Prime Prep (Texas) football
|1 - 1||1 - 0||0 - 1||.500||41||17|
|2013-09-20||@||Ardmore||L||7 - 9|
|2013-10-11||vs||OKC Legion||W||34 - 8|
Prime Prep (Texas) football News
DENVER — What's a prediction without an apology?Sorry, Seattle. I stink at predicting Super Bowls. No Red Hook for me.But predicting the regular season? Straight cash, homie.Last year, I missed the Broncos' final record by one. When the NFL released its schedule, I had the Broncos going 14-2. They finished 13-3. The culprit was San Diego's Thursday-night upset at Denver. You rascal, Philip...
The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Paul Klee column
Paul Klee, Associated Press | Apr 24, 2014DENVER — What's a prediction without an apology? Sorry, Seattle. I stink at predicting Super Bowls. No Red Hook for me. But predicting the regular season? Straight cash, homie. Last year, I missed the Broncos' final record by one. When the NFL released its schedule, I had the Broncos going 14-2. They finished 13-3. The culprit was San Diego's Thursday-night upset at Denver. You rascal, Philip Rivers. This edition of Predicting the Broncos Schedule is dead on. Just in case: can we buy a mulligan? Week 1: Broncos vs. Colts Date: Sept. 7 (6:30 p.m., NBC) If there's an Andrew Luck banner flapping outside Sports Authority Field, the NFL has some 'splainin' to do. There won't be a Flacco Flag Fiasco, but there will be another reunion. Can't see Peyton Manning losing to the Colts again. Can you? Prediction: Broncos 37, Colts 20 (Record: 1-0) Week 2: Broncos vs. Kansas City Date: Sept. 14 (2:25 p.m., CBS) We had the Chiefs pegged in 2013. Andy Reid's new club was a cute story — and a product of a Charmin early schedule. Once again, the Broncos should worry about the Chiefs winning the AFC West like Manning should worry about bankruptcy. Prediction: Broncos 30, Chiefs 24 (Record: 2-0) Week 3: Broncos at Seattle Date: Sept. 21 (2:25 p.m., CBS) Note to self: Don't pick against the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. The 12s will send hate mail and harassing phone calls for months. Hey, I lived in the great state of Washington for four memorable years. You deserved a title, Seattle. One question, though: Is the nickname "12s" a nod to the number of 'Hawk fans pre-Pete Carroll? Prediction: Seahawks 43, Broncos 8 (Record: 2-1) Week 4: Bye Week 5: Broncos vs. Cardinals Date: Oct. 5 (2:05 p.m., Fox) Last season the Broncos got a sneak peek at the site of the Super Bowl with an early season game against the Giants at MetLife Stadium. In Week 5, we can ask a similar question: can they return to University of Phoenix Stadium on Feb. 1, 2015? Prediction: Broncos 33, Cardinals 16 (Record: 3-1) Week: 6: Broncos at New York Jets Date: Oct. 12 (11 a.m., CBS) If Peyton Manning had considered Eric Decker an indispensable part in the Broncos' offense, Jesse's hubby would still be breaking hearts in Colorado. Instead, the Big Heartthrob is in the Big Apple, where I suspect he will prove the doubters wrong. Prediction: Broncos 27, Jets 6 (Record: 4-1) Week 7: Broncos vs. 49ers Date: Oct. 19 (6:30 p.m., NBC) The West is best. No other division is predicted to win more games than the NFC West (35.5 wins), according to the folks in Las Vegas. Only the Broncos are expected to win as many games as the Niners and Seahawks (11). The loser: East Coast bias. Prediction: Niners 17, Broncos 16 (Record: 4-2) Week 8: Broncos vs. San Diego Date: Oct. 23 (6:25 p.m., CBS) Ex-Charger Shaun Phillips is now an ex-Bronco. Considering the cold, hard cash awarded DeMarcus Ware ($20 million guaranteed), the ex-Cowboy better outproduce the 12 sacks scored by Phillips in his one season with the Broncos. Prediction: Broncos 27, Chargers 21 (Record: 5-2) Week 9: Broncos at New England Date: Nov. 2 (2:25 p.m., CBS) It must be nice to be the Patriots. Once again, Las Vegas believes the Pats own an easy road to the playoffs. The predicted win totals for the AFC East foreshadow another division title: New England (10 wins), Dolphins (7.5), Bills (6.5), Jets (6.5). Prediction: Broncos 37, Patriots 36 (Record: 6-2) Week 10: Broncos at Oakland Date: Nov. 9 (2:05 p.m., CBS) Peyton Manning's performance at Oakland was the finest display of quarterbacking I've seen: 266 yards and four touchdowns — in the first half. But it was just the Raiders, you say? Oakland players fought with coaches on the sideline. They cared. Prediction: Broncos 37, Raiders 17 (Record: 7-2) Week 11: Broncos at St. Louis Date: Nov. 16 (11 a.m., CBS) The Rams nabbed reliable middle linebacker James Laurinaitis in the 2009 draft. Nice pick, St. Louis. He's started every game the past five seasons. The Broncos had 10 picks in 2009. How many are still here? Only special teams whiz David Bruton Jr. Prediction: Broncos 42, Rams 14 (Record: 8-2) Week 12: Broncos vs. Miami Date: Nov. 23 (2:25 p.m., CBS) Familiar faces line the Broncos' 2014 schedule like a high school reunion. Welcome back, Knowshon Moreno. Here's a fun game: gather your buddies for a friendly wager. Who scores more fantasy points on Nov. 23, Moreno or Montee Ball? Prediction: Broncos 35, Dolphins 24 (Record: 9-2) Week 13: Broncos at Kansas City Date: Nov. 30 (6:30 p.m., NBC) Did Emmanuel Sanders do the Chiefs wrong? Kansas City sure thinks so. Before the Broncos signed the wide receiver, the Chiefs thought they had a deal. "There was no handshake," Sanders said. There won't be during his first game in Kansas City, either. Prediction: Broncos 28, Chiefs 24 (Record: 10-2) Week 14: Broncos vs. Buffalo Date: Dec. 7 (2:05 p.m., CBS) Still stinging from the Smackdown in the Swamp? Super Bowl losses leave a mark. Ask the Bills, who own the NFL record for consecutive defeats in the Big One (four). They can't trump the Broncos, who own the most Super Bowl losses, period (five). Prediction: Broncos 45, Bills 17 (Record: 11-2) Week 15: Broncos at San Diego Date: Dec. 14 (2:05 p.m., CBS) The sunshine of San Diego has hosted three Super Bowls, the most recent in 2003. Hey, Chargers: time to renovate those digs? Sites of the next three Big Games: Glendale (Ariz.) in 2015, Santa Clara (Calif.) in 2016 and Houston in 2017. Prediction: Chargers 21, Broncos 20 (Record: 11-3) Week 16: Broncos at Bengals Date: Dec. 22 (6:30 p.m., ESPN) Peyton Manning is super for a football team. He's awful for print deadlines. Denver has five games in prime time - vs. Indianapolis, vs. San Francisco, vs. San Diego, at Kansas City, at Cincinnati - and all five opponents figure to be in the playoff hunt. Prediction: Broncos 28, Bengals 24 (Record: 12-3) Week 17: Broncos vs. Oakland Date: Dec. 28 (2:25 p.m., CBS) There's one player who makes the Raiders relevant again: Johnny Football is made for silver and black. Do us all a favor and make it happen, NFL. Prediction: Broncos 38, Raiders 17 (Record: 13-3) - Twitter: @Klee_Gazette ——— ©2014 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Visit The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) at www.gazette.com Distributed by MCT Information Services _____ Topics: t000007079,t000007065,t000007115,t000046469,t000003194,t000003183,c000212563,g000065596,g000362661,g000066164,g000224911,g000065634,g000065594,g000224461,g000223557
Mike London and his Virginia coaching staff are facing a familiar problem during spring practice.The Cavaliers are giving repetitions to three quarterbacks, and still hoping one emerges as a clear winner in the fight to be the starter. London said that David Watford, Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns all have made significant strides from last season and the competition will go as long as it needs...
Quarterback still a 3-way race at Virginia
HANK KURZ Jr., Associated Press | Apr 3, 2014Mike London and his Virginia coaching staff are facing a familiar problem during spring practice. The Cavaliers are giving repetitions to three quarterbacks, and still hoping one emerges as a clear winner in the fight to be the starter. London said that David Watford, Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns all have made significant strides from last season and the competition will go as long as it needs to go. "It's been very competitive, very spirited," London said, while acknowledging that Watford, who started all 12 games last season, and Lambert, who played in seven games, have a leg up because of experience. Johns has been on the field, too, but only as a holder on field goals and extra points. The Cavaliers finished just 2-10 last season, leading to wide speculation that this could be a make-or-break season for London, who is 18-31 in four seasons and has won just eight of 32 games in the ACC. The need to turn that around isn't lost on the team, London said. "What's different about this team, this group right now, is that guys are saying, 'Where can I play? Where can I help? What can I do?' That's an attitude that's different, and it's welcome, it's needed, because everyone knows we have to perform and play better," he said. "When it comes from the players about 'What can I do? What role can I take?' You can make significant steps that way." Watford seemed to make minimal progress last season, when he completed just 57 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and 15 interceptions, and the running element he was expected to bring never really materialized. He ran for just 208 yards on 104 carries, and his longest run was for 27 yards. Since last season, though, he paid his own way to spend time in California working on mechanics and footwork with quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr., whose list of former pupils includes Heisman Trophy winners Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Johnny Manziel. London said Whitfield was complimentary of the junior's progress, and said Lambert and Johns have "raised their football IQ" through intensive film and formations study. Several of the players that figure to be the prime targets of the quarterbacks also have demonstrated significant improvement in the first nine practices, London said, suggesting the passing game could have more of a vertical element this year. Darius Jennings, for example, now wears contact lenses at the suggestion of the training staff, and the leader among wide receivers with 38 catches last season seems primed to have a bigger impact. "I believe he's caught everything that's been thrown to him and it sounds like it might be a small adjustment, but it's major in the fact that he feels more comfortable," London said of the 5-foot-11 senior, who will enter his final season with 106 career receptions. "He's probably our fastest guy at the receiver position and he's caught some vertical balls downfield, which is something that we need." The Cavaliers also moved 6-6 tight end Jake McGee to a hybrid position that will have him playing some tight end, and some wide receiver, hoping to utilize his athleticism and create mismatches downfield. McGee, who led the team with 43 catches last season, caught only two touchdown passes, down from five as a sophomore, and the hope is that moving him around will help create those mismatches, London said. "Down in the red zone, now that he's playing that slot receiver, you put a linebacker on him or a safety, he can go up and get it," London said, noting that McGee also played basketball in high school. "He's made some pretty athletic catches. ... It's a matchup thing now and he's shown that he can do that and I believe that we have in the right place that he can help us be more productive on offense." ___ Follow Hank on twitter at: http://twitter.com/hankkurzjr
Feb 19, 2014
The Oklahoma City Storm, the defending homeschool national champions, will host some of the nation's top high school basketball teams over the next three days in the OKC Storm Festival. Thursday's action will include two games at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in downtown Oklahoma City. Flower Mound, Texas, will face OnPoint Academy at noon, followed by the Storm taking on Prime Prep at...
High school basketball: OKC Storm hosting nationally ranked opponents
By Scott Wright and Jacob Unruh | Feb 19, 2014The Oklahoma City Storm, the defending homeschool national champions, will host some of the nation's top high school basketball teams over the next three days in the OKC Storm Festival. Thursday's action will include two games at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in downtown Oklahoma City. Flower Mound, Texas, will face OnPoint Academy at noon, followed by the Storm taking on Prime Prep at approximately 1:30 p.m. Fans can enter through the southeast entrance of the arena. Prime Prep, the Dallas-area school started by NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, is currently ranked No. 12 in the nation by USA Today. The Storm is led by TCU signee Chauncey Collins, who is averaging 27.1 points per game this season. Festival action will continue all day Friday and Saturday, with some of the best programs in the region coming to OKC, including Sunrise Christian from Kansas and other notable Texas programs. Friday and Saturday games will be played at Church of the Harvest, located at Interstate 35 and NE 63rd St. CARL ALBERT'S WARREN SCORES 45 Carl Albert senior Cameron Warren nearly set a school record Tuesday night, scoring 45 points as the Titans rallied for a 72-66 win at Ardmore. Warren's 45 points were one shy of the record held by Carl Albert coach Jay Price. It was the fifth straight win for the fourth-ranked Titans, who are 16-5 on the season. Southmoore's Brickman to be honored Southmoore football coach Jeff Brickman has been selected to receive the Semper Fidelis Coaching Award from the U.S. Marine Corps, in conjunction with the Glazier Football Clinics. The award is given annually to high school football coaches who exemplify the Marines' standard of excellence, which constitutes integrity, responsibility, honesty, honor, courage, and commitment. Brickman is being honored for his dedication to his football players and his community in providing aid to them after the May 20, 2013, tornado. Brickman led a campaign to help those in need by working for several weeks, raising more than $90,000 in cash and gift cards, which went to benefit the 22 Southmoore football players who lost their homes, as well as 88 other families that suffered losses from the tornado. Brickman will be recognized at the Glazier Football Clinic on Friday in Tulsa.
Feb 17, 2014
I sat in the stands at Gallagher-Iba Arena for the Bedlam game Saturday. Not for some kind of sociological experiment. Because I wanted to see. Several years ago, OSU’s press row was moved to the upper bowl in the arena’s south end.
Oklahoma State basketball: Sitting in the stands at Gallagher-Iba Arena
Berry Tramel | Feb 17, 2014[img]2351235[/img] I sat in the stands at Gallagher-Iba Arena for the Bedlam game Saturday. Not for some kind of sociological experiment. Because I wanted to see. Several years ago, OSU’s press row was moved to the upper bowl in the arena’s south end. It was moved for financial reasons, which I totally understand. You can sell the previous press area for high-dollar tickets. In recent years, a row on the south baseline has been set up for beat writers — those who cover the team full time for The Oklahoman, Tulsa World, Stillwater News-Press and newspapers from the opposing team. Which is very good and much appreciated. But I have a problem with the new press row in Sections 311 and 312. Namely, I can’t see. Oh, I can follow the ball, though depending on the seat, I’m not always sure if a basket was made. I often have to rely on the reaction of the players or the fans. And I can mostly differentiate between the Cowboys; when you watch Markel Brown play for four years, you get to know his mannerisms by instinct. But the visiting team, no chance. The numbers are hard to read. The faces are impossible to recognize. Worst of all, we can’t see much of the bench area. We basically sit extended from the opponents’ bench. So we’re what seems like miles from the OSU bench. If Travis Ford is standing, we can sort of follow his mood and reactions. And despite being closer to the foes, they aren’t much better. It’s precarious to write about a game in which the people at home, watching on TV, know much more than you do about the game you’re covering. I was at the OSU-Memphis game earlier in the season and left the arena that night quite frustrated. So I made the decision. From now on, for a big game, I’m getting closer. I’ll just buy a single ticket somewhere in the 200 level. And that’s what my plan was Saturday. Without the rush on tickets, and with OSU fans down on this season, I figured I could get a ticket easily. I went out in front of Gallagher-Iba about 30 minutes before tipoff and talked to a couple of scalpers. One guy wanted face value for a seat in the upper deck. I can’t remember what the price was; $47 or something. I told him he had to be kidding. I found another guy selling singles at a reduced rate. Great seat, lower level of the 200s. If you don’t know the numbers, think of it this way. Just up from the WELCOME TO GALLAGHER-IBA ARENA signs that stretch across each side. Very good seat. He wanted $100. Then he dropped to $80. I looked at the ticket. It was priced at $175. Good night nurse. OSU is selling basketball tickets, for seats not on the court, for$175? You’ve got to be kidding me. Were Larry Bird and Magic Johnson about to duel in their primes? Was Bedlam suddenly going to feature Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain? Who was singing the national anthem, Diana Ross? If OSU is selling a basketball ticket for $175 and you’re not sitting on Boone Pickens’ lap, the price is too high. That kind of economics makes the event off limits to a huge chunk of fans, and the people who can afford such tickets often don’t see basketball as a huge investment, which means they don’t care if they go or not. That’s how no-shows are born. I went back in to the press room to bide my time. With eight minutes left on the clock, and the arena about half full, I went back outside. Anyone with a spare ticket in their hand was going to eat it. One of the scalpers I chatted with earlier hollered at me. I waved him off. A guy stood near the front steps of Gallagher, holding up a single ticket. I asked him if he had a single, where it was (I wanted to see the benches) and how much. He said Section 217 and he was giving it away. So I thanked him, walked back into the arena and walked straight to the seat, where I was sitting by the guy who gave me the ticket. Nice fellow by the name of Paul. Wore a tye-dye shirt. Said he’s been an OSU hoops fan since 1974, though he couldn’t have been born much earlier than that. It was an excellent seat. I was nine rows high in the 200 level, above the baseline but a few in from the sideline, so I had a great view of the OSU bench and could see Lon Kruger’s bunch well, too. I figured I was more than halfway closer to the court than my seat on press row. As you know, the stands weren’t full. OSU listed 10,070 in attendance. I would have guessed 9,000, but I’m not quibbling. I know this. There was plenty of room. I was three seats from the aisle, and no one sat in the two seats next to me. And no one sat in the seat in front of me. So I had plenty of room to scribble my game accounts on a legal pad. Former OU basketball player Renzi Stone sat on the aisle in front of me — luckily, he wasn’t directly in front of me; he’s 6-foot-10 — and former Cowboy football player Sam Mayes sat on the aisle in front of Renzi. I didn’t really engage anyone in conversation, though I mentioned a couple of developments — OSU’s lack of foul trouble, notably — to Paul. A couple of people recognized me, but they were very cordial. One guy tried to get me to clap to the beat as the OSU Spirit Run was conducted in the second half. I was also impressed with the decorum of the crowd. Not a lot of vitrol directed toward the Sooners. Less grumbling about the refs than I hear at State Fair Arena for the state high school tournament. Not even much disgust toward the embattled Ford. About the only low-rent moment came during a late OSU foul shot. Some kid on the other side of the arena had been yelling “Boomer” every time OSU was about to shoot a foul shot; in a quiet arena, it stood out. Some middle-aged OSU fan finally yelled back, “White trash.” I’m not too big on the term white trash. But that was the only poor-taste thing I heard. As I wrote in the Sunday Oklahoman, the crowd sort of teetered between a sense of resignation and dread. The typical conversations went something like this. “Can we handle it,” one man asked. “I’m here on the off chance we can,” responded another. Another fan was more philosophical: “I’ve been coming a long time; you have to learn to take the good with the bad.” Here’s how you knew the crowd was really sedate. During a first-half timeout, plugging the halftime ceremony honoring the 2004 Final Four team, OSU showed a video of John Lucas’ game-winning shot against St. Joe’s in the East Regional final. I sat courtside in New Jersey that night. It was one of the best games I ever covered and one of the biggest shots I’ve ever seen. It was all I could do to keep from shouting myself that night in the Meadowlands; 10 years later, the thrill hasn’t subsided that much. I wanted to cheer it again. But the video of that magic Cowboy moment didn’t bring much of a rise from the OSU crowd on Saturday. The Bedlam game itself was great. Tight. Well-played. Dramatic finish. The Sooners made the plays in the final two minutes, the Cowboys didn’t and thus OU won 77-74. Good win for the Sooners. Discouraging defeat for the Cowboys. Best of all, for me, I know exactly what happened. Which means I’ll be back in the Gallagher-Iba crowd, if I can find a good seat at a reasonable price or some kindly soul takes pity on me, like Paul did, and wants to fill up the great coliseum, even if it’s with a guy holding a legal pad, just trying to see the game.
