There’s a new sheriff in town…  

If you are a fan of the underdog the current goings on in the Big 12 should make you very, very happy. Gary Patterson and TCU are taking the conference by storm.   Conference co-champions in 2014 and recruiting champs this year and next.   Back when the conference was breaking up, TCU was T. Boone’s choice to replace A&M.   While most favored Louisville, Pickens held tough and it appears that he should have been more careful about what he asked for.

Pickens believed that playing in the Dallas area would bolster OSU recruiting. While I suspect that he was onto something with that reasoning, he may have underestimated Head Coach Gary Patterson and the TCU leadership.   TCU may end up being more than the Cowboys bargained for.

Neither OU nor OSU realized how quickly the Horned Frogs would make the transition from the Far West Intramural League to the Big 12.   These guys are legit. In many ways the Horned Frogs appear to be a remake of Patterson’s protégé Bill Snyder’s K-State teams. There is one major exception to this comparison however; the Horned Frogs are located in one of the greatest football metro areas in America.

It would be like giving Bill Snyder access to great players every year.   Currently, the boys from Fort Worth have the 13th best Class of 2016 according to Scout.   Making matters worse for Big 12 rivals is the fact that TCU is off to an incredible start for the next recruiting cycle as well. The TCU Class of 2017 is ranked 5th in the country.

Patterson is a lot like Snyder in his ability to get the most out of his players.   If he can win with a ragtag bunch of two and three star athletes, it’s scary to think what he will do with four and five star players. That’s right; TCU is only going to get better with time.

The good news for both OU and OSU is that the Sooners and Cowboys get TCU at home this year. If OU can get off to a great start at Tennessee, I like the Sooners’ chances of handling the Horned Frogs in Norman.

We need OSU to lose to Horned Frogs in Stillwater the same weekend that OU beats Baylor in Waco; ESPN Game Day will then be in Norman for the TCU/OU matchup the next week. Last year’s upset of the Sooners in Fort Worth will serve as the motivation for the Sooners to have a massive game that night.

If this comes to pass, we may have the best of both worlds.   A TCU team that can keep OSU in check and an OU team that can use a resurgent TCU to make a national name for itself.

Boomer Sooner…

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Mission Statement…

As the start of school is upon us I am reminded of those horrific in-service days. Invariably every other year we would have to come up the latest, greatest mission statement as if last year’s was out of date. Teachers wanted to be in their rooms getting ready for the first day of school and administrators wanted to be anywhere else. In any case in response to a question from a reader, I thought I might conjure up some mission statements for OU and OSU.

By examining the financial spreadsheet provided for by USA Today for OU and OSU, it is obvious that the two universities have strikingly dissimilar views of their mission statements when it comes to athletics.

OU sees itself as a landmark university, a beacon of learning. David Boren who graduated from an Ivy League school and as a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford envisions OU as a first class research institution. To that end he has raised millions, if not billions of dollars for campus infrastructure, endowed chairs, and research.  It has worked as OU is on the cusp of being ranked among the nation’s top 100 universities by U.S. News and World Report.

Not wanting to be known as jock school fundraising for athletics has been kept in check. For example the USA Today website reports that over the past ten years OSU donor money has surpassed OU by a whopping $277 million dollars. Even if we take out the T-Boone buyout year of 2006 when he bought the keys to the university for a $215 million dollar donation, OSU has still outdistanced the Sooners by almost $100 million dollars this decade.

Obviously, OSU has a different view of what a university’s mission statement should be. The OSU mission statement is to win football games and beat OU. Unfortunately for OU fans this approach appears to be working. The Sooners are two plays away from losing to the Cowboys four years in a row.  This fact would have been unheard back in the day.   Underscoring the football approach U.S. News and World Report ranks OSU just ahead of West Virginia among Big 12 schools academically, barely inside the top 200.

While it can be assured that T. Boone contributes money every year, he tends to up the ante every other year as bonus payments to the athletic department. After all, someone has to pay for those player-incentive handshakes cited by Sports Illustrated. Overnight OSU has moved from playing at Rustoleum Stadium to Boone Pickens Stadium and now ranks #11 in the country for athletic department revenue. (USA Today)

The OU money is harder to pen down due to its year to year consistency and smaller amounts, but it can be assumed OU contributions have come from thousands of alumni and not one or two individuals. While this should be the favored approach by all universities, in today’s Phil Knight/T. Boone Pickens world this approach makes it hard to keep up with the Jones.

Finally, I think that it is appalling for a state university to sell out to one donor, especially one as incorrigible as Pickens and yes, I don’t want to turn OU into an OSU. At the same time, we need to find a middle ground here. Being outspent two to one by your state rival will not get it done.

