Just what the doctor ordered…

The artist renderings of the changes planned for Memorial Stadium are just what the doctor ordered…The renovations will finally demonstrate to the world that the University of Oklahoma is serious about football.   To be honest there have been many times in past ten years that I have wondered about that fact.

In the George Lynn Cross days, there was never a question regarding where OU football stood in the overall scheme of things.   President Cross made the statement that he wanted to create a university that the football team would be proud of.  With Bud Wilkinson at the helm they made it happen.   While President Cross may have a bit over the top at times, OU football fans everywhere should applaud his drive. 

President Boren has taken a different approach.  Hoping to create a balance between football and academics he has systematically worked to make the two areas complimentary of each other.   Both the Cross and Boren systems have worked to a tee.   Given the recent goings on in Stillwater it is easy to see why Boren took his direction. 

At the same time, it must be pointed out that Boren’s approach was becoming woefully close to the edge.   The west side of the stadium has deteriorated badly over the past several years as anyone making restroom or concession run during that time can attest.   Halftime in the concourse area had become reminiscent of a day on the midway at the state fair.  References by high school prospects to the facilities at OSU had gotten old. 

With new stadiums popping up in Stillwater, Waco, and Fort Worth and major renovation projects going on in Lubbock, Austin, Manhattan and even Ames, OU was falling desperately behind the rest of the region in the area of facilities.    

Then it finally happened….  The University is on the verge of keeping up with the Jones in a big way.   The $370 million dollar project will create a second to none venue at Memorial Stadium.   Quoting a line from a Seinfeld episode, the stadium changes are real and they are spectacular.   No program in this part of the country will have a recruiting advantage over the Sooners with these new digs.  Even more impressive is the fact that Boren will not be forced to turn the university’s keys over to a Pickens-like donor.   Many friends of the football program will be involved in this project.   

If the Sooners can put together a couple of stellar seasons on the field, the Sooners will become untouchable over the next decade when it comes to recruiting talent to Norman.    Top ten recruiting classes will become the standard at OU once again.  Even rumors of the renovation project have paid off as twenty four (24) prospects listed on either the Rivals or Scout top 100 lists have expressed an interest in visiting Norman this fall.   Recruiting top quality players just got a lot easier.  

What changed things?  First, the University under David Boren’s leadership is on the cusp of becoming a top 100 U.S. News and World Report university.   This fact allows him to move forward with the football makeover without selling out to football.   OU fans will now have the best of both worlds.   Boren can sell the football team to conferences that may come calling while boasting about his top 100 academic program.

Secondly, David Boren is a genius when it comes to fund-raising.  He realizes that football success can be directly tied to fundraising efforts for the university at large.    Studies have shown that student enrollments spike anytime a team wins a national championship or a big game.  It can be assumed that OU will be turning students away this fall after the OU win over Alabama last January.  Same goes for fund raising for infrastructure needs.  Donors love a winner and they are much more likely to give to the Geology Department when the football team is producing big wins over rival schools.       

Boren realizes that there is no point on waiting for Aggie lawmakers at the State Capitol to loosen up their purse strings for higher education.    Boren has decided he must circumvent state politicians by putting oil billionaires in football suites.  This move will translate to millions for both stadium renovation projects and classroom additions.   Boren knows that for every dollar he raises for football, another dollar will be raised for university infrastructure. 

Lastly, a final reason for David Boren to sign off on this project is his feeling that OSU has turned the corner.    Boren’s affection for OSU is well-documented and he has made it clear that OU will never leave little brother behind.   The Pickens renovation project coupled with on-field success for the Cowboys has apparently assured Boren that OSU has turned the corner.   Boren hopes that the positive energy coming out of Norman will overcome the OSU albatross and make an OU/OSU package acceptable to future conference suitors. 

One last positive note:   In terms of the future of the Big 12, OU and not Texas will be calling the shots.  

Sorry Charlie…

Boomer Sooner…


OU-Texas Cotton Bowl contract extended…      

The Cotton Bowl contract for the OU-Texas game has been extended subject to regent’s approval for five more years.  The game will now run through 2025.   This move keeps the game away from Jerry World for another decade which is great news.   The news that I eventually hope to hear about this game is still on the horizon. 

It would be great to see this game played under the lights just one time.   While the uniqueness of the game is special, a night game would jack up the revelry level several decibels.   As someone who was raised on 1:30 OU starts, I can attest that there is no comparison between the atmosphere of a day game and night game.   You might say the difference is like night and day…

What is the hang-up?  Some have suggested that the issue is the Cotton Bowl neighborhood that precludes playing the game at night.  Obviously, these folks have never been to a game at the Orange Bowl.  Others will suggest that the older fans who have been raised on day games.  I am not buying that argument either…Even the oldest dog can learn a new trick from time to time.  