Jan 28, 2014
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie was born and raised in New Jersey, but his football allegiance is to the Dallas Cowboys. He played catcher on his high school baseball team and has been a lifelong Mets fan, though his friends and foes alike probably would agree he governs like a linebacker.In case you missed the highlights of his exploits on the political playing field, here's how the...
Gov. Christie on defense as NJ hosts Super Bowl
ANGELA DELLI SANTI, Associated Press | Jan 28, 2014TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie was born and raised in New Jersey, but his football allegiance is to the Dallas Cowboys. He played catcher on his high school baseball team and has been a lifelong Mets fan, though his friends and foes alike probably would agree he governs like a linebacker. In case you missed the highlights of his exploits on the political playing field, here's how the tough-talking Republican governor, caught up in the first scandal of his administration, got to where he is today as New Jersey finds itself in the spotlight as host of Sunday's Super Bowl. ___ FIGHTING CORRUPTION Christie's first attempt at elected office didn't go well. He was a one-term county officeholder before being voted out of office. But he found a different and more noticeable way to burst onto the state political scene: He became a prolific fundraiser for George W. Bush in 2000. Once elected president, Bush rewarded Christie by making him his surprise pick to be U.S. attorney for New Jersey, the state's top federal law enforcement official, starting in 2002. The former corporate lawyer quickly made a name for himself as a corruption-buster, winning convictions of more than 130 public officials over seven years. He reveled in talking about putting away politicians on the take, even for seemingly minor offenses. "The longer we vote them in," he said in a 2008 speech, "the more bulletproof they feel, and the more entitled they feel to become corrupt." ____ OVERCOMING THE ODDS There was speculation Christie would run for governor in 2005, but he decided to keep his job as U.S. attorney. By the time the 2009 gubernatorial election rolled around, however, the state's Republican powerbrokers were lined up behind him. Still, Christie was the underdog to Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat who spent tens of millions of his own money on his campaigns in a state where Democrats enjoy home-field advantage. Christie hammered away at discontent with Corzine, who had raised taxes. He was the first Republican elected statewide in New Jersey in 12 years and came into office pledging "to pick Trenton up and turn it upside down." ____ TALKING TOUGH Once in office, Christie introduced himself to the state anew by holding frequent town hall-style meetings where he showed himself adept at calling audibles and going off-script. At one forum, a teacher complained that Christie was not being fair to public schools. As he denied that, he noticed the educator rolling her eyes. Then he went off: "I stood here and very respectfully listened to you," he told her. "If you want to put on a show and giggle every time I talk, I have no interest in answering your question." The mostly Republican crowd cheered. As he built a reputation for bluntness, he also showed he could get difficult things done, forging agreement with the Democrat-controlled Legislature on bills to make public workers pay more for pension and health care benefits and eliminate lifetime tenure protections for teachers. ____ AIMING HIGHER The Grand Old Party, and the country, took notice. "Big Boy," as Bush called him, created such buzz that some deep-pocketed donors were urging him to run for president in 2012. The closest Christie would come — after repeatedly stating his disinterest in seeking his party's nomination — was making Mitt Romney's short list for VP. Christie would give the keynote address at his party's nominating convention, a speech that was televised in prime time, adding to his national exposure. Though he said he wasn't ready to be president, Christie told Oprah Winfrey in 2012: "I'll be much more ready four years from now." Adding to speculation that he would indeed jump into the 2016 presidential campaign, Christie had gastric banding surgery a year ago to help him lose weight, addressing what some believed to be his biggest liability in seeking national office. ____ BUILDING A BRAND Willing Democrats in the Legislature helped Christie demonstrate his skill at bipartisanship, providing a stark contrast to the perennial gridlock in Washington. Superstorm Sandy, the state's worst-ever natural disaster, helped cement his reputation as a leader. His job approval rating soared as he tirelessly traveled the state to comfort victims and rally devastated communities afraid they would never be the same. It was hardly noticed that he was unable to usher in a tax cut during his first term, or that he lost a court battle over gay marriage, which became legal in his state last year. With his popularity in the stratosphere, no big-name Democrat was willing to challenge him during his run for a second term. He swamped a relatively little-known state senator, Democrat Barbara Buono, by 22 points, securing endorsements from more than 50 elected Democrats and winning about half the Hispanic vote. _____ HITTING THE BRAKES Documents released Jan. 8 revealed that aides to the governor were involved in blocking local-access lanes to the busy George Washington Bridge, apparently to cause delays to punish a Democratic mayor in a community at the foot of the span leading to New York City. The governor issued a public apology while denying any personal knowledge or involvement in the political vendetta. Four of his top aides or associates resigned or were fired. Now a state legislative committee and federal prosecutors are investigating. The scandal threatens to undermine Christie's second term and upend any ambitions to run for president. ___ Mulvihill reported from Haddonfield, N.J. Follow Angela Delli Santi on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AngeDelliSanti
Jan 28, 2014
NEW YORK (AP) — The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks are all settled in for Super Bowl week.Next up: media day.And who knows what will be heard — or seen — on Tuesday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.After two days of minimal media appearances, the AFC and NFC champions will face hordes of reporters looking to further break down the matchup between the Broncos' top-ranked...
5 things to know from Monday's Super Bowl scene
DENNIS WASZAK Jr., Associated Press | Jan 28, 2014NEW YORK (AP) — The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks are all settled in for Super Bowl week. Next up: media day. And who knows what will be heard — or seen — on Tuesday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. After two days of minimal media appearances, the AFC and NFC champions will face hordes of reporters looking to further break down the matchup between the Broncos' top-ranked offense and the Seahawks' No. 1 defense. Oh, and there will also be plenty of non-journalist types, celebrities and wacky wardrobes to create the spectacle that has become a media day staple. "We want to enjoy the moment, but you never forget why you're here and we're here to play the biggest game in football," Seahawks tackle Russell Okung said Monday. "That's what we're here for. We stay true to who we are and while we're here, all those distractions won't get in our way." Both teams got their first practices in, with the Broncos working at the New York Jets' facility in Florham Park, N.J., and the Seahawks at the Giants' training center in East Rutherford, N.J. "It's been pretty unusual for a trip like this, just getting used to everything," Seattle tight end Zach Miller said. Here's a quick look at a few of the Super Bowl story lines from Monday: NEW YORK-NEW JERSEY REDUX? Jonathan Tisch, a co-owner of the New York Giants and co-chairman of the Super Bowl Host Committee, wants the NFL's big game to return to the area every 10 years. This will be the first Super Bowl played outdoors in a cold-weather site, and Tisch believes it will be a huge success. And not just on the field. Tisch said holding the game in New York and New Jersey is expected to generate $550 million to $600 million for the region. "This is a legacy that will live beyond the game itself," Tisch said. "For years to come, young people, men and women will feel this game was important for the region. And hopefully, when we do all the tallying in the weeks to come, the other 30 owners will say to themselves, if there is a chance to do this again, Super Bowl 48 in New York and New Jersey was a huge success. Let's try to do this once every 10 years." MARIJUANA STUDY: Seattle coach Pete Carroll supports Commissioner Roger Goodell's message last week that the league could consider medicinal marijuana as a treatment if science proved it could benefit players who have sustained concussions. While there are some stigmas attached to marijuana use, Carroll believes the medicinal value should be fully researched. "The world of medicine is trying to do the exact same thing and figure it out," he said, "and they're coming to some conclusions." STEPPING AWAY? Denver quarterback Peyton Manning isn't ready to retire, even if he wins the Super Bowl. But Broncos teammate Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie might be. The 27-year-old cornerback is giving serious consideration to hanging it up after Sunday's game, even though he's in his playing prime. "I had a goal of playing five years," Rodgers-Cromartie said, "and I reached that." He already plans to go back to college, study psychology and become a guidance counselor at his old high school — whenever he does walk away. "I had my fun in this league," he said. NO NAMES, BIG GAMES: For all the megastars and All-Pros in the Super Bowl such as Manning, a handful of hardly household names could have a major impact for their teams. You know, kind of how Washington running back Timmy Smith did in 1987 or Dallas cornerback Larry Brown in 1996. Denver defensive tackle Terrance Knighton is one, signed as a free agent after four mostly nondescript years with Jacksonville. He's coming off a big-time performance in the AFC championship game against New England. That's after the man nicknamed "Pot Roast" for his rotund physique was buried on the Broncos' depth chart in training camp. "It is going to be based on your performance, where you are on the depth chart, how much you are going to play," coach John Fox said. "All of those things, you earn or don't earn. Really, everything Terrance has done, he did (himself)." Other players to watch for on Sunday include Seattle's Jermaine Kearse, Michael Robinson and Malcolm Smith, and Denver's Manny Ramirez and Paris Lenon. WHAT'S THE WEATHER? The forecast for Sunday's game remains a hot topic of conversation because of how chilly it might be. On Monday, the area saw relatively mild temperatures with a high of 44 degrees and partly sunny skies. But then the clouds rolled in and so did a frosty wind, dropping the temperature to 22 by the early evening. That's nothing, though. The forecast for Tuesday is for a high of 20 with wind chills making it feel below zero in the morning. As for Sunday, National Weather Service meteorologist Anthony Gigi said the current forecast calls for temperatures to reach a high of 39 with a low of 27 — with little threat of snow or rain. "It's not going to distract us," Miller said of his Seahawks. "It's not going to be any reason why we don't win on Sunday." ___ AP Pro Football Writers Arnie Stapleton and Barry Wilner, and AP Sports Writers Tim Booth, Tom Canavan and Rachel Cohen contributed to this report. ___ AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
Jan 27, 2014
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is 27 years old, right in his prime as an NFL player.Perfect time to retire.The Denver Broncos cornerback said Monday he's giving serious consideration to hanging it up after the Super Bowl. He's not burned out, not worried about his health.He just figures he's had a good run."I had a goal of playing 5 years, and I reached that," Rodgers-Cromartie said.He's completed...
Broncos' Rodgers-Cromartie might retire at age 27
The Associated Press, Associated Press | Jan 27, 2014Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is 27 years old, right in his prime as an NFL player. Perfect time to retire. The Denver Broncos cornerback said Monday he's giving serious consideration to hanging it up after the Super Bowl. He's not burned out, not worried about his health. He just figures he's had a good run. "I had a goal of playing 5 years, and I reached that," Rodgers-Cromartie said. He's completed six seasons in the NFL, in fact, and could be in line to command plenty of money after making three interceptions in 2013. But Rodgers-Cromartie insisted that depending on how he feels after Sunday's game, he might call it quits. He even knows what he would do instead of football. He'd go back to college and study psychology to become a guidance counselor at his old high school. "I had my fun in this league," he said. Rodgers-Cromartie came out of Football Championship Subdivision Tennessee State and figures he wasn't supposed to make it in the NFL at all from a small school, let alone surpass the average 2 to 3 years that players last in the league. He wasn't a typical lower-division prospect, though, selected by the Cardinals with the 16th overall pick in 2008. Rodgers-Cromartie played three years in Arizona and two in Philadelphia before joining the Broncos. He regularly tells his teammates about his plan. "They always think I am joking about it," he said. Even if he sticks around next season, Rodgers-Cromartie can't imagine repeating the feat of fellow Denver cornerback Champ Bailey, who's in his 15th year in the league. Asked about Bailey's longevity, Rodgers-Cromartie exclaimed a curse word in admiration, then added, "He can have that." ___ GIANTS GUESTS: The Seattle Seahawks are preparing for the Super Bowl against the Broncos at the New York Giants' training facility, which opened in 2009 and is adjacent to MetLife Stadium. When the Giants and Jets were picked to co-host the title game in May 2010, the owners of the teams had hoped they would become the first to play the game in their home stadium. Neither was so lucky. The Broncos are training at the Jets' headquarters in Florham Park, N.J., a half-hour's drive away, which opened in 2008. "It's what we signed up for," Giants co-owner John Mara said. "We certainly would rather be playing the game ourselves, but we knew there was a good chance someone else would be using our facility." Broncos coach John Fox was assured by the NFL that the Jets' outdoor fields would be in good shape despite the cold weather and inordinate amount of snow that has hit the area this month. Because the Broncos have a bubble instead of a permanent indoor venue — that is being built now — Fox says his team might be jealous of the Jets. "Our operations guy tells me that the guys will be complaining that it is so much nicer than ours, so he is not real excited about it," Fox said. "We've heard nothing but great things." The Seahawks have a multi-million dollar training facility in Renton, Wash., complete with a mammoth indoor field. The Giants' complex is similar to Seattle's, and the Seahawks worked indoors Monday. "It's bonus Monday," Carroll said of the extra practice day. Most teams don't work out on Mondays unless they are coming off an off week, which both Super Bowl clubs are. The Giants, who were 7-9 this season in missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, had to clean out the first floor of their facility. They left their four Super Bowl trophies in a glass case on the first floor for the Seahawks to admire. When asked if they were worried leaving any notebooks around with trade secrets, Mara laughed. "If they were looking at our notebooks from this year, there's definitely not a heck of a lot that would help them," he said. Jets owner Woody Johnson said it was bittersweet seeing another team in the game. Mara's response: "It could be worse," a clear reference to NFC East rivals Dallas or Philadelphia using the grounds. ___ QUIET MARSHAWN: Star running back Marshawn Lynch was not one of the 17 Seattle players or coaches assigned to podiums for media day on Tuesday. That's not surprising considering Lynch's reluctance for media attention. Getting Lynch to speak with the media this season has been as difficult as trying to tackle him. He was originally fined $50,000 by the league after the end of the regular season for not speaking to the media. The fine was appealed and put on hold as long as Lynch complied with league policy during the playoffs. But Super Bowl media day is an entirely different environment than the few times Lynch has made himself available in front of his locker at the Seahawks' team facility. Asked how he'd handle it, Seattle fullback Michael Robinson chuckled. "I think I'll probably be there with him," he said. ___ COLEMAN'S FORUM: The Seahawks plan to have backup fullback Derrick Coleman, who lost his hearing when he was 3 years old, sit in the stands on media day. That way Coleman can read the lips of reporters. Had he been placed on a podium, the team felt he would be too far removed from the questioners. The second-year player from UCLA has become an integral part of the NFC champions, and coach Pete Carroll calls Coleman's story "inspirational." Carroll also believes Coleman has not been at a disadvantage because of his lack of hearing. "He does his job impeccably well in all areas and everything that we ask of him," Carroll said. "He's a terrific effort guy. ... He's been a fantastic part of the team and it's been a really cool story. Not because he has issues, because he's made this team and he's made a spot for himself and he's claimed it. The fact that he has a hearing issue is really not even something that we deal with."
Jan 22, 2014
The emails are in, and lots to talk about. The Thunder riding high (this week) and the Thunder struggling (last week). Sugar Bowl leftovers. Mike Gundy. Lots on the table. Let’s get to it. OU FOOTBALL Tom: “Frankly, I am glad for both the kid and the university (Kendal) Thompson is leaving OU. I had season tickets during the era that his dad (and others) was caught up in all of the...
