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by Berry Tramel Published: August 4, 2006
NORMAN - The best part of the 21st-century Oklahoma football Renaissance was not the from-out-of-nowhere emergence by the Stoops Troops. Not the gambling, daredevil tricks that almost always paid off.

Not even the sudden surplus of all-stars after OU went more than a decade with barely an all-American.

The best part of the Stoops saga was the pristine nature of Sooner football. Oklahoma football has a glorious history. Glorious, but also sordid. Scandal, rule violations, multiple trips to the NCAA hoosegow.

Under Stoops, the Sooners not only won, they won the right way. Oklahoma football could hold its head far higher than ever before.

Good while it lasted.

The Rhett Bomar dismissal is the latest in a string of dubious events that have rocked Sooner athletics. OU’s reputation is retreating; the gains of recent years have been lost.

That is no small thing.

Don’t get the wrong idea. These aren’t the Deadwood days of 1989. No bullets flying around the Bud House. No huge trials in the Cleveland County Courthouse. No Sooners in orange jumpsuits on the Sports Illustrated cover.

But Dusty Dvoracek cracked a skull and Adrian Peterson drove a Lexus he didn’t pay for and now Bomar and J.D. Quinn were ghost workers at Big Red Sports & Imports. The NCAA certainly will parachute in to open a file on Sooner football, and the bloodhounds should know their way around, since they just dropped the hammer on OU basketball.

The guilty have been identified. But some accomplices must be named.

Bob Stoops and Joe Castiglione have been asleep at the wheel.

Stoops and his boss are not to blame for any single discretion. Truth is, they played bad cop with Bomar and acted decisively. Perhaps their terrible swift sword will sober up many a Sooner.

But collectively, there can be no question that something is amiss in Soonerville. That standards have gone lax. A spirit of permissiveness - either through lack of oversight, or recruiting the wrong kinds of players, or general boredom - has come back to a program must at all times fight to eradicate the same.

“You have no idea how much this distresses me,” said Castiglione. “This is not who we are and what we’re about.”

Not so long ago, Joe C. was as good a candidate as any for nation’s best athletic director. That’s a ladder he’ll have to reclimb in the national perception.

This is who the Sooners are. A program whose two marquee players now have swam in scandal with the same Norman auto dealer. Peterson escaped trouble - for now - by returning the Lexus. Bomar fell into the pit.

Again, Bomar is mostly to blame. He’s a goofball. But I assumed elementary monitoring of summer jobs was standard. Apparently not, lest why would any Sooner be working at Big Red?

Football programs and car dealers have had a queasy alliance for more than 50 years; local car dealers have been involved with probations at both OU and OSU in the past.

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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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