The cutting board…  

There is a saying on the farm about it being nut-cutting time.   I would say OU has reached that point.   About the time you think things can’t get any worse for OU football, they do…While the coaching mishaps during the OSU game were legendary, the lack of preparation for the Clemson game and the subsequent lack of execution was even more mind-boggling and yes, embarrassing.

Don’t get me wrong, no one this website has ever suggested that Bob Stoops was anything but a slightly above average coach, but even a decent coach should have his players better prepared than they were against Clemson.  It is obvious from watching this team this year that there is something badly wrong with this coaching staff.

I do want to cut Bob some slack here.  David Boren’s insisted two years ago that OU stay in a watered down Big 12 and as a result recruiting has dropped off dramatically.  This round robin conference will always have problems recruiting against the monster SEC.

At the same time I blame Bob for part of this.  He is the football coach and he should have seen this coming and said no to Boren and the other bureaucrats.     Regardless, even with the talent drop off on this team for OU to be embarrassed by land grant colleges like OSU and Clemson is simply unacceptable.

Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I must admit that I was not surprised by the Clemson butt-kicking…Clemson has athletes and is very well-coached, particularly on defense.  Conversely the Big 12 and OU have lost a step with the rest of college football when it comes to athletes and this game simply reinforced how deep this divide is.  I suspect that the other Big 12 versus power conference bowl games will show the same thing.

At this point, we can cry over spilt milk or make lemonade out of the lemons.

The bad news is that we suck…The good news is that we sucked on national television and as a result, possibly this embarrassment will get someone’s attention.   Boren and Castiglione obviously couldn’t care less when it comes to OU football, so OU fans will have to rely on Regents to get something done.

Fan pressure must be placed on these guys to freeze coaches’ salaries and contract extensions to send a message to every member of this coaching staff

Take Bob, Josh and Mike to court for mal-practice and recover their pay raises for this year. (I am obviously kidding about this one, but not by much.

Send those coaching who do not have guaranteed life-time contracts packing.  Expendable coaches include…

Jay Norvell for two reasons.    First, as someone once said when you have a two quarterback system you have a no quarterback system.   Same goes for co-offensive coordinators.  Secondly, Norvell is a co-offensive coordinator on a staff that is totally clueless.

Someone has to be the fall guy on offense and since that guy can’t be Boren’s in-law, Norvell will have to go.  Additionally, Jay Norvell is still a hot item among coaching circles so he will be snatched up quickly, a move that will not create a scene.

The second departure from the staff should be that of Tim Kish.  The only guy more boring on the recruiting trail than Bob Stoops is Kish.   Recently the Sooner brain trust put out a photo of a Kish and Bob in the home of a prospective recruit.   The picture had bore-fest written all over it.

Bob Stoops is not Barry Switzer when it comes to in-home visits with prospects.  This is where a charismatic assistant coach can come in handy. Kish is not that guy and being drinking buddies with Mike Stoops should not quality a person to be a football coach.

Finally, the third assistant coach to hit the bricks has to be Bobby Jack Wright.  BJW was hired years ago because of his ties to Texas high school football coaches…Bob can hire any number of coaches to do this so hiring someone who can also coach would be a huge bonus.

It’s probably time for Merv Johnson to move from the Director of Football Operations position to the broadcasting booth full time next year.  This opening will free up a spot for the personable Bobby Jack.

Use these openings to hire young, energetic coaches that can overcome an otherwise bad coaching situation.  Make this happen fast in order to infuse energy into the last month of the recruiting season.

Finally, As ugly as it was this season a solid recruiting class supported by strategic coaching changes can go a long way in making things look better this time next year…This mess was not created overnight and it will not be cleaned up overnight, but without changes being made, we will be experiencing this same feeling this time next year.  Now is the time for dramatic changes to be made.

Okay OU Regents, the ball is in your court.  Make it happen…

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Something to think about…

The year was 1998 and Doc. T. and I were enduring the fourth year of the worst football in the history of OU football.  One year with the Colonel and three years with John Blake had just about done us in.  The Texas Tech game that year was particularly troublesome because anyone with a brain realized that changes had to be made and that a resounding win by the Sooners on this day might delay the inevitable.

Ridding the program of Sooner family members and the program’s first African-American coach made the move even more challenging.    Sounds familiar doesn’t it; hiring family members always seems to come back to bite you in the butt.  Now OU has two coordinators who are family members that need to move on.   Imagine sitting in the stands week after week through games similar to what we saw this year against Baylor and OSU.  Then, like now, fans were screaming for changes to be made.

