Legends of the Game… 

OU football is our drug of choice…for the 123rd time OU football will be king of the hill in Oklahoma. Then again what do we expect after all there’s only one Oklahoma. Of course fans from other schools come out of the woodwork when things are going good, but then again so do a lot of OU fans. This year will be no exception as the Sooners should be plenty good.

For some OU fans, those of us who became OU football fanatics at an early age balancing the good times with the bad has become part of our DNA. Don’t get me wrong, we want to win as much or more as the next guy, but jumping ship after a bad outing or a bad season is not part of our mindset.

Growing up on a farm with OU as my only connection to the real world, I remember thinking that I must be the most possessed OU fan on the planet.   I was wrong.   In 1976 I met an OU fan that had forgotten more OU football than I would ever know.

As first year teachers at Central Junior High in Moore we quickly realized that we were both OU junkies.  That next fall we began making our weekly trips to the Holy Grail of college each Saturday

This coming Saturday, Dr. Tamage and I will once again load up and head south to Mecca as we continue our OU football Saturday tradition for the 42nd year. As Dr. Tamage is prone to say, our OU buddy system has lasted longer than most marriages. I am prone to say that by allowing our wives to escape from our OU football obsession 24/7 we may have saved our marriages.

Of course both of us come by our OU addiction honestly as our parents enabled our OU habit. While living on the east coast during the OU probation/blackout years my mom would send me weekly newspaper clippings. While the clippings would come a week after a game or signing date due to Snail Mail, these articles served me well by keeping me sane during these years.

Dr. Tamage’s dad would get up on Saturday mornings and drive him from Hutch, Kansas across the Oklahoma state line to get his son within the radio broadcast signal of OU games.

That’s right, they would drive two hours to Oklahoma sit in the car for three hours to listen to OU games and then drive back to Hutch. Is that a cool story or what…

Of course neither of our parents gave a flip about OU football, but they gave more than a flip about us and our love for OU football. That my friend is some serious parenting.

As you know, each home game OU recognizes OU fans who have been around longer that dirt. You know these are the ones who get wheeled out onto the field by their families as they look around wondering what all the noise is about. My daughter insists that OU should recognize Dr. Tamage and me for our streak.

I am not there yet, but if we can hang around for another six years and break the OU “47” streak, I may be open to her suggestion.  Of course by that point David Boren will have retired and I will lose my connection.  In any case, if my math is correct that will be 2023.  By that point we will be just like the old geezers that I love making fun of.  We will be looking around wondering what is going on…

Then again at 48 years of OU football bliss, we will have out-lasted  95% of all marriages in America so possibly, I will let her have her wish.

As for 2017, I am just going to sit back and enjoy the ride…

Boomer Sooner…

 

 

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Mike’s last round up…

Hey OSU fans…both of you…I have some good news and some bad news…OSU will have their best team this year since the last time T. Boone bought a winner during Gundy’s first rodeo.

The bad news for Aggie fans is that this will be Gundy’s last go round in Swine City. That’s right, I believe Mikey will use his best season to spring board to his next Yankees job.

Having watched a ton of football over the years. I have seen how coaches like Gundy use mid-major programs like OSU to get their chance at the golden ring.

This happens everywhere, but let’s take a look at OSU. OSU is perfect example of a place where this kind of tomfoolery can happen. The Aggies have always flown just below the NCAA radar.  The NCAA tends to give mid-majors some latitude in order to create parity.

Boone greases the skids and Texas high schools supply the talent. Jimmy Johnson was the first chicken thief to use T. Boone’s money to make a name for himself in Stillwater. He developed the template for Les Miles to follow, only to be mastered by the Mullet man.

As I have said before Gundy is smarter than he looks as he has used T. Boone’s money, new stadium digs, and stylish uniforms to attract 5-star athlete who could not qualify academically any where else. He has also done a commendable job of keeping these guys eligible and out of jail.

Jimmy Johnson used his time at OSU to spring board to a National Championship at Miami and a World Championship in Dallas. Les Miles used the J.J. template as he created SI’s “Dirty Game” in Stillwater to win a ton of games and a National Championship at LSU.

Gundy is itching to do the same…

Finally, my prediction for Gundy’s next gig is Texas A&M. The Texas Ags will lose four, possibly five games this year and will purse the Oklahoma Aggie to be their next Messiah.

Gundy sees the writing on the wall as he knows that OSU will implode after this year.  With OU, Texas, Baylor, TCU and even West Virginia on the rise, Gundy’s bunch will be fighting to remain in the upper division.

