The decline and fall of the NCAA = OSU sanctions…

The NCAA as a governing body is a lot like the federal government.  Everybody hates them until they are needed…As college football fans; we need the NCAA more now than ever.  Doing things the right way has become an afterthought on many college campuses and cheating has become a way of life.  At OSU with the fox living in the hen house, the game we love is in peril.

The recent slap on the wrist given to OSU after years of drugs, sex and cheating reinforces this fact.  While the Oklahoman has downplayed the Sports Illustrate Dirty Game allegations in order to salvage its fledgling paper, don’t kid yourself.  When there is that much smoke there is plenty of fire.

The fact that many of the allegations were outside the investigative window does not lessen the despicable approach to the game taken by OSU over the last decade.  OSU used drugs, sex, and cheating to get a leg up on the competition and unfortunately for the rest of college football, it worked.

I think that the most bothersome part of the SI story was Les Miles and Mike Gundy serving as pimps for the Orange Pride escort service.  These guys auditioned coeds who were chosen, not based on their charm, to show recruits a good time.

As we know there is not enough beer in the world to make Stillwater look good, so these girls had to use other talents to make OSU attractive to football recruits.  This is the height of moral indecency and for the NCAA to give Les and Mike a pass on this one is simply inexcusable.   While the escort service has been disbanded by the NCAA as part of the recently announced sanctions, the spoils of that despicable system did its job by stepping up the level of football talent at OSU.

This fact is further evidence that the NCAA as a governing body is on life-support.  Costly lawsuits have landed the NCAA on the verge of bankruptcy.  Only an infusion of capital from the very colleges that may someday be investigated by this organization will save the NCAA.  My faith of this happening is waning.

Take OSU for example…As soon as the Dirty Game story hit the newsstand, T. Boone was on the phone setting up offices in Indianapolis for his legal team to move into.  Simply put the NCAA cannot match the bottomless pockets of a billionaire like T. Boone when it comes to legal expenses.

An additional downside for OU fans is that with David Boren in charge, breaking the rules has become a thing of the past.  This means that the OU football program must be twice as good and work twice as hard to compete against the cheaters of the college football world.

If you notice a plot line here, you are right.  Little brother programs like Auburn and OSU that have a hard time competing against their more established state counterparts have always found a way to beat the system, cheating… The penalties handed down on Friday indicate that the NCAA has become complicit in this sordid affair.

Is there a silver lining in this cloud, probably not…After all, cheating in football has paid off handsomely over the years for a number of teams and with an impotent NCAA in place, don’t expect this pattern to change anytime soon.    Expect the Auburn’s and OSU’s of the college football world to continue to generate winning seasons through ill-gotten means.

At the same time we can only hope that good will prevail over evil once again and college presidents will take a cut from the billions earned via the college football playoff to prop up the NCAA.   While it may be too late to punish OSU, the college game can still be saved.

Regardless, OU fans can always relish in the fact that winning a few football games will never improve the OSU image.  After all, a pig in lipstick is still a pig.  Playing 2nd fiddle to the Sooners will always be the OSU albatross and for this we must give thanks.

Boomer Sooner…

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“Way-Too-Early” Rankings…     

After the season from hell, this offseason has been one of the longest in OU football history.  The 2015 season cannot get here soon enough. For Sooner fans in particular and college football fans in general using summer football magazines can help make summers bearable.

Of course those magazines are another two months from hitting the newsstands.   To help us deal with this time of the year, I turn to Phil Steele.   For football junkies Phil Steele provides his readers with a list of returning starters for every team in America.

By combining this list with coach rankings and home schedules, one can make an educated guess about how Big 12 will start the season and more importantly where these teams will rank at the end of the year.

Areas in order of coverage…

1…Returning starters…

2…Coaching staff rankings…

3…Favorable schedule…

4…Predicted Big 12 finish…

 

1…Returning starters by Phil Steele

Team            Rank               Starters…

Baylor (t1) 17 returning starters…8 offense/9 defense, no returning quarterback…

Texas Tech (t1)  17 returning starters…9 offense/8 defense, includes returning QB…

OSU (3)  16 returning starters…8 offense/8 defense, includes returning QB…

Iowa State (4)  15 returning starters…6 offense/9 defense, includes returning QB…

TCU (t5)  14 returning starters…9 offense/5 defense, includes returning QB…

West Virginia (t5)  14 returning starters…6 offense/8 defense, no returning QB.

