OU softball…

With no ESPN television, you probably missed a fantastic game over the weekend. Jadna Coleman hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the tenth as the Sooners took down the Tennessee Volunteers in softball.  As you can imagine, the Vols gave us all we wanted in that one. The Sooners also had to rally from behind to finish off Utah a day later in the final game of the west coast classic. 

That’s the good news…the bad news is that OU’s dominant pitching staff proved that they were human by being touched up for eight runs and ten hits against Tennessee.  On the positive side these games will serve as a wake-up call for Sooner fans.  It’s early and we have a lot of softball left to be played before we crown another National Champion. 

Unlike OU fans, Patty Gasso knew better than to get ahead of herself.  She would be the first to admit that OU’s early season schedule was on the weak side.  She wanted to use these games to pad the Sooner win column and to create momentum for the middle portion of the schedule.  She also wanted to allow all three pitchers plenty of game time. 

She was hoping that her senior laden team could beat up on weaker teams without getting ahead of themselves.  It appears that her strategy is working as the team will leave the west coast undefeated, but aware of the need for improvement.  

This team has also learned that any team coming out of the SEC will be battle tested.   The Volunteers that gave us all that we wanted are no better than a middle level team in that league.  The SEC as a whole has eight (8) teams ranked in the top 25. The Big 12 by comparison has two.  Teams from that league will be battle tested. 

Both Alabama and Florida will be as tough as nails by the time they reach OKC in June…to win another NC, we will have to develop that same mantra…

Boomer Sooner…

OU women’s sports update…

With men’s basketball on life support, a renewed appreciation and focus for OU women’s sports is in order.    Thank God for women’s softball, tennis, gymnastics, and basketball these days. We’ll talk about that later in the blog, but first let’s talk softball. 

OU softball dominated the competition on the west coast the first weekend of the season.  The Sooners went 5-0 including a win over #3 ranked UCLA. This past weekend the Sooners added five wins to their total to start the year off 10-0.   Against #3 ranked UCLA Patty Gasso showed real Moxy by starting true freshman Jordy Bahl.  Bahl responded by striking out 14 batters that day. 

This move only served to reinforce Sooner Nation’s respect for Patty Gasso as a coach and leader.  Not only did her freshman pitcher become the ace of the staff just eight months out of high school, but the other members of her pitching staff understood the move and where they will stand moving forward in the overall scheme of things.  This must be the strongest pitching staff top to bottom in America. 

Opening weekend season pitching stats for opening weekend…

Innings pitched………….ERA……SO’s/BB………………Pitcher

12.2                                (0.00)    24/3                       Jordy Bahl

11.0                                (0.00)    16/1                       Hope Trautwein

5.1                                  (0.00)    11/2                       Nicole May

  • Team pitching stats…
    • Innings pitches – 29.0
    • ERA – 0.00
    • Total runs allowed = 1
    • Earned runs = 0
    • Strikes outs = 51
    • Walks = 6
    • Hits allowed = 12
    • Home runs allowed = 0

Other women’s sports…

  • OU women beat top ranked Texas in Indoor tennis and the team is now ranked #2 in the country.     
  • Women’s gymnastics team ranks #2 in the nation only weeks away from the national tournament in Fort Worth. 
  • OU women’s basketball team is now 20-5.  The team is now projected as a #3 seed in the tournament.  What a difference a year can make. 

Boomer Sooner…

Spencer Rattler

Lost in the pathetic ending to this past season is the Spencer Rattler story. As we know the 2021 season got off to a slow start and as usual, the quarterback was blamed for this happening. As we also know there were well-documented reasons for this downturn that were outside Spencer Rattler’s control. 

Regardless, the natives were restless and with Superman pacing the sidelines, it was simply a matter of time before a quarterbacking change was made. The first half of the Texas game simply greased the skids for this to occur.  Once Spencer Rattler was relegated to the bench, Lincoln was not going to look back.  CW was his man.

Granted, we will always cherish that 2nd half comeback against Texas, but after that win the season for the Sooners was for the most part over. Discounting the bowl exhibition game against Oregon, we won only four games the rest of the year with CW at quarterback.

