John McLaughlin is a stay-till-the-end type of Sooner fan.
Last season, he waited through that excruciating rain delay before the Texas Tech game, then sat through every last second of that excruciating loss to the Red Raiders.
He is all in when it comes to Oklahoma.
Except for this one thing.
“I'm disappointed that Landry Jones has returned,” McLaughlin said.
He just can't get behind the fact that the Sooners' senior signal caller is back for one more season at OU.
The metro-area resident isn't alone.
On the day Jones plays again on Owen Field during OU's Spring Game, there are plenty of fans conflicted about his return. Yes, he's a three-year starter who has won 30 games in his Sooner career and has a chance to break every major passing record in school history. Sure, he's bound to be on every preseason Heisman Trophy watch list come the fall.
But despite those credentials, there was not a unanimous sigh of relief in the Sooner Nation when he decided not to bypass his senior season for the NFL.
Make no mistake — a majority of OU fans jumped for joy at the news of Jones' return. But the fact that there were any fans who were less than thrilled, much less a sizable group of them?
The whole thing fascinated me so much that I went looking for some answers. I asked Sooner fans to share their thoughts on my blog, on Twitter and on email, and what they said was enlightening.
For starters, most fans are glad that Jones is still wearing the crimson and cream. Their reasons are many.
Some like the fact that there's experience at the quarterback position. And there's little doubt how valuable that is. Jones has already started 37 games, tying him with Cale Gundy for most starts for a Sooner quarterback.
Other Sooner fans contend that Jones was better than he was given credit for last season. OU started the year as a national-title contender but finished it with three losses and a trip to the Insight Bowl. While the failings of the defensive secondary took the lion's share of the blame, Jones took some heat, too.
But he was playing much of the season without his most lethal weapons. Losing Dom Whaley and Ryan Broyles were big-time blows.
“The injuries we had last year would've affected anyone,” Mike McCormick said.
Count the Sooner fan from Shreveport, La., among the group that is glad Jones returned.
“With what we have coming back ... we need our best player at quarterback coming back, and without a doubt, that is LJ,” he said. “I'm not thrilled about turning this offense over ... to a guy or guys who have yet to take a meaningful snap in a game.”
But even McCormick admits that he didn't always feel this way about Jones' return.
He watched the Insight Bowl with a few other Sooner fans at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Shreveport, and at some point during the game, every person in the group said they were ready for Jones to go. That included McCormick.
“My biggest angst with LJ,” he said, “he just doesn't seem to step (up) when we need it the most. Josh and Sam always played their best when it mattered the most.”
Ah, yes, comparisons to other Sooner quarterbacks. Maybe it's unfair to think every player who steps under center should win a national title like Josh Heupel or at least play for a national title like Sam Bradford and Jason White. But among OU fans, that is the reality. That is the expectation.
Landry Jones hasn't taken the Sooners to those heights yet.
That hasn't set well with every Sooner fan.
Also high on their list of pet peeves is inconsistency. There are times when Jones goes along looking sharp and throwing well, and then almost out of blue, he starts to struggle. His feet get happy. His passes go high.
Worse, some of those struggles have come at the most inopportune time. Big games have been a mixed bag for Jones. Some have been good. Bedlam, 2010. Florida State, 2011. Some have been bad. Texas A&M, 2010. Bedlam, 2011.
Add the fact that the Sooners' most consistent offensive scheme last season didn't even involve Jones being on the field, and that had some fans ready to hand the offense over to Blake Bell and the Belldozer.
“Half of me wanted him back,” Sooner fan and Houston resident Ken Lawson said of Jones, “and the other half wanted BB to get the nod.”
And really, that sentiment might be as symbolic as any when it comes to what OU fans think of Jones.
They are conflicted.
Lawson, who graduated from OU in 1982, has decided to put aside his concerns about Jones.
“The table is set now,” he said, “and I am behind him a hundred percent.”
Others aren't so sure.
“Landry Jones has all the physical attributes of a great QB, and he knows it,” said stay-till-the-end fan John McLaughlin. “I believe that leads him to rely too much on those physical attributes.”
He wishes Jones were more like Bradford in avoiding bad decisions and being smart with the ball.
“I know Sam Bradford is a tough act to follow,” McLaughlin said, “but Landry Jones is not in the same class.”
Winning every game is any quarterback's top priority, but if Landry Jones does that this fall, he just might win something else in the process.