Oklahoma (t7)  13 returning starters…7 offense/6 defense, includes returning QB.

Texas (t7)  13 returning starters…8 offense/5 defense, includes returning QB

Kansas State (9) 13 returning starters…8 offense/5 defense, no returning QB.

Kansas (10) 8 returning starters…4 offense/4 defense, includes returning QB.

2…Coaching Staff…        

TCU (1)  Gary Patterson is a master on defense and he has hired quality coaches for his offense…

K-State (2)  Bill Snyder…Enough said…

OU (3)  Revamped coaching staff will produce big time results…

Baylor (4)  Art Briles is an excellent offensive coach.  I still have my doubts about the Bear defense.

OSU (5)  After multiple staff defections, the jury is still out on this staff…

Texas (6)  Charlie Strong’s staff is still a work in progress, but in time it will be top drawer…

West Va. (7)  Dana Holgorsen can coach offense, but must improve his defense…

Texas Tech (8)  Kliff Kingsbury has one more year to make it happen. Staff changes may help…

Iowa State (9)  Paul Rhoads is the reason you do not hire coaches to long term contracts.

Kansas (10Clint Bowen was a quality hire at KU…

 

3…Schedule…

OSU (t.1)  @ Texas Tech, West Va., Texas (2-1)

OU (t.1)  @ Baylor, OSU, (Texas/Dallas) (2-1)

TCU (3)  @ OU, OSU, Tech, K-State (2-2)

K-State (t.4)  @ Texas Tech, Texas, OSU (1-2)

Texas (t.4)  @ Baylor, West Va. (OU/Dallas) (1-2)

Baylor (t.4)  @ OSU, KSU, and TCU (1-2)

Kansas (7)  @Texas, OSU (0-2)

Texas Tech (t.8)  @ West Virginia, Texas, OU (0-3)

West Va. (t.8)  @ OU, K-State, Baylor (0-3)

Iowa St. (10)  @ KSU, Bay, OU, Tech, West Virginia (0-5)

“Way-Too-Early” Big 12 finish…

1…OU Call me a homer, but I believe that Bob Stoops does best when he is backed into a corner.  I predict that the Sooners will be 8-1 when the November trio of Baylor, TCU and OSU roll around.  As we know momentum is everything in football.  I am going with the Sooners in an upset.

2…TCU Outstanding coaching and a big time defense to go along with a solid quarterback, The  problem is that the Frog 2015 road schedule is brutal.

3…OSU This may come as a shock, but I see OSU’s season hinging on its opener against Central Michigan.  Never play a MAC team in an opener, much less on Thursday night.  Win that one and the Pokes will ride a friendly home schedule to a great season, lose and the wheels may come off.

4…Texas Tech In a surprise move I believe that Tech will be the league’s surprise team this year.  I really like what Brent Mahomes brings to the table and I believe the Tech offense will be much improved.  Improved coaching on defense will be the difference maker for this team.

5…Baylor Baylor is getting better athletes these days, but the Bears are still beatable on the road. Defense will continue to be the Baylor Achilles Heel.

6… Texas The Horns are probably a year away, but maybe not…Watch out for this bunch…This team scares me a lot.  If they find a way to win the opener in South Bend, look out…

7…West Virginia The Mountaineers are a year away, but in time Dana Holgorsen will be a difference maker in Morgantown…He is recruiting lights on the east coast.  If the Big 12 continues to refuse eastward expansion, look for Mountaineers to bolt for the ACC within five years.

8…K-State – Bill Snyder coaches on a two year plan…The Cats will be competitive in 2015 and the Cats will upset someone at home this year.  At the same time the Cats are a year away.

9…Iowa State Iowa State is still Iowa State, a team that belongs in the MAC…Iowa State and Paul Rhoads are perfect examples of why long term coaching contracts are a bad thing.