We barely escaped Lawrence with a win over Kansas and lost to Baylor and OSU down the stretch. Spencer Rattler was sent packing and as they say the rest is history. Lost in the shuffle was Spencer’s 16-2 mark at quarterback that included a Big 12 Championship. Also lost in the shuffle is the manner in which Spencer Rattler managed his demotion. 

From all accounts, Spencer Rattler handled the situation well. One must wonder how CW and his dad would have handled things if the roles had been reversed.  Oh well, what’s done is done…it’s time to move on. We will however inherit a positive by-product from this sordid affair. 

There will be two USC programs to follow next year. One on the west coast and one on the east. The west coast USC is not worthy of our disdain but rooting for the east coast USC team will be a tons of fun.  Hopefully, the USC (South Carolina) Gamecocks and Spencer Rattler will have a breakout year in 2022. 

Go Gamecocks…

Silver lining…

OU fans were shocked by Lincoln Riley’s sudden departure from OU back in December. The collateral damage of losing players and recruits made us crazy mad. That was the bad news…in reality, Lincoln’s leaving, and the timing of the move has turned out to be good news. Yes, we lost a couple players, but the new guy has more than made up for those losses.

Coaching moves invariably create issues on the recruiting trail. New coaches are given a pass for that first year because of the transition from one coach to the next. A case in point is a look at Lincoln Riley’s first class at USC where he finished # 65 in 247sports rankings.

Brent Venables on the other hand has defied the odds. Never in the history of college football has a new coach turned things around on the recruiting trail more quickly than Brent Venables.

Lincoln Riley’s last two recruiting classes at OU were ranked #13 and #16. Brent Venables’ first class in Norman is ranked #8 in both Rivals and 247sports.  His transfer portal class is ranked #4 by 247sports… no other college team/coach comes close to those combined numbers.

Gracen Halton, a blue-chip defensive lineman from California seems to have summed things up perfectly. Halton shared with the press that Brent Venables’ authenticity and genuine caring attitude had his parents near tears at the end of his home visit. That’s right, Gracen and his parents were sold, and he flipped his commitment. 

Here’s another side to this story. If Lincoln had not left when he did, we would have been stuck with Lincoln Riley and not Brent Venables on the recruiting trail. That would have meant that at this point we would have inherited the latest batch of prima donnas mapping out their NIL deals instead of recruits mapping out their team goals.

The Lord works in mysterious ways, this is one of those times.

Boomer Sooner…

Coach B…

The Caleb Williams’ decision is still on hold a month after he left us at the altar.  Speaking of CW, he looks like a really mixed-up kid.  It’s been over a month and the guy still can’t make up his mind about his college future.    

For the record, the USC enrollment deadline passed this past Friday so who knows at this point.  Some people are insisting that his final landing spot will be Wisconsin, seriously…Wisconsin.  Is it possible that Carl misled his son into believing that he could broker a multi-million-dollar NIL deal with any college team in America and that some colleges are actually backing off that suggestion.    

As we move on…we know that Porter Moser will eventually fill the bill as OU’s men’s coach, but this may not be that year.  His team plays excellent defense but are devoid of difference makers on offense.  With the Big 12 being exposed on Saturday, making the tournament took a hit. I would suggest that simply making the tournament in his first year would be a positive step forward for the program.  

As for softball, the Sooners are preseason picks to win it all again and with this lineup and the home field advantage in June anything less than that will be a major disappointment.  

That leaves us with Jennie Baranczyk’s bunch of overachievers.  The Sooner women knocked off Texas on Saturday after putting away Baylor and OSU earlier in the season.  The OSU win against the Lady Ags was a 30-point beatdown. As we know dominating Bedlam gives softball and basketball dominion over in-state players so that kind of authoritative win is a big deal. 

Coach B. was a great hire, and she not only has her players playing at a top level, she also has her fans showing up and making some noise. It’s amazing how OU officials can configure LNC seating to create a home court advantage for the women, but not the men. I know winning helps but putting fans at courtside helps as well.   