With my head about to explode, I privately hoped for a Sooner loss or at least a less than respectable win.   The ’98 Tech game like the 2014 Clemson game meant nothing as that season like this one was a lost cause.  I knew then like I know today that Oklahoma is beset with “good ole’ boy” leadership that will resist change at all costs.

On that Saturday the football gods blessed us with the best of both worlds.   OU eked out a 20-17 win against a woeful Tech team and the decision to rid the program of John Blake and his staff was solidified.  John Blake was fired on Monday and as the say, the rest is history.   Ironically, the then OKC Mayor Kirk Humphreys was instrumental in extricating Blake from the program.  It will be interesting to see if he has the same passion today as an OU Regent.

Here is what really happened and why Sooner fans have hope today.  Blake’s fate was sealed weeks earlier with an OU loss to OSU.  The 41-26 loss to OSU in ’98 made it two losses in a row.  Then like now, an OU coach can survive an occasional loss to Texas or Baylor, but not losses to OSU, particularly two in a row and three of four as was the case in ‘98.  That my friend, is our Christmas silver lining for 2014.

Just like in ’98, today’s OU Regents will hopefully use an embarrassing loss to OSU to demand that staff changes be made.   The pathetic nature of today’s OU staff rivals that of the Blake staff.    I don’t do drugs so I don’t expect Bob to rid himself of biological or OU family members.   I do however believe that the OSU debacle gives us hope that Bob will force Mike and Josh to throw some of their assistants under the bus.

Removing even some of the deadwood from the OU staff in favor of young, energetic, assistant coaches would be a welcome relief.   Fresh blood infused into this moribund staff prior to the 2015 season would be the best Christmas gift Sooner fans could find under the tree this year.   These new guys could also close the deal on a better than expected recruiting class.

Hope springs eternal as like in ’98 I am hopeful that the Sooners can keep the game close against Clemson, but make changes shortly thereafter that will save the program.    As for me I am going to relax during the Clemson game and look to the future, a future that will see staff changes made as a result of an OSU loss.

If history repeats itself and the OSU loss creates staff changes to the Sooner football program in 2015, the program will be saved in similar fashion to the way it was brought back from the dead in 1998.

If this happens, Sooner  fans will have OSU to thank once again…

Thanks Aggies…

Boomer Sooner…

The ugly side of football = Oklahoma high School football…

One can expect pro football owners to cut corners when it comes to ethical behavior, after all pro football is simply a business where money justifies every action.  Same goes to some extent at the college level where winning means maintaining power conference status. What I don’t get is how high school football succumbs to win-at-all-cost pressure.  The very adults commissioned to serve as role models for young men far too often lacking in the ethical conscientiousness area when it comes to football.

Having lived on both coasts and in football-crazy Texas, I suggest that Oklahoma high school football leads the nation in the rule skirting game.   Texas football cleaned its act up several years ago by creating a strong high school association that adopted a one strike your out rule related to rules violations, particularly recruiting.   Oklahoma with its weak OSSAA gives minimal attention to ethical behavior.

Here are three examples of what I have witnessed during my time as an educator and as a fan of the game where bending and in many cases breaking the rules has become fashionable.

  • Only in Oklahoma would four high schools within a twenty miles of each other dominate the rest of the state in football and do so for almost three decades…The fearsome foursome of Jenks, Union, Broken Arrow and Owasso have amassed student populations of almost 5,000 students per high school for one purpose, that of winning  football games.

These school easily double their west side Oklahoma counterparts.  While school size is up the local district and no laws are being broken here, the practice is morally reprehensible.  School size is no different than class size when it comes to doing what is best for students.

Football teams of two hundred players that provide size speed and depth at every position will continue to ensure that west side high schools continue to dominate the rest of the state.

  • While west side high schools should be admired for their willingness to create smaller more manageable high schools, west side high schools are not without fault.  Norman, Moore and Edmond high schools have become cess-pools for corruption due to open transfer policies that encourage recruiting between district high schools.    Recruiting at the high school level is illegal whether the recruiting takes place from inside or outside the district.  School officials many of whom are former coaches become complicit in this illegal process by turning a blind eye to the proceedings.  Competitive by nature far too often the very leaders asked to serve as role models for our students are openly party to the proceedings either overtly or covertly.
  • Only in Oklahoma would private schools be allowed to dominate their small town opponents by hook and by crook.  A Bethel Acres, Bridge Creek, or Cushion public school football teams don’t stand a chance against their private school rivals.  It is almost laughable to expect otherwise.  Buoyed by the small college type facilities, oversized coaching staffs and recruited players these private schools make quick work of their small school competition year and year out.   School officials, competitive by nature purposely keep enrollment numbers low in order to allow the private schools to compete at the smallest level possible.   Small towns that are limited by school district borders cannot possibly produce enough home-grown talent to compete against private schools that can recruit city wide.  We are talking small towns with less than 5,000 citizens and high school population of less than 300 students going up against private schools that can draw from an entire metro area.    Blue chip players from OKC’s east side become prime targets for these schools.