OU has raised it academic standards and still each year OU turns away hundreds of prospective students so it is safe to say that Boren has accomplished his academic mission.   Now it is time to show the football program some love.

David Boren with his unbelievable fundraising skills could find ten T. Boone’s overnight if he looked hard enough.   It may be time for Boren to look hard enough.

Boomer Sooner…

OU contributions…

2014       33 m.

2013       34 m.

2012       33 m.

2011       29m.

2010       27m.

2009       14m.

2008       13m.

2007       12m.

2006       11m.

Total…            206 m.

OSU contributions…

2014       37 m.

2013       27 m.

2012       26 m.

2011       27 m.

2010       52 m.

2009       29 m.

2008       55 m.

2007       19 m.

2006       211m.

Total   483 m.

 

 

 

A time for bold thinking…Part II…

As promised, here is my OU wish list for conference alignment ranked in order of preference…

1…Moving to the Pac 12…

2…Moving to the SEC…

3…Conference expansion…

Moving to the Pac 12 would mean joining a legitimate Power Conference. California recruiting has been very good to the Sooners of late. I have long believed that this fact has had much to do with a possible move by the Sooners to the Pac 12. An actual move to the west coast conference would open up the recruiting floodgates for the Sooners to the nation’s most populous state. This move would allow the Sooners to become a top flight recruiting force once again.

From an on-field perspective, the move to the Pac 12 would entail a move by other Big 12 teams including little brother OSU. Add in Colorado, and possibly the Arizona teams and we have an eastern division of the conference that OU could dominate overnight.   Boren was set to make this happen the last time around, but Texas and its Longhorn Network hung up the deal…With the LHN on life-support, the deal could happen this time around.

Moving to the SEC…While the move may scare some, our current course of action should scare those people even more. A move to the SEC would give the Sooners something to sell to Texas recruits once again. By the way this move would likely put us in the same division with former Big 12 members, Missouri and A&M along with OSU, Arkansas and the Mississippi schools. With improved recruiting due to the move, OU could win its division and play in the SEC Championship game within three years.

The expansion of the Big 12 Conference into Ohio and Florida and possibly Colorado…Adding Cincinnati and UCF would open up major recruiting fields overnight. Adding Florida and Ohio recruiting fields would add the 2nd and the 5th most populated states for high school talent.   The talent pool in Norman could be improved dramatically.

If the conference chose to expand to 14 teams, I like the Colorado State move best. Some may dismiss this idea, but the Rams are building a state of the art on campus facility and trust me getting back into the Denver market would be good for OU recruiting. To avoid adding BYU or Boise State, which will do nothing for OU recruiting, we may have to hold fast at 12 teams.

There you have it…A simple template for OU success moving forward…While Bob Stoops was certainly off his game last year, OU fans need to give the guy some credit. It took real courage for Bob to revamp his coaching staff last January. Bob realized that something had to be done to save the program. Now is the time for David Boren and company to take the same approach regarding OU’s future conference alignment.

The OU football program is at a crossroads…Now, is the time for bold leadership…

Boomer Sooner…

It is time for Bold thinking…Part I …

As I’ve pointed in recent posts, OU recruiting is in a rut…Without blue chip players OU will continue to struggle. This downturn can be traced back to the conference alignment phase three years ago and the indecision on this matter by OU officials.

Granted, OU has absorbed other setbacks during this time in the form of stadium expansion indecision, the Frank Shannon/Joe Mixon episodes, the 2015 OSU and Clemson meltdowns and the SAE affair. At the same time we should not kid ourselves into believing that the slippery slope did not begin with conference alignment. All roads or in OU’s case detours lead back to the conference realignment snafu.

Back when everyone was making their beds for future conference alignment, OU Regents abdicated their responsibilities to President Boren. While David Boren systematically screwed up the matter for OU, the OU Regents should have known better.   David Boren has been a one of a kind governor, senator, and college president. He has however failed the test as football president.

Keep in mind that I believe David Boren has done great things for Oklahoma. I also believe that he should have followed his own advice by focusing his attention on his strengths while minimizing his weaknesses. Boren has no business dabbling in football, particularly a game as complicated as college football.

To OU’s credit, most football programs would never be able to overcome a series of salvos that have broadsided the Sooner program of late. Of course the OU football program has a history of overcoming adversity so we should not be surprised that the Sooners are still standing after all of this. Most importantly, I do see a light at the end of the tunnel.

It appears that either David Boren is having a change of heart about OU’s Big 12 situation or else he is getting pressure from donors who may be helping him see the light. Recently, Boren referred to the Texas size elephant in the room, an obvious reference to the Longhorn Network. In the beginning Boren made it clear that any future conference moves by OU would be predicated on taking care of OSU and Texas. Now he appears his tune may be changing at least about Texas.

