There is only one Oklahoma…

This is one of those times when we have to be reminded of this fact.  We knew going into the Alabama game that beating these guys would be a major stretch.   With the Notre Dame/Clemson blowout serving as a pregame show, we knew we were headed for a train wreck, but we couldn’t help ourselves, we had to look.

I thought going into the game that the 14 point Vegas spread was a pretty good estimate of our chances… after all these guys do this stuff for a living and yes, this was Alabama.  My hope was to beat those odds.   At 28-0, I was craving that 14 point spread.  I was concerned that we might be in for another bloodletting like we have seen in bowl games in previous years.  Getting over those losses seemed to take forever.  We can recover from this loss.

For OU to get off the mat and lose by only 11 after being down by 28 showed a lot of grit.   I know the typical OU fan will blame the OU defense and be disheartened with this loss, but I implore OU fans to take a step back and think about the challenge of this game and the future of this team.  This team could have crumbled like Notre Dame did against Clemson.  We are also dealing with a new college football landscape with the championship system.

For the foreseeable future there are only a handful of teams that can compete for a National Championship.  In my opinion the National Champion will come from the SEC, Clemson or from Oklahoma.  I say Oklahoma because OU is the only program in America that can recruit the kind of talent to compete with the SEC and/or Clemson.   A quick look at this year’s recruiting rankings will bear me out.  The top four teams in this year’s Rivals rankings were from the SEC with Clemson and OU rounding out the top six.

Granted more talent comes out of those states in one year than comes out of Oklahoma in several decades, but we have the OU name that will allow us to recruit Texas and nation-wide.    I don’t see any other program in the country being able to stockpile enough talent to combat the Alabama’s and the Clemson’s of the world.  We can also become America’s team because people will tire of the same old bunch winning this thing every year.

OU will also have to change their mindset about paying assistant coaches.  Quality offensive and defensive coordinators are making $2 million dollars a year these days.  We need to find our own T. Boone to compete against the rising cost of competing in college football’s new normal.

Unlike the day when OU could win a National Championship by beating a weak Florida State team in the Orange Bowl the current challenge will be much more daunting, but I believe that Lincoln can get it done.  We are now recruiting the kind of players that can compete against these teams…we must add hiring top tier coaches to our wish list.

Boomer Sooner…

 

 

 

 

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Embrace the challenge…

If nothing else, I am a realist when it comes to OU football…it is at times like these that this fact pains me a bit. At the same time I am also someone who enjoys a challenge.  As a coach, I hated playing lousy teams…players and teams play to the competition and so I knew a win was going to happen, but my team would not be better for it.  I loved playing teams that would challenge and make my players better.

We may not beat Alabama Saturday night, but this program will be better for it.

After all, with the exception of NFL teams, there is not a team on planet earth more physical than Alabama.  I know this because Alabama has had the pick of the litter over the past five years in the recruiting wars.

I also believe that OU has a chance to play with these guys because of our offense and yes, because we are OU.  Regardless, we need to appreciate where this team has been this year before embracing the Alabama challenge.

This year’s Sooners’ team has over-achieved as much as any group in recent memory.  We started off the season with a brand new quarterback and a bunch of walk-on receivers and a defense coached by Mike Stoops.  Next, our bell cow at running back goes down for the season.  Only an OU team could come back from this.

Top that off with was a ton of games that could have gone either way.  We had to eke out a win at Ames and take Army into overtime, and then we had to squeeze out wins in Lubbock, Morgantown and even against OSU before coming from behind to beat Texas.  In a normal world, there is no way that this team should have made the playoffs…

That is the story that should be appreciated before taking on the Orange Bowl challenge.  In typical Sooner fashion, the future looks brighter than the past.  The Sooners will return a boat load of starters next year while welcoming a top ranked recruiting class.   In the early signing period, OU signed three five-star recruits.  This number may even increase to four by mid-February.

Alabama is still leading the nation in recruiting, but Lincoln Riley is making up for lost time.  Another playoff appearance has gone a long way in making this happen. Beginning in 2019 all bets will be off.