Finally, I realize that this we live in Oklahoma where change is hard and where traditions are almost impossible to erase, even the ones that are as sordid as these.    Then again, I believe in Karma and I believe that what goes around comes around.  At some point, a responsible person or persons will take note of these issues and lay the groundwork for change.

May not happen tomorrow or even next week, but it will happen…

Where do we go from here – Part II…

 

First off, it is always good to remember that things can always get worse.   After all would you rather lose to OSU or be OSU…

In the early years of college football, Ivy League schools tried to create a balance between integrity and football.  Unable to create real balance between the two areas, the Ivy League decided to punt.

Fortunately for OU fans punting football is not an option (no pun intended).  As a result, Sooner fans will demand that The University of Oklahoma continue to strive for excellence on the football field.  Just as importantly, the University will not allow itself to sell out to the win-at-all-cost crowd.   That creates good news and bad news…

Difference makers like Tyreek Hill will not be wearing the Crimson and Cream any time soon which is the good news.   The fact that the Sooners may continue to struggle to win championships as a result is the bad news.

Let’s face it, the Bedlam game would not have been close had it not been for Tyreek Hill and his late game heroics.     The timing of the Tyreek Hill beating up his pregnant girlfriend could not have been more perfect as well.   The bad guys 38 and the good guys 35…

Where does OU go from here…David Boren and the OU Regents expect OU’s program to be squeaky clean.  With this being the case, the Regents must provide Bob Stoops with the support necessary to win football games on Saturday and have players sing in the choir on Sunday.  This is not rocket science…Coaching and only coaching can make this happen…

To that end I am encouraged by a gut feeling that I have about Mike Stoops.  I suspect that the OU Regents may be on the verge of punting the guy.  This will take the pressure off Bob and remove one of the two impediments for OU’s return to championship row.

Mike Stoops has been conspicuous by his absence on the recruiting trail of late, a fact that leads me to believe the OU Regents may be making him a deal he can’t refuse.  I am thinking possibly private business for a year as things quiet down and a return to football somewhere else a year later.

While this occurrence will only mean freeing the staff of only half of the Frick and Frack team, it will at least be a start.   Look for this move to be made right after the bowl game.  With the recruiting dead period upon us, Bob will have plenty of time to conduct a national search for Mike’s replacement.

The new coach will have almost a month to close the deal on a number of big time recruits that could make an immediate impact next year…2015 could still be a special year if things begin falling into place beginning right now.

One thing is for sure.  OU is not going to start recruiting Tyreek Hill-type players.   A second thing is true as well.   Without coaching help, OU will not win doing things the right way.   The choice is simple…Warm up the U-Haul truck…

Boomer Sooner…

Where do we go from here…?

Okay, I finally get it…This Bob Stoops coaching staff may be as bad as advertised…I am yelling Uncle…

Having seen some bad OU football over the years, I have been prone to cutting Bob and company slack.  I always believed that it can always get worse.  After what I saw Saturday night when this coaching staff made John Blake look like a genius, I realized that I finally get it.  Squandering a 14 point lead in the last five minutes of a game is next to impossible, particularly when the offense has the ball.  OU made it look easy.  Spread the blame around, offense, defense and special teams, this coaching staff sucks…

Without recounting the coaching comedy of errors committed by the OU coaching staff during that those final minutes, it is safe to say it was a one of a kind experience and one that I hope I never experience again.     At the same time, for those of us that who will be back for more next year, I suspect that as long as Bob Stoops is in charge, we had better increase our meds and get ready for a rough ride.  With David Boren calling the shots, Bob is not going anywhere and with Bob calling the shots Josh and Mike will not be going anywhere without pressure being placed on him to do so.  Regardless, this football program is in desperate need of change.

As hard as it is to admit, the painful truth is that Bob Stoops lacks football sense.  He does okay when he has time to plan, but when the game is on the line he gets brain freeze.   Bob is only as good as those around him.  When he surrounds himself with morons, he is in trouble.

