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Emails in on OSU-Baylor, OU-Kansas State

by Berry Tramel Modified: November 22, 2013 at 9:25 am •  Published: November 22, 2013

The emails are in, and lots of talk about Sooner quarterbacking and the future of OU football, plus the OSU-Baylor game, and a look ahead to Bedlam. Let’s get to the correspondence.


John: “Coach Tramel, what would OSU’s odds be of getting into the ‘big game’ if they would have started J.W. three weeks ago when you suggested it? Just curious.”

I don’t know. What would be the odds if they had given J.W. a tailback and an offensive line seven weeks ago?

Michael: “Your article about Gundy (being a Texas candidate) was fair.  It was a comment based on the former OSU coach who coached the present OSU coach.  The Texas job is considered by many the best football job in college football, and I would be in the minority when I would argue it is not. However, you speculated, and speculation is not allowed by many, especially diehards and purist.  The true purest really believes that there is nowhere better than his or her school.  There is even a speculation objection in evidence.  They cannot consider another viewpoint on the matter.”

The key is to not read the comments.

J.D.: “OSU is really good.  I may be a prisoner of the moment, but I think this years’ team could beat the 2011 team because this year’s team is much better defensively and the QB can hurt you with his legs. How in the world did OSU manage to lose to West Virginia?  WVU is pretty schizophrenic but still…”

I would agree. You’re a prisoner of the moment. This OSU team is scrappy and an upgrade on defense and finding its legs on offense. But this OSU team can’t match the 2011 Cowboys. Mainly because of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. Yes, Chelf’s legs are a nice weapon. But nothing like Weeden’s arm. And then you add in Blackmon? Plus, think of this. The Big 12 was much better in 2011. Much, much better. Look at the quarterbacks. Weeden, RG3, Landry Jones, Ryan Tannehill, a young James Franklin, Seth Doege.

Marc: “My Longhorns didn’t put up much of a fight.  I was disappointed in the offensive game plan.  Not having Gray made the running game much less effective.  And OSU plays big boy defense now.  I fear that we could end the conference with three straight losses and a trip to a minor bowl game.  That would likely cook Mack’s goose.  And I have to wonder if it is possible to lure Briles from Waco now.”

Lots of meat on this small bone. Texas has to run the ball to be effective with Case McCoy at QB. And OSU stuffed the run. The Cowboys do indeed play big-boy defense. The UT-Tech game will be interesting on Thanksgiving night.


Gary: Well, here we go again. More suspensions. Another year riddled with players getting the boot. Recruiting the wrong players. Oh well, I think Stoops has given up on this year, and unless they go out and get some top-notch kid, they might as well throw in the bag. He continues to think he can get two- and three-star players and make them four- and five-star players. He is just not that good, and I think the kids can see that. K-State will roll. Might be three-four touchdowns. But I guess nobody cares. They will just give him another raise.

Wow. This is a classic case of psychosis. Gary starts off with a solid point – more suspensions, which plagued the Sooners in 2011, remember, and might be a sign of long-term problems. But then the dispatch dissolves into Stoops giving up and K-State rolling. Nobody’s giving up.

Dick: “Here is an item that jumped out at me from the sports page this morning: ‘Running backs coach Cale Gundy hasn’t been made available for interviews at all this season.’ Say what? Is this Russia? How do you guys put up with this?”

We’re sort of used to it. And of course, it’s sort of disingenuous to gripe about the way the OSU Gundy talks to us and then not gripe that the OU Gundy doesn’t talk to us.

Jerry: “All I have to say is that Bell is a loser! He cannot run the ball very well and is a bad at passing the ball! I wish that Stoops will go with both the other QBs and keep Bell on the bench!”

Hey, settle down. Bell beat Notre Dame. I’m not kidding. How can you say that Bell is a loser? Maybe he’s not a shifty runner. Maybe his passing is spotty. But he quarterbacked the Sooners to two big wins this year. One of which was Notre Dame.

John: “I read in The Oklahoman that OU is all time 107-1 when rushing for at least 400 yards. Do you know which team beat us under those circumstances?  I want to say it was Texas during the John Blake era.  One year,  Demond Parker simply ran wild in the Cotton Bowl.  Trouble was, so did Texas!”

You’re speaking of 1997, when Parker and Ricky Williams played one-on-one and the Longhorns survived 27-24. But that wasn’t the game. In the 1982 season, OU went to the Fiesta Bowl, rushed for 419 yards and lost to Arizona State 32-21. The Marcus Dupree game.