Bottom line is that there is no really good reason for rooster kickoffs…The bands entering the stadium at 10:00, not to mention pre-game at 10:30.  Most OU-Texas fans can’t even open their eyes that early after a night of partying.  Who needs fourth quarter temps in the 90’s.   

Honestly, I can’t think of one good reason for morning kickoffs…What I can see however is an OU-Texas game under the lights where the colors are brighter, the bands are louder and the fans are simply out of their minds.   Why can’t what we see every Saturday night in SEC country happen in Dallas.  As a matter of fact, this is the one Big 12 game that can compete in terms of pageantry with anything the SEC can throw out there on a Saturday night.   

As OU and the conference attempts to keep up with the SEC on the football field and on the ledger sheet, the time has come for OU officials to think outside the box.   The SEC just signed a new t.v. deal with CBS, ABC and ESPN that will generate $34 million dollars yearly for each team.  This t.v. deal outdistances the Big 12 deal by $14 million.   With the conference locked into ten teams, four of which are bottom feeders, a round robin schedule and no championship game, it will be up to individual conference teams to make up the difference.   

The 7:00 Saturday night slot would break all kinds of viewership records.  The entire country and most importantly the entire country’s blue chip prospects would be glued to the tube.     While the game will be special regardless of its time slot, the game could bring in millions of new dollars to conference coffers.   If conference officials can’t see this, OU and UT should illuminate the matter for them.  Not widely known is the fact that the home team loses money on the game every year.  While this game generates $5 million for each team, an extra home game in Norman or Austin would raise twice that much.   

While this may not be a reason to move the game to a night game, I know how athletic directors think and I am giving them an excuse to make it happen.     If we start paying players which in one form or another is going to happen, OU and UT will need additional revenue to keep up with the SEC.  

Simply put, nothing stays the same in college football these days.   The Big 12 is fighting for its conference life and providing the nation a Saturday night alternative to the SEC would be a huge step forward for the conference.   

One last reason for making the OU-Texas game even bigger…No one should assume that Texas will always be a part of the Big 12.  As we know Texas will always take care of Texas…Making the OU-Texas game an even bigger spectacle with an even bigger purse will ensure that OU-Texas in one form or another will always be with us.  Contracts as we know are made to be broken and the 2025 agreement is just that an agreement that Texas could disregard in a New York minute.   The Horns are still smarting from the A&M saga that turned UT into an after-thought overnight.  I expect that Texas will not be beaten to the punch next time around. 

I, for one do not want to think about life without OU-Texas.  If you think that this could never happen, let me remind you of OU-Nebraska and/or Texas-Texas A&M.     In order to make an OU-Texas night game happen Joe Castiglione and particularly the new Athletic Director from Texas, Steve Patterson will have to make it happen.  While the rest of the Big 12 would benefit with its conference life, waiting for a 2nd to the motion from the other conference members is unlikely.  They fear that OU and Texas will run away and hide and leave the football crumbs for rest of the conference.  Joe C. needs to take the lead on this one or risk being left at the altar by Texas…

Finally, for those who believe that an OU-Texas night game will never happen, I remind you that I never thought I would see the Berlin wall go down, but it did…Never say never…Miracles do happen and this one is a miracle worth waiting for…





2014 = Scoreboard watching

Some of the greatest times for college football fans can be had from predicting an upcoming football season.  Of course it is human nature to believe that the home team will go undefeated.  Otherwise, college football is a crap-shoot every year which makes the game unique and adds to its allure.  At the same time certain variables play major roles in a teams projected finish. 

This year with the final four playoff system in place, predicting a teams finish will be even more complicated.   The newly installed playoff committee selection will make things even more eventful in 2014.  The second weekend in December will be to football fans what March Madness selection Sunday has become to basketball fans. 

What concerns me most about this process is the fact that we do not know how the selection committee will weigh out a team’s strength of schedule.  In the past we had the computers to do that for us.  It is likely that the committee will use similar techniques, but then again we will have the human element this year that will play a bigger role than in the past.  That’s right things just got more complicated and more importantly, possibly more unpredictable.  

That be as it may, the Big 12 faces another issue…The Big 12 is the only power conference without a championship game.   As we know humans tend to value what they see last as most important.   It is likely that SEC, ACC, Pac 12 and Big Ten championship games played on major networks will have no difficulty impressing America and selection committee members the day before selection Sunday.  It will be critical for OU and Baylor to do the same with its OU-OSU and Baylor-K-State games that weekend.

