Emails in on OU scheduling & Dez Bryant
The new emails are in, and there’s OU-Texas talk and lots of Dez Bryant dialogue but even more response to my column imploring Bob Stoops not to abandon his competitive non-conference schedules. And here’s the interesting part. Every OU fan agreed with me.
Sixto: “Really enjoyed your column about scheduling. OU had a heck of a schedule this year, and even though the team has been decimated by injuries, in retrospect they acquitted themselves quite well. The losses hurt like hell, but what this team’s youngsters have gained in terms of big game experience is invaluable. Sooner Magic has definitely jumped off the Schooner this year: a few plays here and there, a few breaks falling our way, and I can certainly see this OU team sitting at 5-1 or even 6-0 through this gauntlet. I am looking forward to the rest of the season and to a nice mid-tier bowl game in December that will most likely feature a pretty intriguing matchup (would love another crack at LSU). And those who have beaten OU had better get their licks in this year, because with the experience this team is accumulating, they will be salty and ready to take their rightful place again next year. Especially if Bradford decides to return, which I am thinking he probably will to bolster his plummeting draft stock.”
Well, I don’t think Bradford’s coming back, but I do think OU will be pretty good next year. Offensive lines tend to improve, and no way the Sooners can be any worse at receiver. Much more importantly, the defense should be stout again.
Larry: “I remember the old days when I couldn’t wait to see next years’ schedule and get excited about a big-name program that I would actually see in person. I didn’t want to see Southern Arkansas A&M. I wanted to see another marquee team that otherwise I would never see in person. What would John McKay, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Hayden Fry, Grant Teaff, Chuck Fairbanks, Ara Parseghian, any of these guys say about playing Northwest Mexico School of Arts and Sciences? It would be beneath them to play anyone other than a top quality, tough, scrapping opponent of equal capabilities, personnel, coaching and facilities. Beyond my little realm of reality of Stroud, OU played these big names that I would never travel to or see - Pittsburgh, Northwestern, Syracuse, Notre Dame (I couldn’t even control myself), Clemson, Navy, Wisconsin. Stay on board and stand up for what is right, not what has evolved.”
You know what I remember? I remember the flags that used to rim the top of OU’s Memorial Stadium. A flag for all the non-conference teams that the Sooners had played. North Carolina and Maryland and Navy and all the other opponents. Somehow, I don’t think Chattanooga and Idaho State belong in the same league.
Rick, obviously no OU fan, disagreed with the premise: “Here we go again. What a load of crap. I know it is your job to sell newspapers and coddle these poor Sooner fans, but have you ever thought about printing the TRUTH? Here are the three main problems I have with your article. 1) You act like Bob scheduled these games when you and I both know that Joe is the one who makes the schedule. 2) You state that Oklahoma football stands for something. Big stages and big games. But yet two weeks ago when Bob was asked if he would play Iowa, he said, ‘I do not see any need to unless it is for a championship.’ Does that sound like a coach who is not afraid of a big game? 3) Sooner fans don’t care who they play as long as they can beat them. I have five friends who are so-called Sooner fans, yet every one of them sold their tickets to the Texas game this year. I asked every one of them if they did it because they thought Texas would win. Every one said yes.”
Lighten up. What are you so angry about? Enjoy life. If football eats at you this much, go find something else. Golf. Water skiing. Sailboating. All kinds of great things out there. Don’t let something ruin your life. As for your ridiculous statements, which show you to be someone without a clue on college football: 1. OU doesn’t pull the trigger on any scheduling without Stoops’ OK. 2. Stoops wants to avoid Iowa not because the Hawkeyes are good, but because that’s his alma mater and he has a lot of friends there, including the head coach. I disagree with him on this, but if you ask him if he’d be willing to play Michigan or Michigan State or Wisconsin, the answer would be, “sure.” 3. You need a better class of friend.
Greg has an idea to improve scheduling: “I know the teams who play in BCS bowls have to cough up a portion of their winnings to their conference, but what about having a rule that requires those BCS teams to cough up some portion of their winnings to each of the non-conference teams they beat to get to the game in the first place? The money could be proportionate to the level of non-conference opponent. In other words, Idaho State would receive more than Brigham Young and Miami more than Brigham Young, etc. That way maybe a school gives a little more thought to who it schedules since it may have to pay twice (first for the home game, then for its BCS appearance). And the school that receives the gift winnings will have extra to help its program.”
If you’re going to make a rule like that, why wouldn’t you just make a rule imposing scheduling standards?
Joe: “Enjoyed your OU article focusing on the scheduling. I agree. As a fan of OU, I would much rather see the high intensity games than the gimmes. If we get beat, so be it, at least the game was worth watching. I’m glad OU is known for its difficult schedules and isn’t lumped into the groups like Texas, Florida, K-State, etc. who make a joke of competition.”
Let’s be fair. There are three classes of schedules. The total give-ups, who schedule no one. The serious schedules, like OU’s and USC’s and Georgia’s. Then the large mass in the middle, in which teams schedule one legit foe and three easy games. Ohio State and Florida are prime examples.
Billy: “You’re right. Would we have played LSU and Florida in the Big Show if we played a sissy schedule?! I doubt it. AD Joe is doing the right thing.”
The answer is no.