Ken: “Maybe we found a new tight end/fullback for next year. Bell, with some plays designed for him. Perhaps our max pass play is 20 yards, which is OK. Does Trooper Orr have any eligibility left?”

Alas, the trooper who took out the knucklehead fan was a linebacker at UCO in the 1990s. Ineligible at OU. Of course, the Sooners don’t really need a linebacker. Know of any peace officers who played quarterback?

Bob: “It’s time for the OU establishment to reevaluate the direction the Sooner football program is heading. Their two new commitments adds to the embarrassment the program continues to show. One recruit had offers from Illinois, Akron, and, Bowling Green; the other from Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee State, Western Kentucky, and UAB. Are you kidding me? Until we start signing players that also had offers from Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, etc; we are going nowhere. While the success of the OU program under Bob Stoops is unquestioned, the direction it is heading is also unquestioned. Maybe Stoops’ salary should reflect where the program currently stands, which certainly would call for a sizable decrease. I’m aware I am like most spoiled by our success Sooner fans, but, If some changes are not made in the near future, this program is headed for an extended period of irrelevancy.”

I have to admit. I raised my eyebrows when I read who OU beat out for these latest two players.

Tim: “Granted, recruiting news by its nature is far from being an exact depiction of the value of a player or even what other schools may or may not have had an interest. I also understand that these are just the latest news stories.  I am admittedly going by general memory here, but it seems as though OU is all too often offering kids who seem to have drawn little or no interest from the elite schools. When OU starts stealing players from Western Kentucky and is in recruiting battles with Illinois, Arkansas State, UAB, Toledo, Akron and Tulsa, won’t they end up with the same caliber of teams as those schools?  If this is how OU is trying to find players now, from your perspective is this a matter of the Sooners giving up on elite players or has OU been passed up as a desirable destination for them? To me it seems that OU’s recruiting has been on a downward trajectory. Apparently the last four quarterbacks we have recruited  can be described generously as ‘adequate’ passers. And it is starting to show in not only individual player awards and recognition but also in our ability to compete against higher level teams. The sky is not falling, it’s a great program with a quality coach, etc., but at the end of the day should we expect 8-4 teams with no real stars on the field going forward?”

No. You shouldn’t. I’m no big fan of recruiting rankings. Everyone knows that. But it is alarming when the Sooners are winning recruiting battles with Alabama-Birmingham and Western Kentucky.

Joel: “Since both OU and Texas are having middling years, do you think either OU or Texas (or both) must be perceived as having great teams in order for the Big 12 to be considered a strong conference?  Or can having OSU and Baylor or KSU or whoever carry the banner work just as well?

It probably can happen without OU or Texas. But it certainly would help if they’d get back to their expected status. I mean, it’s asking a lot for a Kansas State or a Baylor to be consistent threats. OSU has proven it has staying power. But if OU and/or Texas returned to full power, along with OSU’s regular bursts, and the rotational bursts of Baylor or KSU or whoever, then all of a sudden you’ve got a deep conference.

Bob: “Kendal Thompson for President! Finally an OU quarterback who can run, and throw a pass. My question: Will Blake Bell start another game of OU?”

Ease up on Kendal Thompson. He quarterbacked one series, against Iowa State, with a 41-10 lead. I’ll say no. Blake Bell doesn’t start another OU game.

Fitz: “As I told you last year, I love the rollout passes and reverses and double reverses, OU never used. Now they are using them some and they appear to work most of the time. Am I mistaken?”

I actually don’t see any more rollouts than usual, but the reverses, yes. And they work some. Especially when LaColtan Bester is running them. Which he hasn’t been and now won’t be.

Paul: “Do you find it exceedingly odd that Bob Stoops is about to accomplish something extraordinarily huge and significant and yet NOBODY seems to be very excited about it? Why is this the case? Do people love Coach Switzer so much that they’d prefer the win record stay untouched? Do people not like Bob as a person? A little of both? None of the above?”

I just think it’s bad timing for Bob. He’s clearly not as connected to people as Switzer was. Or as most people are. Not much anybody can do about that. But there would be much celebration if the record was about to fall during really good times. Fans are a little apprehensive about the current state of the Sooners. Or a lot apprehensive. So there’s not a lot of glee.

