, I felt pretty good about OU’s chances going into the game, but if I had known ahead of time that the Ags were going to rush for over 200 yards, I would have been much less confident about OU’s chances.  In spite of a balanced OSU attack the Sooners simply out coached and out maneuvered the Cowboys.  OSU coaches believed that they were the best team going into the game and basically went into the game with a plain vanilla game-plan in hopes of outlasting the Sooners.  As we know that system seldom works and OSU found that out once again on Saturday.  Ironically, for the second year in a row, OU drove the length of the field to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against the Cowboys.  It really does not get much better than that…

I said going into the game that OSU was overrated and I still stand by that opinion.   At the same time, I would suggest that this OSU team missed a golden opportunity to step up to the next level.  With a win in Bedlam and a date against UCF in the Fiesta Bowl the Cowboys would have been set up perfectly for their first 13 win season.    Can you imagine having to listen to OSU fans if that had happened?    Instead, with 28 seniors on this year’s squad, this group will go down as the one that should have been.    Just as embarrassing for OSU loyalists is the fact that the Cowboys lost on their home field to their rival school in spite of being a double digit favorite.  In other words, the Ags blew it and they have to know it…From a college football purist perspective, I believe that the football gods stepped in and said enough to the Pickens Plan. 

One of my reasons listed for a possible OU win on Saturday was the fact that OU traditionally plays well in Stillwater.  Call it Sooner Magic, or call it just plain luck, or just being the better team, OU has a knack for pulling out wins in Stillwater.  From unplanned onside kicks that ricochet off the helmets of OSU players to winning touchdowns that bounce off the numbers of Cowboy wide receivers in the end zone, I have seen this same movie for fifty years.  OU has treated the Pokes to a steady diet of heartbreaking losses over the years, most of which were self-imposed by the Cowboys.   Saturday’s gut wrenching loss for the Cowboys ranks right up there with the best.   The Sooners just have the Aggie’s number.  OU’s mental dominance of OSU reminds me of what I have seen for twenty years in Oklahoma high school football.   The Jenks/Union teams expect to win state titles while the west sided high schools hope to win.  OU players believe that as long as there is time on the clock, the Sooners will win.  The Cowboys on the other hand hope the clock will run out with them still ahead.   

The T. Booners just knew that this year’s game would be different and were blowing a lot of smoke before the game.  Their braggadocios behavior only serves to make Saturday’s win that much sweeter for OU fans.     OSU fans will never understand how this works…They will go on about how OU lucked out or how OU did not deserve to win, but in the long run it comes down to one simple truth….There is only one Oklahoma.  

 

Bedlam Part, Two…

 

Call me crazy, but I am still not convinced that this year OSU team is the greatest thing since sliced bread.   While the Cowboys are a double digit favorite in the Bedlam game, I would not count the Sooners out in this one. Call me an OU homer, but I would not be surprised if the Sooners pull one out in Stillwater.  I believe that the Cowboy faithful who are all ga-ga over the 2013 Cowboys after their Baylor game may be setting themselves up for failure.

Lost in the Aggie celebration following the Baylor game was the fact that Baylor played OSU minus four offensive starters.  This is the also the same Baylor team that barely beat an offensively challenged TCU team last Saturday.    In reality this year’s OU/OSU game mirrors last year’s game that OU won.  There are of course a few exceptions to last year’s game.   The first exception is that OU will start Trevor Knight instead of Landry Jones.  While on the surface that would appear to be a huge plus for OSU given Knight’s inexperience, but with the bitterly cold forecast, the Knight run option game may be more valuable this year than Landry’s deep throws were last year. 

The second exception is that this year’s OSU running game will be missing Joseph Randle.  After last season Randle decided to make a living the old fashioned way and turned down another year of OSU sock money to turn pro legally.  Joseph Randle would have been a huge force in this year’s game given his ability to run up the middle and yes, deal with frigid temperatures.   

The third exception is that of Mike Stoops defense.  While never a big Mike Stoops fan, I must admit that Mike has done yeoman’s work with this year’s defensive unit.  This game will be the first time this season that the Cowboys will face a solid defense.  Just as importantly, Mike Stoops has been around and knows how to scheme for various offenses.  Surely with the extra week to plan, Stoops can come up with a game plan that will slow down the Clint Chelf quarterback draw.  

Given these variables, I like OU’s chances in this one.  Unfortunately there is one more major variable that makes this game even more unpredictable.    Early forecasts for Saturday’s game indicate wind chill temperatures at kickoff will be in the mid-teens.  It is impossible to predict how each team will react to these brutally cold temperatures, but for the most part inclement weather tends to favors the underdog.  As we have heard all week, OU is the underdog this year.   Another possible positive for the Sooners is that the cold temperatures and rooster kickoff may minimize the home crowd advantage.    One thing for sure is that the team that takes command of the game early will have a huge advantage due in large part, to the elements. 

In any case, here are several reasons that favor OU or OSU in this year’s game…

OSU will win because…

 

OU will win because…

  • OU players and coaches are tired of the Texas and Baylor      after-taste…
  • The Mike Stoops defense…
  • Trevor Knight read option offense…
  • The Bell dozier goal line runs…
  • The Michael Hunnicutt-kicking game…
  • Experience of playing in the hostile environments of South      Bend, Waco, and Manhattan…
  • Sooner Magic…

 

If OU does come away from the Bedlam game with their 84th win in the series, the Sooners will do it the old fashioned way, they will earn it…