The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel took questions from readers in today's Power Lunch Chat. Join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports. Below is a complete transcript of today's questions and answers.
Good morning Berry, I was watching the video from last year’s KSU game, and Finch looked like a beast on a lot of runs. What is the deal with him? Is he in Stoops’ dog house? I don't understand why they don't use him more.
I think Finch is in the doghouse, to some degree, but even if he wasn't, would he be higher than third team? I mean, he didn't beat out Whaley last season, and now OU has recruited over both of them with Damien Williams. Now, playing Clay over Finch is a clear sign that Finch is in the doghouse. But it's also possible that he's just not that good.
What is your take on the next three games for OU?
The easiest of the three is K-State. That's my take. Texas will be a dogfight, and I don't think it will be easy to win in Lubbock. The Sooners haven't won out there since 2003, for a variety of reasons.
On Perry Jones: You also don't seem to be too optimistic about him. In the Finals, the Thunder clearly didn't have anyone to backup Durant when he was in foul trouble or even to rest him and bring in someone to make LeBron work on the defensive end while Durant is taking a break. Cook is surely not effective if he's not scoring.
Everything you said is true, but even if Perry Jones is a good rookie, that's not going to change much in the Finals. Durant will still play 45 minutes a game. Once you get to the Finals, depth becomes less important. The foul trouble can still get you, but at this stage of Westbrook's and Durant's career, foul trouble should not.
In my opinion, Damien Williams should start this week against K-State based on how he has played so far. Your thoughts?
Oh, fine by me. I don't really care too much about who starts. I do think it matters how much you touch the ball, and the Sooners clearly will feed Williams a ton. Much more than Whaley, I'd say. I'd expect to see Williams carry 20 times a game from here on.
Berry, I'm curious about the "identity" of the offense for OU this season. I heard Norvell make a comment a week or so ago about the fact that they were still trying to figure out what the strengths of this team (offense) were.
It appears as if some changes in this year's lineup vs. last year's that an identity change might be in order. Irwin and Shead are known for being better run blockers than pass blockers; I heard Teddy Lehman talk about what a punishing blocker Grissom is in the running game, Damien Williams has obviously added a new dimension and the receivers are bigger and more physical this year than last.
Is it possible that the personality/identity of this offense leans more toward the running game?
It's quite possible. The problem is, there hasn't been enough evidence to know. Florida A&M absolutely doesn't count. You can't base anything off that. So we're just going off one game, and so are the coaches, really. At UTEP, OU run blocked better than pass blocked, in my opinion. So we'll see. We'll know a lot more Saturday.
I envision a second unit of, Maynor/Jackson at PG, Harden at SG, Perry J ones at SF, Collison at PF and Thabeet at C. What would your second unit would like?
Well, I think Maynor is the backup point guard. I don't think there's any question about that, unless his knee doesn't respond. And I think Aldrich might still win the backup center job.
I think the Thunder should keep Harden for the last year of his contract and then let somebody else overpay him. If the Thunder could bring in a JJ Redick or an OJ Mayo, or even Reggie Jackson if he improves, the Thunder will be alright. I mean KD, Westbrook and Serge will still be on the team, right?
The Thunder would take a step back if tries to replace Harden with someone like Mayo, Redick or Reggie Jackson. Now, you might take steps forward in other areas, but one of the few flaws on this team is imbalanced scoring. Three guys carry the load. Lose one of those guys, and who's stepping up? I don't know that I see someone on the roster capable of scoring 13-14 points a game. Serge, maybe, but it's risky.
My Chiefs are terrible and I see no hope for the future unless Pioli gets fired. It makes it even worse as a Chief fan in OKC when you watch what Presti does with the Thunder and then watch as Pioli just bumbles his way around.
I don't like Scott Pioli for the culture that he created in KC. It's apparently a very despondent place, according to a Kansas City expose' I read awhile back. Not a place you want to work. Pioli is like every other GM in the NFL. He's got to win. And right now, Kansas City is showing no signs of wining.