Tramel emails: Thunder lineup changes & benefits of Kendal Thompson leaving
Berry Tramel | Jan 22, 2014[img]2325560[/img] The emails are in, and lots to talk about. The Thunder riding high (this week) and the Thunder struggling (last week). Sugar Bowl leftovers. Mike Gundy. Lots on the table. Let’s get to it. OU FOOTBALL Tom: “Frankly, I am glad for both the kid and the university (Kendal) Thompson is leaving OU. I had season tickets during the era that his dad (and others) was caught up in all of the drugs, shootings and alleged rape. It never made sense to me that this was a good fit to bring back the spectacle of that era. I realize that is not fair to the son, but the reality is that what would have been portrayed would have brought back the disgrace of the OU program of a past era. If there was any doubt at all, the comments of Charles Thompson in the middle of the season solidified my opinion.” You’re probably right. It’s probably best for all concerns. I thought Kendal, from all reports, handled everything great. And Charles handled it as well as anyone could. He’s a father first. So that was going to have some sticky points. But it’s probably best that Kendal is moving on. Dan: “Please, could we get a few more stories about the Sugar Bowl, 23 is not quite enough!” OU fans would read 123. Jim: “If I recall, you were the only sports writer to pick OU over Alabama. Congratulations.” I picked Bama 27-17. But on game day, I did write a column about how many double-digit underdogs in BCS games manage to pull the upset. THUNDER UP Chris: “Durant is crazy. Couple of years ago, he used to be a scorer. Has turned into a shooter, too.” I don’t know. I always thought Durant was a primo shooter. I know he’s gotten better, but I think he’s gotten better at degree of difficulty. Just straight shooting, I think Durant was a phenom shooter even at Texas. Steve: “While I know this is what you do, it must be very special to witness what KD is currently doing from up close. After last night’s performance, he is bringing back memories of MJ in his prime. As for the defense, I, too get frustrated with Perk and Thabo’s inability to make offensive contributions with any form of consistency. However, without their defense last night the Thunder are down a game to Portland in the division AND the season series is lost.” It’s an amazing run, no doubt about it. And it’s a very good question. Do we appreciate what we are seeing? Do we appreciate what fell in our lap six years ago? I hope so. I think so. Not to sadden the mood, but it won’t last forever. Jim: “I have watched basketball since I was 12 years old (now 75). Watched the Rochester Royals, at the Edgerton Park arena in Rochester, because we were in a PAL league and we could stay and watch the games after playing. Well, we were just kids with no coaches, etc. Anyway, I have seen some great scorers, Cousy, Wanzer, Wilt, McAdoo and later Kareem (on TV) and others, but Durant tops them all! I am not a big fan of present day pro basketball. I usually only watch the last quarter if any, but the last quarter of this (Warriors) game was something else.” I have no idea who Wanzer is. But I know the Rochester Royals, who moved to Cincinnati, and then to Kansas City, and now are in Sacramento. I had never even thought about the Buffalo/Rochester connection. Upstate New York has had three NBA franchises, all three have scooted out of the region. The Buffalo Braves went to San Diego and became the Clippers. The Syracuse Nationals went to Philadelphia and became the 76ers, after the Warriors from Philly to San Francisco. Kevin: “Why do Rocket fans boo D-Fish when he touches the ball?” The Lakers traded Fisher to Houston two years ago and he declined to report, instead negotiating a buyout of his contract, which allowed him to sign with the Thunder. Fisher wanted no part of the then-rebuilding Rockets. Kent: “The curse of Kelvin Sampson returns. Rockets score 19 points in a half. Looked like OU-Mizzou in the 2003 Big 12 finals in Dallas. No one much remembers that game, but it was wild. The Sooners led 37-18 at halftime and eventually led 46-24 with 15:05 left in the game. And then OU won 49-47. The Sooners scored three points those final 15 minutes, all on foul shots. Missouri’s Rickey Paulding missed a driving shot with four seconds left that would have tied the game. That’s the only game that came to mind when I watched the Rockets’ 19-point second half. Joel: “On the discussion about the starting lineup, there were a couple of comments you made I thought were interesting: 1) Perkins should keep starting, even for minimum minutes, due to team chemistry; and 2) You like Thabo but wish he’d play better. So here’s my question: Why is Brooks so rigid about how he starts the game and the second half? I can understand chemistry (I guess), although it can’t be lost on the players that the Thunder have issues with how they start games and second halves and that can’t help team chemistry. In my opinion, Brooks is a very loyal person, and truly values his players. That’s why they like him. But I’m afraid this is going to wear thin if they don’t win it all. I’m just hoping, for his sake, that he’s not playing the Doug Collins role vs. Phil Jackson and that he’s never able to get them over the top.” The starting lineup has worked. That’s why Brooks sticks with it. It combines offense and defense. It allows some solid offensive players to come off the bench and give the B team a boost. This lineup will wear thin when it doesn’t work. Otherwise, it would be nuts to switch. Mike: “Things are never as good as they seem and never as bad as they seem. Notice the Heat have quietly lost three straight. It’s good to remember that what happens in January stays in January. It’s all practice until April.” Great points. When the Thunder struggles, losing at Salt Lake and Denver and Memphis, or when the Thunder wins four straight and Durant goes crazy, it’s still January. Mike: “If the Thunder don’t get Perkins and Sefolosha off the floor, they are going nowhere. Sefolosha can’t hit the broadside of a barn and Perkins is very consistent in committing fouls. The Thunder will never win a championship if these issues are not corrected. Get rid of those two and try to get Gasol from the Lakers. If the Thunder had a scoring center and would make their offensive game plan to score in the paint when possible, they would be unbeatable. Most good championship caliber teams have a scoring center.” Leading the NBA right now in paint points are 1. Detroit, and 2. Philadelphia. Minnesota is fifth. Memphis is sixth. Sacramento is eighth. New Orleans is 10th. The Thunder is 11th. Miami gets no scoring from the center position. Bosh doesn’t play center and gets most of his points outside. Ibaka scores more inside than does Bosh. In fact, most of the recent NBA champions did NOT have scoring centers. Miami, Dallas, Boston. Only the Lakers. Mitch: “Truth must be told here and that is both Thabo and Perkins are liabilities. Their so-called defensive prowess is overwhelmed by extremely limited offense. With Westbrook out, it shows. Forty percent of the lineup is an offensive backwater. Yes, there is no need to have four or five go-to guys with KD and Westbrook, but that does not mean you want extremely bad offensive players at all times. Perkins’ value is declining faster than the Nellie Johnstone Well #1 at Caney Creek. I’m not saying the solution is easy. But the first step is to identify the problem. I really cannot articulate a great reason for starting Sefolosha. Defense is often hard to measure but results are evident. These two deadwoods are part of the problem and not the solution.” This was written last week, when the Thunder was coming off that loss to the Grizzlies. And it’s been obviously renounced with the Thunder’s recent play. But you know what this kind of thinking represents? Football mentality. The idea that every loss is cataclysmic and is a sign that something is very wrong. It’s not even true in football, with 12 games a year. It’s absolutely nonsense in the NBA, which plays 82 regular-season games. You know what a five-game losing streak in the NBA represents (not that the Thunder ever has a five-game losing streak)? One NFL game. One. The Thunder has plenty of scoring with Durant and Westbrook. Heck, in recent games, the Thunder has had plenty of scoring with just Durant. The Thunder needs Thabo and Perk — or someone like them — for defense, and that’s shown in recent games. Jim: “The Thunder are built to win track meets. Without Westbrook, that option is gone. They have the talent but are not coached to run disciplined plays. Reggie does better when running the second unit because much of that time Durant is out of the lineup. When he plays with Durant, he defers to the detriment of his own skills to score. As much as I like the coach, he will not win with them without all the pieces in place for every game. Too much risk, if I owned the team. San Antonio has less talent but they do what they are coached to do and that solid coaching has them in contention every year. Presti comes out of that franchise. He needs to make a change if he wants to get the most out of what he has.” Let me get this straight. You say OKC won’t win the NBA without Westbrook. I agree. You say the Thunder should can Scotty Brooks so it can hire a coach as good as Gregg Popovich. I agree. The only coach as good as Gregg Popovich that I know of is Gregg Popovich. So if you can talk Pop into coming into OKC, sign me up. MIKE GUNDY Bob: “I read your article on Gundy and Wickline very carefully. How interesting! I am wondering, if on the larger scene at OSU, Gundy has issues with Holder and then that just sifts down? I will be very interested to see how the Cowboys do at football next season. They will lose in Norman for sure. I wish Gundy would admit that the OU game is not just another game for the fan base.” You might be onto something about Gundy/Holder, but I think they have mended fences to some degree. I don’t know that for sure. Frank: “I have read and enjoyed your articles for years and rarely disagree and even then it was just opinion. I have to say, though, lately you have become focused on bashing Gundy from saying things like you don’t fit the profile of someone he would come after to this latest article. He was jealous of Wickline and wanted to fire him. BS, Berry. Fire the best line coach in the country? Don’t buy it. How bout a story on Bob, Mikey and Brent?” I wrote about Mike Stoops and Venables when it happened. Two years ago. Is that the best you’ve got? And by the way, I didn’t bash Gundy this time. I just said he wanted to fire Wickline. Maybe he had good reason. But I know he wanted to fire him. Jerry: “If you do a history on the quarterback selections made by Gundy, you will find that every excellent quarterback, from the beginning of Gundy’s head coaching career, was an afterthought, NOT the initial selection. Everyone one! Can he really pick a winner from the beginning? Many of his initial picks were not just bad, they were awful.” Well, I wouldn’t say they were an afterthought. But it’s often been a circus. The Donovan Woods/Bobby Reid waltz, the Reid/Zac Robinson waltz, the decision to start Alex Cate against Colorado in 2009. The switches of the last two seasons. It hasn’t been smooth. Mike: “Ouch! The article on Wickline hurt my OSU Orange Pride. I hope there is nothing to it. I will be devastated if there are problems with Mike Gundy, his coaching staff and Mike Holder. I want to believe we have turned the corner and there are brighter days ahead. OSU is dear to my heart. In other words, I bleed orange. I am a 1978 alum, therefore I have been through a lot. As they used to say in the Civil War, ‘I have seen the Elephant.’ Maybe, just maybe, OSU can gain some respect for where we have come from and where we want to go.” What are you talking about? Of course OSU has gained some respect. The Cowboys’ national brand is soaring. OSU had a rough end to the 2013 season, but these are not the times that try men’s souls. 0-10-1 tries your soul much more than losing Bedlam or a tight Cotton Bowl. COLLEGE BASKETBALL Tommy: “You are so correct there are few venues like The Phog in collegiate basketball. Many of the old homes had been replaced except for Kansas and Duke. However, I would say both programs thrive in their unique old stadiums. I think it is safe to say as long as Bill Self is coaching, The Phog will remain. I think the appreciation that is so mutual of Bill Self for the history of, and the current status of, KU basketball is just so prevalent. I really think as much as any coach, he has embraced the university in total although he graduated from a rival university in the same league. He has really bought into KU and the fans, alumni, and administration have responded in kind. It is so refreshing even for someone like Cindy Self to be so involved in the community, charitable foundations along with her husband. It is quite a change from the image of the Roy Williams family that really never thought Kansas, Lawrence or KU was quite up to the class of North Carolina. The down home attitude and total class of Bill Self just fits. I hope he never goes pro. It would be such a loss not only to KU but to the game.” Well, there’s a lot there. I never detected that Roy Williams didn’t fit at KU. In fact, I think Jayhawk fans were mortified when he left. I remember what the Kansas City Star’s Joe Posnanski wrote when Williams departed. Something along the lines of, we thought he was more than a basketball coach. But no doubt, Self has embraced the Jayhawk tradition. Stang: “OSU women’s coach Jim Littell has moved the program into national prominence, but I see no support. Why is there no radio coverage for the program? You can’t get 105 FM in either OKC or Tulsa. Surely this adversely affects recruiting. And very limited TV coverage as well.” It’s a great point. You would think with all the sports radio options in OKC and Tulsa now, OSU could sign a contract with someone that would include women’s hoops. And the television situation is abysmal, too. I thought OSU signed a deal with Fox Sports? It appears to have had little effect. John: “Enjoyed your article on Allen Fieldhouse. I agree it’s a classic venue, however fan support did take a dive when the team was down many years ago. My brother is a KU graduate and I remember going to OSU game at Allen in 1980 on Saturday afternoon when he was a student and I was in high school at John Marshall — it was maybe half filled and OSU won easily behind Leroy Combs and Lorenza Andrews (Self was a year away). KU had Darnell Valentine. Flip side is I also saw OU play there in ‘93 or ‘94 (Jeff Webster was top OU player) and it was filled to capacity and was rocking. Needless to say, KU won easily. It’s a great place. Might sound crazy but I wish OU would retrofit McCasland to about 8,500 capacity. If they did, it wouldn’t be far off from Allen.” Well, OU can’t retrofit the Fieldhouse. It only seated 4,100 in its heyday. So that’s a non-starter. But you’re right. KU had its dips back in the day. Even then, though, Allen Fieldhouse was a great place. Timothy: “Call it the Kansas roll.You are scrapping with them and all of a sudden in a few minutes of time you are down 17. Then they tend to let up in the middle and you can get within eight or nine and then they finish you off. It would have been a leg up on the rest of the conference if we could’ve hit the 3. We have lost two conference games on the road by a total of five points. Kansas usually hits a skid of mediocrity in or about mid-conference season. That doesn’t always mean they lose them, but they can be had.” I don’t know. As far as OSU is concerned, the Cowboys trail KU by two full games, and KU has played the tougher schedule. The Jayhawks already have been to Ames and Norman. If the Cowboys win out, they still need KU to lose somewhere else, just to have a tie. And winning out is very difficult, since OSU plays at Ames, Austin, Norman and Waco. COLLEGE FOOTBALL Ed: “Really enjoyed what you wrote about the flip flops in college football, dating back to the heydays of Harvard and Yale. Right down my alley. I well remember when Santa Clara was a power. Saw us (OU) play them here in 1949. Yep, times and fortunes change. I’m not quite old enough to remember it, but if you dig deep enough, you can see that the University of Chicago once put quite a whipping’ on Texas. Nobody stays on top of the mountain forever. Thanks for a trip down memory lane.” Minnesota is my favorite example. And Kansas State, too. Heck, nobody remembers this, but Florida State didn’t even play football until 1948, and Florida was an afterthought until the ‘80s and not even a national power until Spurrier in the ‘90s. Blake: “Is there anyway OU considers leaving the Big 12 at this point? It sure seems to me the Big 12 needs to be proactive to expand at least two more schools soon if they are to thrive competitively long term.” No. Contracts are much more iron-clad than they used to be. The Big 12 is going to have to pull itself up. Chris: “Bobby Petrino, with his track record and issues, he stills gets another chance. Both at Western Kentucky and Louisville. Why wouldn’t someone, somewhere take a chance on Mark Mangino? Based upon my understanding, while Mangino was not a joy to work with, the allegations were grossly overstated and not established by the majority of players. I also know that he had a horrible relationship with the AD (who is now gone). All of his negatives don’t seem to be worse or as bad as Petrino. They were not NCAA allegations and the man won a ton of games at KANSAS! They won an Orange Bowl for goodness sakes, and yet he seems to be outcast as a leper, yet others with issues similar continue to get opportunities because they win. I’m not a Mangino fan or a Mangino detractor, just curious as to why it seems no one at any level will touch him.” Chris: I just think at that time there was a wave of alleged mistreatment of players. With all the talk about exploitation of players, scandal of player abuse was a hot-button issue. Meanwhile, coaches lying or cheating and screwing around is nothing new. I do think things are relaxing on Mangino. Becoming offensive coordinator at Iowa State is a great step. Steve: “I was lucky enough to be in New Orleans this year for the OU game. I felt we had a good chance to win but probably still less than 50-50. I have been around OU a long time and it seems when even their fans become doubters is when OU will show us who OU football really is. But speaking of history, I would put Alabama, Notre Dame and OU in the all-time top five programs. I was wondering how many times a college football team has beaten both Alabama and Notre Dame in the same year. And for OU this year, neither game was at home.” I know Southern Cal beat both Bama and Notre Dame in 1970 and 1978. Tennessee beat both in 1999 and 2001. PRO FOOTBALL Billy: “Am I the only human being who realizes that (Richard) Sherman was beaten on that play, (Michael) Crabtree got behind him and if Kap (Colin Kaepernick) makes a back corner pass instead of the short underneath pass, the whole scenario changes.” I don’t know. Sherman is so good, he goads QBs into those throws. And if a play requires a perfect pass for completion, better throw it somewhere else. Tiki: “The NFL is rigged. You and I both know holding could be called on half the plays in football, or a nit-picky foul in basketball. There has rarely been a level playing field where big money is involved.” Big money is the very reason games AREN’T rigged. The risk is too great. If it is found that sports organizers have rigged games, the sport goes poof. Maybe an isolated official (Tim Donaghy) or upset ballplayer (Black Sox) rigs a game, but nothing orchestrated. There’s too much money in it already. Ben: “How in the world did OU not sign Wes Welker out of high school? Ranks up there with letting Barry Sanders go. Really, Wes was all-state everything?? No offer from OU?” Sometimes you miss. Tom Brady was a sixth-round draft pick.
Oklahoma State football: With Josh Stewart's departure, speedy Tyreek Hill could make a big impact in 2014Jan 11, 2014
Tyreek Hill was already expected to make an immediate impact for the Cowboys on offense and special teams in 2014, with receivers Tracy Moore and Charlie Moore and kick returner Justin Gilbert all departing seniors.
