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Emails: What if Todd Monken had stayed at OSU?

by Berry Tramel Modified: January 10, 2014 at 6:05 pm •  Published: January 10, 2014

The emails are in, on a variety of subjects. Cotton Bowl, Bob Stoops, Charlie Strong. Let’s get to the good stuff.

COTTON BOWL

Brian: “I thought of a what-if scenario that seemed intriguing and wanted to see if I could get your thoughts. What if Todd Monken had stayed at OSU for one more year? With the way Monken commanded the offense, does OSU probably go undefeated and have a great shot to play FSU in the championship game? After the season, is it likely that Monken is then up for better jobs like Louisville (since Strong just left)? I propose the answer to both is yes. I guess I’m assuming that the ‘greenness’ of Mike Yurcich led to some of the downfalls.”

Well, I think Yurcich certainly didn’t have great gameplans for West Virginia or OU, the Cowboys’ two losses. But Yurcich did have great gameplans for Texas and Baylor, so I guess you never know. OSU clearly would have been better off had Monken stayed. But here’s one thing to ponder: 12-0 Oklahoma State or 12-1 Auburn? Would the pollsters have gone with OSU? I don’t know. Maybe. Probably. But not certainly.

Tim: “I know a win is a win and a loss is a loss. OSU was trying to win (at the end of the Cotton Bowl) instead of going into overtime, and it cost us. We barely lost to the second or third team in the SEC while playing poorly in the red zone. We will get our comeuppance at the beginning of next year. Did we achieve everything that we set out to do? No. Is the bar raised at OSU? Yes. We don’t have that many 10-win seasons and top-10 rankings in our past. In years past we would have taken this season in a heart beat. We beat all the Texas schools again. One play from beating OU and winning the conference, so It is not a disaster.”

No, not a disaster, but a disappointment. OSU had the league’s best team but didn’t win the Big 12 and also created a monster in its arch-rival. Then had a chance to beat a top-10 SEC team and just didn’t get it done. Disappointing all the way around.

Jeff: “I thought your piece on Gundy (and SI) was well done. However, I see college coaches, especially Big 12, as the 21st century professional golfer; robotic, unnecessarily and pre-maturely polished, boring, and I could go on. But you get the point. There are no John Daleys, Palmers, Players. Why are college coaches so afraid to show any personality, feeling or frailty?

You’re right. Football coaches are half robots, half control freaks. Give me basketball coaches anytime. I don’t know why it’s developed that way. Didn’t use to be.

Timothy: “I thought Gundy was funny. However, does this mean he knows something of the internal investigation? If not, he might have to eat crow if something does turn up. Mainly grades and it seems a few of our other athletes have been doing a little pot. That doesn’t bode well for us. I was always taught not to burn bridges. He may have thrown down the gauntlet, in which SI may pick up and make our lives miserable.”

I doubt it. I never thought OSU had anything to worry about with the SI stuff. It was all so old. I think Gundy was just literally talking off the top of his head. Nothing pre-planned. He kept it inside a long time about SI. I don’t blame him for popping SI a little bit.

Spencer: “Don’t you think it’s a little bit early for Gundy to be popping off about Sports Illustrated? The last I checked, OSU had hired an outside firm to conduct an independent investigation into very serious allegations. Apparently, from what I’ve heard and read, that report won’t be finalized/made public until after national signing day. If Sports Illustrated got it all wrong, seems to me the school would want to make that clear before signing day. OSU fans and their coach can laugh at Sports Illustrated all they want, but I have a feeling they won’t be laughing about much when their own school signs its name to a report that confirms some of what Sports Illustrated reported. I should add that by bashing Sports Illustrated, Gundy is bashing his own former players and former ‘Cowboys’ — people OSU recruited and ‘developed.’ To me, not much of a laughing matter for the head coach of a major program.”

I don’t think Gundy was laughing. He had a smile on his face. Sort of a make-my-day smile. People in the press conference were laughing. Not Gundy. He was dead serious. He’s PO’d at Sports Illustrated, and it’s hard to blame him.

Jimmy: “Just want to vent. The game set us Cowboys back at least two years on total recruiting in my opinion ( little brother to the Sooners).”

