The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel took questions from readers today in his Power Lunch Chat. Among the topics discussed: the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State basketball, the college football coaching carousel, Heisman Trophy winners and losers, MLB, NFL and more.
Take a look at today's recap and join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports.
ON THE OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER AND THE NBA:
Eric Maynor seems to be rounding back into form so it is a moot point now, but do you think it would have been wise to send him to Tulsa for a game or two and play 25-30 minutes a game to knock some rust off and get in rhythm in a situation with no pressure?
No. I don't see it. A guy like Maynor, who has been in the fire of really big games, doesn't get much out of playing minor league basketball. I agree that Maynor has been rusty, but he's starting to play a little better. He's got to play real games.
I think the Thunder is better than it was last year. I wonder if any knee-jerkers feel silly about overreacting to the Harden trade?
There might be some silliness going on. I know even Bill Simmons gave a small mea culpa. It wasn't hard to see that the Thunder would be better. Just the young guys improving is enough to make you a lot better.
Russell Westbrook seems to have improved even more. I can't believe some say that the Thunder should have kept Harden and traded Westbrook.
For whatever reason, Westbrook is a lightning rod. He's always going to get a lot of scrutiny. But if someone is caught unaware on Westbrook's improvement, that's on them. Westbrook's improvement annually has been dramatic.
Do you think the local perception of Russell Westbrook would be different (i.e. more forgiving) if he didn't follow CP3?
No. But it's a great question. OKC NBA fans might have seen Paul and thought, that's the way every point guard has to play. But watching other NBA point guards, it's clear there are a lot of ways to play NBA point guard. Of course, some guys don't pay attention.
Your thoughts on the Thunder's coaching job with Thabeet? He's no All-Star, but for a guy who has been largely a giant dud the Thunder is getting quality minutes out of him.
I agree. It's part cultural — put a guy in an environment in which he can prosper. It's also part recognition — don't ask a guy to do something he can't do. The Thunder is using Thabeet in ways that he will succeed.
Reggie Jackson is ready to be the backup point. I don't see Eric Maynor being in the long-term plans, especially making 4-5 million a year. I say trade him for a draft pick or something.
I don't see any evidence that Jackson is ready to be the backup. He wasn't ready last year. Maybe he is ready, but I haven't seen it. I would keep Maynor for the playoff push.
It is unfair to say that Reggie Jackson is not ready to be the Thunder’s backup point because he wasn't ready last year. Remember last year he was a rookie with no summer league or work outs with Thunder coaches, plus an abbreviated training camp. Reggie is far better this year.
He might be. But there's no evidence of it. You've got to show it. Jackson will get his chance. The chances that Westbrook and Maynor stay healthy are small.
What are your thoughts of Steven Jackson's comments about Serge Ibaka?
Oh, just a goofball being a goofball. Twitter has magnified player personalities. We know a lot more about these guys than ever before. Jackson is a loose cannon.
After Steven Jackson's tweet about Serge, in his forced apology he says he isn't a thug. Your thoughts?
Thug is as thug does. Now, I'm not saying Jackson's a thug. But if he tweet indicates he's a thug, he's a thug.
Liked your recent comparison of Joe Johnson and James Harden. I thought of that parallel last year, and your data really confirmed it (or perhaps it was Darnell's story).
Hey, hey. That was me. Don't be giving RFD credit for my stuff. But no, there are valuable lessons to learn.
RFD? Translation please
Mayberry RFD. Old TV reference.
The difference between James Harden and Russell Westbrook is that Harden is a front-runner. Harden will play well when everything is going well, but if there is adversity and things are tough, he can kind of go into a shell. With Westbrook, I don't think there is a shell in existence that Russ would fit into. The Thunder could be down and need a big shot and Russ could be on a 3-18 night, but it wouldn't matter, if Russ has a decent look, he is putting it up with confidence. Russ is more of a fighter, especially when things are tough
Russell Westbrook is a competitor extraordinaire. I'd go into a fight with that guy any day.
What’s up with sending a player to the D-League today and calling them back tomorrow?
Get him some game action, I suppose. You get three call-ups. I didn't know why you'd send him down for one game.
What's wrong with the Lakers?
Old and thin. Old, old, old. And not enough good players.
ON THE OKLAHOMA SOONERS:
I know that OU needs defensive tackles, but it is hard for me to get bent out of shape over not getting a commitment. Especially for DeMarcus Granger's brother. Something tells me this guy is probably not Lee Roy Selmon
One of the all-time great observations. Excellent point. OU needs defensive tackles, but it's not like OU has been void of DTs. The current crop of seniors are solid. The falloff at OU has been at linebacker and defensive end. Those guys aren't as good as the Sooners are used to.
Please rate Stoops' performance in his AT&T commercial.
