Emails on OU-Tech, Stoops, OSU & Thunder
We’ve moved the emails to Saturday. Hope that doesn’t rock anybody’s world. But we’ve got plenty to respond to today, from OU-Tech, to Bob Stoops calling out the fans, to the BCS, to P.J. Carlesimo’s firing. Let’s get started, with the game of the year.
James wrote, “I am getting pumped up for the game. As long as we don’t have a stupid defensive game plan, I think OU crushes TT. The media is really worrying and hacking me off, though. It seems they have already decided that if there is a three-way tie between OU, TT, and UT, that UT deserves to be ranked higher because of the head-to-head victory over OU. The facts are, OU barely lost to UT, they were leading the entire game until the last eighth of the game. UT scored over half its points when Reynolds was lost for the game, currently his replacement is playing well. UT benefiting from bad late-hit calls, a controversial INT getting ruled an incompletion and KO return TD that had two clips not called. A lot of national media (several ESPN guys, ABC, Fox) keep saying UT dominated OU which is just a lie.”
How’s this for a deal. The fan base that gripes the least about officiating gets their team in KC? No team ever won more fair and square than Texas against OU. The better team that day won, and if that puts the Longhorns in the Big 12 title, so be it.
Michael wrote, “I am OU alum and also a huge stat person. You state OU has kept opponents inside the 30 yard line 58 times out of 87 kickoffs. We know three (actually four) of the 87 have been returned for TDs. What is the breakdown of the other 26 kickoffs? How many kickoffs have been returned to our side of the field?”
Sorry, Michael. I misplaced where I wrote out that research. But it wasn’t a big number. Two or three kickoffs have been returned past midfield but not been touchdowns.
Kalip also wrote about kicking: “Maybe the real answer to OU’s kick problems should be addressed the same way Mike Leach addressed his kicking problems. Find someone out of the stands that can kick the ball into the end zone. The problem is, if you kick the ball to the 10- or 5-yard line it has to be returned, thus exposing OU’s lousy kick coverage. Most teams probably don’t have that good of kick coverage teams because a deep kick can hide a lot of problems. I’ve watch our kicker struggle to get the ball to the end zone even with the wind this year, which is just embarrassing. I understand this is a student athlete, but lets lay the blame where it needs to be. If your quarterback couldn’t throw a 15 yard out route wouldn’t you find one who could?”
Well, a big-legged kicker would help, but there’s tons of teams that kick it to the 5-yard line, then don’t allow a TD. And this isn’t the von Schamann days of 1977. Balls kicked off from the 30 don’t reach the end zone all that often. Touchbacks are more rare than ever before.
Marine wrote, “The key to (OU) winning this game is pressure on Harrell. You must get in his face every down. I don’t think OU can do that, not enough defenders. Tech 48-35.”
I recommend a little face-guarding on Sam Bradford, too, if Tech wants to win.
David wrote, “The wife and I are booked for the Texas Tech game (air, rental car and hotel). If I had known when I booked the air travel that the temperature was going to be cccccccold Saturday, I might not have made them. I remember standing atop the south end zone for the OU Nebraska game back when Nebraska scored on a late takeaway from Keith Jackson and returned it for a TD. OU won, and the game was great, but it was really cold and windy. Wish I were watching from a warm suite like I hope you are.”
Weather is overrated. Wear an overcoat.
OK. Enough about the game. Let’s talk fans. Jeremy wrote, “I have been ruminating on an idea for awhile that you might be so inclined to write about one day. It’s about crowd noise. Bob’s presser yesterday reminded me of it. I realize that Bob may have used these comments as ‘motivation,’ but I have heard these comments before. Here are some points that might be worthy of discussion: 1. Most stadiums that people think of that are loud have canopies or sound reflecting structures (Oregon, Alabama, Florida, etc.). OU’s stadium does not have either of these this. 2. The crowd has no idea how loud it is being. One’s definition of loud is very subjective. I sit in the north end zone and think that I am loud, but I know that when the opposition is on the 5-yard line in the south end zone, I don’t really think I am helping by being loud. When I sat in the student section I thought I was loud. When I have had the occasion to sit in 50-yard line seats, I could hear the students being loud and the north end zone being loud, but again I thought we were relatively loud. 3. Owen Field has no mechanism to provide feedback to the crowd about its impact on the game. In summary, I do not think that the fans are the only source of the ‘problem’ of less noise for opponents. I think that whomever is in charge of coordinating game day at OU, past/future architectural decisions have just as much impact on the noise. The power of coordination is amazing, and in my opinion the onus of that coordination falls upon those who run the stadium, not an individual fan who starts an “OU,OU,OU,OU” chant.”
But isn’t it a lot easier just to blame the fans?