Like most OU fans I do not want anything to damage the OU-Texas/Cotton Bowl Classic. My suggestions for OU’s future will protect that game   At the same time it is imperative that OU stop allowing Texas to push them around in conference alignment matters.

The next encouraging sign came from a Boren statement where he debunked the myth put forth by Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. Bowlsby has insisted that expanding the conference from 10 to 12 or 14 teams would cost conference teams money.

While math would seem to support his case, Boren is convinced that the opposite would be true. He stated that OU’s would realize more money with conference expansion due to a revised television contract. Of course it is important that we keep in mind that Bowlsby works for the conference and not for OU. As a majority of these guys support the status quo, he will do whatever it takes to sell that deal, to the conference even if that means skimming the top off the truth.

Finally, I know full well that any change of heart on the part of the ultra-conservative David Boren will not come easily.   I also realize that I am not a rocket scientist and surely I am not the first one to see that the status quo is not working for OU.

Call me an optimist, but I believe a paradigm shift in Boren’s thinking may be in the future.  If the Sooners can have a break out season and OU coaches can keep rumors of conference change alive, recruiting could possibly take off after a dismal start.   Better late than never…

In the next blog, I will share my plan for OU’s future…

Recruiting in-state players is a crapshoot…  

Oklahoman…OU football is making a strong in-state push.

Before delving into this story it is important to keep in mind that the sports writers for the Oklahoman are a bunch of sports wannabes.  In high school while athletes were excelling at their individual sports, these guys were writing stories about them.

Nothing wrong with being a Geek… After all, we need the human-interest stories from these guys to make us feel all gooey inside.  At the same time it is important to keep this fact in perspective when reading recruiting stories emanating from these writers.

College football is a complex game, but the game is a piece of cake compared to college football recruiting.  Ryan Abner, a writer for the Oklahoman proved that point recently with his article on Oklahoma high school recruiting.

He asserted in his article that OU’s move to capture more in-state commitments was due to either a renewed focus on recruiting the state or the high number of Division I-caliber players the state was producing.  Unfortunately as you will notice from the Rivals list below, neither of these statements was true.

Traditionally, Oklahoma high school football falls in the middle of the pack when it comes to producing D-I talent, just this side of Colorado.  On occasion Oklahoma will produce a four star player and every decade or so Oklahoma will produce a five star prospect.  Case in point; it has been fourteen years since Oklahoma produced five star lineman, Gerald McCoy.

One issue that drives me bonkers is the assertion by local writers that OU should focus more attention to in-state players, citing the occasional diamond in the ruff that comes from Oklahoma.  Wes Welker-type players are an anomaly that comes along once in a lifetime.  If OU chose to bank its future on gambling on three star-home grown talent the Sooners would be playing in MAC, which is exactly what those teams and that league do.

This year due to scholarship limitations and squad size the Sooners will end up signing around 21 players.   To survive in big boy football, a majority of these players must be four and five star athletes.  Simply put, the Sooners must go outside the state to find big league talent.

Here’s the deal…OU officials have put OU football in a fix with its lack of foresight regarding conference alignment.  Recruiting has suffered as a result and has put the Sooners behind the 8 ball.  We need big time football players regardless of where they come from.  Unfortunately, that help will not come from the Oklahoma high school ranks this year.

The Rivals Oklahoma blue chip list below supports my assertions as we find no four or five star players on this list.   More importantly for OU fans, of the three star players on the list, OU has seen fit to offer only two players.

All players on the list are three star recruits.   Players offered by OU are listed in bold print.

Oklahoma blue chip list…

1…Calvin Bundage (LB)  – Edmond SF – offered by OU and OSU

2…Jon Michael Terry (LB) – Tulsa Victory Christian – committed to OU

3…Rowdy Frederick (OL) – Broken Arrow – not offered by OU or OSU

4…Quan Hogan (RB) – Norman North – not offered by OU or OSU

5…Noah Jones (TE) – Southmoore – committed to Texas Tech, not offered by OU. 

6…Justice Hill (RB) Tulsa Washington – committed to OSU, not offered by OU

7…Micah Wilson (QB) Tulsa Victory Christian – committed to Boise State, not offered by OU

8…Tyler Brown (OL) Lexington – committed to TCU, not offered by OU

9…Terry Wilson (QB) Del City – committed to Nebraska, not offered  by OU

10..T. J. Fialoa (OL) Lawton Mac. not offered by OU or OSU

Enough already…

Okay, I know it’s the dog days of summer in Oklahoma and there is nothing going on including the weather, but do we really need to hear Berry Tramel rehash the Joe Mixon story day in and day out…Berry needs to give it a rest…

Making matters worse is the fact that the latest Tramel story was so full of half-truths and full blown distortions.  Tramel stated in his story that OU officials were withholding the tape of the Pickleman Café incident to distort the truth in the matter.  In reality, the Cleveland County D.A. confiscated the tapes, viewed them and declined to press felony charges against Mixon.  He then returned the tapes to the Café.

