OU wrestling…

There was a time not that long ago when OU fielded outstanding wrestling teams.  Those were the days of Danny Hodge, the greatest Oklahoma high school wrestler ever and Steve “Dr. Death” Williams, the guy who invented Bedlam.  OU also won seven National Championships back in the day.  Those are distant memories now.

Over the past ten years, OU has effectively turned the wrestling program into a club sport.  Now OU wrestling is relegated to finishing behind fellow conference teams teams Northern Iowa and Utah Valley at the national tournament.  That was not a misprint; Northern Iowa and Utah Valley are now members of the Big 12 Conference for this one sport.

Making matters worse is that OU fans must now root for teams outside Oklahoma to win National Championships in wrestling.  Why you say is this case…With OU giving up on the sport, it can be assumed that every Oklahoma high school blue chip prospect in wrestling will choose to attend oSU.

As a result, it is just a matter of time before the Aggies win another National Championship in wrestling, a move that will make the local media wet their pants.    Fortunately, we are off the hook for this year.  Over the weekend, Penn State won its 8th National Championship in nine years.

For me rooting for Penn State is right up there with pulling for the Russians, but then again what alternative do I have.   The good news for now is that we are off the hook for this year as Penn State took home the brass ring for one more year.

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Good news…bad news…

The good news is that in spite of my concerns with this year’s OU team, I picked OU to beat Ole Miss.  Not a big stretch since Ole Miss. was only a one point favorite, but when you are playing for a million bucks this is big time.  The fact that my Sooners won was an added bonus.

In spite of my reservations about this OU team, Lon Kruger schooled Ole Miss.  Anything is better than going one and done.    As we saw in the Virginia game, this team is very limited, but given the fact that three of the starters will be back next year and we have top ten recruiting class coming in, I’m back on board.

I’ve decided to allow Lon to keep his coaching staff and will extend his plan of improvement to two years instead of one.  I’ve checked with Joe C. and made sure he was aware of my decision.

Speaking of weird, apparently, Buddy Hield and Trae Young were both in the house for Friday’s game.  I know that Trae is the media favorite, but there is sure a lot to like about Buddy Hield.  He seemed like the consummate team guy to me.  I am sure that Lon being the nice guy that he is was gracious to both returning stars, but you must believe that in his heart of hearts, he would much prefer Buddy as a player over Trae.

Finally, with my OU pick on Friday, I am still in the hunt for that new car with my bracket.   Well, not really. After the weekend, my percentage according to ESPN is 99% which looks pretty good on paper, but then comes the bad news.  My bracket ranks me at #189,000.  That’s right…I would have a better shot at winning the lottery than playing the ESPN bracket game.

That’s okay; it gives me something to do as we wait for the spring game and the women’s college world series.

Boomer Sooner…

 

 

 

The side door…

Ironically, as the FBI was investigating the play for pay scheme involving Adidas and college basketball coaches they uncovered another play for pay scheme.  This one involved the use of the side door made famous by the rich and famous to get their kids into elite colleges.   What may been lost in translation of this case is that the scandal focuses on athletes use the side door to get into school.

While this story has produced numerous segue issues of crime and corruption, the parents involved used coaches at various private schools to skate around normal admissions requirements. While the media has done a bang up job of covering the rich and famous side of this story, I would like to share the other side.

Every D-I university has a set of academic requirements for students to be admitted to a university.  These same universities, both private and state use the side door to admit 10% of the students who fall below those levels.   The side door can be used by a university to admit children of donors, alumni, celebrities and for that matter your Cousin Eddie.  The side door can also be used to admit athletes.   Here is how this works.

As many of you know from personal experience, a perfect score on the ACT is a 36.  The NCAA allows athletes to be eligible at any D-I school, public or private with a 17 score on the ACT.  At OU the required score for regular admission is a 24.  Players whose scores fall between the 17 and 24 score can be admitted via the side door.

At Stanford the required ACT score for admission is a 32.  While Stanford athletes tend to be extremely smart; there is no way any of their football players could score a 32 on the ACT.  Heck, I can barely count that high myself.  It has been my experience that Stanford coaches do somersaults when their prospective players score a 24 on the ACT.

The NCAA requires D-I member schools to field at least 14 teams.  Okie State has the minimum of 14 teams while OU has 19.  Big Ten universities sponsor as many as 31 teams.   This means that a university can have hundreds, if not thousands of athletes on campus at one time.  Without the 10% rule, this would not be possible.