Oklahoma State football: With Josh Stewart's departure, speedy Tyreek Hill could make a big impact in 2014
BY GINA MIZELL, Staff Writer, email@example.com | Jan 11, 2014STILLWATER — Tyreek Hill once got flagged because he was too fast. Really. In one of the first games of his career at Garden City Community College in Kansas, Hill took a screen pass about 90 yards to the house. Coach Matt Miller says it felt like he dashed down the field in about two seconds. And then he kept running, flying straight through the back of the end zone before gradually coming down from his top speed. An official penalized Hill for excessive celebration. “Guys, he's like the third-fastest kid in the world,” Miller told the officials at halftime. “It takes him a while to slow that down so he doesn't pull a muscle.” Miller wasn't embellishing — Hill took bronze in the 200-meter dash at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Barcelona. And that speed helped turn Hill into an electric, all-purpose weapon and one of the most sought-after junior college players in the nation before signing with Oklahoma State last month. Hill was already expected to make an immediate impact for the Cowboys on offense and special teams in 2014, with receivers Tracy Moore and Charlie Moore and kick returner Justin Gilbert all departing seniors. But with slot receiver/punt returner Josh Stewart declaring for the NFL Draft earlier this week, Hill's in prime shape to get even more involved. “We've got to find a way to get him the football,” OSU receivers coach Kasey Dunn said, “and get it to him in space and let him do what he does and not over-coach him, because the kid can make a lot of plays on his own.” At 5-10 and 185 pounds, Hill fits the Stewart mold because of his versatility. And that versatility allows Hill to stretch the field vertically and horizontally. He played running back, slot receiver and quarterback out of the Wildcat formation for Garden City. At OSU, Dunn expects Hill to get the ball plenty on toss sweep plays and on straight handoffs from the backfield in addition to playing receiver. He'll also be in the mix to return both punts and kicks. “I like space. I like making people look silly,” Hill told Rivals shortly after committing in September. “I'm all about that. Oklahoma State's offense is good for that.” Added Miller: “I haven't seen anybody with his burst of acceleration. … Think of the fastest football player you've ever seen. Compare (Tyreek) to him.” Where did this Olympic-level speed first reveal itself? Hill was a high school track star in Georgia, but not well-known nationally. That is, until he competed at the 2012 Golden South Classic in Orlando, where he clocked a 10.19 in the 100 and a 20.14 in the 200, the second-fastest time ever for a high school athlete in the U.S. Soon after was that performance in the World Junior Championships, where he was also a member of the 4x100 relay team that took gold. But there's more to Hill than his wheels. Miller lauded Hill's ability to make catches in traffic, his toughness in short-yardage situations and awareness to find the crease in the defense. Those skills made Hill the No. 4 junior college prospect in the country, according to Rivals. Name brand programs like Alabama, Florida State, USC and Oklahoma offered. But even as Hill's top 4 school choices seemed to constantly change, Miller said OSU was the one school that always stayed in that group. And even after taking a late visit to Texas just before junior college Signing Day, Hill honored his September commitment and signed with the Cowboys. Hill has enrolled early at OSU, allowing him to participate in winter conditioning and spring football. Hill was originally projected to play the “Y” receiver, or the inside spot normally opposite Stewart's position. But with Stewart's early departure, now Hill might serve as a direct replacement. No matter where he plays, though, Hill will immediately bring the speed. Lots of it. “His value is high for us,” Dunn said. “There's no doubt about it. Either way, he's gonna get the ball at the end of the day — and go fast.”
COMMENTARY — While the OU coach might leave for an NFL job someday, he's not going to a team that doesn't have solid leadership.
Oklahoma football: Cleveland definitely not the right spot for Bob Stoops
BY BERRY TRAMEL | Jan 7, 2014We kept hearing Bob Stoops' name linked with the Cleveland Browns. Kept hearing that Stoops might finally be ready to jump to the NFL. The NFL? Maybe some day. Maybe even some day soon. But the Browns? No chance. In fact, Cleveland is the prime example of what keeps coaches like Stoops on campus. The Browns returned to life for the 1999 season. The same year Stoops arrived in Oklahoma. The Browns have fired six coaches during those 15 years: Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur and Rob Chudzinski. Chudzinski was fired last week after one year on the job. The new-age Browns also have had six general managers. They've got a new chief executive officer, Joe Banner, who's been on the job 15 months and has fired two coaches. The company of the Browns' new owner, Jimmy Haslam, is under federal investigation for rebate irregularities. Oh yeah, Stoops is going to run to that job. Let's see. Shaky ownership. Quick-trigger leadership. No quarterback. Cold weather. In a division with three franchises that do seem to know what they're doing. What's not to love about that offer? Nobody that already has a really good football job is going to Cleveland. And Stoops has a really good football job. The Sooners aren't back on top of college football, but they're not far off, as we discovered — and maybe he did, too — in New Orleans. OU has stable leadership; Stoops works for the same two men, president David Boren and athletic director Joe Castiglione, who hired him 15 years ago. OU is investing in its program. I talked to Stoops a couple of months ago about what was next on his wish list, after the opening of the new dorm, and he really wasn't passionate about anything. There's a faction of boosters that want to modernize the west-side upper deck; new press box, new suites, make it comparable to the east side. Stoops seemed fine either way. OU's talent isn't where it once was, but it's not where we thought it was. The Sooners stared down Alabama and have a bunch of ballplayers returning. Stoops has a quarterback, he's got an energized fan base, he's got enough ammunition to say “told you so” all the way to September. He's happy as a bird. Stoops keeps his options open. Down in New Orleans last Friday, he said, “you never know” concerning the Browns. He also told the Casillas & Company radio show “It's my full intention to be the coach at Oklahoma next year.” I believe him on both counts. I believe he does plan on staying in Norman, and I also believe that you indeed never do know for sure. OU officials are confident that Stoops is not entertaining NFL offers. The pro rumors could be nothing more than his agent angling for a raise from OU. That's standard practice in a profession that has become quite sordid on the money side. Stoops is not at a stage of his life where leaving would be ideal. A daughter in high school. Twin sons soon to enter high school. The NFL interests most football coaches, Stoops included. Also scares most football coaches, too, because of its volatility. I think it's possible that Stoops answers the siren song some day. Might even be when the Sooners are riding high; I think it would be important to him to leave OU in a good way. But any franchise that wants to whisk away Stoops from Norman better have solid ownership and proven leadership. A good quarterback and decent weather wouldn't hurt, either. Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.
Saturday NFL 3:30 p.m., Kansas City at Indianapolis, KFOR-4 (Cox 4)/KRXO-FM 107.7 7:10 p.m., New Orleans at Philadelphia, KFOR-4 (Cox 4)/KRXO-FM 107.7 NBA 7 p.m., Oklahoma City at Minnesota, FSOK (Cox 37)/WWLS-AM 640/98.1 FM 7 p.m., Atlanta at Chicago, WGN (Cox 2) NHL 6 p.m., N.Y. Rangers at Toronto, NHLNET (Cox 263) 7 p.m., Detroit at Dallas, FSPLUS (Cox 68) COLLEGE FOOTBALL Noon, Vanderbilt...
Tuning In: Saturday, January 4
email@example.com | Jan 3, 2014Saturday NFL 3:30 p.m., Kansas City at Indianapolis, KFOR-4 (Cox 4)/KRXO-FM 107.7 7:10 p.m., New Orleans at Philadelphia, KFOR-4 (Cox 4)/KRXO-FM 107.7 NBA 7 p.m., Oklahoma City at Minnesota, FSOK (Cox 37)/WWLS-AM 640/98.1 FM 7 p.m., Atlanta at Chicago, WGN (Cox 2) NHL 6 p.m., N.Y. Rangers at Toronto, NHLNET (Cox 263) 7 p.m., Detroit at Dallas, FSPLUS (Cox 68) COLLEGE FOOTBALL Noon, Vanderbilt vs. Houston, ESPN (Cox 29) 1 p.m., Towson vs. North Dakota State, ESPN2 (Cox 28) MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL 11 a.m., Cincinnati at Memphis, ESPN2 (Cox 28) 11 a.m., Morehouse at Tuskegee, CBSS (Cox 249) Noon, Cal State Fullerton at Tulsa, KRMG-AM 740 Noon, St. John's at Georgetown, FS1 (Cox 67) 12:30 p.m., Iowa State at Texas Tech, KOCB-34 (Cox 11) 1 p.m., Michigan State at Indiana, KWTV-9 (Cox 10) 1 p.m., Butler at Xavier, FSOK (Cox 37) 1 p.m., Connecticut at SMU, ESPNU (Cox 253) 1 p.m., DePaul at Marquette, CBSS (Cox 249) 2 p.m., Creighton at Seton Hall, FS1 (Cox 67) 3 p.m., Oklahoma State at Kansas State, ESPNU (Cox 253)/KXXY-FM 96.1 3 p.m., Temple at Central Florida, ESPNews (Cox 254) 3 p.m., Duke at Notre Dame, KWTV-9 (Cox 10) 3 p.m., West Virginia at TCU, KOCB-34 (Cox 11) 3 p.m., Texas-Pan American at Texas A&M, FSOK (Cox 37) 3 p.m., Houston at South Florida, CBSS (Cox 249) 3 p.m., Clemson at Boston College, FSPLUS (Cox 68) 4 p.m., Virginia at Florida State, ESPN2 (Cox 28) 5 p.m., Colorado State at New Mexico, ESPNU (Cox 253) 5 p.m., Louisville at Rutgers, CBSS (Cox 249) 6 p.m., Texas A&M-CC at Oral Roberts, FCS (Cox 271) 7 p.m., Indiana State at Evansville, ESPNU (Cox 253) 7 p.m., Oklahoma at Texas, LHN (Cox 274)/KOKC-AM 1520 7 p.m., Harvard at Rice, CBSS (Cox 249) WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL 4 p.m., DePaul at Creighton, FS1 (Cox 67) 6 p.m., West Virginia at Oklahoma State, FS1 (Cox 67)/KGFY-FM 105.5 AHL 7 p.m., San Antonio at Oklahoma City, KXXY-FM 96.1 GOLF 1:30 p.m., Hyundai Tournament, GOLF (Cox 60) MEN'S SOCCER 6:30 a.m., Manchester City vs. Blackburn, FS1 (Cox 67) 9 a.m., Rochdale vs. Leeds, FS1 (Cox 67) 11 a.m., Arsenal vs. Tottenham, KOKH-25 (Cox 12) HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL Noon, U.S. Army All-American Bowl, KFOR-4 (Cox 4) BOYS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL 6 p.m., Prime Prep, TX vs. Whitney Young, IL, ESPN2 (Cox 28) MOTOCROSS 9:30 p.m., AMA Supercross, FS1 (Cox 67) IIHF WORLD JUNIOR HOCKEY 8 a.m., Sweden vs. Russia, NHLNET (Cox 263) Noon, Canada vs. Finland, NHLNET (Cox 263) Sunday NFL Noon, San Diego at Cincinnati, KWTV-9 (Cox 10)/KRXO-FM 107.7 3:30 p.m., San Francisco at Green Bay, KOKH-25 (Cox 12) NBA 6 p.m., Boston at Oklahoma City, FSOK (Cox 37)/WWLS-AM 640/98.1 FM 6:30 p.m., New York at Dallas, NBATV (Cox 256) NHL 7 p.m., San Jose at Chicago, NBCSN (Cox 251) COLLEGE FOOTBALL 8 p.m., Arkansas State vs. Ball State, ESPN (Cox 29) MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL Noon, Boston at Lehigh, CBSS (Cox 249) 2 p.m., USC at UCLA, FS1 (Cox 67) 2 p.m., UT-Martin at Murray State, CBSS (Cox 249) 3:30 p.m., San Diego State at Kansas, KWTV-9 (Cox 10) 4 p.m., Oregon at Colorado, FS1 (Cox 67) 5 p.m., Washington State at Arizona State, ESPNU (Cox 253) 6 p.m., Providence at Villanova, FS1 (Cox 67) 7 p.m., North Carolina at Wake Forest, ESPNU (Cox 253) WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL Noon, Vanderbilt at South Carolina, ESPNU (Cox 253) Noon, Washington at St. Joseph's, NBCSN (Cox 251) 1 p.m., Iowa State at Oklahoma, FSOK (Cox 37)/FCS (Cox 271)/KREF-AM 1400 1 p.m., TCU at Texas Tech, FSPLUS (Cox 68) 2 p.m., Maryland at North Carolina, ESPNU (Cox 253) 2 p.m., Kansas State at Texas, LHN (Cox 274) 3 p.m., Kansas at Baylor, FSOK (Cox 37) 3 p.m., Tennessee at Georgia, FSPLUS (Cox 68) GOLF 2 p.m., Hyundai Tournament, KFOR-4 (Cox 4) 3 p.m., Hyundai Tournament, GOLF (Cox 60) NBA-D LEAGUE 4:30 p.m., Delaware at Reno, CBSS (Cox 249) MEN'S SOCCER 8 a.m., Derby vs. Chelsea, FS1 (Cox 67) 10:30 a.m., Manchester United vs. Swansea, FS1 (Cox 67) IIHF WORLD JUNIOR HOCKEY 8 a.m., Bronze Medal Game, NHLNET (Cox 263) Noon, Gold Medal Game, NHLNET (Cox 263)
FRIDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL 7 p.m., Oklahoma State vs. Missouri, KOKH-25 (Cox 12)/KXXY-FM 96.1 7:30 p.m., Clemson vs. Ohio State, ESPN (Cox 29) MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL 7 p.m., Savannah at Baylor, FSOK (Cox 37) NBA 7 p.m., New York at Houston, NBATV (Cox 256) AHL 7:30 p.m., Oklahoma City at San Antonio, KGHM-AM 1340 GOLF 4:30 p.m., Hyundai Tournament, GOLF (Cox 60) BOXING 8 p.m., Argenis Mendez vs....
Tuning In: Friday, January 3
Compiled by Todd Schoenthaler, firstname.lastname@example.org | Jan 2, 2014FRIDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL 7 p.m., Oklahoma State vs. Missouri, KOKH-25 (Cox 12)/KXXY-FM 96.1 7:30 p.m., Clemson vs. Ohio State, ESPN (Cox 29) MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL 7 p.m., Savannah at Baylor, FSOK (Cox 37) NBA 7 p.m., New York at Houston, NBATV (Cox 256) AHL 7:30 p.m., Oklahoma City at San Antonio, KGHM-AM 1340 GOLF 4:30 p.m., Hyundai Tournament, GOLF (Cox 60) BOXING 8 p.m., Argenis Mendez vs. Rances Barthelemy, ESPN2 (Cox 28) BOYS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL 6 p.m., Bishop Gorman vs. Villa Angela, ESPNU (Cox 253) SATURDAY NFL 3:30 p.m., Kansas City at Indianapolis, KFOR-4 (Cox 4)/KRXO-FM 107.7 7:10 p.m., New Orleans at Philadelphia, KFOR-4 (Cox 4)/KRXO-FM 107.7 NBA 7 p.m., Oklahoma City at Minnesota, FSOK (Cox 37)/WWLS-AM 640/98.1 FM 7 p.m., Atlanta at Chicago, WGN (Cox 2) NHL 6 p.m., N.Y. Rangers at Toronto, NHLNET (Cox 263) 7 p.m., Detroit at Dallas, FSPLUS (Cox 68) COLLEGE FOOTBALL Noon, Vanderbilt vs. Houston, ESPN (Cox 29) 1 p.m., Towson vs. North Dakota State, ESPN2 (Cox 28) MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL 11 a.m., Cincinnati at Memphis, ESPN2 (Cox 28) 11 a.m., Morehouse at Tuskegee, CBSS (Cox 249) Noon, Cal State Fullerton at Tulsa, KRMG-AM 740 Noon, St. John's at Georgetown, FS1 (Cox 67) 12:30 p.m., Iowa State at Texas Tech, KOCB-34 (Cox 11) 1 p.m., Michigan State at Indiana, KWTV-9 (Cox 10) 1 p.m., Butler at Xavier, FSOK (Cox 37) 1 p.m., Connecticut at SMU, ESPNU (Cox 253) 1 p.m., DePaul at Marquette, CBSS (Cox 249) 2 p.m., Creighton at Seton Hall, FS1 (Cox 67) 3 p.m., Oklahoma State at Kansas State, ESPNU (Cox 253)/KXXY-FM 96.1 3 p.m., Temple at Central Florida, ESPNews (Cox 254) 3 p.m., Duke at Notre Dame, KWTV-9 (Cox 10) 3 p.m., West Virginia at TCU, KOCB-34 (Cox 11) 3 p.m., Texas-Pan American at Texas A&M, FSOK (Cox 37) 3 p.m., Houston at South Florida, CBSS (Cox 249) 3 p.m., Clemson at Boston College, FSPLUS (Cox 68) 4 p.m., Virginia at Florida State, ESPN2 (Cox 28) 5 p.m., Colorado State at New Mexico, ESPNU (Cox 253) 5 p.m., Louisville at Rutgers, CBSS (Cox 249) 7 p.m., Indiana State at Evansville, ESPNU (Cox 253) 7 p.m., Oklahoma at Texas, LHN (Cox 274)/KOKC-AM 1520 7 p.m., Harvard at Rice, CBSS (Cox 249) WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL 4 p.m., DePaul at Creighton, FS1 (Cox 67) 6 p.m., West Virginia at Oklahoma State, FS1 (Cox 67)/KGFY-FM 105.5 AHL 7 p.m., San Antonio at Oklahoma City, KXXY-FM 96.1 GOLF 1:30 p.m., Hyundai Tournament, GOLF (Cox 60) MEN'S SOCCER 6:30 a.m., Manchester City vs. Blackburn, FS1 (Cox 67) 9 a.m., Rochdale vs. Leeds, FS1 (Cox 67) 11 a.m., Arsenal vs. Tottenham, KOKH-25 (Cox 12) HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL Noon, U.S. Army All-American Bowl, KFOR-4 (Cox 4) BOYS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL 6 p.m., Prime Prep, TX vs. Whitney Young, IL, ESPN2 (Cox 28) MOTOCROSS 9:30 p.m., AMA Supercross, FS1 (Cox 67) IIHF WORLD JUNIOR HOCKEY 8 a.m., Sweden vs. Russia, NHLNET (Cox 263) Noon, Canada vs. Finland, NHLNET (Cox 263) SUNDAY NFL Noon, San Diego at Cincinnati, KWTV-9 (Cox 10)/KRXO-FM 107.7 3:30 p.m., San Francisco at Green Bay, KOKH-25 (Cox 12) NBA 6 p.m., Boston at Oklahoma City, FSOK (Cox 37)/WWLS-AM 640/98.1 FM 6:30 p.m., New York at Dallas, NBATV (Cox 256) COLLEGE FOOTBALL 8 p.m., Arkansas State vs. Ball State, ESPN (Cox 29) MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL 2 p.m., USC at UCLA, FS1 (Cox 67) 3:30 p.m., San Diego State at Kansas, KWTV-9 (Cox 10) 4 p.m., Oregon at Colorado, FS1 (Cox 67) 5 p.m., Washington State at Arizona State, ESPNU (Cox 253) 6 p.m., Providence at Villanova, FS1 (Cox 67) 7 p.m., North Carolina at Wake Forest, ESPNU (Cox 253) WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL Noon, Vanderbilt at South Carolina, ESPNU (Cox 253) 1 p.m., Iowa State at Oklahoma, FSOK (Cox 37)/KREF-AM 1400 1 p.m., TCU at Texas Tech, FSPLUS (Cox 68) 2 p.m., Maryland at North Carolina, ESPNU (Cox 253) 2 p.m., Kansas State at Texas, LHN (Cox 274) 3 p.m., Kansas at Baylor, FSOK (Cox 37) 3 p.m., Tennessee at Georgia, FSPLUS (Cox 68) GOLF 2 p.m., Hyundai Tournament, KFOR-4 (Cox 4) 3 p.m., Hyundai Tournament, GOLF (Cox 60) MEN'S SOCCER 8 a.m., Derby vs. Chelsea, FS1 (Cox 67) 10:30 a.m., Manchester United vs. Swansea, FS1 (Cox 67)
Dec 31, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings are conducting their first head coach search in eight years, and this will be an exhaustive project.That's the way general manager Rick Spielman works."I've sliced every way you can slice it," Spielman said on Monday, after Leslie Frazier was fired.Spielman has an old scout inside fueling his meticulous style of player evaluation and draft preparation,...