My prediction is that next year, OU won’t play Alabama until the Championship game.  And yes, all bets will be off.

Boomer Sooner…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beat goes on…

OSU is the most penalized athletic program in the history of the NCAA.  From NCAA football scandals that include OSU’s near death penalty in the early 90’s to infractions in other sports too numerous to count.  As we know, all of this goes back to OSU’s little brother syndrome.  We would probably feel the same way if we had lost 88 times to big brother in football.

Unfortunately, for OSU the beat goes on…here is the latest in a long line of OSU athletic department cheating scandals.  This one is playing out at a snail’s pace in the Federal District Court in Manhattan so you may have missed it.  For those of you who may be rusty on your Civics, the Manhattan District Court is the home to Wall Street.  It is also the Federal Court where Federal Government officials prosecute money laundering cases. It is also the Federal Court where information is provided by the FBI.  That’s right we are talking big time here.

This case has been under investigation for a couple years and will not end until next April when final rulings will be levied against Adidas officials, professional agents and college coaches.  The NCAA has stated that they will wait until after all court proceedings are concluded to begin their investigation and render various penalties against athletic programs.

In order to bring you up to speed, let me share the ESPN story from a couple months back.  The Brian Bowen Sr. in this story is the father of Brian Bowen Jr., the high school player from Detroit.  Bowen Jr. was five star prospect who OSU along with other schools was bidding for.   Here’s the story…

{Brian Bowen Sr.: Colleges offered cash, improper benefits for son to attend their schools.

New York—Brian Bowen Sr., is accused of agreeing to a pay-for-play scheme.  Bowen testified that he received $100,000 from Adidas to send his son to the University of Louisville.  By the way it was the case for which Rick Petino got the ax at Louisville.

In a New York criminal court, Bowen Sr. accused a handful of colleges of agreeing to a pay-for-play scheme to basketball at their schools.  He testified that Arizona, Creighton, Oklahoma State and Texas offered him tens of thousands of dollars in cash and other improper benefits for his son to play basketball at those schools.

Bowen Sr. indicated that Arizona coach Joe Pasternack offered $50,000; Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans offered $150,000 cash, $8,000 for a car and additional money to buy a house; Texas assistant coach Mike Morrell offered “to help me with housing:, and Creighton assistant coach Preston Murphy offered $100,000 and a “lucrative job.”}

The Lamont Evans in this case is the same Lamont Evans who was hired as an assistant coach by Brad Underwood a few years back.  He stayed on when Underwood went to Illinois.  He served for a time for  Mike Boynton, the current OSU Head coach.  Brad Underwood appeared to be a great hire three years ago and I wondered out loud why he left Stillwater in such a rush.  Now we know.

This is the latest in a series of sordid events that have emanated from Stillwater over the years.  Early in this decade, T. Boone, Les Miles and Mike Gundy beat the Sports Illustrated “Dirty Game” saga by stonewalling evidence long enough for crimes to outdistance the statute of limitations.  The NCAA may outsmart the guilty parties this time.

The NCAA has stated that their investigation time line will not start until after the FBI wraps up its case in Federal Court.  That’s right the NCAA will allow the FBI to do the heavy lifting which may include several years of information.  Then the NCAA will take it from there as if it were the first day of their investigation.

Finally, if we are lucky the NCAA will focus penalties on repeat offenders.  T. Boone may have his work cut out for him this time.  With no statute of limitations to fall back on and with repeated offenses, OSU most assuredly will get penalties this time around.

Regardless of what happens in this case, the beat will go on in Stillwater…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One and done part II…

You gotta love this OU basketball team.  Same team as last year’s that went belly up late in the season, but this year’s team is having fun and learning how to play as a team.  Last year’s team was all about Trae Young.   During the second half of the season watching a Sooner game was about as enjoyable as watching an episode of the Kardashians.  Fortunately, Trae Young got his multi-million dollar contract and OU fans got a merciful end to the season.

