Oklahoma football: Readers respond to Cotton Bowl
Any OU football defeat brings out the best, and the worst, in fans. Especially a 28-point bowl loss, like the Sooners suffered Friday night in the Cotton Bowl to old friend Texas A&M. So it’s time for a mail bag. Some of the legion of emails I received, plus a little of my responses. Some of these emails are insightful, some are just therapeutic and some are just downright goofy. You’ll pretty much know which ones I think are which.
Bob: “Why are mobile quarterbacks and quick footed running backs getting so much yardage on OU? In the past we usually had two to three helmets on the guy with the ball. This is what Florida, LSU do quite often. My employee said that Harris missed him (Manziel) completely. I told him that one on one, you’re going to miss more than not, but when you have two on one with one in the back you are going to bring them down. This is the difference between the past and present defense. Recruiting, schemes and talent will make the defense better. Until then it will be tough to win more than ten games for sure.”
Excellent point. Remember what I wrote about Tavon Austin and his big day vs. OU. How modern offenses try to get the ball to playmakers in space, and they do that in the short passing game? Well, West Virginia got the ball in space to a playmaker merely by handing off. And we saw the next evolution – A&M got the ball in space to a playmaker merely by snapping it to him. OU needed multiple defenders around Manziel; it never happened.
Jim: “My thoughts, the offensive line has not had an attitude since Mark Mangino left! Somehow, someway, they have to regain that offensive swagger and attitude. Maybe Stoops should bring Mark back to coach the offensive line?”
I’m all for Mangino, but O-line is not about attitude or swagger. Those are defensive traits. Offensive line play is about strength and smarts and technique and schemes. Offense is zero part emotion.
Colleen: “Six months ago, how would you or other knowledgeable football fans have ranked the talent on Texas A&M’s football team?? I certainly did not hear anything about talent or a high recruitment class by A&M. Since OU beat A&M soundly last year, any outstanding talent seems to have been developed from minimal resources. It certainly seems that coaches make the biggest
difference. OU needs coaches who teach and inspire. Kevin Sumlin and his staff of coaches deserve the high praise they are getting for developing the talent they had and work with players against other teams’ weaknesses. Let’s hope Bob Stoops can recognize coaching talent around the USA and hire coaches who can be effective.”
Excellent points. Basically, the message is that teams and/or programs can be turned around quickly. But it doesn’t happen by osmosis. It happens through concrete changes, either in scheme or personnel or leadership.
Joel: “I think long-suffering OU fans are similar to long-suffering Dallas Cowboy fans. Remembering years of greatness and hoping they will return. But the game has changed and, frankly, it now takes a lot of good bounces to win championships. I don’t think Stoops is the best coach or that OU has the best players, but they are probably good enough, on both counts, to win a championship if the chips fall right. Just may not happen often. Maybe you luck into someone like Johnny Manziel, who’ll help keep A&M competitive for his time and maybe they’ll win a championship or two — or maybe not (they barely beat La Tech this year, for crying out loud). You could even make this argument about Nick Saban. He’s going for his fourth championship but three of those he was lucky to play in (picked over USC in 2003, over OSU last year and Oregon this year) and got to play Texas without their QB. It’s the age of parity in college and pro football, and there’s no way to fix that. Complacency can be a problem, but fans’ expectations are the real problem.”
Interesting point. Absolutely, luck plays a part. Barry Switzer’s best team (1973) didn’t win the national title and you could argue that neither did Bud Wilkinson’s (1949). Saban has been fortunate. But OU’s current problem isn’t that the Sooners are getting out-lucked. The Sooners aren’t getting close enough to title contention to get out-lucked.
Sandra: “You are absolutely dead on in your article today on my Sooners needing (among many other changes) a personnel makeover. Much work to do in offseason. I’m so worried nothing will change except our quarterback.”
Here’s an interesting question. Short of staff changes, what are the clues to look for between now and Aug. 31 for what has changed? Especially defensively? The offense, we’ll be able to see, if nothing else at least in the spring game. But that defense is going to remain a mystery.
Derrick: “I’m confused, because outside of having 10 season wins and a multitude of BCS games that have been lost since 2002, how did Bob Stoops clean up John Blake’s mess? Correct me if I’m wrong, the last time Stoops won a national title was with John Blake’s recruits, correct? I’ll save you the time the answer is correct. Since those recruits left Norman, what is OU’s record in national title games with Bob Stoops recruits and what is OU’s record in BCS games with Bob Stoops recruits? Now I’m not saying John was a better coach than Bob Stoops, by no means, but I am saying John was a better recruiter and knew what type of talent it took to win. He just didn’t know how to put them in the correct positions like Bob and Mike did. Bottom line Bob didn’t inherit a mess. He inherited a blessing that won him a national title and that is the legacy he has been living off of every since. John Blake’s recruits that won a national title.”