10…Kansas The Jayhawks will be even worse this year than last…I do see improvement in the future however.  It appears that KU officials have finally figured out that winning football games can help fund their basketball program.

 

Spring Sports…

We already know about spring football, so let’s take a look at the other spring sports.

This time last week it looked like OU baseball was dead.  I suspect that the OU coach was setting up Josh Holliday and the rest of the OSU crowd for a major letdown.  Of course fooling OSU people is almost too easy…  Last week an OSU fan in my office was simply beside herself as she had seen her beloved Cowboys drill the Sooners 24-2 in baseball the night before.

Like most OSU fans obsessed with beating OU in anything, she did not understand that mid-week games are pretty much meaningless to college baseball coaches.  Coaches save their pitching for weekend Big 12 series.   True to form the Sooners followed up the mid-week debacle by taking two of three at Texas while the Cowboys lost two of three to lowly Kansas.

Patti Gasso’s softball bunch is headed for the World Series once again.  Her freshman pitcher is going to be something special.  I would not worry too much about highly ranked Oregon or Michigan because I expect their records are inflated.  On the other hand, it would be wise for the Sooners to avoid SEC teams until hitting Oklahoma City in June.   Expect the Sooners to get at least a four seed at the Big Dance and do some damage in the series.

It is hard for me to get fired up about gymnastics, but winning national championships in both men’s and women’s side would be pretty impressive none the less.

Finally, the OU tennis team is currently ranked #1 in the nation.

Give Joe C. credit he has done a great job of putting together an incredibly impressive athletic program.

Boomer Sooner…

Spring Game notes…

There was both good news and bad news at the OU Spring Game on Saturday…The bad news is that Sooner quarterbacks threw four interceptions in 24 plays.  The good news is that OU does not have a game next Saturday.

Beat writers and OU fans need to relax…This is not your grandfather’s offense and it will take some time to work out the kinks.  At the same time, there were plenty of positives to take from Saturday’s game.  Here are a few…

…44,000 fans for a spring game after an 8-5 season…That my friend is Sooner Magic…

…Mike Stoops – calling plays from the press box instead of ranting and raving on the sidelines.   Times have changed and Mike’s old school antics do not work with today’s players…With several recruits in attendance, all the more reason to keep Mike sequestered.

…Dede Westbrook – this guy is a difference maker…He will make OU much better in 2015…

…Samaje Perine – enough said…

…Daniel Brooks – How many teams have a sixth string running back this good…

…Mark Andrews is going to be a stud at tight end…Like night and day from last year…

…Secondary – Defenders were in positon to make plays.  The 2015 secondary will be much improved…

2015 schedule… Even if the team starts off slowly, the schedule sets up perfectly after the Tennessee game for the team to adjust to the new offense and make a serious run at November heavyweights. Check it out…

Akron (1-0)

@ Tennessee (1-1)

Tulsa (2-1)

West Virginia (3-1)

Texas (4-1)

@ Kansas State (5-1)

Texas Tech (6-1)

@ Kansas (7-1)

Iowa State (8-1)

@ Baylor (Nov. 14)

TCU (Nov. 21)

@ OSU (Nov. 28)

Boomer Sooner…

Can an undersized Big 12 really work…  

In an effort to provide you with fair and balanced reporting, let’s take a look at the other side of the conference expansion issue.  Possibly an undersized Big 12 could work…After all history is on the side of the Big 12.

Back in 1971 an undersized Big 8 Conference made it work and then some.  With only eight teams, conference teams played four non-conference light-weights on the way to a seven game conference season.

It worked perfectly in “71 as the move created the greatest conference finish in history of college football.  Three Big 8 Conference teams finished the year 1st,  2nd, and 3rd in the country.

With Nebraska’s game of the century win over Oklahoma, the Huskers finished as national champions.   OU beat the dog out of previously 2nd ranked Auburn in the Sugar Bowl to finish 2nd and Colorado with losses only to OU and Nebraska finished 3rd.

