The Sooners are No. 1 in college football's first preseason poll that matters. The Cowboys are No. 8, their highest preseason ranking ever.
Revelry reigns. Expectations soar. Bedlam Nation combined, this might be the most anticipated year ever.
Or at least since 2009. Yep. Brand me a party-pooper. I can't deny it. But before we go too far mapping parade routes for historic seasons, don't forget two seasons ago.
OU No. 3 in the preseason, with a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback returning in Slingin' Sammy B and star power galore. OSU No. 9 and No. 11 in the preseason polls, with Zac Robinson taking aim at his coach for greatest Cowboy QB ever, Dez Bryant a wunderkind wide receiver and Kendall Hunter an all-American tailback.
You know what happened next. Jermaine Gresham's knee went kaput, and he never played in crimson again. Bradford's shoulder was separated first against BYU and then against Texas, ending his Oklahoma days. Dez ran afoul of NCAA lie detectors and was ruled ineligible; he missed the season's final 10 games. Robinson suffered a concussion late in the season, and OSU limped home with seven points total in Bedlam and the Cotton Bowl.
OU finished 8-5. OSU 9-4. The Cowboys slipped to No. 25 in the coaches poll. The Sooners dented neither poll.
So go crazy, folks, but remember there are no guarantees.
“It's an honor to be ranked No. 1 any time, but we understand that the preseason ranking means very little compared with what it will mean months from now,” Bob Stoops said.
True enough. Stoops' Sooners were No. 1 in 2003 and remained there when December arrived. Then came championship-game losses to Kansas State (Big 12) and LSU (Sugar Bowl).
Barry Switzer's Sooners were preseason No. 1 a whopping six times in 16 years, and three of those teams persevered, winning national titles in 1974, 1975 and 1985.
Believe it or not, Bud Wilkinson teams were preseason No. 1 just twice, 1956 and 1957. Don't ask me how you can take a 19-game winning streak into a season (1955), with your quarterback returning alongside Jerry Tubbs and Tommy McDonald, and not be preseason No. 1, but hey, it all worked out. The Sooners kept the No. 1 ranking in '56; they lost it in '57.
So that's a pretty good track record of high expectations in Soonerville. And Stoops is embracing the expectations, as you might have heard.
He toned down his enthusiasm when learning of the preseason ranking. “Like a lot of other teams, we face the challenge of preparing for a difficult schedule,” Stoops said (OU plays three teams in the preseason top nine). “Our aspirations are clear in that we want to compete for the national championship, and we're flattered to be considered by others as a program that has an opportunity to reach that goal."
Meanwhile, OSU has very little track record on how to handle through-the-roof optimism. Before Thursday, the Cowboys had been ranked in the AP or coaches preseason polls just five times in history. Before 2009, OSU had never been ranked higher than No. 14 in the preseason, and not since 1945 had the Cowboys both started and ended a season in the polls.
Mike Gundy, who Wednesday night at the OSU Caravan talked openly about rising to the occasion, also went mellow with delivery of the poll news.
“We are appreciative of the ranking and of the perception of our program,” Gundy said. “But we also know that being in the preseason top 10 is a reflection of last year's accomplishments. On Friday, we'll start all over with a new team, and we'll have to work hard to continue the success we've had over the last three or four seasons.”
So really, Gundy and Stoops have started bridling the euphoria over such rankings.
Can't really blame them, but I like the preseason polls. Some clamor to delay the polling until October or at least until some games are played, trying to bring better analysis to the process, but that's like lipstick on a pig.
What's the point? This is a funky, quirky, quacky process, and if you take it too seriously (which many do), you'll need a paddy wagon. Better to have fun and vote, vote, vote in August.
Better to have some fun and enjoy the merriment, so long as you remember the lessons of preseasons past. Like 2009.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at