Unfortunately for Cowboy fans, Gundy will not be the class act that Bob Stoops was.  He will wait until after the season to pull the plug giving the new guy little time to recruit a decent class.

Just like last week’s team predictions, I will file this information away for future reference. Unlike Jim Traber I will be back at the end of the year to own up to my projections.

 

 

 

 

 

Mike’s last round up…

Hey OSU fans…both of you…I have some good news and some bad news…OSU will have their best team this year since the last time T. Boone bought a winner during Gundy’s first rodeo.

The bad news for Aggie fans is that this will be Gundy’s last rodeo in Swine City. That’s right, I believe Mikey will use his best season to spring board to his next Yankees job.

Having watched a ton of football over the years. I have seen how coaches like Gundy use mid-major programs like OSU to get their chance at the golden ring.

This happens everywhere, but let’s take a look at OSU. OSU is perfect example of a place where this kind of tomfoolery can happen. The Aggies have always flown just below the NCAA radar.  The NCAA tends to give mid-majors some latitude in order to create parity.

Boone greases the skids and Texas supplies the talent. Jimmy Johnson was the first chicken thief to use T. Boone’s money to make a name for himself in Stillwater. He developed the template for Les Miles to follow, only to be mastered by the Mullet man.

As I have said before Gundy is smarter than he looks as he has used T. Boone’s money, new stadium digs, and stylish uniforms to attract 5-star athlete who could not qualify academically any where else. He has also done a commendable job of keeping these guys eligible and out of jail.

Jimmy Johnson used his time at OSU to spring board to a National Championship at Miami and a World Championship in Dallas. Les Miles used the J.J. template as he created SI’s “Dirty Game” in Stillwater to win a ton of games and move on to LSU.

As you know I am older than dirt so I have a lot of experience watching mid-level programs go through coaching changes. They start like a house afire, convincing kids that they will make turn their new team into a winner…These guys convince big time recruits that they can turn things around.  Of course this happens for a couple year and then things return to normal.

Gundy did this in grand style as he used T. Boone’s money and new facilities to attract a number of “special needs” recruits (i.e. Dez Bryant, Parish Cox) who could not academically qualify in the SEC. Throw in the Orange Blossom girls as escorts and you have a winner for a couple seasons.

Gundy predicted the future when he signed a long term contract with a paltry buy out clause. His absence on the recruiting leader boards over the past three years has finalized my conclusion.

Finally, my prediction for Gundy’s next gig is Texas A&M. The Texas Ags will lose four, possibly five games this year and will purse the Oklahoma Aggie to be their next Messiah.

Gundy signed the extension to his contract with a small buyout clause. Gundy did this with his next Yankees job in mind.  He knows that OSU will implode after this year as the bank goes dry with graduated players.  With OU, Texas, Baylor, TCU and even West Virginia on the rise, Gundy’s bunch will be fighting to remain at the upper division.

Unfortunately for Cowboy fans, Gundy will pull the plug at the end of year giving the new guy little time to recruit a decent class.

Just like last weeks team predictions, I will file this information away for future reference. Unlike Jim Traber I will be back at the end of the year to own up to my projections.

 

 

 

 

 

Gut feelings…

After a summer of pouring over my football magazines I have come up with some gut feelings about the upcoming season…Here are my amateur musings…I would not rush off to Vegas with these picks, but with every team in America undefeated at this point in the season, our predictions are undefeated as well.

Alabama (1) will win the National Championship in 2017. I am so thankful to Clemson for stopping their winning steak at 26. They may not lose again for a while.

Florida State (2) will win the ACC even though Clemson’s (7) defense under former OU coach Brent Venables will be really good. Watch out for U-Miami in the next few years…Former Georgia Mark Richt is loading up with south Florida talent.

Ohio State (3) will win the Big Ten and should represent the league in the CFB playoffs. Watch out for Penn State (6) starting next year. Happy Valley is starved for a winner after the Joe Pa. mess and former Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is recruiting lights out.

USC (4) is unfortunately back…and will win the soft Pac 12 with Washington (10) coming in runner-up. An upset will give the nod to OU regardless of what happens in Columbus. Oregon and Stanford will be pretty good as well.

If OU (5) can hang with Ohio State in Columbus and win the Big 12 with its new championship game, the Sooners will have a great shot at the fourth playoff spot. Even with a loss in Columbus the Sooners will have a chance for a final four spot if they take care of business in Dallas and Stillwater.

osu (8) has finally loaded up with enough T. Boone’s bought talent to win most of their games by just showing up…OSU’s trap game will be at home against TCU.   The problem with playing three cupcakes to start the season will be playing a physical, well prepared Gary Patterson team in week four.