Tony: “Just like Landry Jones sticking around and not letting a quarterback develop last year (and subsequently have an experienced line this year), we are in a position of having our most durable, physical (between the tackles) and long distance threat suspended for Kansas State. Hmm, doesn’t look good this week. Here’s to hoping for a dose of Keith Ford and Alex Ross, and then Clay and Finch when they are best (a tired defense).”

Interesting theory on Clay and Finch working best when the defense is tired. I’ve seen that with Finch, but not with Clay. Maybe because Clay is usually in at the start. But the notion that Landry Jones hurt the Sooners by coming back for a fifth year? Isn’t that silly. OU’s got quarterback trouble, and the solution was to get to quarterback trouble a year earlier?

Greg: “Agree with you and Mike Stoops. Trevor is the guy at least through the KSU game and probably the OSU game. I would like for OU to allow Kendal a few shots this week as well. He threw the ball pretty well. QB situation is way too screwed up this season. As you pointed out in your article, Bell has had his moments in big games. No matter who the QB is  the rest of the way and in the future, OU needs to commit to an offense all three QBs can run with success. So what offensive scheme will that be? Do you have a clue?”

I don’t think there is an offense that fits all three. So I would go with democracy. OU has two quarterbacks apparently well-suited to the option. That’s what I would go with. 


Greg: “How funny would it be if Stoops departed for Gainesville or other domains and OU came after Gundy?  A year’s worth of trash talking. And just for the record, I think Mike Gundy would be a home run. Maybe bigger than Art Briles. And OU could out-bid both Baylor and OSU. What a double play. An insult of the highest order, and the hire would pay immediate dividends. Yes, count me as one OU fan who thinks Gundy is a helluva a hot coach right now. Yes, better than Stoops.”

Hotter? I’ll buy that. Better? I don’t see it. At least not for OU. I would guess that the OSU brass would love to trade coaches but that the OU brass would not. Gundy has done a fabulous job, but his dalliances with other schools has cost him quite a bit of trust.

Mitchell: “If Vegas is right, Baylor wins Saturday.  I do think OSU has a chance to win at home though. Likewise, KSU is 6-4 and barely beat a bad TCU team at home on a late field goal. OU has a great chance to win. If these two things happen, then OU and OSU are identical at 8-2 with each losing to Baylor. Each has a bad loss, but the OSU loss to West Virginia is worse than losing to Texas. My point is that the perception OSU is way better than OU may be premature. OU suffered key losses where depth was tissue thin. But a 9-3 season is hardly reminiscent of John Blake or Bob Valesente. I think the media is frustrated with dealing with Bob Stoops and this affects the perception. Stoops is going through the Tom Osborne syndrome of the 1980s, where fans get spoiled by the consistent 9-3 and 10-2 syndrome. OU is right now a good team. They have retracted a bit, but if they win nine this year, that’s 29 wins in three years. IF this is your down time, that is pretty good. All great programs hit these periods, but the key is to stay at nine or 10 wins and not fall to six or seven. If you go 10-3 and 9-3, you are just a couple of players and some good chemistry from being 12-1 or so. I give OSU credit. They are now a really fine program. But the gap, if there is one, is very narrow. I don’t see Stoops getting much worse. I think he will move hell and earth to get better.”

Some excellent points here, notably about Tom Osborne and OU being a consistent nine-win team even in down years. And the truth is, the gap between OU and OSU, either way, is small. But where anyone is picked seems a little beside the point. Since you brought it up, OSU was picked first in the Big 12. And OU was picked second. In a terribly close vote IN WHICH OU HAD MORE FIRST-PLACE VOTES THAN OSU. As far as OU picked to go 9-3, some individual yardbirds picked OU to go 9-3. Some people picked them to go to the national title game. The differences between OU and OSU are this. OSU is getting better. OSU was squishy in September, but has been playing better, virtually every week. OU has not. OU has been up and down. It’s also this. OSU has played six road games. It’s been home only four games all season. OU has played six home games. Now the Cowboys get to come home for two big games, OU goes on the road for two big games.


Don: “I am sure you have already caught the error in your column about Baylor being the only private university in the Big 12.  TCU has been a member since 2012.  And they, too, have done some pretty heavy  lifting, having won the Rose bowl over Wisconsin not too long ago. Your point is well taken. Private institutions understand that sports helps in the branding of their academic product and are leveraging their academic stature and significant endowments more in that direction. However, there have been many private schools that have been unable to keep up with the major college arms race.  Through the years, these have included San Francisco, Santa Clara, Denver, University of Chicago, Detroit, Creighton, Marquette (in football), George Washington, Holy Cross, Fordham, Boston University, Centenary and many others.”

