Sports and societal change…

Sports has always been a major changing force in our society.   From Jesse Owens showing up Adolph Hitler in the 1936 Olympic games, to Jackie Robinson breaking the baseball color barrier in 1946, to our own Prentice Gautt in 1956.  Challenging societal norms has always been difficult for this country.

As a lover of history, I have found one underscoring tenet that seems to help facilitate these changes.  We love to win…Owens and the Americans kicked some Natzi butt back in 1936, a move that western society desperately needed.   The Dodgers used Robinson to beat everyone, except the Yankees while in Brooklyn.  Bud fought off the 1956 bigoted storm to win another National Championship that year.

Apparently, BYU has gotten the memo that diversity can be a good thing.  I have noticed of late that the BYU football team is working its way toward breaking the color barrier.  Mormons are taking a page from Bear Bryant and Alabama.  Granted the BYU campus is still 99.99% white, but who knows this thing may catch on in Provo.

I mentioned Alabama because I grew up a Southern Baptist as have most Alabamians.  The Southern Baptist Church got its start in its support of segregation before the Civil War and Alabama society continued to be steeped in this belief system well into the 1960’s.   Greasing the skids of change occurred in the form of winning football games.  The only thing that would change the minds of a bunch of Alabama rednecks was winning football games.

BYU was a once proud football program winning a National Championship under Lavell Edwards back 1984.  Since that time, the program has fallen on hard times…I would argue that this decline was due in great part to the lack of skill position athletes.  Similar to Alabama, BYU may have come late to the party, but as they say, better late than never.

Without this change in attitude, a Cougar move to #20 rank nationally and its defeat of Wisconsin at Camp Randal Stadium a few weeks back would have been impossible.  The Cougars may not beat a much better Washington team this weekend in Seattle, but the chances of that happening are much better today than they were five years ago.

Something to think about…

 

 

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Short takes from Saturday…

• This Army team is tons better since Todd Monken has made his way to West Point. Their run and clock control game is to say the least impressive. They made it incredibly uncomfortable for OU fans Saturday night. Let’s not play those guys again. Oh, wait a minute; we have return game in two years.

• Maybe between now and then we should hire someone on the defensive staff that has a clue. Mike Stoops’ argument where he blamed their cut blocks was lame. Whatever happened to putting 8 men in the box against a run-only team and dare them to pass. Oh well, I guess a guy who is making almost a million dollars a year should know more about football than I do.

• And another thing…I need help with a question. Now that it is legal for a ball carrier to be pushed across the goal line…why does Lincoln insist on doing it the old fashioned way? Line up two three hundred pound linemen in the back field and push Kyler into the end zone. Then again, maybe I am missing something here.

• Okay, after Iowa State and Army it’s back to the drawing board for OU fans. We undoubtedly have better players on defense this year, but we still have the same Nimrod in the press box.

• I have praised Bob Stoops many times for the way he handled his retirement and subsequent promotion of Lincoln Riley, but he did Lincoln no favors with this one. Mike Stoops is like an albatross hanging around Lincoln Riley’s neck.

• Finally, while the win on Saturday was ugly, at least it was a win. At the end of the year, we will look back and be grateful for the win. A one loss Big 12 champion will have no shot at the playoffs.

Other college football short takes…

• OSU saved Kliff Kingsbury’s job on Saturday night. If he had lost to the Cowboys for a sixth time in a row, he would have no chance at bowl eligibility and as a result would have been toast. Now, the Red Raiders are likely to win 8 games this year. What a difference one game can make.

• So much for OSU playing in a New Year’s Day game (predicted by ESPN last week). It was good to see the state’s OSU come back to reality. Believe it or not they are still according to ESPN’s FPI percentages favored in all their games but one. Somebody at ESPN must be on T. Boone’s payroll.

• Ed Orgeron at LSU may make a liar out of me yet…This goes to show what can happen when you surround yourself with five star recruits.

• As I said, Kansas will be more competitive this year, but they are still Kansas. If this guy can win three games this year, he should be selected the Big 12 coach of the year.

• Right on cue, Texas is getting better…I wish they would waited three more weeks for this to happen.

• Winning at North Texas State is next to impossible. This goes to show what happens when you hire a good coach (former OU player Sethe Littrel) and surround yourself with Texas high school crumbs. Two star athletes in Texas are better than three star players in Oklahoma. What the Mean Green did on the road against SEC’s Arkansas two weeks ago was about as impressive at it gets.

• By the way, the quarterback at North Texas is Mason Fine. Fine was the quarterback at Locust Grove (that is Locust Grove, OK) three years ago. FBS teams thought he was too short to play major college football…sounds familiar, huh…

T. Boone’s big screen…

I have a confession to make.  There was a time when I actually liked OSU.  My first experience with OSU football was actually a positive one.  I was twelve and my Moore little league football team played the Stillwater little league team on Lewis Field prior to the Kansas-OSU game.