Vikings GM throws coach search wide open
DAVE CAMPBELL, Associated Press | Dec 31, 2013MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings are conducting their first head coach search in eight years, and this will be an exhaustive project. That's the way general manager Rick Spielman works. "I've sliced every way you can slice it," Spielman said on Monday, after Leslie Frazier was fired. Spielman has an old scout inside fueling his meticulous style of player evaluation and draft preparation, and he has dived into his pursuit of Frazier's replacement the same way. Spielman said he's identified 13 different categories of potential head coaches, from current offensive coordinators to college head coaches with and without NFL experience. "We're not going to box anything in," Spielman said, adding: "There is no specific offense, defense, college coach, high school coach, whatever. It is a coach that we feel is the best fit for our organization." Of those 13 groups, Spielman said his research revealed no greater success from one to another. So Spielman told team owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf to clear their calendars. "We will be very busy. I just told them, 'Don't plan on any stadium meetings for the next two weeks,'" Spielman said. This will be Spielman's first head coach hire. The Wilfs fired Brad Childress in 2010 and replaced him with Frazier, who was already on the staff. That was before Spielman, hired in 2006 as vice president of player personnel, was promoted to general manager. The Vikings have at least five other teams competing for the candidates. Houston, Cleveland, Washington, Tampa Bay and Detroit also have vacancies. Top assistants on the top teams typically crowd the field, and this year is no different with Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer having emerged as potential targets. Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is another one; his team barely missed the playoffs. Former Chicago head coach Lovie Smith will likely get another chance. Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer is one of those up-and-comers; he interviewed with the Bears to replace Smith last season before Marc Trestman was given the job. Then there's college: Vanderbilt's James Franklin and Stanford's David Shaw are being circulated as pro prospects. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was asked on Monday about his coordinators as candidates for some of the open jobs. "It just depends on what you're looking for, but both of these guys are fantastic football coaches and they've been highly successful, and they're leading really good units, and they can make all of the decisions and the choices and all of the stuff that you have to make," Carroll said. "Neither one of them have been head coaches before and there is still a curve there for them, but they're as qualified as anybody could possibly be. I'm particularly fond of these guys because they've been through our program and I know what they know. They'll bring great order and structure to the next place they go." The Vikings have had mixed results since Childress came in 2006 with now-dated schemes on both offense and defense. Like any system, they're only as good as the players on the field and the coaches calling each play. Considering NFL trends, though, the new staff is likely to bring a new look for one or both sides of the ball. Spielman, unprompted during his news conference after Frazier was fired, pointed to Philadelphia's success with the college-rooted spread offense coach Chip Kelly brought. LeSean McCoy led the league in rushing for the Eagles this season, and the Vikings still have Adrian Peterson in his prime. On defense, the 4-3 alignment is still in vogue, but the Tampa 2 zone coverage has faded in popularity. With rookie Xavier Rhodes, the Vikings have the type of physical cornerback who could thrive in a more man-to-man-based system. "Change can always be good. It obviously makes things a little more interesting," defensive end Brian Robison said. "But it's one of those deals where you've got to take it in stride. You've just got to make the best of it, and hopefully it's one of those deals that will turn our season around next year." ___ AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org Dave Campbell on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP
Dec 21, 2013
Folks back home rode out the highs and lows alongside OSU's quarterback.
Oklahoma State football: Clint Chelf is Enid's hometown hero
By Gina Mizell | Dec 21, 2013ENID — Randy Chelf trudged out to the driveway to get the newspaper at around 6:30 a.m. a few days before Bedlam. Through the darkness, he spotted neighbor Mike McCormick. Everyone around knows that family is full of avid Oklahoma fans. The Sooner flag on the front of the house that flies every Saturday in the fall serves as a clear reminder. But that was about to change for Bedlam. “Hey, I just want you to know we're cheering for Clint and the Cowboys this one Saturday,” McCormick told Randy. Clint Chelf's up-and-down journey as Oklahoma State's quarterback — where he's ping-ponged between backup to starter the past two seasons — has made him a symbol of perseverance and resilience in Stillwater. He ignited a choo-choo Internet movement and became a bit of a folk hero, even when publicly silent for the majority of this season because of a media ban for all quarterbacks. But that's nothing compared to Chelf's impact in Enid, his hometown of about 50,000 located about 65 miles northwest of Stillwater that has embraced one of its favorite sons and collectively felt a part of his journey. Those folks felt the disappointment when Chelf came out of a spring 2012 quarterback derby finishing third. And the unexpected excitement when he was thrust into emergency duty in the second half against Kansas State last November and then finished that season as the Heart of Dallas Bowl MVP. And the anger when he was benched following just seven plays as the starter for the Cowboys' opener against Mississippi State. And the jubilation when he was re-inserted midway through the season, nearly leading OSU to its second Big 12 title in three seasons while earning second-team All-Big 12 honors. “I think a lot of them kind of went through it with him,” Randy said. *** Aaron Beagle knows he'll especially need his receiver gloves on this particular day. It's a summer workout for Enid High. But throwing at that field has also become routine for Clint Chelf during the break between the end of the spring semester and the start of OSU's summer program. That means Clint has plenty of eager targets to sling the football to. “It's pretty fast,” Beagle said. “You definitely need the gloves on for that. It will cut up your fingers if you don't.” Most of those current Enid players watched from the stands as elementary or middle schoolers when Clint starred for the Plainsmen. Their coach, Steve Chard, was at Chickasha during that time and had to game plan against Clint. Now, Chard can point to Clint as an example of the qualities he wants in his own players. “There's a great example of a kid who's maybe better than everybody in the room,” Chard said, “who got benched and maybe wasn't sure why and stuck with it and then got to play again and played great. “If he had a poor attitude during his time when he wasn't playing, he probably would not have gotten to play again and/or would not have played well.” Clint occasionally speaks to the team during those summer workout days, delivering that exact message of overcoming adversity. And during football season, there's been plenty of chatter about Clint and the Cowboys in the hallways, from students and longtime teachers and administrators. One administrator in particular, as Tommy Parker was Clint's coach and is now an Enid High assistant principal. He could look at Clint's situation from a coach's prism, recognizing that tough personnel decisions are made that outsiders may not understand. Still, things were tough when Clint was on the bench. “I have to admit, I may have struggled being a Cowboy at times,” Parker said with a chuckle. “And nothing personal toward Coach (Mike) Gundy. Those guys, they do what's best for the program. We've all been in that situation… “You want what's best for your kid. And Clint's our kid.” Perhaps that's most evidenced in Parker's own sons. His 8-year-old, Tanner, pretends to be Clint when he's throwing in the backyard. His 11-year-old, TJ, became disinterested in watching Cowboy games once Clint was benched — and then, of course, jumped back on board when Clint was re-inserted. Getting a photo with Clint and the Heart of Dallas Bowl MVP trophy following that game remains a highlight for the family. “They absolutely worship the ground he walks on,” Parker said of his sons. Part of that admiration is because of Clint's athletic ability, sure. But he's also, simply, an easy guy to like. Parker recalls Clint specifically asking high school teammates who rarely saw the field to play catch with him during warm-ups before practice. So he's not surprised Clint has remained connected to this current group of high schoolers and others in the community. “Just to see him have success is awesome,” Parker said. “It's encouraging. It makes you feel that sometimes the good guys do finish first.” *** Walk in Wade Burleson's office at Emmanuel Baptist Church, and one of the most recognizable pieces is an autographed photo of Bob Stoops hoisting the 2000 BCS Championship trophy. He's a big-time Sooner fan preaching to a congregation of about 5,000 members. He estimates 70 percent are OSU fans. Because of that, he's made several trips to Cowboy games with those friends over the years, where he's taken in the action as a casual observer. Thanks to Clint Chelf, he now watches much more intently. “I'm probably the prime example (of Clint's impact on the community),” Burleson said. “Big OU fan, get grief from all my OSU buddies and probably know more about OSU football now because of Clint.” Burleson has known the Chelf family for several years. His oldest son, Kade, played basketball with Clint's older brother, Colton, while his youngest son, Boe, was one of Clint's receivers in high school. Wade and Boe were inside Boone Pickens Stadium when Clint put on what Wade called the best quarterback performance he's ever seen in person. Clint completed his first 12 passes and finished 19-of-25 for 370 yards and four total touchdowns, as the Cowboys dominated then-No. 3 Baylor 49-17. “He was throwing balls between people,” Burleson said. “It was just his night.” Wade and Boe listened to ESPN Radio on the drive back to Enid, convinced they would hear an interview with Clint. They didn't, as Clint at that time was still prohibited from speaking to the media. “I came home and thought about that,” Wade said. “And the more I thought about it, the more it bugged me.” So Wade turned to the blogosphere, writing a post calling for Clint to be permitted to talk publicly. It got an overwhelming response, with 45 comments and even more personal messages and phone calls. Most of them were angry. “Gundy doesn't tell you how to preach! Don't tell him how to coach!” Wade said was the gist of the messages. “I'm like, ‘I'm not telling him how to coach. I'm saying we want to hear from a kid that we're proud of.'” *** Randy Chelf points to the day that Clint finished third in the 2012 quarterback competition — one folks in Enid expected him to win — as the moment the town jumped on his son's bandwagon. “Everybody knew that was a bad day for him,” said Randy, who also played football at OSU. “It was a bad day for everybody around here, whether you liked OSU or Tulsa or OU. A lot of people called. A lot of people stopped by.” That has continued on a daily basis, Randy said. People have asked about Clint at the grocery store, post office and bank. When handling policies with his insurance company, Randy often spends 15 minutes talking about business and 30 or 40 talking about football. They'd express hope Clint would get his shot in 2012. Then displeasure when Mississippi State happened. Then joy when TCU happened. The emotions have essentially mirrored those of the Chelf family. And the fact that community members cared so much has been helpful. “That support made a big difference,” he said. “Because it was a struggle to watch (Clint get passed over twice).” This trip through Enid ends at the Chelf house. Photos of Clint, Colton (a former OSU receiver) and Courtney (now a freshman basketball player at OSU) fill the walls. A wooden painting of an orange-and-black reindeer that is normally displayed in the front yard currently complements an OSU pool table in the living room. A back bedroom is home to Clint's bowl MVP trophy and other memorabilia, while his awards from the team banquet — Cowboy captain and top offensive player for 2013 — sit on the kitchen counter. Clint will be back for Christmas soon. Local kids will likely swing by the house for photos or autographs. Clint will also make the rounds, visiting friends and coaches and teachers and mentors. He'll likely talk football with perfect strangers who stop him around town, as well. That's Clint's way of saying thanks for the support, during the great moments and the challenging ones during his OSU career. And Enid's way of saying thanks for bringing it along. “When he wasn't playing, it would be easy for people to just forget about him,” Randy said. “And they never forgot about him.”
Dec 4, 2013
As Oklahoma and Oklahoma State prepare to square off in the annual Bedlam battle, fans are taking a hard look at what they spend to attend college football games.
Bedlam on a budget?