Probably right. Massive missed opportunity. OSU had a chance to win a title and keep OU down. Instead, OSU didn’t win the title and gave OU a chance to leap back into the national spotlight. I think I was accurate that Bedlam Saturday when I wrote that it was a cataclysmic defeat for OSU.

Joe: “The Cotton Bowl loss, everyone is claiming on the officials, but they called as good a game as they possibly can. Here is my concern: Those officials were from the Mid-America Conference, and this year the same as the past, the game is too fast for them. They remind me of Wylie Coyote and Roadrunner. Beep-beep and the offense is gone.”

Well, they were from the Big Ten (maybe Joe knew that), but he’s got a point. The game did seem to get away from them. I actually thought the pass interference penalty on Patmon was the right call. But they let things get away from them.

Mike: “Thanks for doing double duty and being easy on the grading for the Pokes. Had to take a few days to cool off. Kind of like Darth Vader on the bridge of the Star Destroyer when the Millennium Falcon launches off into hyperspace. Stunned. Watching four hours of ‘what the crap’ ages a guy, and I’m nearing 60. Man, it ain’t easy being an OSU fan. My additional thoughts on some additions:

Head Coaching: D- at best. The lack of calls on the fourth down past the 50. And no plan for an onside/squib kick when kicking off from the 50? Really? Not after this year of QB carousel. This game had all the trademarks of using extra practices for next year and just hoping for the best in the Cotton Bowl. And this ‘my hire’ for offensive coordinator. Much room for improvement in both areas.

Defense Coaching: C- at best. Great effort to hold them close but Mauk was a pain to watch. Running QB in the game and continuing man to man coverage?? Holy moly.

Uniforms. F-. Was that PennState out there? In a hotbed of recruiting for OSU and a Nike contract, 77 players from Texas on OSU’s team, and you come out in all white with the Paterno Pots on? How about the black pants with orange helmets, gray pants with gray helmets, grey pants with orange helmets, black pants with black helmets? Did they give the equipment guys the month off? And please lose the white helmet with black stripe. I was OSU when OSU wasn’t cool. I remember the ‘70s, Tony Pounds, Phil Cutchin, Floyd Gass, etc. But lose it. Ugly as sin. Almost as bad at the other OSU with the wide red stripe. Making me go back to black and white TV.

Referees. F. Not the controversial calls at all. Poor for both teams. Seemed lost from the start. Saw too many blocks in the back on kicks not called, etc. And, if you’re going to let the DBs pop the receivers, please be consistent throughout the game.”

Great points. I’ve got to write about the uniforms. Mike’s exactly right.

Skinner: “My thoughts for a head coach that hired the aggressive agent and interviewed around before getting the long term contract. Tread lightly. Have heard third hand that coaching is a topic in the suite for the head of football operations, er, chief donor. Even Pat Jones was fired eventually. Reality is that 9-3 is the new 7-5 or 6-6. Especially with the head coach’s thoughts on scheduling. Remembering back to Switzer and some ‘clunker’ years that weren’t really all that bad. Cowboy Nation is looking at Gundy the way Gundy looks out on the field. There ain’t much smilin’ going on. Give me a team of over-achievers in Rustoleum Stadium every time. We might go 5-7 or 7-5, but it will be integrity through and through.”

Hey, be careful. You don’t really want 5-7 and Lewis Field back. The truth is, OSU had a disappointing year — and went 10-3. Sure, the Cowboys should have beaten West Virginia, would have beaten OU and could have beaten Missouri. But a disappointing 10-3 is not a reason to retreat, it’s a reason to advance.

Bob: “If Coach Gundy can’t see the writing on the scoreboard after the Cotton Bowl, what is it going to take? Missouri never won a Big 12 anything, correct? The level of competition in the SEC either made Mizzou tougher than thy were in the Big 12 or made them think they were tougher. The coach at Missouri hasn’t changed. The facilities haven’t changed. Only the conference has changed, and the teams Mizzou competes against during the conference season. If Gundy doesn’t embrace playing a tougher non-conference schedule, he is going to get what he always got, namely a team that thinks it’s better than it is when it comes to Big 12, bowl selection and national title championship time.”

Hey, I’m against Gundy’s scheduling philosophy, but that had nothing to do with the Cotton Bowl. I would say it had a lot to do with losing to West Virginia, but not Missouri. The Tigers ended up fifth in the AP poll. They were a very good team and OSU played Mizzou tough. The Tigers just made the winning play at the end. Just as easily could have been OSU.