As you can see, private schools use the sliding scale for its athletes similar to state universities.  This is why a USC can compete for National Championships similar to an OU and Alabama.   Most importantly, without a side door for college athletes; there would be no college sports. We would be sitting around on fall Saturday’s watching Law and Order reruns.

There you have it…the side door from another angle.  May not be a perfect system, but as you can see, this is the cost of doing business in the college sports world.

 

 

When in doubt, fire the help…

The good news is that Joe C. is taking a page from his OU football playbook.  The bad news is that this move may be too little, too late.   Don’t get me wrong, no one in their right mind expected Joe to fire Sherry so as we expected he is taking the easy way out.

Joe has insisted that Sherry send her longtime assistant coaches packing.  I can only hope that the move came with a one year plan of improvement.  I say this because as we know, Sherry does not like change and she most certainly does not like taking advice from others.  I am sure that firing her two assistants with four decades of experience was hard, but watching this team implode over the last several years has been even harder for OU fans.

A short leash is critical for us because Sherry is a different animal than Bob Stoops. The one year plan will help Joe insist that she hires the right people and takes their advice. The plan worked miracles in football, but then again we are talking Sherry here.

I also believe that Joe should turn the heat up on Lon as well.  Have Lon send his staff including his son to the showers and put him on a one year plan of improvement as well.   This team made the NCAA tournament by the skin of its teeth.  As we know from watching these guys all year, we’re not very good.  Let’s get real…this basketball program has just been taking up space for three years and yes bleeding off money that could be going to other sports.

Hey, who knows a year from now, OU can go to Kelvin Sampson with cap in hand, apologizing for his mistreatment the last time around.   Kelvin’s 11th ranked, 31-3 Houston Cougars are looking pretty good these days.   Who knows, OU fans may learn how to pronounce his name this time around.

If I appear to be impatient…I am.  I’m tired of football fans footing the bill for these two programs.  OU is sending millions of dollars down a rabbit hole for these guys.  If we’re not going to take basketball seriously, let’s turn them into club sports and use this money for football, gymnastics and softball.

Let’s start the plan of improvement clock on both basketball programs right now.  One year and counting…

Boomer Sooner…

 

 

 

Great Depression/s…

Outside of football Oklahoma has had few real legends of late.  The state started off like a house afire with the land run, the oil boom, Jim Thorpe and Will Rogers.   Then came the Dust Bowl, the Okie migration and of course the Grapes of Wrath.  We have been fighting upstream ever sense.

OU did its part to help Oklahoma recover from the Great Depression by giving us President George Lynn.   Cross hired Bud Wilkinson who in turn created the greatest team in America for its time.  David Boren was a mere pup sitting in the stands the day Notre Dame snapped the 47 game win streak.  Boren developed a love affair for Oklahoma, as well as for OU football similar to that of Dr. Cross.  He would eventually be asked to help OU overcome Oklahoma’s 2nd Great Depression.

Oklahoma had been torn asunder with the unraveling of the Barry Switzer era.   David Boren became university president and almost immediately fired John Blake and replaced him with Bob Stoops.  He eventually replaced Bob Stoops with Lincoln Riley.

I know from first-hand experience how much Boren hated the Okie migration story. I also know first-hand how much he loved Oklahoma, OU football and the university.  As an Oklahoma fan, it has been painful for all of us to watch the wheels come off the Sooner Schooner since Boren’s retirement.

Regardless of your loyalties to the new guy or the old guy, OU is now in total free-fall. The latest bad news pains me the most.  A year ago, OU was listed for the first time by U.S. News and World Report as a top 100 national university.  Due to the undoing at the university over the past year, the latest Report now lists OU as unranked.

That’s right Oklahoma’s flag ship university now appears to be in the midst of its 3rd Great Depression.  Once again, we need OU football to save the day.

Boomer Sooner…

 

Which came first the chicken or the egg…

This is the age old argument for school administrators.  Some would suggest that an over emphasis in one area can create problems in the other.  I totally understand as I have seen situations where academics did take a back seat to sports.  I have also seen where school administrators would use an over emphasis in sports as an excuse for poor academic performance.

It has been my experience that for the most part excellence in one area tends to create excellence in the other.  The key to success in both areas is creating a positive school environment that makes students want to excel and represent their school in a positive manner.  That’s right excellence can be contagious…

Below I have listed the latest academic performance for 12 metro area high schools as presented by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.   I would suggest that the high schools on the A/B academic list also have outstanding athletic programs.  Conversely, I would suggest that high schools on the C list tend to be bringing up rear in both areas.