BY JENNI CARLSON, Staff Writer, email@example.com | Dec 4, 2013Walk across Athletic Avenue south of Boone Pickens Stadium on game day, and you're sure to find the orange and black plastic flamingos. And once you do, you're sure to find Jimmy Ritter. The Oklahoma State University alumnus is always there tailgating under four tents — three orange, one black, all with “Cowboys” somewhere on them — before going to the game. He has been at all but two games since he and wife, Cara, bought season tickets three years ago. No matter the opponent. No matter the weather. No matter the cost. On the final week of the regular season, fans across the country will flock to stadiums one last time, including in Stillwater where a big crowd is expected for Bedlam, subfreezing weather be damned. “We're kind of those crazy, passionate OSU fans,” Ritter said. Ritter lives in the Kansas City suburbs, so he spends nearly $800 every time he attends a game — and that's on a weekend when he's lucky enough to stay with family. As committed as he is to paying the price of attending games — he also sacrifices his whole weekend to go — Ritter is at the intersection of the battle that athletic departments are waging to draw fans to their stadiums. Next season, he's cutting back and attending only three games, a trend that he sees continuing. “Depending on who the games are (against),” Ritter said, “we'll probably do the same thing the next year.” National statistics indicate the Ritters aren't alone and that fewer fans are willing to pay the cost of going. The downturn has not hit our state's biggest schools, quite an accomplishment considering the increasing lure of the Thunder. But neither the University of Oklahoma nor Oklahoma State are assuming their run of good teams and big crowds will continue. In Norman, a review of the stadium and game-day experience is underway while in Stillwater, a firm has been hired to improve in-game technology available to fans. Officials at both schools know they're in a competition for fans' entertainment dollars and time. “What you would like to think is the value of game day in Stillwater or Norman ... far exceeds the price of that ticket,” OSU athletic director Mike Holder said. “As long as, in that fan's mind, he agrees with you, then you're probably going to win the battle. “But when it tips the other direction is when you're going to see some real erosion in the fan's willingness to make that trip, make those sacrifices.” Some already have passed that tipping point, punting season tickets and taking their chances with Stub Hub if they want to go to a game. Others are passing on going to games altogether. As the price of everything in and around the stadium rises and television broadcast quality improves, there are more and more people who are choosing to stay home. *** Wink Kopczynski grew up such a big Sooner fan that OU was the only school that he applied to out of high school. He arrived on campus the same time as running back sensation Adrian Peterson. “So, it was an exciting time for the program and the university as a whole,” Kopczynski said. He missed only one home game during his time at OU and even made the trip to Dallas for the OU-Texas game all but one year. He sat in the student section with a bunch of his Phi Delt brothers. He loved every minute of it. His love for the Sooners hasn't waned. His attendance has. Since graduating in 2009, he and his wife have traveled from Tulsa to Norman two or three times a year for a game. They make a weekend of it, seeing their family and friends, eating at their favorite restaurants and visiting their favorite haunts. But as much fun as they have, they can't commit to going to every game. “We aren't that far from Norman,” Kopczynski said, “but life just gets in the way.” They know they can watch the games in high definition on TV — and likely see things that they aren't able to see when they're in the stadium — and there are some opponents that just don't fire them up. Louisiana-Monroe? Tulsa? Pass. “It's hard to justify spending a lot of money on tickets, gas, food ... for a game that you know will be over by halftime,” Kopczynski said. There always have been issues that keep fans like Kopczynski from attending more games, but technology has altered the equation. Secondary ticket markets such as StubHub.com give fans an alternative to buying season tickets and provide single-game tickets. Home entertainment systems are improving all the time. Getting cheaper, too. And social networking sites such as Twitter have taken the in-game community of fans to the virtual realm. You still can complain about an official's call — just keep it under 140 characters. Schools are trying to figure out what can be done to counter those changes. At OU, a comprehensive review of the stadium and the game-day experience launched earlier this season. Much like the last time it did a similar review a decade or so ago, OU athletic director Joe Castiglione expects to uncover a wide range of needs from fans. Will the stadium need more chairback seats? Better concessions? Easier access? “We're trying to appeal to a very diverse audience,” Castiglione said, “and we want to make sure we're thinking about every single thing.” Even though Castiglione isn't sure what changes the review will ultimately recommend, there is one aspect of the game-day experience that is largely out of his control. TV. Used to be, games were rarely broadcast. Even a really good team might only be on television a few times a season. Now, just about every game played by every major-conference school is broadcast. That is because of multibillion-dollar deals between networks and conferences. As part of those contracts, the networks can wait until as few as six days before a game to decide the kickoff time. They want to see what matchups are biggest, then put the best one in prime time and slot the others accordingly. Not knowing game times until a week before the game can be tough on fans trying to plan other events. Everything from weddings to youth soccer games can be affected. It's a hassle. Castiglione acknowledges as much. Any AD would. But without the $20 million that each Big 12 school receives annually from the conference's contracts with ABC/ESPN and FOX, OU and OSU would struggle to pay the golf coach's salary and provide the soccer team's travel budget and fund the dozens of other sports that they sponsor. Without that TV money, they would have to compensate by increasing football ticket prices to a level where it would be too expensive for nearly everyone. More irony — big-time football schools need TV even as the high-definition broadcasts and the DVR technology are convincing more and more fans to avoid the traffic, skip the crowds and stay home. But those in college football say they hold the ultimate trump card. “We create that experience that can't be replicated anywhere,” Castiglione said. Sooner and Cowboy fans were reminded of that last weekend. As their teams were on bye weeks, they got to sit home and feast on some of the best games of the season, including the game to end all games. Can you believe what happened at the end of that Auburn-Alabama game? Who wouldn't want to be there? Of course, there are some folks who would say last weekend was the perfect argument for staying home. You can watch every game. You don't have to pick just one. “It's pretty compelling to sit home sometimes and watch it on television,” said Holder, the OSU athletic director. “We like to think there's no substitute for the atmosphere, the feeling you get when you're in the stadium. “But that experience at home is getting better all the time.” *** Holder wants to improve the in-stadium experience for Cowboy fans, and he believes technology is a big part of that. OSU recently entered into a partnership with Sporting Innovations, a Kansas City-based group that is an offshoot of the Major League Soccer team there. Sporting Kansas City plays in a stadium that many consider the most technologically advanced in all of sports. The team, for example, has an app that allows fans in the stadium to turn their smartphones into a DVR. “They're going to be consulting for us over the next five years to try to help us better connect with our fans and then try to create more of a team atmosphere among our fan base and our actual football team, basketball team, whatever it may be,” Holder said. He realizes that today Boone Pickens Stadium doesn't have the technological infrastructure to do what Sporting KC does, but he wants OSU to explore what can be done. Kyser Thompson and Eric Bruno believe athletic departments must explore technological advances. They work for Now What, a market-research firm based in New York City that has been hired by the SEC to examine fan behavior, and one of the biggest shortcomings that they have detected is the ability for fans to stay connected in the stadium. When they're at home, fans can use their tablet or smartphone, get on Twitter or Facebook and have that second-screen experience. At the very least, they can check on other games. In the stadiums? Not so much. Big 12 schools decided before this season that they would show highlights of other games in their stadiums, but many of the highlights are old. And these days, that means they're a few hours old. Fans want something closer to the NFL RedZone, an up-to-the-moment look at the day's biggest plays. Providing in-stadium highlights was such a big deal to one NFL team that it considered using part of its new scoreboard to show the RedZone. “These are fans who care about other games,” Thompson said, adding that will continue to be the case with the four-team playoff starting next season and teams continuing to jockey for position during the regular season. “You want to be updated. You want to know what's going on.” In the short span of a couple years, being connected all the time has become an expectation of fans. Another problem that Thompson and Bruno have uncovered is that college football fans feel like going to games is less of an experience than it used to be. “When you put it against other sports, especially pro sports, college stadiums are not even really close,” Bruno said. Time outs, fans have told them, are boring. Some fans might disagree with that. Watching the pom squad or listening to the marching band or seeing which school has the male cheerleader who can hold up a girl the longest counts as entertainment to them. Same goes for seeing Bullet gallop or the Sooner Schooner run or the OU drum major lean back so far that the top of his hat nearly touches the ground. Still, other fans want more. “I feel like if they were to make it a full-on experience, a four-hour deal,” Bruno said, “then they could win more fans and they could actually keep people in their seats.” *** Jimmy Ritter has few complaints about the in-game experience at OSU. Oh, he'd like better nonconference opponents and a better public address system. “We spent all this money to build this ... ,” he said, holding a gray Solo cup in one hand and motioning with his other toward Boone Pickens Stadium rising above the parking lot across the street, “and we have a P.A. system that's awful.” But really, none of that is what will keep him from going to every game next season. Cara always has wanted to go to New York City around Christmas, so they will save some money by selling half of their OSU season tickets. They've already decided which games they'll attend — Texas Tech, Iowa State for homecoming and Texas. Ritter would love to go to every game because of the feeling he gets when he's in the stadium. He loves going to his seats in Section 224 and seeing the same folks, people who he doesn't know all that well but is best friends with for three or four hours on game day. Yes, the cost of going is high, higher even than the Ritters expected when they first bought their season tickets. “We thought you had your tickets, and you were good,” said Ritter, who graduated from OSU in 2009, a year after his wife. “Maybe it was because we were young and dumb ... you don't really realize how much you spend with all the ancillary costs.” But still, the feeling that he gets on game day when he's in Stillwater surrounded by other Cowboy fans is something he knows he'll miss when he's not at games next season and beyond. It's always worth every penny.
WACO, Texas (AP) — The high-powered offense for No. 3 Baylor hasn't missed a beat with some big-play backups.When the top two running backs both got hurt early in the same game, Shock Linwood stepped in and ran for 182 yards. He topped that in his first start last week.The Bears also lost a 100-yard-a-game receiver to injury. Insert Levi Norwood, who had seven catches for 156 yards with two...
Big-play backups boost for No. 3 Baylor offense
STEPHEN HAWKINS, Associated Press | Nov 21, 2013WACO, Texas (AP) — The high-powered offense for No. 3 Baylor hasn't missed a beat with some big-play backups. When the top two running backs both got hurt early in the same game, Shock Linwood stepped in and ran for 182 yards. He topped that in his first start last week. The Bears also lost a 100-yard-a-game receiver to injury. Insert Levi Norwood, who had seven catches for 156 yards with two touchdowns starting in that spot. And in his regular role, he returned a punt 58 yards for another score with elusive moves around several Texas Tech defenders. "I love Shock. ... Shock brings a lot to the table, a lot of passion, he's very intelligent football-wise," quarterback Bryce Petty said. "Levi's slippery, that's what they call him. It's fun watching him just because he can do so many things after getting the ball. But it's even more watching him out there just because you can tell he has fun with what he's doing." Sixth-year coach Art Briles has repeatedly talked about the importance of building "Big 12 depth." While that process has taken some time, it is certainly having a huge impact for the Bears (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) in maybe their best season ever — and heading into their biggest game so far. "I wish we weren't having to prove it," Briles said. "We've been fortunate up to this point." Baylor, on pace to break major college records with 61.2 points and 684.8 yards per game, plays Saturday night at No. 11 Oklahoma State (9-1, 6-1), the league's preseason favorite that has won six games in a row. The winner gets the upper hand in the race for the league's automatic BCS berth but both still have big games to play after that. The Bears have never won a Big 12 title. Big 12 rushing leader Lache Seastrunk (groin) and Glasco Martin (knee) are both still questionable for Saturday, meaning Linwood will likely start again. The Bears are hopeful of getting senior receiver Tevin Reese back for the bowl game; he had surgery after dislocating his right wrist in the Bears' 41-12 win Nov. 7 over Oklahoma, the same game Seastrunk and Linwood were hurt. Linwood is now second in the Big 12 with 101.5 yards per game, behind only Seastrunk's 111 per game, after the converted high school quarterback added 187 yards on 29 carries in the Bears' comeback 63-34 win over Texas Tech last Saturday night. "I just took it as since they are not playing right now, I have to prepare myself better than I did the weeks there were here, because I haven't had anything on my back like that before," Linwood said. "It means a lot to me, it's a blessing to go out and perform again like I've done." Devin Chafin, another redshirt freshman, added 100 yards and two TDs on 11 carries. "Those guys practice like they're starters," Petty said. "That result doesn't surprise me, because how they practice. That's how they work. Anyone that goes out there, I have full confidence in." Norwood, a fourth-year junior, has been a steady presence in Baylor's offense with catches in 23 consecutive games while also returning kicks. But his only two previous starts this season came when the Bears opened games in four-receiver sets. "Tevin is the heart and soul of the receiver group. ... We all knew we had to step up and work as hard as he does," said Norwood, who has 26 catches for 468 yards and four TDs this season. "That was my mentality going into it. I have a great amount of respect for Tevin and wanted to really kind of put on a show for him, and I feel like I did that." Along with his TD catches of 40 and 58 yards against the Red Raiders, Norwood also had the impressive punt return. As for the running back whose full name is Rashodrick Antoine Linwood, how did he become known as Shock? "My mom gave it to me when I was a little kid," he said, explaining it was during the prime of Shaquille O'Neal's basketball career. "They had Shaq Attack, she said her son is going to be the Shock Attack. People at home were calling me Shock Attack, but they got tired of saying the whole thing, so we just shortened it down to Shock."
OSU plays Baylor on Saturday night in a de facto Big 12 championship game. That's a scenario few could have envisioned 10 years ago.
Oklahoma State football: Bears, Cowboys form Big 12's new world order
By Gina Mizell | Nov 19, 2013STILLWATER — Once upon a time, Oklahoma State looked to Baylor for its one guaranteed Big 12 win. That 16-13 Bedlam season of 2001? The Cowboys' only other conference victory came against the Bears, who went winless in Big 12 play. Even more recently, a loss to Baylor marked the most embarrassing low point of Mike Gundy's first season in Stillwater. In that 44-34 defeat in 2005, the Cowboys turned the ball over eight times — and subsequently knocked themselves out of bowl contention — against a Bear squad that entered the contest with just one Big 12 win. Yet here we are, in a college football world that time travelers from a decade ago would call an alternate universe. OSU and Baylor are both ranked in the top 10 in the BCS standings in mid-November and regarded as two of the nation's newest blueblood programs. College football's most electrifying offense resides in Waco. The Cowboys were decimal points away from playing for the national title two years ago, while the Bears are very much in the championship hunt as we head down this season's final stretch. And OSU and Baylor will play in a de facto Big 12 title game Saturday night at Boone Pickens Stadium in a contest that has lured ESPN's “College GameDay” to Stillwater and will be broadcast to a prime-time national television audience. “Art Briles, what he's done with that program is like what Coach (Mike) Gundy has done here,” said OSU safety Zack Craig, who grew up following Baylor because of one sister who played softball and another who ran track at the school. “He's changed the whole atmosphere, the whole perception of Baylor. “Whatever he's done, it's worked, and he's got the guys playing hard for him.” Craig is right. The how-the-heck-did-we-get-here journeys for OSU and Baylor share many similarities. Both schools brought in native sons to lead their programs, coaches with the right personality fit and a familiarity with the area culture. Both committed to upgrading facilities and became poster programs for the Nike uniform craze. Both have tapped into a rich talent pool in Texas. And though Baylor especially had a long way to climb — the Bears won just 14 Big 12 games during their first 14 years in the conference — some current OSU veterans saw the early stages of the Bears' surge. Fifth-year receiver Charlie Moore was recruited by Briles and attended Baylor camps and a spring game while at Bullard High School in East Texas. Craig, a senior from Spring Branch near San Antonio, was frequently hanging around campus while visiting his sisters and also went to camps. “When I was getting recruited, that program wasn't quite there yet,” Moore said. “But (Briles) was preaching everything you're seeing now.” Added Craig: “They've had a bad rap in Texas. When my sisters were there, they were not good … You can see them building up each and each year. This is kind of their huge breakout year.” Gundy, who spent one season as an assistant at Baylor in 1996, estimates between 100 and 150 Division I prospects are within a four-hour drive of campus each year. That's allowed the Bears to snag a few big-time players — including 2011 Heisman winner Robert Griffin III — and build from there. “(The administration) backed (Briles) from the start,” Gundy said. “A little more progress. A little more progress. Hit on a couple players. Their talent level now on offense, obviously, is excellent, and defensively they continue to get more and more players each year.” Do Baylor and OSU have staying power? Or are they merely short-term blips in this revamped college football universe? Parity, Gundy believes, will continue as a yearly trend in the sport. But OSU certainly offers more proof than Baylor that it has established itself as a consistent program, with 58 wins compiled since 2008. Arguably the biggest key to sustaining success is coaching stability. OSU and Baylor appear to have that, despite Gundy and Briles often being brought up as candidates for other jobs. Briles signed a new 10-year contract last week, while Gundy is in the middle of a lucrative long-term deal signed following the 2011 season. So here we are. It may have sounded like crazy talk 10 years ago. Maybe even five years ago. But OSU and Baylor are about to square off in college football's biggest game of the week — one with Big 12 and national-title stakes. “They're the best team we've faced all year,” Moore said. “That's all we're focused on.”
Oct 19, 2013
STILLWATER — Josh Stewart wasn't supposed to catch the punt. But he did. Charlie Moore wasn't supposed to throw the pass. But he did. Sometimes it's best to ignore the instruction manual. OSU beat TCU 24-10 Saturday because a couple of players went by the feel instead of by the book. In a game in which touchdowns were at a premium, Stewart returned a punt 95 yards for OSU's first TD and then...
Oklahoma State football: The Cowboys won because they had the best player — Josh Stewart
BY BERRY TRAMEL | Oct 19, 2013STILLWATER — Josh Stewart wasn't supposed to catch the punt. But he did. Charlie Moore wasn't supposed to throw the pass. But he did. Sometimes it's best to ignore the instruction manual. OSU beat TCU 24-10 Saturday because a couple of players went by the feel instead of by the book. In a game in which touchdowns were at a premium, Stewart returned a punt 95 yards for OSU's first TD and then made a circus catch off Moore's end-around pass to set up OSU's final TD. On a day the Cowboys switched quarterbacks, switched tailbacks and switched left tackles, OSU stayed in Big 12 title contention because it had Stewart, the best player on the field. “It would be hard to disagree with that,” Mike Gundy said. Clint Chelf replaced quarterback J.W. Walsh early in the second quarter and was marginally better. Freshman tailback Rennie Childs replaced Jeremy Smith in the third quarter and was much better. Daniel Koenig moved over to left tackle to shore up a battered offensive line, and who knows how that worked out? On this Saturday, just a bunch of details. This is all you need to know. When the ball was in Stewart's hands, good things happened. Stewart had 10 catches for 141 yards and those two huge plays. “To have a playmaker that special, that dynamic to help you, that's what it's all about,” OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. “I don't' know what that is or how you get there. But if you could bottle and sell it, you'd make a million bucks.” Truth is, the OSU offense was different with Chelf – more downfield throws – but not really any more productive. If Chelf keeps the job, maybe that will change. He's no doubt rusty. But here's a tip. Get the ball to Stewart. TCU coach Gary Patterson certainly wanted to keep the ball away from Stewart, saying he instructed punter Ethan Perry to kick the ball away from Stewart. But late in the first quarter, Perry instead boomed a punt 54 yards to the OSU 5-yard line. That's the territory where return men are supposed to let the ball bounce. But Stewart risked the wrath and caught the ball. “I didn't even realize where I was,” Stewart said. “I just saw a lot of space between me and the first guy, the gunner for TCU. “When I see space on the punt return, you gotta take the chance, because a punt returner should be able to make guys miss. I did that. Had some great blocks in front of me. Just worked out well.” Stewart made a couple of nifty cuts to break into open range. He started to tire late in the runback as Frogs converged and began weaving like he was making an afghan, avoiding would-be tacklers enough to cross the goal line. Wiggling, Stewart called it. “It's easier to tackle somebody that's running straight,” he said. “By me wiggling, they didn't know what angle to take or anything like that.” Stewart had quite the load early in the game. He had seven catches and 194 all-purpose yards 16 minutes into the game. Walsh, his high school buddy, targets Stewart frequently. Chelf is more inclined to throw downfield at one of OSU's rangier receivers. But after the Cowboys sputtered around for much of the day and let the Frogs climb within 17-10 in the fourth quarter, Stewart was needed again. Moore, a high school quarterback back in Bullard, Texas, came around on a reverse and tossed a long pass Stewart's direction. Trouble was, TCU safety Chris Hackett had Stewart well-covered. Moore's orders were clear. Unless Stewart was wide open, don't throw it. Moore threw it anyway. “I wanted him to throw it, but I wasn't expecting him to,” Stewart said. Hackett was in prime position to intercept or knock down the ball, but Stewart leaped, maneuvered his body in front of Hackett and made the catch. “I went to the sideline, and J.W. said, ‘I don't think you understand how good of a catch that was,'” Stewart said. “But when you just try to make plays for your team, stuff like that happens.” The 27-yard gain put OSU on TCU's 7-yard line, and Childs scored on the next play. Ballgame. Not a stellar victory for the Cowboys, but those are rare in Big 12 football 2013. Just win. OSU is 2-1 and has staked its claim in the five-team race for a Fiesta Bowl berth. OSU's defense is playing well enough to make the Cowboys a contender. OSU's offense hasn't found its sea legs. The post-game tenor seemed to indicate Chelf will take over. We'll see if things pick up. But Saturday, this we know. The Cowboys don't win this game without Stewart. Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.