Kent: “Cotton Bowl observations. 1. It’s a nice story about Glen Spencer, but like Bedlam, OSU can’t stop a team at the end. OSU’s defense is not very good. 2. Yurcich appears over matched. 3. I told the guy I watched the game with, when I saw that ref, I said, ‘Big Ten. Bad and will be bad calls on both sides.’ 4. I would suggest a new punter and kicker. 5. James Franklin isn’t good and Missouri receivers dropped 10 passes. 6. Third and fourth and short, to be in the shotgun is dumb.”

Let’s see. Lots to chew on. 1. OSU’s defense actually is very good. Was very good all season. But the Cowboys did cave on two major drives to end the season. 2. Yurcich did not finish strong, no doubt about it. I’d love to know the full story. Was the offense fully his? Did Gundy get involved? Did Gundy have to get involved? This is worth watching. 3. The Big Ten called the Big Bowl. Which means the Cotton Bowl got the second-best Big Ten unit. That’s not good. 4. New kicker/punter couldn’t hurt. The Cowboys fell far from Quinn Sharp. 5. I was stunned at how bad James Franklin was. At one point, he had completed four of 16 passes. And Missouri still led. 6. I agree. Going under center would help.

David: “The Cowboys did not play to win, but played not to lose. In the big games, a little bit of river boat mentality is needed. It is a universal problem of how to approach 3rd-and-one. The defense always stations McArthur, Patton, Texas Ags’ 13th man and the little Dutch boy that held his finger in the dike, squarely in the middle of the line.”

Well, play-action passes are what the NFL loves. But the NFL has quarterbacks who can throw accurately about 99 percent of the time. College teams rarely have that luxury. I would go under center, to make the defenses defend the sneak. And I don’t like slow-developing sweeps. I like rollouts, fling pitches off a counter, hard-hitting off-tackle runs. That’s what I like.

Brian: “What a seismic shift in the narrative for OU/OSU football since the Justin Gilbert non-interception. Credit OU for taking advantage of the opportunities about as well as possible. A Blake Bell TD pass then a game for the ages vs. Bama, all the sudden OU is ‘back’ and now in Title talk for 2014. And OSU is back in the familiar territory we’ve been trying to climb out of since basically our whole existence. Crazy, if Gilbert secures the ball, and everything is tilted completely different for both programs. Feels like we’re back to square zero. It’s actually fascinating.”

Well, fascinating is not the word most OSU fans would use. Demoralizing maybe.

 

BOB STOOPS

Blake: “I actually do not think Stoops will stay in the profession past 60ish for a few reasons:

1. The good ones in all professions leave on their own terms. The great ones die young. If I knew why I would write a book.

2. He is an old school coach and in a quiet moment over a drink I think he would say college athletics has lost its way.

3. His health is good but his dad’s genes and profession have potentially given he and his brothers a short shelf life.

4. His roots are up North and it makes you wonder if he longs for his homeland.

It actually would not surprise me if he finishes his career at OU.

1. Not all the good ones leave on their own terms. 2. He is an old school coach, but I don’t think he thinks college athletics has lost its way. He keeps taking big raises that put his salary past $4.5 million. 3. He worries about his health, no doubt about it. 4. He has no desire to go back North. None at all. He hates cold weather. But it also wouldn’t surprise me if he finished his career at OU..

 Tom: “I think someone — Stoops — needs a basic 101 course in diplomacy. Goodness, why in the world would someone attack the past players for some comments, especially those that were a year old. Frankly, some of the comments I read, especially about sub par recruiting, were reflective of a lot more people than just prior players. What is there to gain? I would think a more diplomatic statement could have been made like awareness of the current situation or something and not make a total frontal attack on them. This makes about as much sense to me as the constant banter between the ‘Bud Boys’ and ‘Barry Boys.’ A lot of those older players I am sure make contributions both in terms of donations and indirect positive things that may be said about the program to high school coaches in their community. To me that is a fight that need not be made.”