Joe: “Could not agree with you more. I’ve been a fan since the Jack Mildren days. It has been a tough year, but I guess this makes the championships and wins against the Shorthorns even sweeter. I’m in Washington state, what is the feeling down there? I hate to say, but I think the rest of the season will be a struggle.”
I would say the feeling is more encouraged now than after the other two losses. Less angst.
Steve: “You were right on target. I would rather play tough schedule and perhaps lose than have a game over by the first quarter playing a much lesser squad.”
It goes back to the Kosmo Kramer theory. Remember on Seinfeld, when Kramer was dominating in karate class, only to find out he was fighting 9-year-olds? That’s what it’s like playing Idaho State. It’s immoral.
Roger: “I agree with you and the article you wrote regarding OU playing a tough and respectable schedule as opposed to playing a cupcake schedule and being ranked in the top five. I personally have no respect for high profile programs who play cupcake schedules and strut around like they’re top dogs. Sure, they’re in the top five or 10 or whatever and they’ll play in some major BCS or bowl game. Big deal. That’s why we need but will not have in my lifetime, a playoff system.”
I’m not sure a playoff system would help. The wrong kind of playoff system would weaken the schedules even more.
Russell: “Good advice in your column today. My sentiments exactly. If the injury problems did not strike OU this year, I have no doubt they would be at the top of the BCS polls. Pride, honor and self respect do matter.”
Oh, I don’t know if OU would be 6-0 without injuries. Probably they would. But OU hasn’t played well even factoring in the injuries. That’s not the issue. The issue is standing strong even when others choose to flee.
Ed: “Your column was right on. I was there Saturday and proud of my team. We didn’t always play smart, but we played hard and courageously. I’ll take that any day. I’m now 0-7 at the Cotton Bowl and 0-9 in games away from Norman, but I’m already looking forward to being at the Cotton Bowl next Oct. 2. Texas is not much better than we are right now, even in our wounded condition, and the reason they win 10 each year is to a considerable extent because of the Louisiana Monroes and UTEPs of the world.”
You know, I think Texas deserves the bad rap it has on scheduling. But it might only be temporary. The Longhorns once played tough games. UCLA and Ole Miss are coming up soon. Maybe the ‘Horns will rejoin the prideful.
Eddie: “Right on with your view on the Sooner schedule. I love playing a diverse, tradition-rich schedule. I started taking my son to away games in 1996 when he was 13, thought it would be a great way to keep a bond through his teenage years. Fourteen seasons and three grandkids later we still go every week (his wife has latched on, also). Lots of overnight driving. I’m very excited about future games. I say all this to illustrate that although losses still eat at me for days (2001 OSU still!), us and thousands others enjoy our place among the hierarchy and wouldn’t have missed out on so many trips and memories.”
You’re exactly right. Idaho State makes no memories.
Jim: “After reading the article, I wanted to stand up and sing, ‘Glory, Glory, Hallelujah.’”
Everyone should. Maybe the greatest lyrics ever written.
Bradley: “I agree. Leave that soft schedule stuff to Kansas State.”
See what I mean? K-State actually has been playing decent schedules this decade. Louisville, USC, UCLA. But it’s hard to shed such a reputation.
Jonny: “As a Texas fan, I admit that I wish the Longhorns would schedule more marquee names. However, we need to keep in mind that these games are scheduled 4-6 years in advance at times and no one knows how good a team will be. Sure, the USCs, Ohio States and Oklahomas of the world tend to be great teams, but every once in a while they have a down year. No one can predict when that may occur. On the flip side, no one knows when a top 40 team suddenly has a great streak and becomes a top 25 squad. That is what’s going on with BYU, and Miami is starting to come out of their years of mediocrity. Sure, we know that Miami will most likely field a better squad than Arkansas State, but it doesn’t mean Miami will have any real chance of winning. By the way, Idaho State is on the schedule and that was a “money game” for OU. Can’t have pride 11 weeks out of the year. Gotta go all the way.”
So that’s the Texas battlecry? You played Idaho State? And you’re pulling out the old schedule-in-advance argument? Silly. Miami in its worst year is better than Wyoming, Central Florida or UTEP in its best.
Tom: “Although I respect the job Snyder did at KSU, the one thing I never appreciated about him and I think held him back in the esteem of many was the pathetic year after year scheduling. I have some other non X and O’s (I leave that to the coaches) concerns about the program right now. I listened about two weeks ago to an interview with a respected former SEC coach about the problems that led to the Fulmer termination. Looking at the game on Saturday, some of the things the old coach brought out about the Tennessee problems brought chills and the thought could this be occurring as incrementally and really not noticed as in Tennessee. I sure hope not. Some of the points included assistants that left for head jobs not replaced by equally talented assistant coaches, lack of fire in recruiting, getting the bottom of the best not the top of the best (not to infer bad just not the top) based more and more on reports and less and less on personal interaction to judge not just the 40 time but the entire person, an incremental element of complacency among support staff etc. and an element of cautious optimism and lack of willingness to take a chance as was done in the early years.”
Incrementally? I’d say so. The Sooners remain the reigning Big 12 champions, three years running. I know that mantle is about to be lost, but for crying out loud, this is getting silly. The Tennessee saga is interesting and worth looking into. But the idea that OU has fundamental flaws in its system is absurd.
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