Oklahoma State football: Cowboys' Justin Gilbert, TCU's Jason Verrett turning Stillwater into a no-fly zoneOct 18, 2013
OKLAHOMA STATE FOOTBALL — Two struggling passers. Two of the Big 12's best covermen. Passes come with an extra risk Saturday in Stillwater when Oklahoma State faces TCU.
Oklahoma State football: Cowboys' Justin Gilbert, TCU's Jason Verrett turning Stillwater into a no-fly zone
BY GINA MIZELL, Staff Writer, email@example.com | Oct 18, 2013STILLWATER — Oklahoma State's offense has struggled in 2013. TCU's has been even more anemic. And it likely won't help that Boone Pickens Stadium should turn into a No Fly Zone Saturday when the No. 21 Cowboys and Horned Frogs meet in a Homecoming showdown. On one side will be TCU's Jason Verrett, perhaps the Big 12's best player and one of the nation's top cornerbacks. On the other will be Justin Gilbert, who is putting together a resurgent senior season after passing on entering the NFL Draft following a disappointing 2012. “When I made the decision to come back, it pretty much stuck in my head that I pretty much had to do every little thing right going into the season and continue to stay consistent,” Gilbert said. So far, Gilbert already has two interceptions (he had zero in 2012) to go along with 12 tackles, three pass breakups and a quarterback hurry. Verrett has been even better, already racking up 10 pass breakups while also tallying one interception, 24 tackles (2.5 for loss) and one sack. Those numbers, along with skill and athletic ability, have made both Gilbert and Verrett prime pro prospects, as ESPN expert Mel Kiper lists Verrett as the No. 7 cornerback available in the 2014 draft and Gilbert as the ninth-best. Both are projected by CBS to be selected somewhere in the first three rounds. Coaches and teammates saw this type of rebound coming from Gilbert, even dating back to the spring. Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said he picked up on a renewed focus in Gilbert's eyes during meetings. Teammate Josh Stewart could sense Gilbert was motivated by outside criticism thrown his way during his struggles last season. “There's been a lot of talk of him not playing good last year, he was the reason our defense (wasn't good),” Stewart said. “I've heard it all with Justin, and I'm pretty sure if I heard it, he's heard it. “And I think that's all fuel to his fire.” Most importantly, Gilbert has worked diligently to improve his technique. The Cowboys' more aggressive scheme — where there's a heavier dose of bump-and-run — completely caters to Gilbert's athleticism. But cornerbacks coach Van Malone said Gilbert is most improved when he's not in man coverage. His footwork while backpedaling is better, which then allows him to break to his receiver quicker if the ball heads that direction. And Gilbert now has a better understanding of the entire defense, allowing him to use his leverage to push a receiver inside or outside because he knows where the safeties are playing. “In the past, he was just, ‘Who's my guy? I don't know where my help is coming from,'” Malone said. “He's done a really good job of understanding the rest of the defense, understanding the coverage system. “And when we put him in situations where he's not at his strength … he's able to thrive, even playing off man coverage.” Gilbert admits the thought of a talent like Verrett coming to his home field Saturday is in the back of his mind. He also admits he looks at every contest as a “money game” that could help secure his future as a pro. Malone added that scouts love Gilbert's upside as a former high school quarterback who still has much to learn about playing cornerback. And this season has only helped Gilbert, both personally and as part of a revamped Cowboy defense. “When you have a guy who has committed himself to jumping into that,” Malone said. “Getting better technique-wise, understanding the defense, understanding how it all fits together, then you've got something special. “Especially with all the athletic ability that he has.”
The emails are in on OU-Texas, and like always after a big OU loss — is there any other kind? — fans have questions, fans have suggestions and fans have demands. Some are ready to jump off the cliff, or throw assorted coaches over first.
Oklahoma football: Readers respond to OU-Texas
Berry Tramel | Oct 16, 2013The emails are in on OU-Texas, and like always after a big OU loss — is there any other kind? — fans have questions, fans have suggestions and fans have demands. Some are ready to jump off the cliff, or throw assorted coaches over first. Let’s get to it. Mitch: “Would you describe Heupel as a dynamic and creative play-caller who consistently keeps the defense off balance while exploiting known weaknesses?” Yes. Yes I would. His body of work is very good. His gameplan Saturday was not good. And just so we’re clear. I don’t really entertain questions about “play-calling.” That’s a loser’s mentality. That embraces the notion that football is a game of Battleship, trying to outguess the other guy. That’s not what is going on. No one is predicting what the other team will do. Game plans are put in to take advantage of what other teams do. Mostly, Heupel’s work. Saturday, it didn’t. Kent: “Bell’s number (on 1-to-10 scale). Tulsa 9, Notre Dame 9, TCU 6, Texas 2. I think play calling is a big issue. The talk of Clay dropping the pass, that was a tough catch and a better throw would have scored. Bell looked shaky all day with happy feet.” I guess I’m not getting away from playcalling. OK. Let’s play along. Exactly what kind of plays did Heupel call wrong? It wasn’t his playcalling. It was his gameplan. Obviously, the quarterback run game – at least anywhere on the perimeter – was not in the gameplan. You can’t call plays that aren’t in the gameplan. You have to use what you’ve been working. It was a rotten gameplan. Not a rotten day of calling plays. The passing game was awful, but you have to pass some. As for Clay, that was Bell’s best throw of the day. Perfect pass. Gotta catch it. Duane: “Haven’t read everything everyone has written about it, but has anyone considered maybe OU was outcoached as much as outplayed? Yes, I know that’s heresy here in SoonerLand! After halftime adjustments (we presume) OU offense still only produced one field goal in the entire second half. It didn’t look like much changed offensively, and the vast talent OU has was poorly utilized. Were Knight and Thompson not available due to injuries? If Knight was good enough to be named season starter, was he not good enough to replace an ineffective Bell? Very disappointing play calling for a team trying to catch up; comebacks have never been a Stoop & staff strong suit, probably because they seldom have to (and obviously were not prepared to). Maybe Bob, Bro. and Joshua were substantially outcoached by highly motivated Mack & Co. I’m thinking last Saturday Mack took his’n and beat our’n, and coulda took our’n and beat his’n, as the ole saying goes.” Three emails. Three playcalling statements. I’m worn out. To answer the initial question, yes, people have considered that maybe OU was outcoached. I graded the coordinators a D right after the game and wrote about how Mack and Greg Robinson got the best of Stoops and staff. By the way, I gave D’s because I saw some good things – Heupel’s running gameplan was very good, and Mike Stoops’ defense played decent much of the day. Knight and Thompson were available. It appears that the Sooners are set on Bell. We’ll see if that holds. Michael: “Last week, when I read that OU had lost Corey (Nelson) and Jordan (Phillips), I knew that OU was in for a tough game. Now both are gone for the season. Losing Aaron Colvin really hurt a lot as well, but at least he will be back. However, I thought OU had the better quarterback. OU did not have the better quarterback and the truth about the OU-Texas series is that the team with the better quarterback usually wins. Having a senior drop a touchdown pass in the end zone was very disappointing. The lack of a solid run strategy for a running quarterback was very puzzling. My old college basketball coach had a bell curve. He said 10 to 15% of the time you play great, 30 to 30% of the time you play above average, 30 to 35% of the time you play below average and 10 to 15% of the time you struggle. OU was in the bottom 10 to 15% of the time last Saturday. This all proves one thing that you wrote. OU would miss Landry Jones. OU would be a national contender if they had Jones this year.” The last point is excellent. OU would be a national title contender if it had Landry Jones. OU did indeed get beat at the quarterback slot. I wonder if it’s true, that OU-Texas is usually won by the better quarterback. Let’s see. Throwing out games when the quarterbacks are both excellent – Colt McCoy vs. Sammy B., Vince Young vs. Jason White – let’s find the last time when the better quarterback lost. Does anyone want to make the argument that Chris Simms is better than Nate Hybl? You could probably make that argument, though I love Nate. If not 2002, then you probably have to go back to 1996, when OU beat James Brown. So I think Michael is on to something. Case McCoy clearly was better than Blake Bell on Saturday. But should we have seen that coming? McCoy has struggled at times, but he also beat Texas A&M in 2011 in one of the more emotional games in the history of that long rivalry. Bell beat Notre Dame, of course, with an excellent performance. But it’s a good question. We know who had the better quarterback coming out. Who had the better quarterback going on? It’s possible that we all underestimated Case McCoy. Darrell: “Why in the hell won’t Stoops let Thompson prove that he can pass and run as a true duel threat should do?” Or maybe prove that he can’t? I don’t know. Maybe the coaches already know that he can’t. The one thing you can generally know about coaches; the best ones don’t overreact. Maybe this is a classic case of not overreacting. Larry: “OU lacks an aerial game and our future success depends on a solid ground and pound game. We need to commit to running the ball from the get-go to the final play, including the QB run game with any of our quarterbacks. Once the defense floods the box with run stuffers, then the 15-20-yard passes will get the aerial game going. Haven’t seen any of our quarterbacks be able to consistently hit deep passes. Finally, think we saw that sending running backs (Clay) deep to make great catches isn’t a great idea. I suspect, though, that Heupel will continue to trot out his standard game plan and predictable play-calling.” World order is restored. We’re back on play-calling. Heupel’s play-calling isn’t predictable. First off, no one is predicting it. Not the defense, not the fans calling it predictable. It’s not a guessing game, as I’ve stated, and even if it was, Heupel is no more predictable than anyone else. I think OU DID commit to the run game. The Sooners ran the ball half the time, in a game in which they trailed by more than two touchdowns the majority of the game. Michael: “I think you may be letting the coaches off the hook. If you do not have a straight drop back passer, you change your offense to match your talent, most particularly the talent of your quarterback. Blake looked uncomfortable all day. He was not asked to run the ball (one of his talents) once in the first half. Heupel seems to be calling plays for a Heupel-style quarterback, which Blake is not.” This is an interesting question. Just exactly what kind of quarterback is Blake Bell? I would say he’s more like Landry Jones than Trevor Knight. He’s much more nimble than Landry, but Bell is not any kind of dancer on the outside. Going up the middle, as a, well, Belldozer, he can be effective. Remember, his good runs and scrambles this season, he hasn’t run away from people. Tacklers have bounced off him. I still would have run Bell more on the shotgun option. But he’s not that kind of quarterback. He’s more of a thrower than a runner. And the last two weeks, he hasn’t been an effective thrower. Len: “Heupel was absolutely lost on Saturday. A couple of thoughts: 1. Bell is not a pocket passer but is pretty mobile. They are still running the Landry Jones offense, but Jones was a pocket passer and immobile. The system has to be modified to fit the personnel. You can’t modify the personnel. 2. Why would you ever ask Trey Millard to run sideways? 3. Two passes to running backs downfield (Millard for 29 yards and Clay drops easy one). Why wouldn’t you try that one more time? 4. How many times did we have less than five seconds on the play clock, and all the players on offense are still looking at the sidelines? Confusion and indecision. Just like against Florida in the Orange Bowl. It was Texas and not OU that was uptempo. 5. We have one legitimate big play guy, and that is Finch. You can complain that he doesn’t practice well or whatever, but he is our only homerun guy. He has proven that over and over. His return was amazing and kept us in the game. But he gets negligible touches.” Excellent email. Totally excellent. I don’t agree with all the points. But they are well-made. Here goes my answers. 1. Bell is mobile compared to Landry, but Bell is not all that mobile. 2. I agree. I loved the three-back set and the sweeps (which clearly were open because Texas stacked the middle to plug up Bell), but I’d love them more with Millard leading the way and one of the other tailbacks carrying the ball. 3. Great question. Just off the top of my head, I think those were the only two passes downfield to back. The play to Millard out of the three-back set was great. Of course, for that play to work so splendidly, Texas’ defense has to cooperate. It’s possible OU didn’t see that alignment much. But still. 4. Best point all day. OU’s confusion and indecision at the line of scrimmage pointed to the great day by Greg Robinson. He had OU completely flummoxed. Game MVP was Greg Robinson. 5. I don’t buy it on Finch. I think OU’s best home run threats are Saunders and Shepard and Williams. Damien Williams has shown he can go the distance on multiple occasions. I think OU is using Finch about right. Specific plays, on rare occasions. Dick: “After watching the debacle in the Cotton Bowl, I felt compelled to write to someone for the first time. I have kept up with OU football since the middle 40s. I graduated from OU in January 1951 and have seen the ups and downs of Sooner football over all that time. This year’s team has finally been exposed and is in danger of losing four more games if they don`t make some drastic changes soon. The Sooners have had a lot of success in recent years with a high powered passing offense because they had two great passers, Sam Bradford and Landry Jones. The problem now is that they are trying to run the same offense with two quarterbacks that can`t pass. You can discount Tulsa, a mediocre team where most of OU passing yardage was ‘run after catch.’ They need a system to fit their current personnel. So what should they do? A. Convert Blake Bell to a tight end the same as they did with Lane Johnson. B. Design a running/option offence with either Knight or Thompson as quarterback (most big plays occur on the perimeter, and you don`t win games by running into the center of the line over and over again). C. Have a serious talk with the offensive coordinator about his play calling. It`s true that the defense needs some work also, but if the Sooner offense had more success the opponent would have less time with the ball.” Just as a point of logic, OU is running the wrong offense, but the playcalling stinks, too. How is Heupel supposed to call a game when he’s in the wrong offense? But I digress. I have to admit, I have no idea everyone’s infatuation with tight end. Can Blake Bell block? Can Blake Bell catch? Seems to me Bell is way more valuable as a backup quarterback than as a part-time tight end. As far as some kind of option offense, that’s what OU started the year with. And it didn’t work. Brian: “In my opinion, if we’re going to throw to Saunders more, he needs to get his hands up and not let the guy behind him intercept the ball. I don’t appreciate his lack of effort on that play that could’ve gone a different direction had he tried for the ball. I saw it again last night and he let that ball pass him over. Stoops blamed Bell. I disagreed, that ball was Saunders for the taking!” It looked to me like Saunders was ready to leap for the ball, saw how high it was and thought, I can’t get to that. That must be somebody else’s. I’ve never seen a receiver who didn’t want to catch a ball. Jim: “When I look at the Bob Stoops era at OU, I see a slow decline in to a comfortable mediocrity. He came, he turned it around, he got his national title and he’s comfortable with that. No one can question his number of wins, but he’s in a very weak conference; let’s ask about his post season successes. He coaches one of the storied programs in college football, he has someone to call the plays and he makes all the money he needs; he’s content with that. The preseason rankings are no longer even in the top tier before the inevitable collapse, the talent doesn’t come to Norman anymore. But hey, everyone is happy with a carnival atmosphere at home games, cheap entertainment for the masses.” I don’t understand this general feeling that Stoops has grown fat and sassy. That he’s somehow content with the current state of things. I don’t think he’s content at all. He’s fired four coaches in the last two off-seasons. I think losing eats at him. OU has not slipped into mediocrity; it has slipped, but not into mediocrity. The Big 12 is weak in 2013, but the idea that Stoops has feasted on a weak conference is just silly. The Big 12 was ferocious for years. Royse: “You alluded to a basic fact — the one thing EVERY excellent football has in common is an excellent quarterback. Oklahoma sadly lacks that this year.” That’s generally true, but still no excuse. The coaches’ charge is to find out what Blake Bell (or Trevor Knight, or Kendal Thompson) CAN do, and put them in position to succeed. Charles: “Stunned. Not since KSU blasted OU 35-7 have I been so stunned. Just like all the sportswriters, I thought OU would handle Texas easily. I guess if we would have read the signs we would have known better. Players outplayed, coaches SEVERELY outcoached. I though your review Sunday was spot on. Especially the D for the coordinators, you may have been generous. Sooners fans might want to be careful what they wish for, Mack and his staff beat the pants off Bob and his staff.” You know, there were signs. OU’s offensive futility against West Virginia and TCU, foremost. Tom: “As someone that loves the more traditional offense that includes both running and passing, I totally agree there has to be production in the passing game. I am old fashioned enough to even think a good tight end can be a good weapon at the collegiate level. I sure saw one used very effectively in a pro game yesterday. It takes obviously a line to protect (not impressive on Saturday), receivers that can catch (not impressive on Saturday) and a QB that can pass (also not impressive on Saturday). My question is how in the world are we there? Was their some type of a schizophrenic type of recruiting going on? I do not think it is accidental that none of the quarterbacks were true passers. Although I will say coming out of high school in Wichita, Bell was known as a good passer he was certainly not an elite passer. I just find it almost irresponsible recruiting that one of the elite football programs in all of college sports since World War II did recruit a passing quarterback unless they were going to throw out the old offense. When you have a Heisman winner, an all-time record holder for passing statistics, a winning record and a national championship in this decade, why is there not a passing quarterback on the roster? Either they were not recruiting to that strength or unable to achieve the results necessary. Really we have not had a prime time NFL receiver that begins to compare even with the ones OSU has put out the last few years. Normally I would think perhaps a change of quarterback, but when I look at the alternatives, I think that could actually be a step back. Hopefully Bell will return to the Notre Dame form for the rest of the year and we can achieve one of those elite quarterbacks. I do hope the changes in the staff Stoops made pay big time dividends in recruiting this signing period. Obviously the old staff was not up to the OU standards of recruiting and it sure as heck shows.” Lot of meat on this bone, so here’s where I’ll start. I thought OU’s line play was solid. Especially offensively. OU moved the ball on the ground. And while there were some pass protection issues, some of the sacks were because the receivers were covered. The