You have to grade on the curve. It's possible Bob Stoops is the worst actor in America. I'd give Stoops a B, grading on the curve. Get rid of the curve, and Stoops gets a D.
So, next year OU finishes tied atop the Big 12 with a team they beat heads-up. Any chance we hear Bob Stoops utter the term "co-champions?"
If Stoops ever wanted to head to the ponderosa, I hope that Joe Castiglione would take a long look at Patterson at TCU, or Rhodes. Do you think they would be fits?
I like them both. I like Art Briles even better.
I like Kevin Sumlin if Stoops leaves.
Another excellent candidate. He would be on the shortlist.
ON THE OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS:
Do you think the optimism over OSU's men's basketball is getting a little overblown? They look to have the best starting 5 under Ford, but the 18-game conference grind is really going to test their depth. Getting B Williams back will help. The Dec. 31 game at GIA against Gonzaga should tell them a lot going into conference.
I don't think so. I like this team. They're not going to win the NCAA, but they've got a good team that could go deep into March Madness.
Why is Gundy anxious to stay despite issues with administration? Facilities, budget, T. Boone's money, confident he can go far with this program?
Gundy loves OSU and Stillwater. He's helped turn it into a big-time program. Why would he want to leave?
Will Mike Gundy interview for the Texas Tech job?
No. Gundy has his standards.
ON THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHING CAROUSEL:
Does Craig James have a shot as head coach at Texas Tech? Would the Pirate, Mike Leach, give him a recommendation?
Well, James is available, since his broadcasting and political career has gone splat. Leach has a better shot at being the coach at Tech than does Craig James. And Leach has no shot.
Have you ever seen as many college coaches and jobs on the carousel as this year?
Yes. It happens every year. Seems like it a lot, but every year, there's 15, 20, 25 major jobs come open. That's just the way it works these days.
Tuberville must not have thought much of his chances for improving next year to leave Tech for Cincy. Looks like he was trying to get out of Lubbock before he was ran out of Lubbock.
I think you're right. I think Tuberville also figured that the best way to get to Tennessee (or something similar) is through Cincinnati, not Lubbock. Look at recent Cincy coaches — Dantoni to Michigan State, Kelly to Notre Dame, Jones to Tennessee. It's a launchpad.
Do you see Venables landing a head coaching gig this year?
I suppose it's possible, but I haven't heard much. D-coordinators aren't getting hired much. Kirby Smart at Alabama hasn't gotten a decent offer. Should have, but hasn't.
Where is your best guess for Monken landing next year, if not still OSU's OC? I was guessing Purdue (would have made a story line for the HOD Bowl severely lacking in one), but that's out the door. Looks like he may have to settle for a lower tier job (La-Tech, Kent State, etc.) if he wants to be a head coach next year.
I like Louisiana Tech. That seems like a good fit. You can get places from La Tech. The last two La Tech coaches have gone to Tennessee and Cal. The coach before that, let me see, Jack Bicknell Jr., didn't go anywhere. Still, that's not a bad launchpad.
June Jones for Tech?
That would be interesting. I thought Arizona State should have hired June Jones.
Could you see Dana Holgorsen bolting WVU for Texas Tech's head coaching gig?
No. I think West Virginia is a better job. I think WVU can become quite the player in the Big 12.
ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL AROUND THE COUNTRY:
Please rank the head football coaches in the Big 12.
1. Snyder; 2. Stoops; 3. Patterson; 4. Briles; 5. Gundy; 6. Rhoads; 7. Brown; 8. Holgorsen; 9. Weis. Wow. Great question. I’m going to blog about this later. Great, great question.
Here's my take on Horns' football: No one on Texas’ coaching staff will play bad cop and read these kids the riot act — put his boot up their you-know-what like Muschamp would do. Therefore, ‘Horns are lacking leadership and direction. There's a sense of complacency rather than a sense of urgency. There are no scandals and the athletic department makes money hand over fist, therefore, no reason yet to change course. Wins and losses are more important to fans than they are to the administration.
Interesting theory. What you're really talking about is a culture of softness. The 'Horns have long been labeled culturally soft. Reminds me of the story about Sally Brown, Mack's wife, pulling a Texas tailback, Cedric Benson, out of a post-practice interview to show him a beautiful sunset.
Regarding ‘Bama vs. Notre Dame, I believe Roll Tide will be a huge test for the Golden Domers on both sides of the ball. I doubt the Fighting Irish can generate enough offense against Alabama and question whether Kelly's defense can contain Yeldon, Lacy and Cooper.
I don't know. I like Notre Dame slowing Alabama. I also like Bama shutting down Notre Dame. I think the game will be close, but Bama wins a low-scoring game.
Think about this: Garrett Gilbert over Andrew Luck, Johnny Football a defensive back, RGIII to Baylor, no to Drew Brees, Case McCoy with a weak throwing arm. Who's evaluating talent QB talent at UT?