I say the best coach in the Big 12 is Bill Snyder, second best is Art Bryles, third is Gundy, and fourth is Patterson. Stoops and Mac are obviously good, but have far more to work with. What say you?
Snyder is the best. In this league or any other league. Everyone else, you can make a good case for in a lot of different ways. Paul Rhoads is excellent. Stoops and Brown have won big for a long time, which is not easy to do. Gundy and Patterson have built something special out of not great tradition. Briles is working towards that, though it's early.
Any news on Big 12 expansion?
Yes. The news is, they're not going to expand. At least not for a few years. The Big 12 will sit back and see how the new playoff system works before it considers expansion. That's not good news for Louisville, but that's just the way it is.
If OU ends up establishing the run and runs it well against KSU, this offense begins to take on very interesting dimensions. Solid running game + dynamic slot receiver + big vertical threats in Brown and Trey, sprinkle in Bell Dozer and some tight end and Millard = ?
Not making any predictions, but isn't this the type of offense that could give even a great Alabama defense some real trouble?
I don't know about giving Alabama trouble. Let's see OU score more than 24 points against a I-A team first. But the Sooners do have lots of weapons and a track record of prolific offenses. So I don't think there's any great reason for pessimism.
Sam Bradford looked good last week against the Redskins. Your thoughts?
The Rams aren't half bad. They could have (should have?) won Week 1 against Detroit, then beat the 'Skins. So I like what I've seen out of Bradford so far.
I called it before he even called a game, but Josh Almighty's head is being called for by never-happy OU fans. If favorite son Heupel is not good enough for OU fans will anybody ever be?
No offensive coordinator. It goes with the territory. The most popular man on campus is always the backup quarterback. The least popular man on campus is always the offensive coordinator. Chuck Long was phenomenal as OC; he was lit up in the marketplace. Kevin Wilson set NCAA scoring records; he was lambasted. The only offensive coordinators who are popular are guys who have just won the national title or haven't been around long enough to get everyone against them.
FSU didn't vote for the $50 million exit fee. If they ever want to leave for say the Big XII down the road I bet that will be an interesting court case and I don't think there is any way that FSU will be forced to pay the full fee
Well, so far, no one has paid the exact exit fee. Everything's been negotiated. But if FSU doesn't want to be held to the regulations, I'd recommend it not take the TV payout money. Take the conference money, then say you're not subject to the conference rules? That's a loser in court.
Aldrich will not be the back up center I guarantee you that. Last week we didn't get to finish up on Thabeet and you seem not too optimistic about him either. Are you saying the Thunder is not a good organization who developed young talent? Memphis didn't do it, Portland and Houston didn't do it.
I'm saying it's possible that Thabeet is just not very good, and organizations might not be able to do anything about it.
With AEG now for sale, what does that do the NFL to L.A. movement?
There's no way it can help. No way. Do you realize we're coming up on 20 without Los Angeles having the NFL? That's crazy. With all that said, I still think there is enough momentum in L.A. for the movement to continue. But you've got to have two things come together: a stadium plan -- a real plan, with the money on the table and the land secured -- and a franchise that wants to move.
Your thoughts on the Dallas/Seattle game? And what do you foresee for the Cowboys the rest of the season?
Bad spot for Dallas. Seattle has two good cornerbacks, which negate a Cowboy strength. Tough place in the schedule, too, with the Seahawks playing their home opener, after a tough Week 1 defeat that Seattle easily could have won. Plus Dallas coming off a statement game. This is the NFL. Wins are hard to come by. I expect Dallas to rebound nicely. I still think the Cowboys are a playoff team.
Are the Oklahoma City Barons affected by the NHL lockout?
Yes. A bunch of young NHL players have been sent down to the AHL and are eligible to play. I'm told that anyone on their rookie contract is eligible to be sent down, so you'll see a bunch of young stars in the AHL this year, if the work stoppage continues.
Are us OU fans a little too optimistic after beating Florida A&M? Let’s get real Sooner fans! We haven’t done anything yet.