Mark wrote, “I was deeply disappointed in Stoops’ comments about how he perceives the fans’ role in the 59-2 home record during his time here. As a die-hard, lifelong, Sooner-born, Sooner-bred fan and alum, I’m offended at his tone. If the stadium was empty in 2002 when we played Alabama, would we have won? If the stadium was empty in 2006 against Texas Tech, would the Red Raiders have folded offensively in the second half? For this week’s game, I paid $144 for two tickets. How dare he criticize what kind of fan I choose to be! Those high-priced tickets are paying his salary and he scoffs at the fans’ fandom! This is the biggest game in Norman since 2000 and he has made THIS a significant side story for the rest of the week. He’s acting like our home success is all because of him. HE recruited the players. HE coached them up. The success was all HIM. Well, if the home record has nothing to do with the fans, then his road embarrassments are ALL HIM. HIS team’s meltdowns away from the friendly confines of Owen Field are ugly and memorable for the entire country. He’s always been cantankerous. I thought it was just because he’s a private guy. But in the last couple of years, his arrogance permeates out of every pore. He’s not a Sooner. He may have embraced the tradition in the beginning, but he has never been one of us. His comments clearly drew the line between HIS program and the people who give out their hard earned cash to watch the football team we grew up loving. He may have been trying to get the fans to respond. He always talks about his player’s execution. Well, this was a lack of execution on his part and it’s not going unnoticed. If he chose to test the waters in the NFL or Knoxville or Seattle this year, there wouldn’t be a bunch of fans clamoring for him to stay.”
Here’s my take on what Stoops did. I don’t think he was doing much more than just trying to rile up the fans. But in effect, here’s what he did. He drew a line. He told the fans they really weren’t part of Sooner football. Ask Stoops if Michael Crabtree is better than Juaquin Iglesias, and he won’t say yes. Ask Stoops if Mike Leach is the best offensive coordinator he’s ever had, and he won’t say yes. But ask him if Florida fans are better than OU fans, and he didn’t blink twice in saying yes. The message was pretty clear to me. Stoops won’t knock his own. But the fans go under the bus.
David sent in this quote from Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson about a white-out plan for fans, calling it a different approach to the subject of homefield advantage and the impact of the crowd: “Hopefully, it will be fun for the fans and generate some excitement in the stadium. Having a nationally-televised game on Thursday night will hopefully make it electric here and get the crowd into it. I think I saw a statistic where Miami is 15-1 in Thursday night games so we will need the 12th man to help us out here.”
Hard to argue. Sometimes, tact goes a long way.
On to the BCS. Joe wrote, “How about writing a column about the bias of the so-called ‘computer polls’ aspect of the BCS rankings? First of all, calling these six polls computer polls is simply ludicrous. These computers spit out what the man associated with each one wants it to. Case in point…..Richard Billingsley, a big OU fan who carries absolutely no credibility as a voter. The week immediately after OSU defeated Missouri, the other five pollsters in charge of their computer polls had OSU ranked between 3 and 6. Billingsley had OSU ranked 11th or 12th.”
You know, Joe, you’re right. They’re not computers. They’re formulas, and computers do the heavy lifting. Yes, I’ve heard that Billingsley’s rankings is pro-OU. But two things. 1. The formula doesn’t change. He doesn’t gerry-rig it to give the Sooners an advantage; he can’t. And the formula doesn’t give points for wearing crimson or having a coach who wears a visor. 2. Billingsley doesn’t always boost the Sooners. This week, OU is ranked sixth by Billingsley. Two computers have OU fourth, one has OU seventh and three have OU sixth. Billingsley can’t prop up the Sooners even if he wants to, and if he could knock someone down, it wouldn’t be the Cowboys, I promise you.
David wrote about my Harris poll column: “I’ve always thought one of the most important jobs in the sport was the pollsters’, as proven in my ill-fated campaign to get you to vote in the AP poll. I consider the AP’s poll to be the most important even if it’s not part of the BCS, as I personally consider the national champion to be whoever the AP says it is. What I like best in the column is your point that the BCS shouldn’t have its Big Bowl participants determined by polls and computers at all, but by a small committee. It would give the BCS a lot more credibility, as I believe a great source of the ridicule aimed at the BCS is due to its ridiculous selection process. Further, I think it would improve the bowls if we then let the other bowls select teams the way they did pre-BCS, minus all the automatic bowl tie-ins. The current bowl selection process results in too many uncompelling matchups, whereas under the old system, each bowl was motivated to create as compelling a matchup as possible to sell tickets and get TV viewers. Personally, I’d say call off the Big Bowl altogether, just use the BCS as a way of letting the two perceived best teams play each other in one of the major bowls, and let the polls do their job of selecting a national champion.”
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