Labor Day…

As someone who hates the Oklahoma heat, kind words about an 11:00 kickoff on Labor Day weekend are hard to come by.  Then again, you have to put up with the bad in order to get the good.   The good comes in the fact that we finally have football.

Back at the turn of the century I hated Labor Day.  It meant one more weekend, in this case a long weekend without football.    Thankfully, ESPN and the twelve-game season came along to change all that.   Now we have wall to wall football Labor Day weekend with basically every football game in America available to be seen somewhere on the tube.

I mention the 12-game season to jar the memories of the older members of this crowd that can remember those 10-game seasons back in the day.  I can even remember not having football until the 2nd week in September.  For a Sooner fan that used OU football and his transistor radio to survive life on the farm these were brutal times.

In any case, here we go…Like I have said before, this team may be a year away, but this year will go a long way in determining the future of the Lincoln Riley era.

Boomer Sooner…

 

 

 

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Bad teams…

Occasionally, I am reminded of the bad old days…the days of Gomer Jones, Schnellenberger, and John Blake.   I remember a friend telling me back during Blake days that some teams never recover.  He was right…we were that close to becoming permanent members of the outhouse list.

Think of this…the time between Barry and Bob was almost exactly ten years.   I believe that if OU had not pulled the plug on Blake when they did and hire Bob Stoops the recovery of the program may not have happened.  Coincidently, the time between Mangino at Kansas and today has been almost exactly ten years.

Mangino’s 2007 team was a National Championship contender at 12-1.  Today, they are ranked as the 4th worst team in FBS.   I believe that if KU does not win more than two games this year, they will become permanent members of the outhouse list. 

Ryan McGee who is a college football beat writer at ESPN comes up with a bottom ten list every week during the football season.  As you might imagine Kansas is on his list.   I am going to borrow his bottom ten list this week and provide some thoughts.   By the way, with 130 colleges playing FBS football these days, it is really hard to make the bottom ten list.

The three worst teams in America come from Conference USA. Those teams are UTEP, Rice and Charlotte (NC).  That is one lousy football conference.

#4 on the list is our beloved Kansas…three wins in three seasons. I must say that I believe that Kansas has a chance to be better this year.  This will be the first time in half a decade that the Jayhawks will have a full roster of scholarship players.

#7 Liberty Flames or as Ryan McGee calls them the Liberty Flameouts. How did this bunch ever beat Baylor in Waco last year?   By the way, in order to fill out there schedule, Liberty will be playing a home and home series with New Mexico State this year.  That is just too weird.

#8 Oregon State…I mention this one because the in-state OSU team could not wait to get the Beavers on their schedule. The instate Aggies will be playing the Oregon Aggies in a home and home series the next two years…This is Mike Holder’s idea of stepping up the schedule by scheduling a Power Five Conference team.  Mike Gundy is a scheduling genius.

Kent State and Coastal Carolina beat out a bunch of MAC Conference losers to round out the rest of the bottom ten. Talking about lousy conferences, the MAC just goes through the motions.

The moral of this story is that the distance from the outhouse to the guest house is not as far as one might think.   Many of us have experienced the outhouse days in football and we never want to go back there.  As for KU, they have one last shot at avoiding becoming a permanent member of the outhouse list and this year is it.

 

Bad coaching moves…

I  have listed several suggestions below, but my favorite is Ed Orgeron at LSU.

The LSU leaders must be as dumb as a bag of rocks.  First they fire Les Miles in mid-season two years ago.  Like most people, I don’t like the guy, but cutting your nose off to spite your face won’t make the guy more likable.  After all, Les took LSU to two National Championship games during his time there and won one.  They compounded this Aggie move by hiring Ed Orgeron as interim coach.

Orgeron has never won anywhere he’s coached so why the SEC.   Making an assistant coach the interim head coach in the middle of the season is an athletic department’s cardinal sin…it almost never works out.   Invariably players rally around the interim coach placing pressure on the administration to take off the guy’s interim badge at the end of the year.  On cue, this is what happened at LSU.