Sorry, I digress…the bottom line is that we have a women’s basketball team that’s playing lights out…

Boomer Sooner…

Seismic cultural shift…

At the beginning of the season, we heard rumors that Spencer Rattler was having trouble fitting through the locker room door given his oversized ego.  Being a team game, his teammates did not respond well to his approach.  Sooner fans thought that possibly the solution to this problem could be Caleb Williams. 

After Caleb rallied the troops against Texas, we all became believers.  Not so fast Kemosabe…apparently, Caleb Williams was born with the same affliction, that of an oversized ego.  Mix in a couple dads grooming their sons for the NFL and we were in trouble. 

We were at fault here as well.  I remember thinking that we could have the best of all worlds.  We would have a Heisman Trophy winner in Spencer Rattler for one year and then have all-world quarterback Caleb Williams for the next two.   I had become a greedy, unrealistic OU fan.  

In the end, the students got their way and Spencer was benched and his OU career was finished. Now Caleb has one foot out the door which means the OU careers of both five-star quarterbacks will be over in the span of two months.   Just as well…we needed a complete makeover in the locker room anyway. 

The word on the street is that the locker room has experienced a seismic cultural shift led by quarterback transfer Dillon Gabriel and quarterback recruit Nick Evers. The team has rallied around these two players and the word “team” is back in vogue. 

Of course, given the stark difference between the personalities of Lincoln Riley and Brent Venables, none of this should come as a major surprise.  Sometimes bad things have to happen in order for good times to take their place. This is one of those times.

Boomer Sooner…

We shall overcome…

We’ve been through a lot here of late. First, we lose Bedlam for only the 19th time in our history. Next, we lose our football coach that we thought was the best thing since sliced bread. Then a few weeks later we lose our Heisman Trophy quarterback and his five-star buddies. Finally, we lose our share of players to the transfer portal. That my friend is a rough month.

Some would say that no football program in the history of the game has been asked to endure this type beatdown and live to tell about it…that would not be the case.  From 1988 until 1998 things were worse for OU football. I won’t rehash the litany of shots to the bow that the program endured during that time, but Sports Illustrated had the OU information director on speed dial in those days. It was the worst of times.

The good news for Sooner fans today is that in ’88 OU couldn’t spell leadership.  The OU president at the time was an OSU grad and the athletic director was Donnie Duncan…enough said.  While today’s issues are not nefarious in nature, they have been just as heart wrenching.  Thankfully, we have had President Joe Harroz and Joe Castiglione to deliver us from these perilous times.  These guys have been on top of this deal from day one.

The NIL (name/image/likeness) era has turned Huck Finn-type players into green back pariahs. These players and their parents can fool the best of us, including me, but the college game will survive NIL.  College football is a team game that will be won by team players.

As Bud once said, “in order for a team to reach its potential, each player must subordinate his personal goals to the goals of the team.”  Brent Venables will find players who want to be here and players who will make us better as a team. 

Brent Venables is a replica of Bud Wilkinson. Five years from now we will look back and see this situation as a blessing in disguise. Lincoln Riley was not up to the SEC wars, and he knew it. Brent Venables is up to the challenge.  With this guy at the helm, we shall overcome, and we’ll be better for it.

Boomer Sooner…

Caleb…

After hearing a recent podcast interview featuring Caleb Williams, I have no doubt that CW will be back next year. This guy’s a class act who wants to see every task through to the end. This time last year, he was preparing to move to Norman and take over the reins at quarterback while enrolling in eleven courses, six in high school and five at OU.

His high school in the D.C. area does not allow students to graduate early regardless of credits earned so he was required to take a full load at Gonzaga H.S.  In order to go through spring drills, he also enrolled in five courses at OU as well. CW could have transferred to a cross town high school that allowed students to graduate early.  This would have reduced his workload in half, but that’s not the Caleb Williams’ way. It probably never occurred to him to take the easy way out.   

Another reason for my faith in Caleb staying at OU is the fact that he recruited a bunch of players from across America to move to Norman with him. I just don’t see him turning his back on those players. This guy is a man of his word, and his teammates love his leadership skills and the way he is wired.