The Big 12 has taken a major step to help out here by beefing up its Big 12 non-conference schedule, a move that will certainly beef up the conference RPI or strength of schedule rating.   First things first, it will be important for conference teams to compete against the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Tennessee and UCLA.  This was a bold step and a necessary one, but it will work only if conference teams compete well…

Upsets have to be avoided and all games must be competitive.     OU and Baylor will be the beneficiaries of this move as the Sooners play a young, but respectable Tennessee team at home while Baylor plays the weakest non-conference schedule in America.    As stated previously, a November 8th matchup between undefeated Sooners and Bears teams would do wonders for the conference chances in the final four, particularly if the conference has enhanced its RPI during the nonconference portion of the Big 11 schedule.

For an insurance policy it would be nice for one of the power conferences to go south prior to championship Saturday.   The SEC is still the SEC and we can pencil in this conference as final four finalist.  The ACC with Florida State on one side and solid championship game competitors on the other can be penciled in as well.   Same goes for the Pac 12 as the PAC 12 will be loaded with several top ten teams in 2014.  That leaves the Big Ten and the Big 12…

With academics weighing down the Big Ten conference, there are only a handful of stout teams at the top of this conference.    Two teams stand out; The defense-minded Michigan State Spartans and the and the Braxton Miller-led Ohio State Buckeyes.  It would be preferable for both these teams to have at least one loss going into championship Saturday; 

To make this happen, we need Oregon to take out Michigan State at home early in the season.   Then, we need Michigan State to take care of the Buckeyes in East Lansing in November.  This gives both these teams a loss.  Most importantly, it gives Ohio State their loss late in the year.  

For safe measure, let’s have LSU take care of Wisconsin in August and for Wisconsin to dispatch of an overrated Nebraska team at home in mid-November.  There you have all the Big Ten pretenders have one loss making the winner of this game less attractive to the selection committee on selection Sunday.   Even if the Sooners were to stub their toe during the season a strong game against Baylor and OSU on championship Saturday late in the year should put the Sooners in great shape.   If all of this comes to fruition, even a one loss Sooner team will make the four team playoff format.  An undefeated Sooner team would make OU a top two seed. 

I know it sounds like I am overthinking the process, but then again this is what college football junkies do during the dog days of summer.  This process also allows us to scoreboard-watch during OU blowouts. 

Here is the way it looks on paper…

  • August 30th – LSU over Wisconsin…
  • September 6th – Oregon over Michigan State…
  • November 8th – Michigan State over Ohio State…
  • November 8th – OU over Baylor…
  • November 15th – Wisconsin over Nebraska…
  • December 6th – OU dismembers OSU…
  • December 7th – OU makes final four…


Final four teams in alphabetical order…

  • ACC
  • Big 12
  • Pac 12
  • SEC


Boomer Sooner…



Breaking News out of Stillwater = OSU moves up signing date…

John Helsley, OSU beat writer for the Oklahoman wrote recently that OSU had already signed five blue chip players to letters of intent.   He went on to report that the Cowboys were kicking butt on the recruiting trail and were on the way to a top ten class.   Of course I was upset that I had missed the memo from the NCAA changing the signing date. 

Either Helsley miss-spoke or is as dumb as Mudd or both.  Granted the Cowboys have secured the commitments of a couple of high profile prospects, but commitments are a long way from signings.    Five star running back Robert Jones is the real deal.   He is a top 50 nationally ranked running back out of McKinney, TX.    Additionally, Jaylon Lane, a four star recruit out of Nacogdoches is another solid pick-up for the Cowboys.  

Unfortunately for the Cowboy faithful, it is still just June and in spite of Helsley’s assertion the real signing date is still eight months away.   One must wonder what the rush is here as the Cowboy mouth-piece appears particularly anxious to lock up these two guys for the Cowboys early.   Is it possible that rumors have emerged that Robert Jones may be looking around and that Jaylon Lane’s really wants to be a Sooner or is there more bad news on the horizon. 

Regardless of the motive, teenage minds being what they are, it may more necessary than normal for OSU to wrap up high profile recruits as early as possible this year.   With all the bad news coming of out Stillwater these days and possibly with more on the way, OSU coaches will want to get their recruiting class in the barn as early as possible. 

Signing these guys to letters of intent early would be great for OSU, but unfortunately or fortunately things don’t work that way.  This is exactly why the NCAA should not consider an early signing period.  Allowing high school players an opportunity to change their minds after a closer examination of a football program is important.  Three months ago, Jones and Lane would not have known about the embarrassing API score that will cause the Cowboys to lose practice time this year or the latest Gangsta U. felony.  