The Children of Israel Club is back in session. Derrick, you forgot what life was like back in Egypt. The answer to all your silly questions is, incorrect. John Blake left a mess. He left some talented ballplayers, most of whom were out of position or out of shape or out of sorts. He left no quarterbacks. To trivialize what Stoops did in 2000 — and to trivialize three national-title game appearances since then — makes Derrick the worst kind of fan. Worse than the pinheads who run onto the field in the middle of a game. John Blake knew what kind of talent it takes to win, but Bob Stoops doesn’t? I swear, this might be the most stupid email I’ve ever received. It’s got a chance. Your first statement was correct, Derrick. You are confused.
Tom: “Johnny Football is unique and frankly as quick as anyone I have seen. Oklahoma simply did not have the athletes to begin to stop him. However, Alabama did not stop the guy, either, and they are sure as heck a lot better than Oklahoma. That does not explain the other total collapse in other games that sure had not one in the class of Johnny Football. OU has given up in excess of 40 points in three of the last four games for goodness sake. The fourth, TCU, does not really have an offense, just a real good defense. I think my biggest surprise was that they could not score. I really thought the OU offense would keep them in the game. I was prepared for what I saw defensively, but not the inept offense. It did make me think, could the OU offense be productive in the SEC? I do not know the answer, but it certainly made me think twice. I am not panicked nor do I believe the program is on the verge of returning to the years of the fool Blake. I also do not think either Bob or Mike Stoops became dumb over the past couple of years. Both are defensive minded coaches and good coaches. What I do believe totally and have said repeatedly over the past two or three years is OU recruiting has taken a substantive dip. The bottom line is the coaches and staff simply have to get better Jimmies and Joes to execute the X’s and O’s to play with the top tier programs.”
I agree. With all the hoopla — well-deserved — over Johnny Manziel, it was the OU offense that collapsed in the Cotton Bowl. I didn’t know if A&M would score 41 points on the Sooners, but it wasn’t a big surprise. But 13? One touchdown? Basically unacceptable.
Jerry: “Entire defensive line has to be replaced. Now with four quarterbacks with good running ability, the offense will have to change. Is Heupel capable of handling that? This might not be fair, but it’s been my feeling that the offensive coordinator position is over Heupel’s head. Does Mike Stoops still have it as the defensive coordinator?”
The defense clearly is under indictment. But the Cotton Bowl did indeed bring serious questions about the offense. In OU’s three losses, the Sooners scored a combined four touchdowns. Not good.
Gary: “I say that when the Sooners are good on defense, they have good linebackers. There are no all-Big 12 players in the front seven. No Loftin, Clint Ingram or Rufus Alexander. No Frank Alexander, no Tommie Harris, Gerald McCoy, or even Adrian Taylor. The 2000 Sooners had no superstars on the D-Line, but a bunch of blue-collar guys that played well.”
I know everyone harps on the D-line, particularly the tackles, but the defensive tackles were not anywhere close to OU’s problem this year. The ends weren’t all that good, and the linebackers weren’t any good at all. The Sooners have to upgrade on defending the edge and in space.
Greg: “Contrary, the schooner wood is getting hot. I agree, defensively it is a personnel problem leading to our demise, but there are glaring fundamentals that have not been coached. Just some better talent will cure the ill. Offensively it is deeper. It is a philosophy problem, coaching problem and personnel. The coaching philosophy of dink and dunk is now proven to be very beatable. Just keep the dinkies in front all game. Fix: We best start running and power blocking. The coaching is average. That’s why Landry headed west last summer and others head to Houston or Dallas for coaching. It ain’t in Norman. The recruiting is poor.”
You know, there’s another indictment of Heupel, the George Whitfield deal. And now that the season is over, I think we all can say that Landry’s footwork absolutely got better this season. Remarkably better.
Jeff: “I just got back from the bowl game and last night confirmed what I have feared for some time. OU is a mess. Weak recruiting tied to a weaker conference, tired coaching and comfortable leadership at the AD and presidential level. Kids, apparently, want go play for and against the best. Why would any blue chipper want to go play in the Big 12 over the SEC, PAC whatever and the Big 10? Not many. Why would any kid (outside of Oklahoma) want to play at OU? Because nobody from the big three conferences offered I guess. Now, Mike Stoops is blaming the lack of talent for their pitiful performance. Whose fault is that? Brent Venables? I fully expected, when I opened up the Oklahoman, for him to be foaming at the mouth about getting trounced by 30 (again) but read that he feels they have made progress this year. Wow?!”