We entered the field from the east side through a green maze.   As a kid, this was a big time experience.   Once we entered the field of play, I noticed how the aluminum bleachers on both sides of the field seemed to tower into the sky.   We played our game as the fans began to fill up Lewis Stadium.  After our game we were allowed to leave the field and  watch the Kansas and OSU players enter the field via the maze.  Again, I was only 12, but I thought this was pretty cool.

Several years later OSU decided to do away with the maze in order to expand Gallagher Arena.  Yes, I understand progress, but it seemed to me that this expansion could have occurred without tearing down the maze.  At least the expanded Gallagher-Iba Arena façade would make for a respectable backdrop for the east side of the football stadium.

As we know OSU had already turned the keys to the ranch over to T. Boone Pickens by this point.  Then it struck T, Boone that his adoring fans needed a bigger view of his mug.  After all Jerry Jones can produce a full size likeness of himself the length of a football field at Jerry’s World.  Then it came to T. Boone…the side of Gallagher-Iba was just sitting there taking up space so let’s tack up a bigger than Dallas size jumbotron to its side.

I don’t know about you, but this may be the tackiest things I have ever seen.  Gone is the maze, as well as the architectural Gallagher-Iba backdrop.  In comes a drive in Movie Theater.   Now all of Paine County can see T. Boone’s insatiable half time interviews along with the latest Mike Gundy mullet cut.  I can just hear Aggie fans oohing and awing over their new big screen t.v.   This reminds me of the Beverly Hillbillies and their cement pond.

Now Bobby Joe and Betty Sue can park their pickup truck outside the west side of the stadium and watch the game in between whatever else they may be doing.   Grab a bag of popcorn and a soft drink and these guys will be set.   While we may have lost one piece of Americana in the green maze, we have recaptured one with a drive- in movie at the “Pick”.

This is a sad commentary of how low college football in this state has sunk…

So sad…

Home field advantage…

I don’t want to rain on everyone’s Big 12 parade, but college football is a game of emotion and home field advantage is the name of this game.  I have not spent a lot of time in NFL stadiums, but I suggest that with the possible exception of Lambeau Field, the home field advantage of NFL games is nowhere close to the college game.

I want to give Gary Patterson and Sonny Cumbie credit for allowing their team to hang with a really physical Ohio State team in Dallas.  Unfortunately, we’re talking mash mouth football versus the Big 12 and eventually, Ohio State wore down the Horned Frogs.  I also believe that if this game had been played in Columbus, it would not have been close.

Same goes for Texas and USC.  Texas looked like a whole different team on Saturday.   The Texas defense fed off the crowd and created a second half blocked punt that sealed the deal.   USC was soft and in typical west coast fashion quit after Texas went up by two touchdowns in the second half.

Beating this USC team only happens with a frenetic, sold out Darrel K. Royal Stadium.  Same goes for oSU.  Boise State looked like they had never seen a football before as the Aggie crowd ate their lunch.  Give me a break…two critical blocked punts would not have happened if that game had been played on the blue carpet in Boise.

All of this makes OU’s win in Ames that much bigger.  I know it was Iowa State, but I also know that you can magnify the intensity of a home crowd a hundred times when they are playing OU.  OU limps into Ames without Rodney Anderson and comes out a winner.  That was big time.

Here’s the thing about the home field advantage in the Big 12. You can add a touchdown to the odds maker’s point spread.  This means that oSU should beat an improved Texas Tech team at home next Saturday.  Texas will not come close to duplicating that same home field advantage against TCU, but should still win the game at home, and West Virginia should beat K-State for the same reason.

College football games have become like college basketball games where the home team has a huge advantage.  Liquored up fans are placed within feet of the playing surface, crowds from opposing teams are seated in the rafters and the sound system is synchronized to coincide with the snap of the football.

I know this makes college football more fun for the home crowd, but I do want to advise oSU fans to hold off buying those tickets to the college football playoffs.   Road games, if oSU ever plays one, may not come so easily…

Boomer Sooner…

Bedlam…

You know I hate the word Bedlam, but between Joe C. and T. Boone Bedlam has become not only a marketing bonanza for both schools, it has become a rallying cry for OSU.  Thankfully Sooner Magic has prevailed over OSU for the most part in spite of Joe C.’s attempt to turn OU/OSU into a rivalry game.

Giving T. Boone credit, he has done a great job of financing the OSU coaching staff that has decided to stay put.   He has also put his money where his mouth is when it comes to recruiting better players to Stillwater.   As they say just follow the money…

According to the latest ESPN game percentages the Big 12 Conference championship will be decided in Norman on November 10th.  OU is favored to win all its game prior to and after that game and OSU is favored  to do the same with the exception of the OU game. I had hoped that Boise State would jump up and bite the Ags in the butt, but according to ESPN, OSU will beat Boise State this Saturday.

Here are the latest OSU win percentages according to ESPN.