Highly recruited Devon Thomas out of Broken Arrow has been charged with two counts of armed robbery and one count of shooting with the intent to kill in a recent drug deal gone bad.    Normally, OSU officials do a nice job of keeping their gangsters out of Logan County lock-up.   In this case, Thomas was out on parole in his home town of Tulsa when he decided to change one orange jump suit for another.   

As Devon Thomas joins Gangsta U’s alumni Perrish Cox, Justin Blackman, and Dez Bryant on the America’s Most Wanted list, the Cowboys must be sweating their early commitments.   If they had signed these guys to letters of intent as suggested by Helsely the possibility of losing the nucleus of their 2015 recruiting class would not be an issue. 

The Cowboys must now hope that the bad news coming out of Stillwater this spring has abated and that the Cowboy can recapture their momentum on the recruiting trail.   Unfortunately, for Gangsta U. fans I suspect that the bad news out of Stillwater is not over.   We are still waiting for the results of the internal investigation out of OSU related to the Sports Illustrated expose’.   While a whitewash of sorts is expected, it can be assumed that OSU cannot afford to come completely clean on these charges and I suggest at least some self-imposed penalties are coming..  Appeasing the NCAA will come at a cost.   

Regardless, bad news is bad news and any amount of bad news on this subject would be a third strike in a string of bad news this spring.  At some point the moms and dads of previously committed high school prospects will begin rethinking their commitments to OSU. 

In the meantime, let’s take a look at recruiting rankings for this week.  The first list was the one presented by John Helsely and the second comes to us from Scout.com.

  • Helsleys’s rankings…
  1. OSU
  2. Texas
  3. Texas Tech
  4. Rest of Big 12…
  • Scout.com rankings as of 6/8/14… 
  •  Big 12 Ranking… The first number in parenthesis is the is the national ranking for each team.   The second number in parenthesis is the number of early commitments for each team. 
  1. (8) Texas (10)
  2. (18) West Virginia (10)
  3. (20) Baylor (11)
  4. (23) TCU (12)
  5. (26) Texas Tech (7)
  6. (27) OU (6)
  7. (36) OSU (5)
  8. (83) Kansas State (2)
  9. (89) Kansas (1)
  10. (93) Iowa State (1)   



Champions Bowl = Pros and Cons…


The Champions Bowl at the Sugar Bowl that appeared to be a done deal some six months ago is now on hold.    It will eventually happen, but not this year.  The reason for the one year hiatus is the NCAA drafted the Sugar Bowl for one of its two qualifying games.   The Champions Bowl, the brainchild of Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby was sold to the Big 12 schools as the Big 12’s savior.  That may still be the case, but that bowl game pitting the Big 12 and SEC champions will not play a role this year.    


If the truth be known Bowlsby was hedging his bets that the Big-12 would not make the four team playoff this year.   He was worried about the dismantled Big 12 competing with the other power conferences for limited final four opportunities.  Actually, this was a pretty shrewd move on his part given recent Big 12 history.  


Left with only ten conference teams, league officials opted for a round robin schedule and no championship game.  At that point, Bowlsby had to think fast and the Champions Bowl was his solution to guaranteeing a big time bowl at the end of every season.  The hope was that this season ending bowl game would keep the Big 12 relevant until the Big 12 was able to beef itself up in other ways.  With the SEC being what it is four power conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac 12) will be vying for the remaining three play-off spots each year.  If you believe the SEC propaganda the non-conference power conferences will be playing for only two playoff spots.   


The down side of the Champions Bowl scenario is the fact that until the power of the SEC is diminished there will always be a serious risk that the Big 12 champion that misses out on the playoffs will be playing the 2nd or 3rd best team from the SEC in the Champions Bowl.   This would obviously create a serious blow to the Big 12 psyche’ and in essence create a lose-lose situation for the Big 12 champion.  Of course for the immediate future, Big 12 fans must trust Commissioner Bowlsby’s leadership and believe that everything will work out for the best.  


Given the preseason situation for both OU and Baylor, the absence of the Champions Bowl will have little impact on conference opportunities in 2014.  With the stars being aligned as they are for 2014, the Sooners have an excellent chance to return the Big 12 to national prominence.  If this happens the Big 12 will begin playing for a final four spot on a regular basis and the conference will use the so-called Champions Bowl as a venue for conference runner-ups.   If OU and Baylor do their job, Baylor will also represent the conference in the Cotton or Fiesta Bowl which would give the conference two teams in major bowls.   This would be a best case scenario and one that would send the Big 12 back to the top nationally. 