Of course Tramel and company would love to play this matter out in the court of public opinion in order to improve t.v. and newspaper ratings.  He has really sunk to an all-time low however by comparing the Joe Mixon episode to the Florida State DeAndre Johnson incident and the SAE affair.

Here’s a thought…How about comparing apples to apples…Joe Mixon made a mistake, paid a severe price for his mistake and should be allowed back on the team.  The SAE kid made a mistake, has paid a severe price and should be allowed back in school.

It takes courage to hold kids accountable for their transgressions, allow them to rehabilitate and then reinstate them with a zero-tolerance policy.    Jimbo Fisher at Florida State took the easy way out as he bowed to pressure that ensued from a released video.  He invoked a life in prison without parole punishment for his 18 year old player.

These are 18 year old kids who like most 18 year old kids do dumb things and in some cases do really dumb things.  To banish a kid for life may impress outsiders who love political correctness, but this approach serves minimal purpose for everyone else.

All college students are works in progress and to cut them off at the knees is totally self-serving for the adults involved.   I can only assume that Saint Berry (Tramel) and Saint Tony (Casillas) were perfect students during their college days so of course they should be allowed to be more judgmental than the rest of us sinners.

I also suspect that these guys are using the Joe Mixon situation for their own personal gain and for this they should be ashamed.

As for me, I am done reading about the Joe Mixon/Pickleman Café saga…I hope the kid has a breakout year on and off the field and proves his detractors wrong.

Go Joe and Boomer Sooner…

Recruiting – the before and after story…  

 

As we know recruiting is the heartbeat of college football and the Sooners have slipped of late in this area.   This is the famous chicken or egg story. Does poor play on field produce a downturn in recruiting or does poor recruiting produce poor play on the field. While both are true for OU, we need to look deeper into this matter to see what is really going on.

Two years ago, the Sooner Nation was on top of the world following the Sugar Bowl. That night also went a long way in producing OU top 15 Class that year. Unfortunately that night and that recruiting class may have been a mirage. We should have seen it coming even then as OU’s top recruits that year were from California and not Texas.

Even then the allure of the SEC was having a negative impact on OU recruiting in the Lone Star state.   The mini-Big 12 Conference now being served up by conference official and seconded by David Boren is fitting in nicely for Texas-based schools with their logistical advantage, but not for OU.

With Texas drying up for OU recruiting, OU is now looking to other states to fill the bill, but this can be problematic as well. To convince a Caleb Kelly to move his gear from Fresno, CA. to Norman is not an easy trick. First we have the west coast schools to compete with not to mention Big Ten schools like Michigan who will convince him that he will be the next Darren Woodson if he becomes a Wolverine.

In all fairness this year’s downturn in recruiting can also be laid at the feet of OU’s coaching turnover. Any time you lose coaches, you also lose relationships that have been built with players. Regardless this year’s “before” picture is the worst I have seen in a long time.

At the same time, a blind man could have seen this coming three years ago when the old Big 12 broke up and OU officials sat on their hands letting everyone else call the shots. Unless things change in hurry both on the field and in OU’s Oval office, OU fans will not see another top five recruiting class in a very long time.

On the positive side, if Boren keeps talking about conference changes and the Sooners recover on the field in 2015 the February’s “after” picture could be much improved.

Don’t get your hopes up to high for this year however. The top 15 ship for this season has sailed. At the same time hope breeds eternal as the Class of 2017 is still out there ready to be plucked.

Below you will see the grisly details of this year’s “before” picture. We will take a look at the “after” picture in February.

Rivals100 Big 12 recruiting rankings with national ranking in parenthesis as of 7/6/15

 

1….Texas Tech (16)

2….TCU (21)

3….Baylor (25)

4….West Virginia (34)

5….Oklahoma State (50)

6….Texas (51)

7….Oklahoma (59)

8….Kansas (77)

9….Kansas State (86)

10…Iowa State (101)

Scout.com – Conference recruiting rankings as of 7/6/15…

1…SEC (1439 pts.)

2…Big Ten (1380 pts.)

3…ACC (1066 pts.)

4…Pac 12 (940 pts.)

5…Big 12 (834 pts.)