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Oklahoma football: OU and Texas have gone a little soft

COMMENTARY — It's the way of the world in college football these days. The Sooners and Longhorns, like a lot of teams, have gone away from hard-nosed football to spreading it out and making people miss.
by Berry Tramel Published: October 9, 2012

The Texas State Fair has been capital to many a splendored thing.

Creative culinary concoctions like deep fried jambalaya, your reigning Best Taste winner.

Concerts you want to see; Kansas is playing Sunday on the Main Stage. Stick around Dallas an extra day for “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind.”

And he-man football. Definitely he-man football. Bobby Layne and Jerry Tubbs. Steve Zabel and Tommy Nobis. Lucious Selmon and Earl Campbell.

OU-Texas was football played not just with shoulder pads, but brass knuckles. Cornermen were part of the travel party. Blood, sweat and forget your fears.

Often as not, OU-Texas turned the Cotton Bowl into a mosh pit. The Cotton Bowl's real estate became as precious as Malibu's. Victors were knighted. Liggins the Lion-hearted.

But some say that has changed. That the Sooners and Longhorns have gone soft. That they might as well play in tutus. That they spread out and wimp out and try to win playing flag football.

Mack Brown has admitted as much, declaring he wants the Longhorns to transition to SEC-style football. Hard-nosed defense, downfield running.

What say ye, Bob Stoops? “Ridiculous,” Stoops said. Did you expect any different?

“Sure, everybody wants to be stronger against the run, stronger running the football.” Stoops said. “I feel we have always done that. Some years, we've done it better than others.”

Mack says the 'Horns, even with great teams, have been out-toughed. He points to the Big Bowl against Alabama, though if you ask me, Texas would have had a heck of a chance had a pinched shoulder nerve not benched quarterback Colt McCoy.

But funny thing. UT clearly is better this season despite a leaky defense and a quarterback, David Ash, who can hit a downfield pass. Texas has decided, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em in the video-football age.

Meanwhile, Stoops gets riled at the suggestion that OU lost to Kansas State 2½ weeks ago because it went all Charmin.

“I don't believe we lost anything the other night against Kansas State, who's known as a tough and physical team, because of being tough and physical,” Stoops said. “We lost because we turned the ball over. And I don't think that makes us soft.

“At the line of scrimmage, we're right there with them or better … that's just ignorance. In the end, sometimes you're not as physical as some other year. Sometimes both lines are more physical or stronger or bigger than other lines. You think you're going to be the same all the time?”

Truth is, OU doesn't have a star lineman on either side. No G.K. McCoy. No Phil Loadholt. Bunch of blue collars on those crimson jerseys.

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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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