I don’t mean to pile on Trae Young…after all he was simply playing the cards dealt by the NBA and NCAA.  The unfortunate part for OU is that teams that benefit from the “one and done” phenomenon usually have multiple years of these type players.

Unfortunately, OU is not a Kansas, Duke or Kentucky where these type players will come to us year in and year out.   For the most part OU and Lon Kruger will always have to play with 2nd tier players.  Thankfully, Trae Young and last season were aberrations.   The worst part of this story is the fact that OU players on last year’s team basically became spectators who watched Trae Young audition for the NBA.  Essentially, the rest of the team took the year off.

This year’s players are now forced to make up for lost time.  This would not be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that three of this year’s starters are seniors.  This will create a one and done do over.  We all rejoiced when Trae Young decided to bless us with a year of his time, but now that fact is going to bite us in the butt, not once but twice.

I wish this year’s Sooner team had had two years to develop under Lon Kruger’s leadership, but they don’t so we must now ride these ponies as far as they will take us.  The good news is that a good run in the tournament will allow Lon to recruit a bunch of solid recruits that can compete against everyone else’s one and done teams.

Call me a glass half full guy, but I have to believe that the NCAA will wake up one of these days and do something about the “one and done” mess.  When they do, OU with Lon Kruger will be perfectly positioned to be a major beneficiary.

Boomer Sooner…

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Stoops…

The following list was forwarded to me by Dr. Tamage.  This guy has forgotten more OU football history than I will ever know.  While the list can speak for itself, I would like to share a couple thoughts.

The hiccup on the list that will be pointed out by OU fans will be Bob’s lack of National Championships.  This is unfortunate fact because Bob could have easily won several more.  OU played in five National Championship games during the Stoops era.  In fact the 2014 loss to USC was later vacated by the NCAA due to USC recruiting violations.   Trust me if we were OSU, that year would be hanging from Gallagher Iba Arena.

Unfortunately, the chances of Bob ranking high in the hearts and minds of OU fans will forever be unlikely due to this fact.  OU fans have been spoiled by Benny Owen, Bud Wilkinson, and Barry Switzer.  As for Bud and Barry, it is important to keep in mind that these guys put together their winning streaks and National Championships with no scholarship limits.  While Barry was allowed to recruit 60 players a year, Bob has been limited to 25 per year and a grand total of 85 scholarship players on a team at any one time.

Finally, in the end, our greatest thanks to Bob should be the manner in which he recruited Lincoln Riley to be the next, great OU coach.  At a time when various programs are firing head coaches and having to start over, the transition from Bob to Lincoln was golden.  On average, a successful move from one head coach to another will take 3 to 5 years to bear fruit.

OU fans know full well that in certain cases, this wait can be painfully longer.  We wallowed in a football’s wasteland for 10 seasons between Barry and Bob.  Many of us were beginning to wonder if we would ever see the light of day again.

Bob Stoops saved OU football and made sure we did not have to endure a 2nd hiatus from the college football game.  OU football has been made secure for the foreseeable future thanks to Bob.  Let’s take another look at the Bob Stoops era by the numbers.

  • 1 National Championship
  • 4 Heisman Trophy winners
  • 7 BCS/Playoff appearances
  • 9 Heisman Finalists
  • 12 Big 12 Rings
  • 20 Straight Bowl games
  • 44 – 1st team All-Americans
  • 81% winning percentage
  • 87 NFL draft picks
  • 123 straight sellouts
  • 1 smooth as glass transition to the next great OU coach.

Boomer Sooner…

 

 

 

 

 

 

UCF

Every year we go through this same debate…does a mid-major team deserve to be in the playoffs.   With UCF defeating Auburn last year, this debate was intensified.   With UCF facing off against LSU in another New Year’s Six Game this year, we can expect this discussion to become even more intense over the next month.   Here’s my issue with this argument…Auburn last year and LSU this year were not and are not playoffs teams either.