Now they are stuck with the guy and his $5 million dollar yearly contract not to mention a huge buyout clause.  All of this while they are still paying Les Miles for his $12 million dollar buyout deal.  Look for this to happen next at LSU.  This year the Bayou Bengals will go 7-5, possibly 6-6 after a 7-5 season in 2017.  This will not be near good enough for LSU’s rabid fan base.  The administration will pay Orgeron a ton of money to go away and then start a coaching search that will make the A&M search look silly.

The players love Orgeron and LSU will always have a ton of great players, but he is in over his head at LSU.  The guy will be on life support by season’s end which will mean LSU will be have to pay the guy millions of dollars to buy out his contract.  Next, LSU will scour the nation to hire the latest great coach.  If you think Jimbo Fisher’s $75 million/ten year deal at A&M was excessive, Fisher’s contract will look like chicken feed compared to this one.

This time next year, LSU will likely be on the hook for upwards of $30 million dollars a year for former and current coaches…that is insane.

Other notable bad coaching moves…

  • Mike Riley to Nebraska…Nebraska stole him away from Oregon State…enough said.
  • Jim Harbaugh at Michigan…I just don’t see it. After this year, Harbaugh will be 1-8 against rivals Ohio State and Michigan State…as OU fans know this will not do.
  • Pat Narduzzi at Pitt…Pitt competes with Penn State for players and this guy will not get it done. In the guy’s defense, it is as if Pitt leaders have given up on football.  Pitt plays its home games at Steelers Stadium in front of thousands of empty seats…build an on campus stadium.
  • Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech…I bet this guy would like to have a do-over at Tech. Kliff is on life support in Lubbock.  I believe his only hope to become bowl eligible and save his job will be to steal a win against OSU in Stillwater…good luck with that.

Honorable mention…

  • Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee…How can a program like Tennessee not compete for a proven head coach.
  • Herm Edwards at Arizona State…Pro coaches don’t get the recruiting game and seldom make good college head coaches.
  • Urban Meyer at tOSU…this guy is meltdown about to happen.
  • Major Applewhite at Houston…I just don’t like the former Texas quarterback.

 

OU playbacks…

The OU playbacks that air on Fox these days are pretty cool…it whets our appetite for the upcoming season. The playback of the 2012 and 2013 Bedlam games have been particularly special. Those games exemplified Sooner Magic.

Every time I watch the replay of the 2012 game I wonder out loud, how in the world did we win that game.    OSU goes up by 14 right off the bat and by 11 in the second half only to have the Sooners scratch out a win.  The Mike Stoops defense had no clue as to how to stop Joseph Randle and Josh Stewart.

Thankfully, the offense saved the day as Jalen Saunders and Blake Bell saved us in both 2012 and 2013.  In 2012, Jalen Saunders takes a punt back for a touchdown that allowed the Sooners to get back in the game.  Later in the game, Blake Bell runs over two Aggies on a 4th and 1 play with 4 seconds left to send the game into overtime.

In 2013, Blake Bell who was subbing for Trevor Knight hooks up with Jalen Saunders for a touchdown with 19 seconds in the game to sink the Aggie hopes once again.  Both Blake Bell and Jalen Saunders should be in the Bedlam Hall of Fame.

I religiously avoid Bedlam games in Stillwater so I missed the 2013 game, but I was in attendance for the 2012 game in Norman. Winning the game was topped only by the Houdini Act of the OSU frat boys sitting above us in Section 108. They were living it up, verbally abusing OU fans the entire game. I turned around to return the favor after Brennan Clay ran over two Cowgirls to seal the win in overtime. Like magic the frat boys had disappeared into thin air.

You would think that after 87 losses to the Big Red, OSU fans would avoid Norman on game days.  This is also why they hate us so much…Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory has become a way of life for OSU fans. That must be a miserable life.

Boomer Sooner…

What’s happening in Stillwater – Part II…

Last week I made a point that OSU recruiting may be off a bit this year. This week I would like to offer some thoughts as to why this may be the case.

Theories…

  • Shelf life of head coaches…Gundy may have outlived his. Motivation is hard to come by when a person is guaranteed a life time contract that pays $5 million dollars.  The Mullet man is a rock star in Stillwater with a Mount Rushmore size ego.  It would be easy for anyone to rest on their laurels at this point.