Auburn (9) will always be a thorn in Alabama’s side, particularly when the Iron Bowl is played at Auburn. Auburn is the in-state rival OSU yearns to be. Of course, that will never happen.

Top Ten…

  1. Alabama
  2. Florida State
  3. Ohio State
  4. USC
  5. OU
  6. Penn State
  7. Clemson
  8. osu
  9. Auburn
  10. Washington

My most improved list…

Notre Dame

TCU

Texas

Miami

Colorado State

Oregon

Kentucky

Indiana

Stanford

Nebraska

Northwestern

Let the games begin…

 

 

 

Timing part two…the Oklahoma legacy…

While the future of OU football under Lincoln Riley is still up for grabs, I like the timing… The University has owned timing over the years.

This is proof positive that the football gods love OU football.

Back in the day, OU President George Lynn Cross was searching for a way to rid the state of its Okie stigma. John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath had turned what had been an unbelievable start for the Sooner state into a train wreck.

Oklahoma got off to a great start with the run of ’89 followed by the first Oklahoma oil boom.   The state was roaring into the roaring twenties.   Consider this…back in 1920; the population of Dallas was only a few thousand more than OKC’s.  Things were hopping in the Sooner state.

Then came the depression and the dust bowl. Of course the dust bowl was bad enough without Steinbeck’s help. He single handedly created the Okie stigma that would haunt the Sooner state for years to come.

This was the image and the challenge that Dr. Cross and Regent President Lloyd Noble faced in the forties. Dr. Cross made no bones about it as he made national headlines by telling the Oklahoma State Legislature that he wanted to create a university that his football team would be proud of. He was OU’s first football president.

Dr. Cross with the backing of Lloyd Noble hired the Jim Tatum/Bud Wilkinson team. To give you an idea of Tatum’s stock, he was hired over a list of other quality candidates that included a young Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Lloyd Noble agreed to hire Tatum, but he really wanted to hire the younger Bud Wilkinson. For OU to hire Tatum with Bud in tow was incredible timing.

When Tatum left for Maryland, OU’s next coach was already on campus. Bud stepped in and as they say the rest is history. Of course having Lloyd Noble as regent was perfect timing as well.  A year earlier he had convinced Bud to stay in Norman instead of returning to his home state of Minnesota for a lucrative business venture.

It was Bud who saved the state and reversed the state’s image. People stopped talking about dust bowl Okies and began talking about the football Sooners. This was just the shot in the arm that Oklahomans needed. The timing and the magnitude of this event for Oklahoma cannot be overstated.

Speaking of timing, Bud inherited a perfect compliment of players for his no-nonsense approach to football.   WWII had created a Naval Base in Norman full of servicemen returning from war. As a result the greatest coach in the history of college football inherited a ready-made supply of men ready to play football just five miles from campus.

Speaking of timing; after a downturn in OU football fortunes, David Boren had tired of the D.C. political gridlock and was coaxed into returning to Oklahoma. He restored the program to its former Bud/Barry glory by hiring Joe Castiglione and Bob Stoops.

Delaying his retirement for a couple years, Boren has ensured a positive future for OU football.  Boren was in the stands the day that Notre Dame snapped the “Streak.”  As a result he knows full well the importance of OU football to both the university and the state.   Transitioning Lincoln Riley as the next great OU coach is not only smart timing, it is smart football.

Where would we be today if the stars had not been aligned for OU to connect with George Lynn Cross and David Lyle Boren at just the right time? I don’t want to think about that…OU timing has been Sooner Magic…

Boomer Sooner…

 

 

Timing – Oklahoma style…

I could talk all day about how timing impacts life. As a former school administrator I realized first hand the importance of timing. Whenever changing jobs I found that following a “good old boy” on cruise control could be very helpful.

As a competitive type that wanted my school to be numero uno, I found it easier to motivate my staff and students after following one of these guys.

This tends to be true in football as well.

Bob Stoops was on a streak of championship games for the first decade of his OU career…as he moved into his second decade and moved into the big house on the pond, it may have become harder for him to fire up his belly.

After a push from Joe C., I believe was initiated by OU Regents, Bob made some substantive staff changes into his second term. Those changes included getting rid of the deadwood and replacing them with young guys out to prove themselves.