Boise State – 56%

Texas – 62%

@Kansas State – 73%

Iowa State – 72%

Texas Tech – 73%

West Va. – 64%

@TCU – 52%

As we’ve discussed Mike Gundy’s soft non-conference schedule has allowed OSU to beat down two weak opponents, create confidence and avoid injuries to key players.   Combine these facts with a relatively weak Big 12 Conference schedule and you have the makings for another strong OSU season.

Of course as you can imagine it is times like these that we need to be reassured by Sooner Magic.   Fortunately, OSU’s chance of beating the Sooners is only 19%.  Always, looking for that silver lining, If ESPN prophecy comes to be, their will additional good news for the Sooners this year.  Even without Rodney Anderson this OU team will dominate OSU both in Norman and in the Big 12 Championship game at Jerry’s World.

Boomer Sooner…

 

Next guy up…

For those of us who have been watching this game for a while, we stroke out anytime a player grabs his knee after a play.  On Saturday, Rodney Anderson’s immediate reaction was not overly overt, but we knew that the news would be bad.  Nine times out of ten an immediate reaction by a player grabbing his knee means an ACL issue.  Nine times out of ten, this means season ending surgery.

As Rodney limps ever slightly off the field, we suspected the worse.  Even when he walked to the locker room under his own power, we were not convinced that our worries were over.  The ACL is the ACL and you can’t play this game without a fully developed one.  As the game dragged on and OU expanded its lead, that nagging feeling would not go away.

This guy is our meal ticket and we know it.  Lose this guy and the outlook for the season changes dramatically. Rodney Anderson is not only one of the best running backs in the country; he is also a pass threat out of the backfield that few teams possess.  Rodney Anderson is a difference maker.

While this is a huge loss for the Sooners, this injury continues a streak of horrible luck for this kid.   This will be his third season ending surgery during his OU career.  I have followed the game for a long time, but I don’t know that I have seen anything like this.   If he can fight his way back from this one, Rodney Anderson deserves to win the Heisman Trophy based on heart and perseverance alone.

That’s the bad news…the good news is that we are OU.  Rodney Anderson will get the best care and support possible and will be back next year for his run at the Heisman.  As for OU, Lincoln Riley’s leadership will be tested and his recruiting of great players will be rewarded.

On the immediate forefront a running back who has been getting playing time for the last couple of years will likely be the next guy up.  The long term solution comes from a guy who has only been on campus since January.  A high school running back has to be special to have been recruited out California to attend Florida’s IMG Academy.  T.J. Pledger is that kind of back.   We must now hope that T.J. Pledger can be the next guy up and can produce the next difference maker at running back.

With Kyler Murray fulfilling predictions at quarterback and what appears to be a vastly improved defense, Pledger will allow OU to stay in the hunt for national honors.  I expect that we will see evidence of this fact next Saturday in Ames.

Boomer Sooner…

Heat alert…

Back in 1997 my football bro and I spent what we assumed would be the worst football night of our careers.  We attended the OU 51-7 loss to Texas A&M game when the wind chill eclipsed the zero mark.  Just like the 2nd half of Saturday’s game most fans showed up disguised as empty seats.  No one in their right mind showed up for that game.  Unfortunately, we were not in our right minds.  We were OU fans.

Making matters worse was the fact that the ’97 game was at the height of the John Blake malfeasance era and OU had no chance of winning the game.  I had an extra ticket that night that I sold for $1 dollar, not of course for the money, but for the principle of the thing.  I still have that dollar.

I saw the same state of insanity this past Saturday.  First, we stand in line for an hour to be screened.  In standard form OU decided to use a Wiley Post Airport screening process to handle the 85,000 fans that showed up for the game.  I have no problem with security, but give me a break…please contact Will Rogers and see how they handle these things.

Between the pre-game security lines, the countless OU touchdowns with their automatic reviews, and the endless Fox t.v. timeouts that seem to last forever, the game slowed to a crawl by the end of the first half.  By half time there were more fans in the intensive care unit for heat stroke than there were still left in the stands.   Extra mental wards were set up at Griffin Memorial Hospital for those fans who insisted on braving the 2nd half heat.

On the positive side, I must give a shout out to OU fans, particularly my friends from Alaska who went from a balmy 46 degrees to 105 in the shade to support their Sooners.  The fans showed up as expected and stayed as long as humanly possible.

Here’s the deal…how do we make sure that next year’s Labor Day home opener is not a rooster kickoff.  This is not rocket science…a simple check of the average heat index the first weekend of September should do it. Really, even OSU has figured these things out by scheduling their home openers at night…and we call them Aggies.

Joe needs to grow a pair and insist that the Big 12 office takes care of its marquee team.  If not, I believe OU fans should kidnap Joe, make him stand in the airport screening line and then make him sit for four hours in section 108.  Trust me this should do.

There you have it…no more Labor Day rooster kickoffs…

You’re welcome…

Boomer Sooner…