I also love how he handled the Spencer Rattler saga last year.  He could have moaned and groaned about playing second fiddle to Rattler even though he knew he had superior skills, but he refused to do that. He simply worked his butt off and waited his turn. And of course, we all know how that turned out.

Only Oklahoma could recover from a nuclear attack like the one Lincoln Riley leveled on Norman this past year, but none of this seems to have fazed Caleb Williams. Lincoln will surround himself with enough L.A. talent to win a bunch of games at USC in the upcoming years, but he will miss the point. He will never possess the character and intestinal fortitude of Caleb Williams.

The sky will be the limit for the Sooners with Caleb Williams in charge of things on a full time basis next year.  Of course, a big win in the Alamo Bowl with Caleb Williams at quarterback will serve to set all of this in motion.

Boomer Sooner…

The season from hell…

How did we arrive at this lowly state…we started out the 2021 season with serious hopes for a National Championship year and then we got soap poisoning. The summer football magazines misled us into believing that we would beat Iowa State for the Big 12 Championship and play in the CFP.  After all we had the shoe-in for the Heisman at quarterback with next year’s Heisman winner backing him up. 

We teetered on the danger zone meter for most of the year only to get a respite against Texas in the Cotton Bowl.  We kept thinking that things were going to turn around as we were told that we were getting close, but of course that never happened. Then we end up losing two of the last three games including Bedlam and lose our head coach that same weekend. Unreal…

Again, as Bud said, things are never as bad as they appear to be at the time…and this is going to be one of those times. In the end, Sooners fans will rejoice at the new hire/s at OU.  We needed a real head coach, and we needed an offensive coordinator/play caller, and we needed a defensive coordinator. I suspect that all of these issues will be addressed over the next 24 hours with the Brent Venables hire and the filling of his staff.   

We also need a shot of adrenalin as we prepare our team for the 2022 season.  The Alamo Bowl will provide us with just that.  Oregon will be a respectable program that will be without its head coach. We, on the other hand will be coached by a Hall of Famer, Bob Stoops. I can’t wait for Bob Stoops to be drenched in Gatorade after the Alamo Bowl win…

I also suspect that this new staff will replenish the recruiting holes created by Lincoln’s leaving with transfer portal studs anxious to join the Sooners and the SEC. Brent Venables will swing for the fences…this is not his first rodeo…we done good with this hire…

Oh, and one more thing about turning around the season from hell…only a bunch of Aggies could blow a chance at the CFP by squandering a first and goal from the two-yard line with four shots to score. That last play was priceless…I could watch it again and again and again.  Seriously, you can’t make that stuff up….

Boomer Sooner…

The new normal…

As we know college football is changing as we speak. Politicians have changed the game with the new and emboldened transfer portal and the money grabbing NIL.  These moves with more to come are the price college fans will have to pay for staying with the college game. 

Just like we will see players come and go, we will also see head coaches doing the same.  Of course for older OU fans, this is nothing new.   Back in the day Chuck Fairbanks who had restored our football program to respectability in the late 60’s and early 70’s left us for the New England Patriots.  Ironically, he was about the same age as Lincoln Riley at the time.

I had similar feelings of betrayal back then that I had when Lincoln made his announcement.  I had a hard time letting those feelings go.  At the same time, even as good as Fairbanks was, a better coach was waiting in the wings to take his place.  Barry Switzer was hired to take Chuck Fairbanks place and we all know how that turned out…three National Championships. 

I know we are all upset at Lincoln for leaving the way he did, but it’s time to move on.  USC wanted him in the worst way, and they were going to work until they made that happen.  My issue of course is with the recruiting side of this thing; as we know we were all set for the move to the SEC with the top ranked recruiting Class of 2023.   That class will be hit hard by this move, but the right hire can minimize the long-term impact on recruiting by hitting the ground running.  The new coach will still have a great product to sell recruits.  The transfer portal can also help as well.

Here’s another thought about hiring a new head coach…everyone has said that Lincoln needed to hire an offensive coordinator to call plays.   The new guy can do just that.  We can also hire a new guy that create new energy for the program as we move to the SEC.    

Remember what Bud Wilkinson use to say, “things are never as bad as they appear at the time”.

Boomer Sooner