TULSA Under the big top on the grounds of the OU-Tulsa campus, a fan embraced the spirit of the Sooner Caravan auction Tuesday night. She paid $2,200 for a Rhett Bomar jersey. There's an excellent chance she got a bargain. The Sooner quarterback, with three years eligibility remaining, has a chance to become quite the Oklahoma hero. Part Tom Sawyer, part Tom Brady. A rascal of a quarterback. A QB who knows not caution; a QB who will try to put the ball and his body where even the brave dare not go. But a cloud hovers over what should be not only a promising Sooner season but also a historic OU career. Since last September, Bomar twice has been cited for underage drinking and once for hosting a nuisance party. Big deal? No big deal? All depends on the future, of course, but this much is for sure. It's big news when the incumbent OU quarterback, the state's crown prince, runs afoul of the law, even the misdemeanor side. Is Bomar rascal or rogue? Is he just a 20-year-old who hasn't grown up, or is he a knucklehead who never will? Bob Stoops says the former. "He's a smart young guy, Stoops said at a press conference before the Caravan party. "Well above 3-point (in the classroom). Always does well in everything he does. "I'm not going to condone any of that behavior. I also have a decent perspective on what it was. And easily correctable. I don't know what Bomar needs, whether it's running steps or counseling or just holding on until July 2, when he turns the legal drinking age of 21. But OU's athletic department stands ready to help Bomar. OU athletic director Joe Castiglione declined to talk about Bomar but did address the total program the Sooners offer. Education, prevention, intervention, on a variety of fronts. OU defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek went public with his alcoholism last year, and alcohol is the No. 1 problem on American campuses, athletes or not. But college athletes can have many more problems than alcohol. Nutrition, depression, relationships, stress. Great athletes aren't immune from the problems that afflict us all. "Everybody's supposed to throw the perfect strike or make a 3-point shot, and people think they're not supposed to have any problems," Castiglione said. "We have to use good, sound judgment to be aware, to be mindful, to be wise. It's also important to be discerning. Is it a problem or flat-out immaturity? We never assume it's either or." Chances are, Bomar's troubles are in the past. Jerry Schmidt's drill-sergeant act and Stoops' lecture provide plenty of motivation. Reaching 21 will help. Bomar likely will become more Tom Brady and less Tom Sawyer. But you never know. "You're always concerned with a player's development and maturity," Stoops said. "Rhett's learning through some mistakes. There's a responsibility. Everything he does will be analyzed and critiqued. "He's learned from that and will grow into a leader as he continues to develop." Bomar remains more potential than production. Watch him play and you sense a certain special something. His stats did not reveal that 10 interceptions, 10 touchdowns. Still, Bomar might be the best returning quarterback in a wiped-out Big 12, which will be missing Vince Young, Brad Smith, Reggie McNeal, Joel Klatt and Cody Hodges. "I expect him to be much-improved," Stoops said. "All the added experience of an entire fall season, all the games, all the practices, all the work in the spring." Believe the potential. But for that $2,200 jersey to rise in value, Bomar must stay out of further trouble. Berry Tramel: 475-3314, firstname.lastname@example.org. His radio show, The Writers Block, can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-7 p.m. on KREF-AM 1400, KADA-AM 1230 and KSEO-AM 750.
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OU fans on Bomar Jim Self, Broken Arrow: “I played baseball there in the ’50s. I think you’re going to have that (alcohol) from a young person. I would imagine they’d take care of it internally with the coaches. That is a worry, though. No doubt about that.” Steve Ludwig, Tulsa: Alcohol “kind of goes along with the college atmosphere, I’d say. He could do worse. I don’t know that he’ll ever make it to the NFL; he doesn’t have the stature. But he’ll do good when he gets some experience under his belt. If he’d been given the chance (early) last year, he’d have a little more experience.” Sandy Chalmers, Tulsa: “I think he’s got all the physical tools. Sometimes he gets a little ahead of himself. When you’re kind of young, you think you can get any ball in there. (The alcohol) doesn’t concern me at all. I went to OU, and I did it.” Jeremy Rogers, Tulsa: “I think the potential’s there. I think he’s gotta stay focused. That’ll be the key. He’s got to lead the team, become a leader. He was young last year and did some silly things.” Ups and downs