Apparently not someone with a clue. It’s an amazing that Texas has gone this long without QB talent.
Why is everyone hating on my boy, Mack?
5-7, 8-5, 8-4. That's why.
Texas' 8-4 record this year could have easily been 6-6 if the refs has not blown the call on Bergeron's TD (really fumble) against Oklahoma State and Kansas' DB had made the interception that 95% of the DBs would have made.
Great points. You're right. Texas was awfully close to 6-6, plus they lost to OU by 4,578 points.
Mack Brown proves that 5-star recruits don't mean wins. Bill Snyder proves that 5-star coaching does.
Has anyone ever compared the recruiting services high school rankings to actual college performance? I would be interested to know the correlation.
Yes, all kinds of people do it. I don't pay any attention to it, because the recruiting rankings are silly on the surface. I don't need any details. Mike Finger of the San Antonio News-Express had a great line the other day. KSU had 11 all-Big 12 players, while UT had two or three. Finger pointed out that the recruiting rankings the previous four years had Texas in the top four each year, while KSU was down in the 50s through the 90s. Obviously, Finger said, the voters on the all-Big 12 team were not good evaluators of talent.
Is college football becoming like college basketball with these 50, 60, and 70-point games?
No. College football is interesting. College basketball is not.
Some college basketball teams wish they could score 50, 60, or 70 points.
Did you see that Georgetown-Tennessee game? 37-36? No one scored in the final four minutes.
Another Bowl Season, and still no Big 12 or Oregon spread offense match up against a traditional SEC defensive team. When are we going to see one?
Excellent question. But LSU-Clemson will be interesting. Clemson has a QB and an offense. Too many SEC-Big Ten tie-ins.
Is it time for Deloss Dodds to go at Texas? Or at least turn over coaching hires to someone else and let Dodds continue to print money? The major sport coaches at Texas are in need of an overhaul, because Rick Barnes is struggling
Why relieve Dodds of those duties? He's done a good job. He hired Mack and Barnes — both great hires, even if they've run out of gas.
OU, OSU, KSU, Texas — this year’s Big 12 Top 4. Who drops the farthest next year?
KSU. Snyder is excellent when he has a QB. When he doesn't have an elite quarterback, KSU is fairly average.
ON THE HEISMAN:
Jarvis Jones and Jadeveon Clowney are superior to Te'o.
Maybe so. But Bosworth told me the other day that while he loves those guys, the thing he likes about Te'o is that Te'o's motor never stops, while Clowney's does.
How big of a joke is the Heisman Trophy? Nothing against Manziel, he's a good player, but is he the best player in college football? Not even close. The Heisman voters are also saying that he is the first freshman in history worthy of winning the Heisman. The most iconic award in sports has become a farce. Thoughts?
I think you're too hard on Johnny Football. I agree, it's a little bit of a farce, but it's always been a farce. It's always a political, PR campaign. Always has been. Manziel isn't a terrible selection. What he did was really impressive.
Your Heisman ballot, please. I had: Teddy Bridgewater then Jarvis Jones followed by Tavon Austin.
I didn't vote. But I sure as heck wouldn't have voted for Teddy Bridgewater. I would have voted for Manti Te'o.
Johnny Manziel = Denard Robinson. In four years, Manziel will be too injured to complete a season. Berry, when will these teams learn when it comes to small QBs?
Very well could be right. Plus, A&M quarterbacks seem to regress over the years.
Who are your top three Heisman winners who did not win via PR campaign, but by clear differentiation on the field?
Well, Cam Newton, Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen. Guys like that were automatic.
If Texas A&M is still in the Big 12 does Johnny Football still win the Heisman?
I'll say no. He won the Heisman because he beat Alabama. Stay in the Big 12, there's no beating Alabama.
If OU had gone undefeated would Landry Jones have won the Heisman?
I assume so.
ON COLLEGE BASKETBALL AROUND THE NATION:
Did you see the Texas basketball game played at Reliant Stadium? Did I hear right that attendance was less than three thousand for a game played at Reliant Stadium? How embarrassing is that? Why would Texas schedule a game like that in a venue like that?
I didn't hear it or see it. But doesn't surprise me. The idea that people are excited about college basketball is just plain silly. It's not appealing to much of anyone.
ON THE NFL:
Should Adrian Peterson win the MVP for his play this year after his injury? He's a beast!
Yes. I think Peterson is the NFL MVP. He's got the Vikes in contention, when they have no business being there.
I assume. But I haven't paid attention to baseball in maybe 10 years.
Are the LA Dodgers printing money? Guess they are with the broadcasting dollars.
Yes, the Dodgers are printing money. Always have. But when the McCourts owned the team, they spent it elsewhere.
ON THE NHL:
Will we see hockey in the NHL this season?
How will we know if they start playing? If a pro hockey league falls in the woods ...