If things go as planned, next year the Big 12 will be represented by a final four playoff appearance, as well as a Champions Bowl appearance in the Sugar Bowl by the league’s runner up team.  This would be the best of all worlds and would restore the conference’s national reputation. With national credibility comes recruiting success which will in turn make the conference a permanent final-four fixture.   Of course with this best case scenario comes with a lot of ifs and buts.  The pressure is also squarely on OU to right the conference ship.    Having said this, the importance of the 2014 season for the future of the Big 12 cannot be overstated. 


The following 2014 major bowl set up will make this happen…  


2014 Major Bowl Setup…


  1. Playoff game #1 vs. #4 (Sugar Bowl) Jan. 1 (OU)
  2. Playoff game #2 vs. #3 (Rose Bowl) Jan. 1
  3. At-Large team vs. Group of five (Cotton Bowl) Dec. 31 (Baylor)
  4. At-Large team vs. At-Large team (Fiesta Bowl) Dec. 31
  5. ACC vs. At-Large team (Orange Bowl) Dec. 31
  6. At-Large team vs. At-Large team (Peach Bowl) Dec. 31


Note:  Group of five will be represented by the highest ranked team from a non-power conference league.     



The Evil Empire versus America’s Team…


Is it me or do I sense that the NBA is doing all it can to ensure a KD/Lebron match-up for the NBA championship.   The masters of marketing have outdone themselves this year by insisting that these two teams make it to the finals.  This is reality t.v. at its finest…


What could be better…The good guys from the heartland led by America’s Mother’s Day gift Keven Durant versus the Thug Brigade from south Florida.  Leading the Evil Empire is Lebron with a face that only a mother could love and the multi-tattooed Bird Man from Alcatraz.  This bunch represents the Yankees of the basketball world.  You either love them or hate them with nothing in between.  


Assisting me with my NBA conspiracy theory is the Thunder/Grizzlies match up where the small market Memphis Grizzlies looked to pull off the upset and send the NBA sponsored Thunder to the sidelines.    Thunder fans who ignored the obvious conspiracy here are as delusional as OSU fans.  Sidelining the Grizzlies’ best player in the 7th game was like benching Joe Montana for a championship game.   The Grizzlies were slam dunked by the NBA office…Not to be outdone was the 5th game of the Clippers series where the refs gift wrapped a win for the Thunder.


I know this may sound like I am a Thunder hater, but that is not it… The truth of the matter is that I am basically non-committal on the subject.   I must admit however that I see a lot of OSU mentality in Thunder fans as car flags and license plates are directly proportional to winning streaks.


I also tire of Thunder fans refusing to accept the obvious.    Be a fan, but accept the fact that NBA is playing a major role in picking the championship series finalists.   These fans have deluded themselves with the thought that the NBA is a sport.  Pure and simple the NBA is big business run by billionaires who script out the playoffs like made-for-t.v movies.


There is nothing wrong with that, after all this is America and this game is a perfect example of the free enterprise system at its finest.   While the more traditional and long standing sports of Major League Baseball and the NFL do the same to some degree, the NBA is in a league of its own when it comes to playoff orchestration. 


The NBA makes no bones about it.    It is more about the league than individual teams and the playoffs bear this out.  From a series of early playoff episodes where the lower seeded team have virtually no chance of coming out on top to the carefully choreographed playoffs at the end.  Most importantly, the NBA is banking on the American viewer loving a good versus evil plot…


It will be fun to watch over the next week to see if the Spurs and Pacers can rain on the NBA parade.   As for me, my money is on the NBA finding a way to give America what it wants, an Evil Empire versus America’s Team match up…


Gaylord-Wilkinson Stadium


Now that Dean the Dream has broken the news that OU will enter the 21st century with a massive stadium expansion, I have become consumed with another mission.  The timing of this endeavor could not be better.  With the naming of the new OU stadium now up for grabs it is time to reward the man and coach who put OU football on the map.


Last week’s article highlighted the Bud years and demonstrated that no coach in the history of college football can hold a candle to this guy.   This includes such stadium namesakes as Amos Alonzo Stagg, Bear Bryant, Lavelle Edwards, Bill Snyder and Oklahoma’s own Darrell Royal.  These guys were certainly pillars of the game, but again they lay in Bud’s shadow when it comes to greatness. 


The current name sakes are for Benny Owen (field), who coached the Sooners in the early 20th century, and the Gaylord family, who donated a sizeable amount of money the last time around.   I obviously have no problems with maintaining the Owen Field designation and for that matter continuing to pay homage to the Gaylord family, particularly if they kick in more money this time around.   At the same time, Bud Wilkinson’s name must also be remembered in a substantial way.