My second argument is that UCF can go toe to toe with fellow AAC members like Memphis and Tulsa, but would finish in the bottom half of a Power Five Conference.  Jan. 1 bowl games should not be confused with playoff games.   I’m a firm believer that a college football team will play up to their competition and that in bowl games, the teams with the most to gain, play the hardest.

For evidence of this fact we should remember the 2013 Sugar Bowl game when Alabama laid an egg against OU.  Alabama had just been beaten by Auburn and in doing so lost out on a playoff berth.  The Crimson Tide barely showed up for the game while OU who had grown tired of SEC smack talk was on a mission from God.

This same thing happened in last year’s Sugar Bowl and will likely occur in this year’s Fiesta Bowl.  In both cases, UCF will be the beneficiary.  After a 29-0 smack down last month to Alabama that ended their playoffs hopes, LSU has not been the same.  UCF on the other hand will come into the game totally focused and on a mission to represent the little guys.

This time of the year, all we have left are bowl games, but we have to be realistic about their importance to players and teams.  These games basically exist for fan and donor enjoyment.  For the most part players could care less except in the case of a mid-major team like UCF.

Now for my guilt ridden admission; I will be rooting for LSU against UCF.  While I hate LSU as much as the next guy, I have really grown tired of hearing about the UCF winning streak.  Give me a break…these guys won twelve straight this year to add to their 25 game win streak by playing a mid-major schedule.  If you want to run with the big dogs get off the porch.  That’s right schedule Power Five Conference teams.

In the end, the real issue here is about the credibility of winning streaks.  OU has winning streaks of 47, 31, and 28 games, all of which span more wins that the current UCF streak of 25.  I take these OU win streaks personally and don’t want some Johnny come lately to threaten any of them.

Enough already about the UCF win streak…

 

 

So you’re saying there’s a chance…

This is one of my favorite “Dumb and Dumber” lines when Jim Carrey thinks he has a 1 in a million chance to get the girl.  This was the case for Kyler Murray before last Saturday’s game.  With his performance in the OU/Texas game his Heisman Trophy stock has risen dramatically.  At the same time the horses are not in the barn just yet.  Here is why I say this.

While the ESPN sports writers have Kyler on top at this point, I can assume that all of those guys saw Saturday’s games.  Even then, the margin is only two first place votes versus two second place votes for a margin of 46 to 44.  That is cutting this deal pretty close given the fact that we can reasonably assume all ten of these guys know what they are talking about.

My concern is that a certain percentage of the 870 Heisman voters will have turned in their Heisman ballots prior to Championship Saturday.   Sounds horribly irresponsible for this to be the case, but I suspect that the Heisman committee is not watching this process as closely as we are.  For those voters who missed the OU/Texas and Alabama/Georgia games they missed the defining moment of this year’s Heisman race.

Tua looked like a guy being pressed by the competition.  Kyler looked like the guy who relishes playing against the big boys.  His touchdown passes to CeeDee Lamb and Grant Calcaterra were off the charts good.  Of course his passing was matched only by his ability to use his feet to avoid tacklers.  And of course as OU fans know, he has played this way all year.

I think Kyler has a great chance of making history on Saturday and OU football has a great chance of doing the same.  OU will be the first team in college football history to have back to back Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks.  I know that Army won the Heisman two years in a row back in the 40’s, but we are talking the quarterback position here.

At the same time, don’t be surprised for reasons stated above that Kyler does not win the honor.  As someone said, stupidity cannot be cured and voting before all the games are played would quality for that award.

Regardless of what happens on Saturday night the Kyler Murray story will still go down as one of the greatest of all time.  The guy delays his professional baseball career a year in order to play for the Sooners in football.  Can you imagine Trae Young doing this…not a chance.  Kyler is a different animal and Oklahoma fans should appreciate this fact.

Pray for Sooner Magic on Saturday night…but regardless of what happens, Kyler Murray is a special breed of kid who deserves our eternal gratitude.

Boomer Sooner…