Oh, you may be right. But Stoops was asked about it, and he answered. Here’s what he thought of the year-old criticism. He thought it was bush league. He thought it was disloyal. Some of the comments were talking about talent, but some of the comments were from old players who said OU had lost its toughness or its mental edge. That’s what rankled Stoops, I believe. I think he was fired up about it. Can’t say that I blame him. The ’84-85 Sooners weren’t great because they had some kind of great intestinal fortitude. They were great because Tony Casillas played nose guard and Brian Bosworth played linebacker. That’s why they were great.

Jeff: “I am sure you don’t need hucksters like me suggesting articles for you to write, but … Grand Slams are talked about frequently in the golf and tennis world and you will recall back in 2001 Tiger Woods held all four major trophies at once but not in the same year and the term ‘Tiger Slam’ was born. Not sure if he would do it, but if you could get Stoops to take a picture with all of the BCS trophies and the national title and call it a Stoops Slam. I think it would be pretty cool and being the only coach who has achieved this accomplishment it might become a term in the sports world, at least until football season rolls around and we get all consumed with the sport again.”

I don’t know if it would catch on or not. Probably not. But it’s got a thousand times better chance of catching on than of Stoops posing for the photo. Reminds me of a great story. His first year, we got Stoops and Bob Simmons to meet us out at Frontier City for a photo shoot. We were doing a Western theme for our football magazine. They dressed up in Western gear and really had a good time. It took a little prodding to get Stoops to go all in, but he eventually did. The next year, we did an aerospace theme, and the coaches came out to the Omniplex and its great air museum. We called the theme ‘Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines,’ in reference to the new throw-it-around offenses. Stoops would pose next to a vintage airplane, but he wouldn’t touch the clothing. You got me once, he said. Never again. I’m told that some of his pals in the office ribbed him good about the Frontier City pose.

 

CHARLIE STRONG & TEXAS

Royse: When I read about the new Texas head football coach, I’m reminded of Oklahoma’s John Blake. I was thinking about the problems Blake apparently had communicating with the media.”

Not even close. Blake and Strong don’t have the same media problem. Blake didn’t mind the media at all. He just wasn’t capable of presenting himself well. Strong is completely capable of it. He just doesn’t like to do it.

John: “Texas had a chance to hire a proven head football coach, and they got a coach whose tenure has been built on one QB. Without him, Louisville will collapse next year. Well, Texas has to make all the same mistakes as OU. OU possessed a coaching superiority over Texas during the Brown administration. That level of superiority continues to exist.”

I think Charlie Strong’s track record goes deeper than Teddy Bridgewater. But it is a good point. It’s the same point about Kevin Sumlin. When he’s had Case Keenum or Johnny Manziel, Sumlin has been a big winner. When Sumlin hasn’t had an elite quarterback, he’s slipped. But isn’t the ability to have an elite quarterback a feather in a coach’s cap?

Jay: “Having grown up in my teen years in Irving, I can attest to the hot seat that job brings whenever UT falls short of high expectations. OU has nothing on those fans, and I’m not just talking about the money people, but the rank and file as well. You did a masterful job of documenting the less than stellar championship record really from the onslaught of OU’s wishbone. At the same time, I agree the Big 12 needs Texas and Oklahoma to be Texas and Oklahoma. Nationally relevant. If they give Strong a chance and he brings in a top-flight Staff, it will happen faster than people may think. As Coach Jones says, ‘They get the best players in the country but they don’t know what to do with them when they get them on the campus.’ That changes now. Plus, Mack whiffed on some really gifted high school athletes who went elsewhere. That stops now. They may not get all the best guys, but it won’t be because they can’t judge talent. And, when you add Charlie’s link to the Florida stables, wow! Should be a lot of fun in the next few years.”

I think Strong will do a good job. I don’t know that he’s a magic elixir. But no doubt about it, the Big 12 needs Texas to be good.

Jim: “Using ’86-year-old’ as a way to describe Red McCombs, kind of seems like it was a derogatory term because of his age, that he is not thinking right because of his age. Why put in 86 years old, why not just say he is a donor that is on the wrong side of the question?”

Because everyone assumes McCombs’ bigotry is coming out. Which it might be. But it also might be some old guy that’s losing it.