Sooners have just ended up without a consistent passer. So it’s hard to get anything going from there. Bob: “I am not a Trevor Knight fan, but he only showed he couldn’t pass in the first two games. Reportedly, he is a fantastic passer in practice. I saw Blake Bell’s first pass in the KansasState game (I believe) three years ago and it was horrible. Platooning QBs may not be desirable to Stoops or the team, but as far as I am concerned, OU doesn’t have a franchise QB and any change that may get them a W is better than sticking with a known quantity who is not yet a franchise level QB. Stoops and Heupel don’t owe Blake Bell position security based on his 24 rushing TDs in his Belldozer role or his historical victory at Notre Dame. Bottom Line: Had the Sooners started the game in the Cotton Bowl with the same intensity and desire they started the game at Notre Dame, we would not be having this conversation because we would have beat Texas or played them a lot closer. I don’t blame Bell or Knight for not having the team ready to play. I do blame Stoops & Heupel for not pulling out all the stops to try to earn a victory.” I don’t think intensity had anything to do with it. Texas could throw and OU couldn’t. That was the difference in the game. The Sooners were ready to play. I have no doubts about that. Just couldn’t get any offense going, and it eventually wore down OU. But the notion of platooning QBs is intriguing. I don’t know why OU couldn’t try that. I think replacing Bell right now could lead to team chemistry issues related to instability. But platooning them? That shouldn’t hurt. Another Bob: “Sitting in that stadium was painful, but I have to tell you the Texas fans were very nice during and after the game. I’ve been going to this game since 1966 and I’ve seen some fans that I wanted to kill. I went walking around the fair after the game and not one fan made a comment around us. Hat’s off to Texas fans which I’ve known to hate over the years.” Now there’s some encouraging news. Let’s all get along. Bob again: “Josh Heupel has dropped the ball several times in his short career as coordinator. I don’t want him to leave because he is a very good coach, but he is not a play caller. He’s not bad when we lead, but in crunch time he seems not to be able to keep a step ahead. It’s not an easy job by no means, but I think and have always thought that he was promoted too soon. I’m not sure we have a established coordinator to take his place, and (Jay) Norvell is way too valuable to let go. Tough situation, but Josh needs to take a look in the mirror and say what can I do better.” Heupel is not good in crunch time? Like at West Virginia? Like Bedlam? Come-from-behind wins, both. Heck, his playcalling was good against TCU, in a game in which the Sooners were not very productive offensively and in a tight fit. You might have a point that Heupel was promoted too soon, but his body of work is mostly excellent. Robert: “Blake is way too slow, and he seems to have gotten into a pass-over-the-head thing. His passing was terrible Saturday. He is not a deep passer and his mind just can’t pull the trigger when the opportunity is there. Trevor has good wheels but is a worse passer than Bell. I personally think that Cody Thomas, the redshirt, will be a good quarterback. but who knows ‘til he plays? OU could win the rest of their games or lose another three. Not a come from behind team this year. I do think this though. The coaches are way too stubborn about changing QBs. I think with the heat on Saturday. a few series of running from side to side might have helped tire the defense a little. Three and outs on OU does not tire the apposing team down.” Let’s see. The OU coaching staff is too stubborn to change quarterbacks, because they haven’t made a switch in what? Four games? Does anyone remember that this staff changed QBs in mid-game, and then made it permanent? And Cody Thomas? This is the eternal story of quarterbacking. Dog the guy that’s in, hail the guy who’s never played. Chad: “Why did we only see Keith Ford six times on Saturday when it seemed as though he was performing better than our other backs? It sure looked like he was hitting the hole north south and with speed. Why have Keith Ford blocking for Millard…would it not make more sense to have the fullback block for the running back? Would you say Bob has a history of sticking to his guns, occasionally to the determent of the team? I wonder how much second guessing is happening behind closed doors. When Trevor Knight could not complete a pass everyone clamored for Bell. Not because Blake was a guarantee but because there was an unknown quantity about him. (Could he pass better than Knight?) Now we know after several games Bell can throw slightly better than Knight did, but we also know Bell cannot run the read option without looking like he is running on a sandy beach in the surf. Why, against Texas when everyone in the stadium knew OU could not pass, would a coach not want to toss in a fast quarterback when Texas has a recent history of struggling against such a threat?” I like Keith Ford. But every tailback was effective. Clay, Williams, even Millard. I agree, I wouldn’t run Millard on a sweep. But if anyone’s asking me, I want more carries for Damien Williams. I think coaches were surprised at how poorly Bell played. I think they would have gone to Knight, at least for a package, if they had known Bell would struggle all game long like that. I believe they still have hope for Bell. Joel: “It sure looked like Texas was at least as talented, if not more talented, than OU Saturday. I know a lot has been said about the dearth of talent in Austin. Does this game change that perception OR say something about the talent level in Norman OR both? I thought the game turned on the two big pass plays for Texas (and the dropped TD pass for OU) and the third down conversions. The plays that would normally lead to an upset (special teams, turnovers) were remarkably equal.” I think the talent is fairly even. OU’s had more talent the last couple of years, made even moreso by the big gulf at quarterback. But it’s pretty even right now. A few big pass plays here and there made the difference. Matt: “I watched the KSU-Baylor game and the Ole Miss-TAMU games. Both KSU and Ole Miss used multiple quarterbacks, I thought successfully, depending on the game situation. OU does not have a definite No. 1 guy. No Jones or Bradford type player. Why not try the multiple QB system and see what happens? I think all three quarterbacks could live with that. Bell should be OK with it because of how he was used with Jones. Bell just looks more happy when he is running over people.” I don’t think it’s a bad idea. Remember the old line about how if you’ve got two quarterbacks, you don’t have any quarterbacks? Well, what if it’s true in this case? I would stick with Bell, but I think I would implement Knight (or Thompson) into the equation as well. Sean: “In one game Stoops did the following: 1. Saved Mack’s job; 2. Turned Texas’ season around; 3. Put Texas in the driver’s seat for the Big 12 championship; 3. Most likely lost key recruits. This one loss will hurt more than just this year, and yet Coach Stoops will continue to coach for years to come. This loss should along with all of his big losses should be looked at like a dripping faucet. You can ignore it for a while, but it will not fix itself. A dripping faucet will eventually need to be linked to a broken part. Fix that part, you fix the drip. It is time to link Stoops to big losses. We cannot continue to ignore this dripping faucet. It will not fix itself. Fix the coach (or at least his offensive coordinator). You fix the drip. Like a dripping faucet, the big losses are becoming increasingly irritating.” For crying out loud. Can we get this guy an Oscar? A little overdramatic, aren’t we? Dripping faucet? Fix the part? Stoops has changed offenses and changed assistant coaches. He’s not on cruise control. And for the record, Stoops did not save Mack’s job and did not affect recruiting much. Probably did save Texas’ season. Paul: “When does Bob Stoops come under fire? As in real fire, not the stuff of social media, but the stuff of Joe C. and David Boren? When do we stop paying $4M+ annually for a continuation of ‘good but not great’ seasons? When do we stop giving 10-year contract extensions and annual increases for a staff that continues to make a grade of B to B-? And how is it that Bob seems to ‘dismiss and ignore’ each and every one of you guys in the media when you begin to ask even moderately challenging questions? Seems like he’s a bully and he’s got all of you guys ‘more or less’ afraid of him. And sadly, you guys seem to let him get away with that approach. There’s a part of me that admires Bob for his ability to control the message, and another part of me that detests his callousness and distaste for the media and the average fan.” As far as administration fire, I think we’re a long way from that. But I would stop giving extensions and raises so willy-nilly. I don’t know why that would be such a big deal. Maybe you’ve got a point on the media. I try to ask questions in ways that I think will get a decent answer. Nothing good comes from a question that has no chance of soliciting a good answer. But maybe a more confrontational approach would work. Johnny: “Even though OU has a stable of quality running backs, they cannot be counted on to get a yard or two when needed. Our rushing stats look reasonable, but many of the yards have come on single long runs rather than a steady diet of 4, 6, and 8-yard runs like our running backs of old would reel off with dependable regularity. My question is this. Is the OU O-line just not very good at run blocking? They seem to block adequately when we pass, but our running backs are always in heavy traffic on their rushes.” With all due respect, what are you talking about? OU’s run game against Texas was the exact opposite of what you described. OU piled up solid running stats against Texas without a single long run. OU in short-yardage situations was good. OU faced only two third-and-shorts on Saturday. Ran once and made it, passed once and didn’t. The OU O-line had some protection issues, but the run-blocking was solid. Gene: “Why not more downfield throws when the defense was clearly not respecting it? If we can’t open up the offense with Blake, why not try Thompson? Why do we continue to rotate tailbacks when Millard and Ford are CLEARLY our best?” OU skipped the downfield throws because Bell was horribly inaccurate. And I say Damien Williams is OU’s best runner, while others could point out that Brennan Clay is OU’s most productive runner this year. So there you go. Dave: “Not being able to throw downfield is a death sentence against any decent team, but even more disheartening is the fact that the defense was a complete joke. Giving up eight of 10 third down plays that UT needed at least five yards is ridiculous. This is more of the same from this regime’s defense over the last 6-8 years. I don’t know the stats, but I do know that I have seen dozens and dozens of third and longs given up during this time. OU is soft and has been for quite a while. It seems like they think opponents are going to roll over for them simply because ‘There is only one Oklahoma.’ I have to think that comes from the top and it is disheartening. They have lost at least as many games they had no business losing as winning toss up games or games where they are the underdog over this time.” This one strikes me as a little entitled. OU has slipped from its lofty perch but hasn’t fallen that far. OU’s defense against Texas was not a joke. Third downs were a problem, but the Sooners weren’t awful. Mike Stoops blitzed too much. That’s as far as it goes. Dallas: “‘They just outplayed us and outcoached us.’ I’ve always been told that the first step to fixing a problem is to first recognize and admit to its existence. If true, and if Bob Stoops really thinks he has a coaching problem, the big question centers around what he intends to do about it. My money says his ego, stubbornness and virtual lifetime contract will keep him from doing anything — but I’d love to be wrong about that.” Think about this email for a minute. Let’s all assume that Stoops’ staff indeed was outcoached Saturday. I think that’s true. So that’s a given. What should a coach do about it? Fire coaches? Switch responsibilities? Swap personnel? Exactly what kind of sackcloth and ashes are required when a coach is outcoached. Especially with a coach as solid as Stoops has been. I’m serious. What do you want him to do? He’s going to do what he should do. Stoops should analyze the gameplan, see where it went wrong, critique why it went wrong and why it was implemented in the first place. Then make sure it doesn’t happen again. But the fundamental premise of the email is, Bob Stoops should never be outcoached. Maybe you can make the argument that a coach who is paid $4.5 million should never be outcoached. I think that’s silly, but you can make the argument. Except he was outcoached by someone making $5 million, so that’s blown to bits, too. When OU loses a football game, people want hides tanned and heads rolled. But that’s not the way to maintain an elite program. Mike: “It could be argued, and would undoubtedly be confirmed, that this is the most overrated OU team in history. A few thoughts: 1. Soft as soft can be. Texas has already been classified as soft as a baby’s butt. Where does that put OU? 2. Can you imagine being outcoached by Mack Brown? Bob Stoops has managed it. 3. It’s always entertaining watching Mike Stoops act like an idiot on the sidelines or in the pressbox. Now we have a double. Bob and Mike arguing on the sidelines. What’s the argument? Who’s the most stupid or who’s the most arrogant? It’s a draw in both categories. 4. The development of Bell as a QB over the past few years in the program is remarkable. He’s the only player in NCAA history you could make an argument for sending to a junior college after completing two years of Division 1 eligibility. I can’t think of one, not one, wishbone QB under Barry Switzer that even came close to throwing the ball as bad this guy. Speaks volumes for position development in this program. Does anyone coach anymore or do they just recruit and make smart ass remarks? I was once an OU fan, but there’s really nothing there to get excited about. They don’t hit anybody. Who wants to watch a college flag football team?” First off, I could name five OU football teams that were ranked WAY higher than these Sooners and finished with a so-so season. Wait, make that 10. Several were coached by Barry Switzer and Bud Wilkinson. So it’s not even close to the most overrated team in OU history. To answer the points, 1) OU wasn’t soft on Saturday. They got out-finessed, if anything; 2) Mack Brown and Greg Robinson are good coaches; they’ve had their days in the sun; 3) The Stoops brothers have been arguing for years. They were yelling at each other when they were winning big, when they teammates at Iowa, when they were growing up in Youngstown. Nothing’s changed; 4) Blake Bell passes better than EVERY wishbone quarterback in OU history. I refuse to give in to hyperbole. Sean: “If you guys don’t jump all over Heupel this week I’m going to be disappointed. How does BYU tear up this defense? How did Iowa State play ‘em with a chance to win even with a bad call at the end? This offense is ridiculous. Predictable is being far too kind. The blueprint to beating Texas was laid out in their first few games. Apparently no one from OU bothered to watch. There’s no excuse for having the offense look so unprepared that you can’t game plan around the opposing team loading the box. If the answer isn’t throwing it (because your QB can’t) then the next best bet was Knight.” That predictable line is off base – Texas wasn’t guessing – but the rest of it is fairly accurate. It was a poor gameplan. You know what it might be. Heupel might have been suckered in like the rest of us. Thinking Texas was so bad, just about anything would work. That’s certainly what I thought. Keith: “I’m no football expert, but I am completely baffled by the OU offense. It seems to me that there is no plan, no flow and no consistency. From one series to another or even from one play to the next, you never know who is going to be in the backfield. How can anyone get a feel for the game? I know that we have three senior running backs, but Keith Ford looks better than any of them to me. Also, it is obvious to me that OU no longer has a prolific offense. When Texas had 23 points, I knew we were in trouble. This offense cannot score 50-60 points any more. Blake cannot throw the deep ball. I kept thinking we would see Trevor Knight, if only for a little change of pace, but it never happened. I still think the defense is better this year, but they missed Jordan and Nelson up the middle, and Texas exploited it. By the way, where was Quincy Russell? Anyway, I don’t think the defense lost this game. They played decent.” I would say there are no holes in the theory that this offense is not the 50-point machine of Sam Bradford or even Landry Jones last November. But the last thing anyone ought to be criticizing is the tailback rotation. The run game is the one thing that worked really well against the ‘Horns. Jason: “You could see this coming down I-35; at least those of us not in the central Oklahoma echo chamber could. That’s two embarrassing beat-downs in seven games. Not to mention all the other times Big Time Blob has walked down a stadium ramp and forgot to bring with him a team ready to play. God help them at Baylor. (Here’s a prediction: He won’t.) But it’s fun to watch the reaction of UT fans who realize Big Game Blob just saved the job of a coach they desperately want gone.” I guess I’ll never understand the vitriol towards Stoops. Maybe he’s not the golden boy he once was. But around the country, he’s on anyone’s list of the top 7-8 coaches in the nation. Did he have a rough Cotton Bowl, last Saturday and last January? Did he have a rough last half of 2011? Yes. But he’s been a great coach for a long time and as recently as two weeks ago, led the Sooners to a monumental victory that had everyone in Soonerville thrilled. And now he’s Big Game Blob. Gary: “I thought your grades were fair, I have not seen a defensive line get pushed back four to five yards when Texas ran straight up the middle on them. Hopefully these new coaches can get some physical studs out of California like they are trying to recruit.” Isn’t it funny how people can view a game so differently? OU’s defensive line wasn’t great Saturday, but the offensive deficiencies clearly were the problem Saturday, and Texas hurt OU most with third-down passes. The Sooner D-line stood up OK. Ed: “It appears to me, sir, that Mr. Mack Brown may not have saved his job today, but he saved his dignity.” Well said. Robert: “It is safe to say that Bob Stoops has dragged OU’s football program into relative mediocrity, never beating higher ranked opponents and suffering embarrassing losses to underdogs, usually in a high profile arena. This time it was Texas. Our 14-point favorite OU entered the game with no apparent game plan, an O-line that couldn’t give Blake Bell enough time to find a receiver or to run block with any consistency. The play calling by Josh Heupel was atrocious. Once again, as in 2001, 2002 and 2003 with Mike Stoops as the defensive coordinator, OU had no pass defense in the middle and poor defense on the sidelines. His “chaos” defense barely got the job done against TCU and did not get the job done against underdog Texas. Perhaps Bob Stoops is a good coach, not a great coach. Bob Stoops is certainly no Barry Switzer or Bud Wilkinson. Sure, he’ll pass Barry Switzer in total wins; but only because there are more games in a season now than in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Mike…….well that’s nepotism for you. You don’t always get what you pay for. Coaches should operate on a loss-based pay system. For instance, assume Bob Stoops starts out the season with $5 million. If he wins ALL games. He is only guaranteed $1 million. Each loss reduces the $5 million.” This is a great email, because of the mentality. OU is not allowed to lose. Just can’t have it. If OU loses, then Mike Stoops’ defense is not only declared bogus, but his defenses of 2001, 2002 and 2003 are invalid as well. When we know full well that OU’s 2001 defense was maybe the second-best defense in school history and the 2003 defense was superb as well. Stoops isn’t a great coach like Switzer or Wilkinson, even though the former had not just a lull but a three-year lull, and the latter ended his career with one good team in his last four seasons. Memories are short. So is patience.