Yes. I screwed that up. I meant to say Baylor was the only private during its 14-year run of futility. But great points about the privates’ demise. OU even in the modern era played some of those schools. Santa Clara and Detroit both were opponents in the early years of Bud Wilkinson.

Tivis: “I really do not know what Art Briles is doing at Baylor or how he is doing it.  He has been extremely successful everywhere he has coached. Briles came from Rule, Texas — Gateway to the Cotton Fields. If that does make a person tough and resourceful, then nothing will.”

You know, a key year for Briles – if he stays at Baylor – will be 2015. The Bears will slip a little next season; with seven seniors on defense, Baylor can’t match its 2013 performance. But just as OSU won in 2011, rebuilt in 2012 and now is back in Big 12 contention, Baylor needs to do the same.

Gene: “Baylor sends back 3,100 of its 3,800 allotment when they are No. 4 in the BCS, are building a $210 million stadium and they think they are now in the big leagues?  Give me a break.”

On the other hand, they’ve got a bunch of good ballplayers.


Lance: That was awesome last night. Is Marcus Smart just that good? Memphis not that good? An off night for Memphis? Or are the Cowboys really a Final Four bound (barring, God forbid, injuries) team?”

I think Smart is awesome and so is his team. But making the Final Four is hard, hard, hard. It’s tough to get to the regional final, and then it’s 50/50. So best case scenario, it’s about a 1-in-4 chance to make a Final Four even if you make the Sweet 16. But the Cowboys have a shot.

Joel: “Charles Barkley keeps saying he doesn’t think the Thunder can win a championship without a low post scoring threat (he seems to have totally forgotten 2012 and the impressive Western Finals win over the Spurs).  What I’m trying to understand is exactly what he thinks we need.  Does he think you have to have a dominant scoring center (Kareem, Hakeem, etc.), or just an offensive threat to keep the defense honest?  I don’t see Miami having that kind of threat (although I guess you could count LeBron since he’s a threat from everywhere).  And then I see stats from games like last night where we totally dominant points in the paint (can’t imagine the Showtime Lakers or Kobe/Shaq having much better paint stats). So, aside from Barkley’s opinion, are there any stats that would confirm (or not confirm) that a low post threat is critical to the Thunder (or any team) winning a championship?

The truth about Barkley is that while he’s wildly entertaining, he’s not much of a basketball analyst. He really doesn’t know what’s going on with individual teams. Chuck is FAO. For Amusement Only. Yes, low-post scoring is helpful. Not necessary, but helpful.

Kent: “1. Who is Texas’ coach next year? 2. Why don’t colleges show the opposite site goal line shot? It would have helped determine if Georgia scored to take the lead. 3. Can Auburn beat Alabama?”

1. David Shaw. Only a guess. 2. Sometimes they do. But not always. Reverse angle has been around forever, but you don’t always see it. 3. Sure. I don’t think they will, but Auburn could win.

L.L.: “I heard today that the Oakland Raiders may be moving to Oklahoma City and that they have looked at a plot of land on the Oklahoma River to build a 60,000-seat stadium.  Do you know anything about this?”

I know they better hurry, or the Tampa Bay Rays will get that piece of property.

Ben: “Quick question regarding your last article regarding bowl predictions. Why would a BCS bowl take a two-loss Big Ten school (Michigan State or Wisconsin) over a two-loss Pac-12 school?  From a national perception, the Pac-12 is much more respected this year than the Big Ten.” 

Easy. Geography. The Sugar and Orange can sell tickets to Michigan State or Wisconsin fans much easier than to Stanford fans. It’s nothing more complicated than that. If the Fiesta Bowl was in the mix, then Stanford’s in the saddle. But the Fiesta Bowl has last pick this year, which means it’s going to get stuck with Northern Illinois, Fresno State or Central Florida.

Ron: “OU-Nebraska would be an interesting (bowl) matchup. In addition to being a Nebraska fan, I am also an OU alum, so … GO BIG RED! The way the offenses play, sometimes the winner would be the team that backs up the slowest.”

 Now that’s funny.


by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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