Could “71 be a precursor of success for today’s undersized Big 12? Possibly…Today’s Big 12 is swimming upstream as the conference attempts to right the ship from conference realignment days, a move that caught the conference off-guard and shorthanded, literally…With the other power conferences fielding leagues of 14, 14, 13, and 12 teams respectively, two divisions and a championship game have made them much more attractive to Selection Committee members than the ten member Big 12.

Bob Bowlsy has done a nice job of selling conference presidents, fans and the media on the one real champion jingle, but that suggestion will fall on deaf ears with two more rejection letters.    I suggest that the Big 12 has one, possibly two years to make the current 10 team format work.  If not, it will be back to the drawing board for league officials.  If it works, it will take one of two forms.

The first scenario will be similar to last year with one exception.   A TCU, Baylor or OSU team must use a weak non-conference schedule to provide three non-conference wins.  This move will allow one of these teams to create momentum going into the conference season and possibly an undefeated season.  Of course for this to happen one team will have to beat the other two.

The second option has an OU or Texas team using its stout non-conference schedule (win or lose) and a win over its Red River Rival to build RPI points going into the meat of the conference schedule.  The OU-Texas winner will then run the table and end the season with only the one non-conference loss.  Of course this scenario will be greatly enhanced by strong Notre Dame and Tennessee seasons.

There you have it…An undersized Big 12 can still work if either of these scenarios happen.  Both may seem daunting on paper, but so was the “71 miracle.  While I would not bet my house on either of these solutions, it could happen.

The life of the Big 12 Conference in its current form may depend on it…

Sherry…

After putting out my men’s basketball post recently I had a few Sooner fans suggest that the real basketball issue at OU at this point was not on the men’s side, but instead with the women’s basketball program.   Some have suggested that the women’s basketball under Sherry Coale may have peaked.   It is hard to say, but after 19 years at the OU helm losing a step would seem a logical assumption.  At the same time Sherry is still young and may still have another run in her.

Sherry became the women’s coach at OU in one of the strangest pages in OU history back in 1995.  Sherry was hired away from Norman High School just few weeks after the program had been dropped by OU Athletic Director Donnie Duncan for a lack of interest.  In Donnie’s defense the program was to say the least on life support. The average attendance at OU women’s games the year before Sherry took over at OU was 85.  That was not a misprint; yes during the 1994-95 season, the average attendance at OU women’s games was 85 fans.   It is hard to pay the electric bill with 85 paying customers.

Sherry was hired to do for OU what she had done at Norman High School, win championships.  In those days, Sherry Coale’s Norman High School girl’s teams were phenomenal as Sherry won 90% of her games on the way to two state championships.  I saw her teams play first hand and on many occasions I remarked that her teams could run most boys’ teams out of the gym.

And of course win she did… Within four years of taking the job, Sherry had the Sooners in Sweet Sixteen.   Five years later the Sooners were playing UConn for a National Championship.

Of course that was then and this is now…Ten years later Sherry’s teams are struggling to compete with the best teams in the conference, much less the best teams in America.

In Sherry’s defense, she may have been a victim of her own success as she broke out of the gates so fast that everyone assumed it would last forever.   Additionally, Sherry’s success made her the poster child for the OU women’s sports program, a move that I suspect demanded far too much of her time away from coaching.

I would be the first to say that Sherry has earned the right to stay the course and get the program back to winning championships.  I would also say that from watching Sherry coach for the years, her best attribute is her charismatic personality that lends itself to big-time recruiting.  Sherry will never be a great X’s and O’s coach, but having the best talent has allowed her to overcome that fact.

Helping restore the women’s program will the 21st and 27th best high school players in America coming in the Class of 2016 and the 6th best player the following year.  More importantly, the 21st best player that I mentioned is a 6’9” low post player by the name of Nancy Mulkey.  That was not a misprint. Mulkey is 6’9”and still growing.  Some have called Mulkey the second coming of former Baylor and WNBA phenom. Brittney Griner…

If this works out for Sherry and OU, Mulkey will play the same role that Griner played at Baylor or closer to home that Courtney Paris played for the Sooners on the final-four team a decade ago.

I would not give up on Sherry just yet.  She may have one more run in her…

 Boomer Sooner…