I think mess is too strong. And to list the Big Ten in some kind of “Big three” is loopy. OU’s not losing any recruits to the PAC, unless it’s Cali kids. But the SEC recruiting is a threat, no doubt about it.
Jon: “It certainly looks like A&M is on the verge of becoming an 800-pound gorilla. That being said, them joining the SEC I think is going to bite them. There’s no doubt in my mind that they cost themselves a spot in the national championship game this year, as they would probably would have gone undefeated in the Big 12 versus two losses they had in the SEC. With Johnny Manziel at the helm, I seriously think they could have gone on a four-year run in the Big 12 and played in the national championship much more often than they would by being in the SEC. Like you mentioned in your column, I’m certainly glad they’re the SEC’s problem now.”
Interesting. A&M certainly looks like it would have been the cream of the Big 12. On the other hand, going to the SEC seemed to invigorate the Aggies in a lot of ways, from attitude to excitement. Maybe A&M could have done the same thing with Kevin Sumlin by staying in the Big 12, but we’ll never know. The Ags do look like they could be SEC contenders in the coming years.
Les: “You giving way too much credit to those 10 wins. Look at the three losses. Teams that were physical on the line of scrimmage. In each of those games the spread in scores got out of hand in the second half as OU simply wore down. That program needs far more than a Johnny Football. My wish for 2013 is for Nick Saban to announce tomorrow morning that he is leaving Alabama and taking the job at Texas at $10M per year. That would do more to transform this program as well as the conference as a whole from this “arena ball” philosophy to more physically traditional and fundamental structures and make OU and the conference on the whole more to be more competitive on a national basis.”
Interesting idea. The notion that Texas’ descent has caused OU to slack. I think there’s some meat on that bone. In the same way that OSU’s ascent will get OU’s attention, perhaps UT’s lackluster seasons have given the Sooners a false sense of security.
Dan: “Agree with your point about no shame in losing to Manziel — he is simply better than our players. However, that is not to say that there shouldn’t be plenty of shame in the offensive effort. Stoops has done a great job since his arrival, but there is no denying the fact that he has an offensive coordinator in training running the O and that he simply does not display the ‘fire in the belly’ and no-nonsense approach he displayed upon his arrival. He appears very comfortable and is subconsciously OK with these type of results. The same guy that wouldn’t permit an excuse when he was hired now routinely recites excuses — if he opines about not having the personnel, I would respond that he is in charge of personnel (getting the right players, installing the right scheme, and ensuring players are ready are all part of his job description). The point is, to me, that he wouldn’t be making close to $4 million annually if he was not expected to get the right personnel – that is a LARGE part of HIS job. I humbly submit that these items are indisputable – you agree or am I too harsh?”
I think you’re too harsh on Heupel. He’s done a solid job, and while he’s young, and has his brain freezes (Trey Millard’s limited snaps vs. KSU), he’s got almost twice as much coaching experience as Kliff Kingsbury, who was A&M’s coordinator and who just got named Tech’s head coach, and has produced some quality results. Most other points, I’d agree. They are disputable — Stoops’ fire in the belly, who knows? — but I would agree.
Gene: “I’ve been at work this morning trying to defend OU for what happened. Just can’t do it anymore. I agreed with Switzer a long time ago when he said we no longer have the talent we used to have especially at LB and DL. He took some heat then but turns out he was exactly right. Some Sooner fans need to take the blinders off and realize this is true. Even if you take away the A&M game, our D still got lit up. Every game was a shootout. I can’t see where our defense will be any better next year. I see 4-5 losses, which is not acceptable.”
Switzer wasn’t talking about linebackers. He was talking about D-tackles. And defensive tackles weren’t OU’s problem this year. The linebackers were weak, and the pass rush off the edge was poor.
Sean: “I’m disappointed in how the program appears to have sunk in recent years. It seems like winning the Big 12 and scoring a bunch of points in nine or 10 games makes criticism of Stoops impossible. His defense when people bring up a bad game is that we did fine in the others. But that fails to explain the poor performances. Did OU really have a great offense that was just beaten by Notre Dame, KSU and A&M, or did it just exploit a bunch of lousy Big 12 defenses? Is winning 10 games in this conference really a big deal? We still lost to the best teams we played. Recruiting appears to be headed to another mediocre result. Fan displeasure seems to be running high. And the response that ‘It could be worse – remember the Blake years’ makes me want to respond that yes, but I also remember the Switzer years as well as the first few years when Stoops arrived. We seem wholly average, unable to compete on the national stage and getting by thanks to bad Big 12 ball. I think Stoops’ proclivity for hiring friends of friends vs. truly qualified candidates is hurting now. We have a tight end coach who shouldn’t have a job at the high school level. What does our linebacker coach do since they are clearly the weakest link on the team? How are we so lacking quality depth all across the defense and O-line? Can anyone explain this without getting defensive? Seems to me Stoops has a lot of problems and seems unwilling to address if even identify them.”