Adding fuel to this fire is the rumor that the next Headington Hall-type dorm will be built on the site of the current Bud House.  Similar to Headington, it stands to reason that the new dorm will be named after the person who puts up the most money for the project.  If this happens, the campus will have no building named after the greatest coach in history of college football.   This fact would be simply unconscionable and a real slap in the face to Bud Wilkinson and his players.  


Without rehashing the dominance of the Bud years, let’s just say no one and I mean no one will ever top his accomplishments on the field of play.   At the same time, Bud meant so much more to Oklahoma off the field.   Bud coached in an era when OU football was more than winning football games.  He single-handedly restored pride and dignity to a generation of Oklahomans beaten senseless by the Great Depression.  The pejorative term “Okie” was used to shame Oklahomans.  Football gave us hope and something to brag about on Monday mornings. 


Bud and the boys taught us how to fight back.   Oklahomans, who had little to call their own, always had OU football.   Every Saturday was a good day to be an Oklahoman.   The new stadium should be named in his honor.  This issue should be a slam dunk.


I understand how politics work and how donors that donate massive amounts of money get first dibs on naming rights.  This is the nature of big time football and I get that.  At the same time, I am hopeful that one or more of these major donors will hear from enough Sooner fans and honor Bud Wilkinson.  


This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for those of us who love OU football to do something special for the legend of the game.   This will be the last major building project of its kind in the next half century.   By the next time a building project of this kind comes along,  Bud Wilkinson will be like Benny Owen, a distant memory to most OU fans.   Young OU fans deserve to understand the measure of Bud’s greatness by reciting his name when they refer to the OU stadium.     


Let’s share the stadium’s name with the Gaylord family similar to the way that Alabama shared President George Denney’s name with the legendary Paul Bear Bryant.   By using the Alabama model, the new stadium can be named Gaylord-Wilkinson Stadium.  Takes care of the Gaylord legacy while honoring Bud. 


How it happens is neither here nor there, but it needs to happen.   If Sooners fans rally around this idea, the right donor or donors can make it happen.  Hopefully, this will happen sooner than later.


Boomer Sooner


OU’s Game of the Week réel…


Thanks to Doctor Tamage, who finds these gems on the OU message board, we are blessed with this black and white nugget from the Bud days.  While it was not a classic OU win, it does point out how dominant Bud’s teams were in those days.  It also demonstrates that things have not changed for KU.  Sticking with basketball has always been the best choice for the Jayhawks.  Give the Jayhawk fans credit however; it looks like Jayhawk fans may have orchestrated the first white-out…


By the way, the video is surprisingly good considering the fact that televised games were quite an anomaly in ’54. The first televised game on a regional level between Waynesburg and Fordham occurred only a decade earlier.  It was not until the 50’s that the NCAA allowed games to be televised on a regular basis.


The video is the game of the week featuring OU and Kansas.  While I was around when this nugget was on television, my family had not yet entered the 20th century and there was not television in the Story household.  At the same time, I had the second best thing as I listened to the Bob Barry doing play by play on my transistor radio.   In his prime Bob Barry was as close as one could get to being there in person, without being there in person.   At the same time an audio feed was not the same as seeing it in live time.


Doc T., the elder statesman of OU football, reminded me that this win was number 14 in the 47 game winning streak that ran from 1953 to 1957.  Adding to the dominance of the Big Red during this time period was the fact that this streak was on the heels of a 31 game streak that ran from 1947 to 1950.  The reason the OU stadium should be named after Bud Wilkinson and not a newspaper guy is that Bud Wilkinson made OU football what it is today.  Recovering from the Dust Bowl and the Okie era was no easy task…Bud made it possible… 


Bud’s teams won 3 national championships and should have won a couple more AP titles during his heyday.   In addition the Sooners captured 13 consecutive conference titles during this time, a feat almost as impressive as the winning streaks.  


One last thing…Had it not been for Notre Dame, Bud’s teams would have never lost.  From mid-season 1951 and into the 1958 season the Sooners posted two ties to Pitt and Colorado and three losses to the Irish.   During a 71 game stretch in the 50’s (seven seasons in those days) the Sooners were 0-3 against the Irish and 65-0-2 against the rest of college football.  It is no wonder that the old timers hate the Irish so much. 


It is also no wonder that OU fans are so arrogant…We have the facts to back it up…


Boomer Sooner…

Its still early, but…  

Like most OU fans I find myself wishing for the Sugar Bowl bliss days…The top of the mountain feelings that came with the biggest Sooner win in years that culminated in one of the strongest recruiting season finishes in years was oh so sweet.   Making matters even better was the fact that the strong 2014 finish paved the way for best early commitment recruiting season in years.    