BOWL TALK

Joe: “I know it’s early, but how about these scenarios. The Pac-12 (Stanford, USC or Oregon), the Big 12 (OU, Texas or Baylor), the Big Ten (MichiganState or OhioState), the SEC (Auburn, Alabama, or LSU) and the ACC champ (FSU) are all undefeated, who gets left out? What if the second place team in the SEC has only one loss and is ranked higher in the polls than one or more of the conference champions? Or how about the same as previous except the SEC champ is ranked No. 4 with one loss. Do they get in ahead of a fifth-ranked, undefeated conference champion? And none of the above includes a resurgent Notre Dame! Also, does it matter who the champion is? For instance would OU get in if they were the Big 12 champion while Baylor might be left out because they aren’t a blueblood or don’t have the big name of another conference’s school? I love the fact that we will be getting a playoff, but the same gripes are going to start up about who should be in and who shouldn’t. Would an eight-team playoff solve the problem or would we still get those kinds of gripes?. One would hope with eight teams, possible arguments for additional teams would be watered down enough not to matter.”

Man, you like to borrow trouble. Yes, there are going to be teams crying foul. The fifth team — be it a one-loss SEC team or a conference champ from elsewhere — is going to gripe. But the bitchers, we always have among us. Let’s give the four-team playoff a chance. The two-team BCS actually did a decent job most years. I see no reason why the four-team playoff won’t work as well.

Joel: Great game, Florida State-Auburn. Folks are already comparing to the Texas-USC 2006 game as the best BCS title game ever. There are obvious reasons (great comeback, late score in the same end zone, dynamic QB, last game SEC didn’t win, etc.). But I think 2006 is a cut above for the following reasons:

1) The teams – USC and Texas were both undefeated and the clear 1 and 2 teams in the country. No debate about strength of schedule (FSU) or discussion of best one-loss team (Auburn). Not to mention Auburn’s miracle finishes to even be in the discussion.
2) Texas was the clear underdog; FSU the clear favorite
3) USC had not one but TWO Heisman trophy winners
4) USC was going for a three-peat (repeat BCS) and was in the discussion of the greatest teams of all time
5) USC was riding a 34 game winning streak
6) Texas had to stop USC on fourth down to get the ball and then convert two fourth downs on their winning drive
7) Winston was great in the clutch, but so was Vince Young, plus he had nearly 500 yards total offense.

It was, however, a great sendoff for the BCS!

It was a great game, but I’m in agreement. It wasn’t as good as Texas-USC. I really haven’t heard anyone claim otherwise.

Jim: “After watching OSU play until midnight, are you still in favor of instant replay in baseball? And this was without no coach challenges. Baseball night games, bring your breakfast!”

There is no way baseball games can be any longer. They’re already going into the wee hours. I don’t know why the Cotton Bowl was so long. Lots of video review. Injuries. Insufferably long timeouts. It was a marathon.

Craig: “While an OSU win over Missouri would have been an ideal complement to OU’s Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama in derailing the SEC ego trip, the 2013 bowl season has shown some cracks in the SEC armor. Sure, Mississippi and MississippiState had solid post-season victories, but what about the other bowl victors from the SEC? An impressive Duke kept pace with Texas A&M most of the night. At best, LSU’s New Years Day win over a so-so Iowa team was lackluster. South Carolina’s bowl performance outshined LSU’s, but still had a fight on their hands well into the last quarter. Missouri had to scratch and claw to the very end for a victory over an OSU squad whose offense sputtered for more than three quarters.”

So that’s what it’s come to. Trying to minimize the SEC’s bowl victories? The truth is, Florida State and OU helped dent the armor. But the SEC went 7-3 in bowl games. It remains the best conference, by quite a long shot.

Ed: “That’s an interesting idea about Jimbo’s fake punt changing things in college football. Might be, because coaches are great copycats of whatever works. And the game is always evolving. My wife sometimes teases me, since I’m forever begging for OU to quick kick when we’re in a tight spot. I guess I have run it into the ground, and she got tired of hearing it. But I remember quick kicks fondly–and not just Joe Washington’s against Texas, which was a great one. I remember Wahoo McDaniel doing it, and Billy Pricer. Maybe we’ll go back to the triple-threat back and the statue of liberty. Until the defenses wake up.”

I was thinking of a quick kick just the other day. I thought there was a place a team could really use it. Maybe OSU in the Cotton Bowl. But here’s the problem. In high-scoring, offense-advantaged games like we now have, the quick kick has lost its place. Possession is paramount. Field position is not as important as it once was.