Florida A&M means nothing. Absolutely nothing. But with that said, I haven't detected many OU fans getting too boastful over the FAMU game.
Will we see T. Millard get more involved with the offense as the season progresses?
I think he's pretty involved now. I don't endorse taking carries away from Damien Williams to give them to Trey Millard, and I don't think Bob Stoops does, either.
The Big XII really sold the Pac 12 a lemon didn't they? I am glad there are no lemon laws regarding conference realignment.
Now that's a great line. What a dud Colorado has become. I miss the Buffs, just because the Rocky Mountains are cool. But that athletic department is fast becoming a joke. And the Buffs even are decent in basketball. They won the woeful Pac-12 last year.
Tram, I don't know if you have ever talked about it before but I've asked Traber this and he's not on my side. I've never been too hard on the baseball players that have used PEDs. They weren't really against the rules of the game and everyone had access to them if they wanted to use them. The game was a little better to watch. I know all the records were bloated and what not but the guys still did the work on the field. I think that there should be a separate wing in the Hall of Fame for these guys. Your thoughts?
Hall of Fame? Sure. So long as the separate wing is in New Delhi, and that's where the induction ceremony is, too. Don't let them within 1,000 miles of Cooperstown. The game was awful to watch during the steroid era. You couldn't trust what you saw. And the way the records have been warped. I hate what it's done to the game. But your point about it not being against the rules of the game is well-made. Baseball made its own bed.
What NBA franchise is going to Seattle? Can Stern make the Maloofs sell? Or do they know what skeletons are in Stern's closet?
I doubt Stern has skeletons. The only way Stern can make the Maloofs sell is if they get into financial trouble. Miss payments to the league or payroll or whatever. Remember, Stern works for the owners, not the other way around. With all that said, I'd say the most likely team to end up in Seattle is the Kings.
Your thoughts on the defensive front seven trying to stop the K-State running game?
I think OU's run defense will be solid, unless Klein gets free. KSU will not overpower the Sooners. KSU might deceive the Sooners. Hilbert is a good runner; he could get outside on some of that shotgun option stuff, like the kid at UTEP did. This will be a good test of the OU coaches' ability to teach and correct mistakes.
Thabeet is no worse than Aldrich, in fact Thabeet has more upside than Aldrich by far, speaking of rookie and minutes in finals.
We'll see. Neither one has done much yet. Neither one will play much at all in the Finals, if it's Miami. Nazr didn't play at all. The Heat goes small, so the Thunder will go small, and Perkins' minutes will be limited, much less the minutes of his backup.
What is so frustrating about the Chiefs is that it is not hard to go from bad to good in the NFL, especially in the AFC West. Cassell is not a good quarterback, but he isn't awful either. Some of Pioli's decision just make me shake my head. Like he let Carr go to Dallas because he didn't want to offer him a contract and make Flowers jealous. Are you kidding me?
Free agency is a way of life in the NFL. You're right, though. It's a fluid league. Teams can move up and down quickly. If a team (like the Chiefs) stays down for long, it's nobody's fault but coaches and management.
Do you know if OU's coaching staff has put the problems behind them that have caused all of the suspensions and defections/transfers? Hard to win with freshmen as back ups.
I don't know why anyone would believe the problem is behind the Sooners. Some of the troublemakers remain on the team. Seems like if you wanted to remove the trouble, you would remove the repeat troublemakers. Jaz Reynolds, Trey Franks, etc.
Your thoughts on Schiano regarding his players not giving up when the Giants were in victory formation?
Oh, I tend to come down on Coughlin's side. Your hope for a miracle is really nothing. I think it's more of an attitude than anything. And I'm told the Bucs had a timeout left in those final 10 seconds. If you were playing it out to the end, why not call the timeout?
The NHL is out of control. I thought it was bad that baseball offered 10-year contracts, but that is nothing compared to the 12 and 13 years an NHL player can get. How do you how well somebody will be playing that far down the road?