Traditionally, OU is not part of the early commitment craze, choosing instead to bide its time through the evaluation and offer phase.  Even with the rest of the world getting on board with the fad, the Sooners have hung tight.   With the euphoria of the Sugar Bowl dripping like honey, Sooners prospects could not help themselves as one after made their commitment to the Sooners.   Almost overnight OU had lined up top flight recruits for the 2015 class.    Life was good…

Sooner fans were ecstatic as this was unchartered territory for a Bob Stoops coached team.   Leading the way was home-grown and four-star product Josh Wariboko.  Buoyed by early returns  Sooner fans saw the start of something big as more high profile commitments were expected in-and-around the spring game.   With a record crowd accentuating the positive tone of spring game, Sooner fans hit the recruiting wire services expecting word of an avalanche of new commitments.  This anticipation was quickly disposed of as the Sooners hit the recruiting skids. 

Unfortunately, the avalanche of spring game recruits never materialized …Adding insult to injury was the news that Josh Wariboko had de-committed.  Then things went from bad to worse as OU lost four-star defensive lineman Du’Vonta Lampkin.  While Lampkin is saying all the right things about still keep OU on his radar, that dog won’t hunt.  Once the SEC/A&M bug bites a player, it is pretty much over.    Wariboko may be a different story with his proximity to Norman and his parent connection to the school.   He may still end up a Sooner regardless of his brother’s situation.  Only time will tell in both cases, but regardless it appears that the Sugar Bowl highlight reel may have lost its luster with recruits.     

For Sooner fans this can be frustrating.   At the same time it is important to keep in mind that this is business as usual for Stoops recruiting.   There is no need to panic as the Sooners traditionally start slow only to pick up steam during the season and tend to surge at season’s end.    Last year the Sooners were languishing in the 30/40 range early in the recruiting season.   With a late season surge accentuated by the Sugar Bowl the Sooners signed the likes of five star recruits Michiah Quick and Joe Mixon, and shot to a top ten finish.   All of the sudden the Sooners were back both on the field and on the recruiting trails. 

Don’t get me wrong putting early commitment hay into the barn would be nice, but that would not be the Bob Stoops way.   Bottom line is this…Being the conservative coach that he is, he prefers to line up potential signees and then secure them with a great season.  This process does not always work to perfection as the Sooners slipped both on the field and in recruiting wars a few years back.  Last year the Stoops strategy worked to perfection and this year OU and Stoops have a chance to use this tact to its advantage again.    Many times early season commitments don’t pan out…Recent Texas recruiting classes are prime examples of this fact.   Same goes for being too patient… The Stoops way is the later and sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. 

In 2014, the Sooners will apparently take the wait and see approach as they attempt to hang on to top tier prospects in hopes that as an undefeated season followed by a final four appearance will create an end of recruiting season surge.   As usual Bob has left himself and Sooner fans little wiggle room in the recruiting matter.   So be it, the ball is in Bob’s court to make it happen.  Armed with the best team in years and a ready-made schedule, a continuation of last year’s end of year recruiting surge is in the works..

At the same time it will be important for Stoops to keep in mind that anything less than a playoff run will not get it done.   An appearance in the so-called Champions Bowl against the SEC runner up will not impress the likes of Quick and Mixon.   Just like Oklahoma, there is only one Alabama and last year’s Sugar Bowl win reflected that magic.   Beating a Georgia in the Champions Bowl will not be the same as beating an Alabama.  

I second guessed Stoops last time around and so this time I will give the coach the benefit of the doubt.  A playoff season capped by a national championship game appearance will land the Sooners another top ten class.

The fun part will be to check back next February to see if the Stoops strategy holds up. 


Rivals national top Ten and Big 12 recruiting rankings… commitments in parenthesis…

  1. Alabama (15)
  2. Penn State (12)
  3. Clemson (11)
  4. Tennessee (11)
  5. Texas A&M (8)
  6. LSU (9)
  7. Florida State (9)
  8. Auburn (12)
  9. Nebraska (10)
  10. Miami (11)


14. Texas (8)

16. Baylor (8)

19. TCU (9)

20. West Virginia (10)

30. Texas Tech (6)

31. Oklahoma (3)

43. Oklahoma State (4)

59. Kansas State (1)



2014 Preseason Rankings…

It is never too early for preseason list and Scout.com has released this one that coincides with spring football practices.   Preseason rankings always create interest for OU fans, but this year is extra special.    With the taste of Bedlam and Sugar Bowl wins still in the mouths of OU fans 2014 cannot get here quick enough. 


I suggest that there is another reason for OU fans to emphasize preseason rankings.   The Sooners will not only be carrying the OU banner this year, the Sooners will be carrying the banner for the long term prognosis for the Big 12 Conference.  if the Sooners take care of business, a top five preseason start will likely guarantee a top five finish for the Sooners.   With an undefeated season, the Sooners can expect to edge out one of the power conferences for one of the four playoff spots.  


The Scout rankings give us both good news and bad news.    Actually, there is a double dose of good news in the form of OU’s #2 ranking.  The other piece of good news from the Scout preseason rankings is that it appears that the Big 12 is down again that should allow the Sooners to run the table.  The bad news is that the Big 12 appears to be down again.  This message may sound like a double entendre or a mixes message.   The truth of the matter is that with the Big 12 being down again, the Sooners will be hard pressed to muster RPI respect with wins over mustering respect for OU wins over weak opponents.  


Breaking down the preseason rankings finds the highest ranked opponent on the OU schedule as #20 Texas.   From there the schedule goes from weak to really weak with team’s ranked #’s 25, 27, 28, 32, 44, 45, 62, 76, 91, 96, and 107.    Again beating up on these teams will not help the Sooner strength of schedule rating (RPI).   At the same time pollsters will not care about opponent ratings if the Sooners run the table.


Win them all and OU will be in the final four playoff team.   Adding to the pressure will be the fact that an undefeated season will invariably ensure a top two seed that will likely ensure a championship game appearance. Lose a game along the way with this schedule and the Sooners and the Big 12 could be toast for an appearance in the final dance.  


Looking at the schedule two games jump out…The OU-Texas game in Dallas and the Texas Tech game in Lubbock in mid-November.   The Lubbock factor scares me, particularly if the Red Raiders enter this game with momentum.   Kliff Kingsbury has had a season and off season to retool the Rid Raiders and it can be assumed that he has circled this game on his calendar as break out game for Tech.


Unfortunately, by creating a watered down conference Big 12 and OU officials leaders have left OU little wiggle room in this matter.   With Sooner Magic in vogue once again, my money is on a Sooner win in Lubbock, running the table and National Championship #8.


Below are the Scout’s thumbnail highlights of the nation’s top five team.   Next, you will see the Big 12 rankings and finally the nation’s top 50.

  1. AlabamaThe 2014 Team Is Trending … grouchy. Nick Saban lost three in a row – There won’t be a sense of entitlement with this team, which could make it uh-oh time for the rest of college football.
  2. OklahomaThe 2014 Team Is Trending … fired up.   However, it’s Oklahoma. You know there will be at least one meltdown. Could the Sugar Bowl win be the springboard back to true national title superpower status?   If nothing else, it showed that the program could still turn on the talent with athleticism and speed.
  3.  Florida StateThe 2014 Team Is Trending … up.    Even after beating Auburn for the national championship, there’s no let-up from the Seminoles. The program is talent-rich and experienced. 
  4. OregonThe 2014 Team Is Trending … steady.   The Ducks will begin this season much the way they began the last five—favored to win the Pac-12 and contend for national honors.   There’s plenty of promise and potential to get into the tournament and make some noise.  
  5. UCLAThe 2014 Team Is Trending …up.    Mora has a good thing going at UCLA, and he caught a huge break when Hundley came back for his junior season. This could be the breakout year the Bruins have been after for more than a decade.


Big 12 teams ranked in the top 30 according to Scout…


20.  TexasThe 2014 Team Is Trending … impatient. Texas should’ve won the Big 12 title last year, and it should’ve been far stronger in key games other than Oklahoma. Every coach in America would dream about the team, facilities and potential that Strong now has, and he needs to win a national title yesterday.

25.  Oklahoma StateThe 2014 Team Is Trending … under the radar.  Many made Oklahoma State the preseason favorite to with the Big 12 title last year, but now it’ll be all about Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor. OSU might be able to sneak up on everyone.

27.  Baylor…The 2014 Team Is Trending … “it.” This is one of the cool programs going, and the latest recruiting class is reflecting it. Losing to UCF certainly wasn’t anything positive, but Briles is still the head coach – he’s not wearing burnt orange and living in Austin – and the offense is turning into one that everyone seems to want to be a part of.

28.   Kansas StateThe 2014 Team Is Trending … even. We pretty much know what we’re going to get from the Wildcats at this point. They might not be good enough to win the Big 12 title, but they’ll over-deliver on their way to another strong season in an even league.


The rest of the Big 12 (national rankings in parenthesis)..


  1. Oklahoma (2)
  2. Texas (20)
  3. OSU (25)
  4. Baylor (27)
  5. Kansas State (28)
  6. TCU (44)
  7. Texas Tech (45)
  8. West Virginia (62)
  9. Iowa State (76 )
  10. Kansas (91)