Academic grades…                       

  • Edmond Memorial           A
  • Edmond North                  A
  • Norman North                  B+
  • Westmoore                        B
  • Edmond Santa Fe             B
  • Mustang                             B
  • Norman High                    B
  • P.C. North                           B
  • Moore                                 C
  • Putnam City                      C
  • Southmoore                      C
  • Yukon                                 C

 

 

Never too early top 25…Part II…

Here are my thoughts for ESPN’s #11 through #25 “way too early” preseason rankings for 2019.

ESPN’s way too early top 25…

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Georgia
  4. Ohio State
  5. Notre Dame
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Florida
  8. Texas
  9. Texas A&M
  10. LSU
  11. Michigan
  12. Oregon
  13. Washington State
  14. UCF
  15. Syracuse
  16. Washington
  17. Penn State
  18. Utah
  19. Northwestern
  20. Iowa State
  21. Wisconsin
  22. Missouri
  23. Auburn
  24. Nebraska
  25. Army

My take…

  1. Michigan – Harbaugh will finally have a great shot at beating Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State this year. Once this happens, Harbaugh can leave Ann Arbor and return to the NFL, the game he was made for.
  2. Oregon – Watch out for the Ducks…these guys are recruiting lights out and with Phil Knight’s Nike money Oregon will be back sooner than you think.
  3. Washington State – Sometimes good things happen to good guys…after surviving that mess in Lubbock a few years back, Mike Leach is on top of the football world again. The difference now is that he hired someone to coach defense.  Only Mike Leach can win in Pullman.
  4. UCF – This is a tough one to gauge. Some have these guys not losing a step, but I just don’t see it. I believe eventually the team to beat in this conference will be Dana Holgorsen’s Houston team.
  5. Syracuse – With the right coach, the Orange will always be pretty good, but limited east coast recruiting will keep them in check.
  6. Washington – Former Boise Coach Chris Pederson was a great hire at Washington and with USC and UCLA down, the Huskies and Ducks will be moving up the Pac 12 charts.
  7. Penn State – Boring uniforms and boring game…these guys can always draw 105,000 fans for their whiteouts in Happy Valley, but will always be vulnerable on the road. Always good, but never good enough…
  8. Utah – Kyle Whittingham is an outstanding coach for a team that plays in a weak Pac 12 Conference. These guys always perform above their expectation level. How they keep this guy around is hard to understand.
  9. Northwestern – Same thing here…Pat Fitzerald can flat out coach. Northwestern is ranked by US News and World Report as the 10th best academic university in America and that list includes Princeton, Harvard and Yale. Can you imagine Alabama or Clemson winning with those academic standards?
  10. Iowa State – How in the world did Iowa State lock up Matt Campbell through 2023. Iowa State is now the third best team in the Big 12 Conference. It’s only a matter of time before the SEC with its deep pockets comes calling.  My money is on Auburn for Matt Campbell’s next move.
  11. Wisconsin – The Badgers will always be good, but never great…their fans seem to be okay with that.
  12. Missouri – Mizzou realized that they could be just average in the Big 12 or just be average in the SEC. They went with the SEC to pick up the SEC paycheck and better scheduling. Next season the Tigers will play six home games to go along with road games against SEC bottom feeders Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Arkansas.   With Clemson quarterback transfer Kelly Bryant under center, a ten win season could be on the horizon for the Tigers.
  13. Auburn – Ponder on this thought for a moment…Twenty years ago, Gus Malzahn was coaching high school football in northeast Arkansas making $50,000 a year.  Today, he has a $40 million dollar buyout clause at Auburn.  This guy is living the American dream.
  14. Nebraska – First off, let’s agree that Nebraska leaving the Big 12 was the right move for the Huskers.  They were not married to Texass or OSU like we are.   I also think that Nebraska can be pretty good again.   Big Ten scheduling will help as Nebraska will not play Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State next year and will play the other conference heavy weight Ohio State at home.  Look for a big year for Scott Frost and Nebraska in 2019.
  15. Army – As you know I’m an Army fan. I also must say that I saw the Army resurgence coming several years back…West Point lowered its academic standards for football players to allow them to compete with Navy and they hired Todd Monken away from D-II powerhouse Georgia Southern. The 2020 OU game at West Point is on my bucket list.