Chris: “Why hasn’t the BCS released a final BCS poll? All I can find is the poll before the BCS games. Shouldn’t there be one for after as well? I know AP and coaches have one, but there should be a final BCS. This is baffling me beyond reason. Please tell me they don’t just leave it from Dec. 8. That doesn’t make sense. Had Auburn won the football game, they would never see their new No. 1 ranking in a BCS poll? Help me find the logic here.”

This is a fascinating question, which we’ll get to soon. But think of the imagery Chris created. Had Auburn won, it would never see its name atop the BCS. That’s beautiful. That’s exactly the mindset of college football. Even when you stage a national championship game, there remains a root of thinking that nothing is justified until a poll comes out with a team listed at No. 1. When you have a playoff, and the BCS is absolutely a two-team playoff, why do you need a poll afterwards? The BCS exists to match two teams for the title game. That’s it’s only reason for existence. The BCS is a two-team playoff. The NCAA basketball committee doesn’t re-seed teams after the tournament. Its job is done. Same with the BCS. 

Mark: “I didn’t see the Sugar Bowl performance coming and didn’t think the Sooners had much of a chance. And even at halftime was waiting for the other shoe to drop. It seemed to me that the Sooners lost their ‘swagger’ in that awful Orange Bowl performance against USC and never seemed to establish that inevitable sense of doom among their opponents. Maybe it was the 1-2 punch of the K-State loss combined with the USC debacle. Hopefully the Sugar Bowl will turn things around for the Sooners. I hope the swagger is back.”

Maybe it is. But I’ve got to believe OU had swagger in 2008. Swagger helps win football games, but victory and defeat are not the ultimate test of swagger.

 

 OU FOOTBALL

Frick: “A prediction: Quarterback depth chart will be Trevor Knight, Cody Thomas and Justice Hansen. Blake will move to another position and Kendal will transfer.”

I don’t think Thompson is transferring. He says he’s not.

Tom: “The only thing I really do hope is the OU staff does not become complacent in the recruiting process and instead builds upon the success to improve personnel going forward. The only complaint I have had (probably too repeatedly) is the lack of success in recruiting for the past few years. If the recruiting comes back to the era where they were getting Adrian Peterson and others, the sky could be the limit over the next few years.”

I think OU recruiting is looking up. Stoops made the staff changes last year because of recruiting. That will start to pay off this year and even more so next year. And now with the Alabama ammunition, no reason why the Sooners’ recruiting shouldn’t pick up.

Craig: “What in the world happened to Alex Ross? Is he transferring or did he just get injured or was he in the doghouse?”

Doghouse, seems to me.

Jeff: “I find itstrange that so many Sooners are declaring this the biggest win in history. It’s the best game I have seen OU play but certainly not the biggest win. Subtle distinction but should be noted.”

Absolutely. And I wouldn’t even say it’s the best game I have seen OU play. The Sooners have taken apart Nebraska teams that were ranked 1 or 2. The Sooners dominated Florida State all night in Miami 13 years ago. They won at Ohio State in 1977 when the Buckeyes were ranked fourth. They’ve beaten solid Texas teams by 50 points. Let’s celebrate the victory, but let’s not get carried away.

Bill: “The Sooners are not back because they were never away. Good now has a chance to be great because of the return of Mike Stoops, the most valuable player in the Sugar Bowl. A great coordinator and associate head coach, the power behind the throne.”

To quote Trevor Knight, “To come down here and show the Sooners are back, it’s something special.” The Sooners absolutely were away. They were away from the national spotlight and they were away from utmost national respect and they were away from any kind of excitement about the program. And over the course of three games, they got it all back. 

Sixto: Regarding Trevor Knight. I think if this kid continues to work hard and focus, the sky is the limit for him. I remember Vince Young’s breakout performance in that Rose Bowl against Michigan. Before that, everyone knew VY had immense potential, but up until that game he had shown only flashes of it and a whole lot of inconsistency. During that Rose Bowl, that potential was finally realized as he put it all together. And we all know what happened the following year. At the risk of sounding overly optimistic, I think there is a parallel here and TK’s incredible performance against Alabama will be a springboard to much greater accomplishments in 2014 (barring injury, of course). What do you think?”