Bob and OU survived his downturn, but I suspect that Bob may have realized that he had had enough. Thankfully for OU fans, Bob recognized that he had fallen into the “good is good enough” syndrome.   With timing being everything, Bob handed the baton off to Lincoln Riley while still on top.

Bob’s timing was perfect. The next great head coach was already on campus in the form of Lincoln Riley. Riley has hit the ground running on the recruiting trail and is looking at a top ten finish in his first year.

Conversely, Mike Gundy’s timing sucks…yes, he has used T. Boone’s money to etch out a name for himself in the OSU record books, but he has spent his career playing second fiddle to Bob Stoops and the Sooners. Gundy caught Stoops at the middle of his first ten years or at the height of Bob’s his effectiveness.

Gundy became the OSU coach at the same time that Bob Stoops was still hot. As a result, Gundy has only a .167 batting average. This year Gundy will be asked to parlay this batting prowess to beat the young up and coming OU coach twice. Facing the Sooners with this type average is like a 9-hole hitter going up against Nolan Ryan’s fastball. Bad timing…

Jimmy Johnson used his short time in Stillwater to recruit by hook or by crook a ton of gifted athletes to OSU.   The problem was that he was facing the King. Johnson did use perfect timing to leave Stillwater for Miami and the Dallas Cowboys where he won a National and World Championship.

The best example of bad timing was that of Pat Jones. Jones inherited the OSU job just as the NCAA Sherriff was arriving in town.   A near death penalty and a winless season later, Pat was toast.

Last, but certainly not least is Mike Gundy again who must now face the next great OU coach in Lincoln Riley. He must handle the Sooners this year or spend his twilight years getting pummeled by Lincoln Riley.

I love timing when it works out for the Sooners…

Boomer Sooner…

 

 

 

Recruiting 101…

Three of the last four years Alabama has ended up the recruiting season ranked #1 in the country according to Rivals.com with a 2nd place finish the other year.   Each time Alabama started off the recruiting campaign in a similarly slow fashion as this year.

In other words, Alabama does not get into any hurry, realizing that in the end, they will be able to cherry pick their class. Currently, the Crimson Tide has six (6) commitments and is ranked #35.

Alabama is a prime example of why one must be careful not to put too much stock in early season recruiting rankings. Recruiting services rank teams ranked as much on quantity as they do on quality.   With everybody getting the same number of recruits (25), the cream will eventually rise to the top. Trust me Alabama will be in the top three at the end of the day.

The one number that never changes is 85…this is the maximum number of scholarships that a team can have at any one time.

You can do the math…eighty five (85) divided by four (4) years is twenty one (21) not twenty five (25). This is NCAA math predicated on saving money and leveling the playing field. In reality, it does just the opposite. This is why you see the same teams end up at the top every year.

As I look at the latest recruiting quality numbers I would like to make the following predictions.

1….Beginning for sure in 2018 OU and Texas will face each other twice every year, both in Dallas, once in the Cotton Bowl and the other at Jerry World.

2…The other Texas teams with the best Texas talent (TCU and Baylor) will battle for Big 12 spoiler and third place in the conference.

3…West Virginia and OSU will develop a rivalry for the next best bowl game.

4…Kansas will rise from the ashes and compete against K-State and Iowa State.

5…Texas Tech will start over after its love affair with Kliff Kingsbury as these two parties will end up in divorce court after this season.

With all of this in mind, let’s look at the most recent Rivals.com recruiting rankings that rewards both quality and quantity.

Rivals rankings based on traditional ratings…

(the number in parenthesis is the national ranking)

1…..Oklahoma (6)

2…..Texas (10)

3…..OSU (16)

4…..TCU (19)

5…..Baylor (20)

6…..Kansas (26)

7…..West Virginia (46)

8…..Texas Tech (55)

9…..Iowa State (58)

10…Kansas State (85)

Authentic ranking based on Rivals star ratings

The 2nd number represents the average of stars – 5,4,3,2…

1…..Texas 3.67

2…..Oklahoma 3.53

3……TCU 3.20

4…..Baylor 3.13

5…..West Virginia 3.09

6…..Kansas 3.08

7…..Oklahoma State 3.00

7…..Kansas State 3.00

9…..Iowa State 2.73

10…Texas Tech 2.54

The biggest change here is of course with OSU dropping from #3 in the quantity rankings to a tie with Kansas State for #7 in the quality rankings…

I will update the list again in late September.  Stay tuned…The OU/Texas rivalry is really heating up…

Boomer Sooner…