In the beginning of his tenure at OU, Bob had the advantage of hiring a staff of up and coming head coaches.  Those guys are no longer around, having taken positions elsewhere and it shows.  What we have left is Bob Stoops and his proclivity for hiring assistants from within the OU and Stoops family.

Keep in mind that this is not all Stoops fault.   When he was hired by David Boren and Joe Castiglione he was seen as someone that could right the OU ship that had taken on water during the Schnellenberger, Blake, and Switzer era.   Bob was an upcoming defensive coordinator from Florida who was considered Mr. Clean by the football world.   David Boren who is clueless when it comes to football hired Stoops to clean up the program and hopefully win a few games along the way.

Give the guy credit; he has been fantastic in that regard.  Unfortunately OU fans want more out of their head coach.  They want championships to go along with doing it the right way.  Now with OU facing a dearth of coaching talent, Bob is left to make up the difference.  That ain’t  going to happen.  He is not smart enough to do it on his own.  He will need help…

Of course Bob and company will say that the drop off in talent has caused the downward spiral of the program.  That suggestion fails to work when you consider that conference winners, TCU, Baylor and K-State have less than a handful of four star recruits between them.

Granted OU could be back more quickly if the Sooners could recruit enough talent to overcome its coaching deficiencies.  Unfortunately, with the Saturday Night Massacre, an 8-5 season and a loss to its state rival as a backdrop this will be hard to do.  No intelligent high school player will want to play for a team whose coaching staff can’t get out of its own way.

So where do we go from here…  

Simply put, it is time for changes to be made… Firing Bob Stoops is not the answer, not that David would ever do that.   To be honest, this move would mean starting completely over.  It is time however for the OU Regents to step in and insist that Bob jettison both Mike and Josh.  Give both a couple weeks to land head coaching jobs elsewhere, a move that would allow the boys to save face.   In any case these guys must go….

Bob then can then hire new coordinators from outside the OU family that can both coach and recruit.  This next move will be a tough one for the insecure Bob Stoops so pressure from the Regents to get it done may be in order.  Bob needs to hire coaches can think for themselves.  Bob could have used this type person Saturday night when he insisted on kicking to Barry Sanders again and again.

If Bob balks to these moves, he will have made his bed and the OU Regents will then be forced to jettison him to the retirement center, hire a new head coach and start over…

Either case works for me…What will not work for me is another football season like this one…

 

Did the Big 12 get this one right…?

I never thought I would say this, but Big 12 officials may have gotten it right this time…Going into last weekend, the Big 12 was on the outside looking in when it came to the playoffs.  What a difference a week makes as Mississippi State goes down to Ole Miss and Ohio State loses its quarterback for the season.   Coupled with TCU’s beat-down of Texas, things are looking up for the Big 12.

The nine game round robin schedule and the lack of a championship game that appeared to be a major liability going into the season may end up being the Big 12’s best friend.   This past weekend, dubbed rivalry weekend by ESPN, Mississippi State was eliminated from the playoffs.  With championship Saturday coming up next Saturday more competitive games are on tap and additional upsets are likely.

Without a rivalry week and championship Saturday to deal with the Big 12 is now sitting in the cat bird’s seat.  My personal Big 12 favorite is TCU, not just because of their coach and their style of play, but also because of their body of work.   Yes, I know Baylor owns the head to head argument with TCU, but TCU has done it the right way.  TCU played a solid non-conference schedule that included a win over a very good Minnesota team.  Baylor on the other hand spent its non-conference time beating up on Division II schools.   Besides all of this, I believe TCU is the better team and that the Horned Frogs will be the better Big 12 representative.

In order to ensure that the Big 12 gets into the big dance, Big 12 fans should root for Arizona, Missouri, Georgia Tech and/or Wisconsin to pull off an upset next weekend.   Just to make sure, hoping that Ohio State with its third string quarterback will struggle against Wisconsin would be a good thing.   If any of these five scenarios happen, the Big 12 should be in the four team playoffs and Big 12 fans will have the round-robin schedule to thank for it.

Who would have believed that this TCU team would go from 4-8 to 11-1 in one year and be just a heartbeat away from the making the playoffs?  Adding to the drama will be the fact that if the Horned Frogs can find a way to win game one, the National Championship game will be just fifteen minutes from campus.

Finally, OU and the rest of the Big 12 have a dog in this fight as well.  A playoff run by a conference team will be a good thing for recruiting.   Bolstering the Big 12 image that has taken a beating of late from the SEC, would be a very good thing.  Five star recruits want to play in conferences that produce National Champions.

This time next week, the college football’s playoff teams will have been announced.  At that point we will know if the Big 12 strategy worked.

Stay tuned…