College football goes on hiatus in Oklahoma this weekend.
No Cowboys. No Sooners.
Heck, even Tulsa is off.
But college football fans in our fair state have at least three reasons to tune in Saturday — Texas, USC and Nebraska. For many decades, football success in Oklahoma has been measured at least in part against those programs.
Now, all are in free fall.
But more than that, it's bad — yes, bad — for OSU and OU.
Oh, I suppose there are Sooner and Cowboy fans out there who are gleefully watching what's happening in Longhorn Land. Texas has had three consecutive subpar seasons, and after losing two of its first three games this season, the wheels seem like they're about to come off.
Mack Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz after a disaster of a game at BYU.
The answer for what ailed the Texas defense?
A guy who was fired from his last two jobs and hasn't had a good defense since 2004.
Greg Robinson's first game as defensive coordinator went about as you'd expect. Ole Miss rushed for 272 yards, averaged nearly 6 yards per carry and whipped Texas 44-23.
At one point early in that game, Longhorn fans booed Mack when he appeared on the stadium's jumbotron. He was doing a prerecorded public service announcement about a charity for at-risk students.
Mack's still talking a good game — he said after the Ole Miss loss that the Horns could win the Big 12, which seems about as likely in Austin right now as aliens landing on Sixth Street — but he looks worn down. More drained. More defeated.
What has happened to his Horns?
Lane Kiffin must be thinking the same thing about his Trojans. Only a year ago, USC was picked in the preseason as the No. 1 team in the nation, but that season ended with only seven wins and a humiliating loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.
Already this season, USC has lost to Washington State, drawn “Fire Kiffin!” chants and played such uninspired football that the Coliseum wasn't even half full for the Trojans' last home game.
Our man Berry Tramel believes things are so bad at USC that Kiffin isn't even on the hot seat anymore. He believes the coach's pink slip has already been signed and sealed; it's only a matter of time before it's delivered.
Bo Pelini might be heading down Mack Expressway and Kiffin Boulevard, too.
The Nebraska coach first got himself in hot water earlier this week. Husker legend Tommie Frazier was critical of the coaching staff after the team blew an 18-point lead and lost by 20 points to UCLA. Pelini fired back by saying, “We don't need him,” which might've been fine if Frazier hadn't won back-to-back national titles and become beloved by Husker fans everywhere.
Of course, then a recording of Pelini cursing the fans became public.
For all the f-words that he dropped, none was more of a bomb than these: fair-weather fans.
You can call Nebraska fans lots of things, but fair-weather ain't one of them.
Nebraska fans have sold out every home game since 1962. Pelini wasn't even born then.
But even though I'm pretty darn sure Nebraska fans will be the classy ones and actually cheer their coach Saturday, the fact remains that their team is in trouble. That game against UCLA was just the latest debacle for a program once known for its Blackshirt defense. Nebraska has given up an average of 41.2 points in its past five games, beginning with a 70-21 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game last season, and in four of those games, the Huskers gave up more than 500 yards.
This isn't your granddad's Nebraska.
These are programs in trouble, and it's too bad. Folks in Oklahoma might believe that struggles for Texas, USC and Nebraska are good for their team. Less competitors for titles. Less competition for recruits.
But the truth is, those teams have pushed our teams to be better, helped our teams become what they are today. Back in the day, you can bet Barry Switzer thought about what OU needed to beat Nebraska when he was out recruiting. In more recent times, you can rest assured Mike Holder thought about what OSU needed to compete with Texas when he was deciding what to build with Boone Pickens' money. And no doubt there are plenty more examples just like that.
Texas, USC and Nebraska being down might help OU and OSU in the short-term, but in the long-term? Not so much.
Competition is healthy.
So, when you watch the Horns, Trojans and Longhorns this weekend, snicker if you must. Just remember, your team will be better if their teams are better.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.