Well, I think everyone ought to slow down. Johnny Manziel last year, Vince Young this year. Knight is getting quite the comparisons. But it is an interesting point. The major difference: Vince Young had shown flashes before the Rose Bowl, and was considered a primo prospect to begin with. But you’re right. He took off after that trip to Pasadena.

Blake: Much has been said about the new coaches at OU helping recruitment. It just dawned on me their preparation leading up to and in-game coaching may have helped them in the trenches both sides of the ball.”

Oh, probably so. But it’s not like the OU offensive line blew Alabama off the ball. And it’s not like OU’s line of the last couple of years was full of holes. I mean, Landry Jones was a statue and never missed a play over four years. The D-line played excellent, but again, I think OU took down Bama with a great scheme. I’d give most of the new-coach props to Mike Stoops.

 

HOOP DREAMS

Carolyn: “Why doesn’t Lon (Kruger) play Tyler Neal more?”

I assume it has to do with defense. Neal has been a solid offensive player. But he might be a little limited defensively.

Gary: “The Thunder can’t throw the ball in the ocean from the beach. It seems that since Reggie Jackson had the 27-point game, he has went cold. Should they trade a pick for Andre Miller, get another guard?”

No. The Thunder is going to have to live with the current malaise. OKC might make a trade, but if it happens, it won’t be to shore up the roster in Westbrook’s void. It will be for a playoff run. Which includes Westbrook.

Tom: “I was totally amazed at the lack of the crowd for the first conference game and with the winning record of OU coming into the game. The band even appeared anemic to say the least. I realize the game was on the early venue, but we had a game or two like that almost every season when I had season tickets. I will admit the crowd might be a little late, but by at least half way through the first half the place was rocking. It was just disappointing to me. Although a KU fan from almost birth, I really came to appreciate and like the OU basketball program while living there and certainly want it to get back to the level I was fortunate enough to enjoy.”

I think the crowd was very good for OU-KU. Starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday is a killer for any school. And OU back in the day did NOT start games that early. This 6 p.m. stuff is a new ESPN deal that really grew legs last year. The Big 12 has got to stop that. Games as late as 8 or 8:30? OK. But as early as 6 p.m.? No way.

 

HALL OF FAME

Jason: “I think I’m in the minority of my opinion, but I feel that if your stats are Hall of Fame worthy, the steroids issue should not hinder you in any way in getting into the Hall. Baseball is entertainment for the fans and the Hall is a museum for the fans. It is followed because of the fans and the use of steroids was because of the fans. The fans wanted more home runs. Well, the players responded using something that was not against the rules of baseball. Today, however, it is against the rules. I know that steroids are illegal in the U.S. without a doctor’s prescription. If the players went through the process of receiving them from a doctor, I don’t see anything wrong with that. However, if a player went another route they were idiots. If a doctor is prescribing them you can be assured, usually, that the product is good. Otherwise you have no idea. Using steroids for recovery and muscle growth in my mind isn’t a bad thing if the player knows the risk and virtually all of them did. The athletes are paid well to be spectacular. Having the ability to do something that used to be superhuman makes a fan enjoy the game even more. I think that guys like Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, etc. should be allowed into the Hall. If you want to make a separate wing for them so be it, but I don’t think that a widely used product in a sport should deter you from Hall interest. People keeping them out are being hypocritical because if they were in the same position, I bet most would have used them. People want to succeed and when you’re at the highest level where there is so much money on the line people do things to survive that you usually wouldn’t.”

Here’s the problem. While you’re right that we all celebrated all the great home run stuff of 10-15 years ago, what we now realize is the price to pay. Which is the removal of meaning from current stats. The home run records, the hitting records, heck, even the pitching records, don’t mean much now. Because we know they were tainted. Baseball has always thrived on comparisons. Between contemporaries and between players from different eras. Can’t really do that any more. And that’s because of those guys. That’s why I say they tainted baseball. And while everyone in America celebrated by McGwire and Sosa, by 2001 and the summer of Bonds, most people had clued in, and the fans weren’t as excited. I would say the fans do NOT celebrate the steroid users.

NFL

Steve: “I know Brandon Weeden was benched at Cleveland. What, if any, is his future there or anywhere in the NFL?”

Good question. I doubt he’s in Cleveland much longer. He could catch on somewhere else as a backup. The Browns appear ready to find another QB or go back to the injured Brian Hoyer.

 

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
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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