 

  • The arms race… Boone hit the start button on this one some ten years ago and it worked. OSU recruiting took off and this fact produced several ten win seasons.  Unfortunately for the guys in the ugly helmets, the rest of the league has caught up.
    • Every Big 12 team with the exception of Kansas has made major facilities improvements since that time.  While the evidence can be seen everywhere, Iowa State may be the best example.  Iowa State made major improvements at the beginning of the Matt Campbell era and the Cyclones are currently ranked 3rd in the Big 12 and #25 nationally in recruiting.  I really thought hell would freeze over first…facilities and fan support does matter.

 

  • Conference realignment…conference realignment appears to be cutting two ways for OSU, both of which are bad. First, competing in Texas, the primary recruiting ground for OSU means competing with the SEC.  SEC teams have basically set up shop in Texas to entice players to leave the state for the SEC.  It is hard enough for OU to overcome the mystique of the SEC; it is next to impossible for OSU to do it.

 

  • Since Texas A&M’s  move from the Big 12 to SEC, the Aggies have dominated Texas recruiting.  Texas will always get its share of Texas high school talent due to its proximity to this talent..  Same goes for the other Texas Big 12 teams and OU.  TCU is doing really well in the Dallas metro-plex area.   Baylor with its location smack dab between the fertile Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston recruiting fields is cleaning up as well.   Even Texas Tech and Houston are out recruiting OSU in Texas this year.  This is not a good sign for Cowboy fans.
  • According to Rivals here are the conferences and teams with commitments from the 37 five and/or four star recruits from Texas that have committed to teams so far.
    • SEC (17) A&M (12), LSU (2), Arkansas (1), Ole Miss. (1), Vanderbilt (1).
    • Big 12 (13) OU (6), Texas (4), Tech (1), Baylor (1), TCU (1).
    • Other Texas teams – Houston (1).
    • Other national programs (6) Ohio State, Arizona, Notre Dame (2), Illinois, and Stanford.

 

  • National exposure…ESPN runs college football these days. While the Big 12 competes for fan attention during the day, SEC teams dominate prime time.

 

  • Oklahoma high school talent…This one may be missed by many observers, but it is huge. Oklahoma does not produce a lot of big league talent.  As a result, OU with its brand name focuses it attention nationally.  In the past OSU has taken advantage of this situation by picking up its share of in-state talent.   It appears that at least for this year that Arkansas with new coach Chad Morris may filling this void.  This is the latest 2018 Oklahoma high school recruiting results.
    • Five-star player – Daxon Hill – Michigan or Alabama.
    • Four-star players – Arkansas (1) Texas (1)
    • Three-star players – OU (1) Nebraska (1) TCU (1), OSU (1)

As I said before, Mike Gundy needs Hawaii transfer Dru Brown to become eligible to play this week.  Gundy must then turn in his best coaching performance in years.   Otherwise, next year’s recruiting class may end up looking like this one which will make Gundy really glad he signed a lifetime contract.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pressure is on in Stillwater…

Mike Gundy parlayed his flirtation with Tennessee to a life time contact that now earns him almost $5 million a year.  That’s the good news for OSU fans.

The bad news is that OSU fans will inherit a team minus the best of set of triplets since Gundy was the quarterback back in ’88.  More importantly, the Rudoloph/Washington combo that was good for at least one long bomb every game is gone.  Those bombs allowed the Cowboys to win the close games against good teams.

In the latest ESPN preseason poll, college coaches have pegged the 2018 team as the 25th best in country.   Give Gundy credit, his teams have a history of overachieving which is due in larger measure to his swagger.  The problem with bravado is that the lack of success can create doubt that will become contagious with the fan base and with the players.   Subsequently, I believe 2018 will be the biggest year in the Mullet man’s OSU career.

Apparently, recruits have missed the top 25 OSU ranking.   According to the latest Rivals rankings OSU ranks #7 out of the ten teams in the Big 12.  OSU is ranked #50 nationally by Rivals.  Not even Robert Allen, the ultimate OSU homer can make that picture look good.

A Christmas in September may be the key for OSU.  If the Cowboys can beat a very good Boise State team and secure the commitment of five star recruit Dax Hill, the Teflon man will dodge the bullet once again.

We will know a lot about this OSU team and the future of the program by the end of September.

Stay tuned…I’ll keep you advised.