Don't ask me. I'm just so glad we didn't land the NHL. That would have been a bummer for the city.
How many more years do you think that Stoops wants to coach? Do you think he will go to the NFL or retire to the Casa de Stoops he just built?
I'd say neither. I think he stays right where he is for quite awhile. Hard to find a job that pays you $4.5 million a year and jolts your competitive juices. When his kids get grown, maybe he decides to slow down and retire. Probably to Florida.
Follow up to your baseball HOF answer: When you watched the game did you have the same attitude?
Not early. Not in 1998. But by the early 2000s, when I realized '98 was not some special, spectacular year, but just the primary explosion of a change in the game. When Bonds hit 73 homers in 2001, I knew the game had jumped the shark.
That is a shame if Sacramento loses the Kings, especially to Seattle. Unlike Seattle, the people and politicians did everything right, they just had lousy owners who lied about everything
People in Seattle say the same thing. Seattle lost the team because it had a lousy building. Sacramento is in danger of losing the team because it has a lousy building. There isn't one thing about it that's complicated.
Will Gundy stay with Walsh even if Lunt gets healthy?
No way. The OSU offense isn't designed for a dual-threat quarterback who can't fire a 20-yard out pattern. It's designed for a guy like Wes Lunt. Now, that doesn't mean OSU can't find ways to use Walsh effectively. But if Lunt is healthy, it's his job.
I know it doesn't mean much, but the UTEP QB played pretty well and put up a bunch of yards at Ole Miss one week after getting completely shut down by the OU defense. I think the OU defense is better than I thought and maybe Mike does make a pretty big difference. Maybe it’s nothing on Venables but maybe they just needed a new voice.
I thought the UTEP quarterback was awful. I'm not even sure he was better than the Louisiana-Lafayette QB I watched. He was bad, too. But I think the OU defense does have spunk to it. I think there's reason for optimism. I'm looking forward to seeing if they stay disciplined against KSU, and also how the Sooners defend the pass at Texas Tech.
Perry Jones is NBA ready, so don't let what happened in college fool you.
What happened in college? He was a good player on a good team. I think he's got a bright NBA future. But I think his butt is going to get sore as a rookie, from riding the pine.
Barry Switzer didn't get his contract extended for losing 4 games a year for three years. Stoops is averaging over 3 loses/year for the last 8 years. When will he get some heat about his less than OU-quality winning record?
I think he's gotten some heat, but to compare Stoops over the last 8 years to Switzer's downside of three years? That's silly. Stoops has won the Big 12 at least every other year, so he's never had two bad years in a row. When he does, then we can talk. But anyone who says winning the Big 12 that often isn't "OU quality" is just a spoiled fan who needs to find another sport.
Berry, who wins Big Brother tonight?
Are the Mannings playing tonight? Is there a charity basketball game coached by the Van Gundys? Are Bob and Mike staging a golf match after practice?
I loved what McGuire did in '98 but when Bonds broke the record again I was excited, but he was such a jerk and I just couldn't really enjoy it.
I was naive in '98. But by 2001, it was clear we were watching laboratory baseball. To which I say, no thanks. I left the game. Haven't come back.
The people and politicians of Sacramento had a plan passed to build a new building and the Maloofs messed that up.
The Maloofs are Magoofs, I grant you that. Somebody from Sacramento should have bought the team when the Maloofs bought it.
You said neither will play much at all if it’s the Heat and Perkins won't get many minutes, so this is where Jones comes in with Ibaka to stretch the floor with Westbrook and Durant.
I'd say no. Jones might play 5-10 minutes per game in a Heat finals, but nothing more than that. Unless circumstances change, via injury, fouls, etc.
Why is there so much confidence in the OU defense when they lost 3 out of their front seven, have the same d tackles they had last year that got steam rolled down the stretch?
It wasn't the D-tackles that got steamrolled so much as the pass defense. The hope comes from Mike Stoops, which makes the season so fascinating. Will he make a difference? We'll soon find out.