The Bruce Kittle saga is gaining momentum. And hurting the reputation of the rest of the staff. The idea that Tim Kish is a problem in the same vein as Kittle, well, that’s guilt by association. Kittle clearly was not qualified for the job. But Kish has been an accomplished coach for a long time. He was part of Northwestern’s 1995 miracle. Yet he gets dragged down with Kittle. I think that’s something Stoops has to address.
Bob: “Something is not right. OU needs defensive front guys more than any other top tier team in the nation. Like you said the ship is not on fire, but I see us losing at least three games next year unless we come up with three or four (can’t believe nobody recruited them) players on defense next year.”
That’s not going to happen. The best recruits OU could get are Tony Jefferson and Aaron Colvin. That would do more to stabilize the defense than anything else. The Sooners are not going to stumble into wunderkinds. They’re going to take their 2013 lumps.
Isaiah: “Do you imagine drastic changes being made by OU and the coaching staff this off season? It’s pretty clear after four seasons after a championship game appearance OU is not an elite team or program. Their talent is not elite and the coaching is not elite. I can understand that expectations are very high for a school like OU, but with the program that Bob Stoops helped to revive, I can only see them stagnating where they currently are unless changes are made. At what point will Bob Stoops look around and say he needs to get out of his comfort zone and stop hiring friends or friends of friends and make decisions focused on winning?”
It wouldn’t surprise me if Stoops did make staff adjustments. He did it last year, with a long-time friend (demoted Venables, as well as fired Martinez). I don’t know why he wouldn’t do it again.
Jim: “Thought you were more than generous with your comments than you should have been. Wanted to share my take on Cotton Bowl collapse. Was not at all surprised what Johnny football did to our defense. Fully expected A&M to put up points in the 40s, if not fifty. As far as I’m concerned, the defense did not lose this game. To quote Denny Green, ‘they are who we thought they were.’ What really shocked me was the second half collapse of our offense! At the half I was happy with what I’d hoped for, a competitive game. But what happened with the offense in the second half turned my stomach and made me thoroughly embarrassed. I’ve always been a Landry supporter, and I certainly don’t blame the second half collapse all on him, but how in the world can they play so bad in the second half? That, to me was the most embarrassing collapse of the entire season, if not the entire Bob Stoops era! It ranks right up there with the 2002 (actually ’03) Big 12 Championship loss to K State. If they had played like that in other games this year, they couldn’t have beaten the little sisters of the poor. Against a 3-man front, they couldn’t run the ball and the line didn’t give Landry enough time to find open receivers against the other eight defenders. And, the receivers did not run their routes well and then didn’t make the tough catches! What really stood out was the lack of yards after the catch in the entire game. I knew we were struggling when we settled for two field goals on the first two drives. But the game plan was working, long drives getting points and keeping Johnny on the sidelines. But, then when we had a chance to capture momentum to start the second half, we totally collapse offensively in the third quarter and they appeared to just give up in the fourth. My last thought on Landry was I was disappointed with his after game comments. I think it’s a clear example of why OU fans were never on his bandwagon. I wanted to see him angry and upset big time. Not just say ‘it happens.’ I think this will also hurt his NFL draft stock. His style of leadership will not work well in the NFL! One thing for sure, we will see a lot more fire out of Blake Bell, if he’s good enough to win the starting job.”
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 14605Oklahoma tornadoes: The 'Big Dog,' the little boy and the hug that triumphs over tragedy
- 9594Finding Addyson – One family's struggle in the Moore tornado
- 8537Oklahoma tornadoes: Cost, custom keep basements scarce
- 8009Oklahoma tornadoes: Plaza Towers Elementary School teacher shoved students into bathroom as wall collapsed
- 6980Oklahoma tornadoes: Woman meets the military officer who shared the clothes off his back
- 6486Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill to join Blake Shelton at "Healing in the Heartland" Oklahoma tornado benefit
- 6299Story behind the photo: Family members describe desperate search for one another after EF5 twister
- 5124Oklahoma tornadoes: Sooners bring back some smiles to Sydney Angle's teammates
- 5057Oklahoma tornadoes: Thunder reverses the role, takes a turn at cheering on the community
- 4620UPDATE: Search continues for boy, 17, missing in Uncle John Creek in Kingfisher
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients