Good News…Message Boards light up after OU loss to Michigan State in Sweet 16…

Apparently, OU basketball is back as fans ripped into Lon Kruger and the Sooners after losing to Michigan State Friday night.  A program that was left for dead just four years ago has Sooner fans up in arms after the loss.

How is this good news you may ask…For a program left for dead just a few years ago, irate fans make us realize that OU basketball is alive and well.   Long the step child of OU football and left in the wake of Thunder basketball many fans thought the program had been dropped.

After the Jeff Capel debacle, Joe C. worked his magic and coaxed Lon Kruger away from his Vegas retirement home to coach the Sooners.  People in the know believe Kruger to be one of the best coaches in the business.

Let me see, from a comatose state four years ago to two tournament appearances the past two seasons, to a Sweet Sixteen finish in his fourth year.  If my math is correct, the next step will be the Elite-8 in year five and then a move to the Final-Four in two years when all-world point guard Payton Pritchard arrives in town.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have seen OU speed things up a bit by hitting the Elite-8 level a year early, but I have also become more realistic with age.   From what I could see this year Kruger was pretty much playing short-handed all year with no bench to speak of.  His starters were nice players, but not Kentucky or Kansas type players.

Adding to my cup half full argument is the fact that we had a real chance at beating one of best coaches in America.  This guy is simply the master of preparing his blue collar players to play ugly basketball, a brand that can frustrate the best of teams.   His defenses practice the one shot and done style to perfection.   That style puts a lot of pressure on offenses.

Most importantly, OU was in this game to the bitter end and with a break or two could have come out the victor.

For the message board ranters, I would encourage them to take a look up north as the other state program is taking on water faster than the Titanic.  I would also encourage them to remember how far this program has come.

As I said before, I like where this team is going and hope that the University will eventually reward Lon Kruger and loyal OU fans with new digs.  At that point, the sky will be the limit…

Boomer Sooner…

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Big 12 Expansion…               

Three years ago everyone thought that Texas A&M and Missouri officials were smoking crack when they decided to leave the comfy confines of the Big 12 for the SEC.  As we know the move worked out pretty well for both the Aggies and Tigers.

That was about the time that David Boren hogtied the Sooners for permanent membership in the Big 12 citing the need to take care of little brother in Stillwater.  In time, the conference expanded to ten teams with West Virginia and TCU coming aboard.   In any case, King David has spoken and until Texas decides to make a mess of things by bolting for somewhere else, we are stuck with a conference that is currently on the outside looking in when it comes to college football playoffs.

While I was never a fan of joining the SEC, I was excited when it appeared the university might take a look at the Big Ten or Pac 12.    The thought of joining other Oklahoma and Texas teams to form a western division of a Pac 12 mega-conference was extremely appealing to me.   Of course that was then and this is now and we are stuck with the undersized Big 12.  Another year or two of sitting out the playoffs may change all that…Of course being proactive is not in our DNA so this may take a while, but still let’s look at some options…

Here are some possibilities…

…..SMU

…..Houston

…..Colorado State

…..Boise State

…..BYU

…..University of Central Florida (UCF)

…..Cincinnati

Houston and SMU have been tossed around by some as possible additions.   The combined population of the Dallas and Houston metropolitan areas is 13 million people or four times that of the entire state of Oklahoma.   Adding more television sets could come in handy at contract negotiations time.  The move would also make logistical sense.

There are two reasons why this move will not happen.  First off, these schools have done nothing to lay the ground work for playing big-boy football.    TCU spent ten years and three conferences moves preparing for the move to the Big 12.  The other reason is that the other Texas schools would never go for it.

Odds for one or both = 10%

…My personal favorite for expansion is Colorado State.    CSU would give Sooner fans one more excuse for a trip to the Rockies.   Additionally, there is currently no real college football being played in Colorado.  This means that 6 million new, pot smoking customers would be created overnight.   Fort Collins would go nuts…

Here is my favorite OU reason.  There was a time when OU mined the State of Colorado for football talent.  Finding recruiting gold outside Oklahoma and Texas has become a must for the Sooners and this new recruiting territory would be a huge help.   CSU also plays a solid brand of football that would provide northern schools a regional rival.

Odds = 40%…

…Next, we can lump BYU and Boise State together as westward expansion possibilities.  Personally, I am not keen on either, but I think realistically these choices will be given legitimate shots by conference officials.   Both play excellent football and would compete almost immediately.  The drawback for both would be the two thousand mile distance from Morgantown, the Morman-sized egos, and yes, BSU’s blue carpet.

Odds = 55%…

…Finally, this leaves what I consider to be the two most likely options.  The University of Central Florida (UCF) and Cincinnati…These two teams would both jump at the chance to join the ranks of big boy football.    Both teams play a solid brand of football already and both are located in huge television markets.

Logistics could play a part as well as both these universities are located in the same time zone as West Virginia.   Possibly, the greatest advantage for Big 12 schools and yes, OU would be recruiting.   The states of Florida and Ohio produce the nation’s 2nd and 5th  highest number of D-I football players in America every year.  Bringing some of those players to Norman would be sweet.

Odds = 65% for UCF and 75% for Cincinnati…

The Big 12 has two more years to make the current ten team round robin format work.  If the Big 12 does not make the final four tournament in the next two years, expect conference expansion to occur… Never hurts to plan ahead…

This too shall pass…

The recent SAE incident will most assuredly create an additional challenge for the Sooner football team.  As the media is prone to do, the entire university and its football team will be painted with the racist brush.  It can also be assured that the 24/7 cable news industry will make sure that the story dies a slow death.  Eventually, the story will go away as this too shall pass, but in the meantime, let’s look at its possible short term damage to recruiting.

The timing of the SAE incident could not have come at a worse time, occurring the weekend of OU’s second junior day.  As some of America’s top high school football players were returning to their hometowns from a weekend in Norman the video was going viral.

How much damage will be done to recruiting will not be known for quite some time, but the short term impact can be seen by the latest commitment lists.  In addition to losing a four star recruit last Monday, the Sooners have also seen no production from junior day.

While some may sluff this off as overkill, a look at the Rivals leader board tells another story.  Currently for the Class of 2016 the Sooners have two commitments, one a three star player and one with no stars by his name.   Combining the SAE video with the fact that the Sooners were already behind due to offseason staff changes has created a double whammy for Sooner recruiting efforts.

Nationally, five teams have ten (10) or more commitments with Miami’s nineteen (19) leading the way.  Thirteen other football programs have five (5) or more commitments.  OU with its two (2) commitments ranks 37th.  By the way, thirty six (36) of the nation’s top 100 players in the Class of 2016 have already committed to a football program.  In other words Bob Stoops’ task of bringing the Sooners back which was already monumental just got tougher.

Eventually the cable channels will tire of the story and leave town, but the short-term damage will be done.  The upside in all of this will be the aggressive manner in which David Boren handled the incident.   Stoops and company can sell recruits on this fact.   If I were Bob Stoops I would have t-shirts made up of the Sooner football team walking arm in arm on Owen Field.

One thing is for sure.   From a practical standpoint, the best thing that the Sooners can do to put this whole mess behind us is to win, win, win…With a breakout season in 2015, this issue and every other challenge facing the Sooners will become distant history.

If the Sooners turn things around in 2015, the Sooner recruiting machine will recharged and flipping these players from somewhere else to Crimson and Cream will be in vogue.

Today’s Rivals list will present the before case of the before-and-after story.

Commitment numbers as of 3/15/15…

Miami (19)

Kentucky (14)

Florida State (12)

Mississippi (10)

Mississippi State (10)

Western Michigan (10)

LSU (8)

TCU (8)

Ohio State (7)

Georgia (7)

Clemson (7)

Baylor (7)

Louisville (7)

NC State (6)

Virginia Tech (6)

BYU (5)

Duke (5)

Auburn (5)

Tennessee (5)

Alabama (4)

Penn State (4)

Texas A&M (4)

Florida (4)

Oregon (4)

Rutgers (4)

West Virginia (4)

USC (3)

UCLA (3)

Maryland (3)

Nebraska (3)

Virginia (3)

Minnesota (3)

Boston College (3)

Oklahoma State (3)

South Florida (3)

South Carolina (3)

OU (tied with eleven other teams with 2)

Final-four playoff recruiting results…

As Barry Switzer once said talent wins championships…College football’s most recent recruiting classes will go a long way in determining who plays in future college football playoffs.   Final four teams based on 2015 returns give us the following final-four playoff predictions…

1….SEC

2….Pac 12

3….ACC

4….Big Ten

t5…Big 12

t5…Notre Dame

1…Using the Rivals100 rankings, the SEC will continue to dominate college football and future final-four football playoffs.  Eleven (11) of sixteen (16) SEC Conference teams were ranked in the final top twenty five.   Only one SEC team league team was ranked lower than #35.   Things will only be getting worse for SEC-haters as the league will be loaded from top to bottom for years to come.

2…The Pac 12 appears to be the league on the rise.   The Pac 12 Conference had five (5) teams make the top twenty five list.   While UCLA, Oregon and Stanford have recruited well in recent years, the Arizona schools are now catching steam as well as an invigorated USC.   With USC coming off probation the Trojans recruited what most observers believe was the nation’s top class.  USC signed ten (10) of America’s top 100 players.

3…With the nation’s #3 and # 4 ranked teams in Clemson and Florida State the ACC with three (3) top twenty five teams gets the nod as the third best playoff conference.   The Miami Hurricanes already have 18 commitments for the Class of 2016 so this league is only going to get stronger.

4…Next we have the Big Ten.  Ohio State under Urban Meyer is now in a reloading mode.   With Jim Harbaugh joining the fray at Michigan this league will only get stronger with time.  In 2015, the league had three (3) top twenty five teams.

t5…The fifth spot in the final-four merry go round is up for grabs between the Big 12 and Notre Dame.   With the Longhorns and Sooners leading the way, the Big 12 did pretty well last year.  What hurt the Big 12 was the fact that last year’s favorites Baylor and TCU did not recruit nearly as well as expected.  I suspect that this may change next year as TCU takes advantage of their newly discovered big boy status.

t5…Last and hopefully least is Notre Dame.  While Notre Dame’s class at #11 was slightly ahead of OU and UT, I just could not force myself to rank the Irish ahead of the Big 12 Conference.  The good news for Notre Dame-haters is the fact that with their rigid academic standards and brutal schedule that now includes ACC teams to go along with Stanford and USC every year, the Irish may be held back a bit.

Rivals100  top twenty five classes…National ranking in parenthesis…

SEC = 11 – Alabama (2), Tennessee (5) Auburn (6), Georgia (7 LSU (8), Texas A&M (10),

Mississippi State (16), South Carolina (19), Ole Miss (21), Florida (23), Arkansas (25)…

Pac 12 = 5 – USC (1), UCLA (13), Oregon (17), Stanford (18), Arizona State (20)…

ACC = 3 – Clemson (3), Florida State (4), Va. Tech (24)

Big Ten = 3 – Ohio State (9), Penn State (15), Michigan State (22)

Big 12 = (2) – Texas (12), OU (14)

Notre Dame = 1 – (11)