The Sugar Bowl selected No. 11 Oklahoma to face No. 3 Alabama in its game, a decision that surprised some, who believed tenth-ranked Oregon would have been a better choice.
An Alabama-Oregon game would've matched up the teams many believed were destined for a meeting in the BCS National Championship Game. The Ducks, though, lost at Stanford on Nov. 7, and then were routed 42-16 at Arizona on Nov. 23.
Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan was asked Sunday night on a media conference call about the possibility that OU's selection was a “business decision.”
“Well, business always enters into the discussion as you sit and analyze your possibilities as our board did this past Thursday night, but obviously there are a lot of other variables that come into play,” Hoolahan responded.
“I think when you take a look at the way Oklahoma performed, and their last games particularly on the road and this particular game this weekend against No. 6 Oklahoma State, it's hard not to be impressed with the way they've been performing of late.
“I think it was a very difficult decision needless to say. There were other highly capable and attractive teams out there in the pool that we looked at, and when it came down to it, we just felt convinced that this was going to be the best decision for us at this particular time.”
IKARD WINS SELMON AWARD
Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard has been named the winner of the Lee Roy Selmon Spirit Award.
The award is given to the college football player "who best represents the qualities of character that Selmon displayed with an emphasis on academic excellence and a commitment to community service."
The winners are selected by Selmon's widow, Claybra, and sons Lee Roy Jr. and Christopher.
"To receive this award from the Selmon family is truly humbling," Ikard said in a statement. "Particularly for a native Oklahoman like myself, to be the first individual from the University of Oklahoma to be recognized for representing everything that the Selmon family stands for is one of the most meaningful honors of my career."
Monday, Ikard was named the winner of the Wuerffel Trophy, which combines athletic, academic and community service. He was also honored as one of the National Football Foundation's Scholar-Athlete Award winners at a dinner in New York.
Selmon was an All-American defensive lineman for the Sooners in 1974 and 1975 before going on to a Hall of Fame career in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Selmon died in 2011.
OU COMMIT TO BE HONORED SUNDAY
Oklahoma 2014 cornerback commitment Marcus Green will be recognized Sunday at the Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers game, where Green and six other Dallas/Fort Worth-area football standouts will receive their Semper Fidelis All-America Bowl jerseys.
The game will be played Sunday, Jan. 5 at 6 p.m. inside the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., and will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1.
Green, a three-star prospect from Cedar Hill, Texas, committed to the Sooners on July 18.
SABAN HOPES HIS TEAM RESPONDS WELL
Alabama lost the 2008 SEC title game to Florida, which cost it a chance to play for the national championship that year.
The Crimson Tide's consolation prize was a trip to the Sugar Bowl, where Utah stunned Bama 31-17.
Could Nick Saban's team be similarly unmotivated this year, when the 11-1 Crimson Tide meet Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl? Alabama had its eye on a third straight national championship until losing a heartbreaker at archrival Auburn on Nov. 30.
“I think it's a difficult dynamic,” Saban said. “I mean, we had a team this year that certainly had goals and aspirations for what they wanted to accomplish.
“So now how that team recovers and how that team goes and takes the challenge of this game is gonna say a lot about the character that the leadership of this team has, but it's certainly an opportunity for them to prove the kind of football team that they can be.”
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, on the recruiting impact of a Sugar Bowl appearance:
“That's what players all hear about, talk about, being in these kind of games. It's always a plus. … They don't draw your name out of a hat to play in these games. You play in these games by winning. So fortunately we're in another one.”