Big XII Preview – Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Sooners are usually considered one of the top football teams in the nation, and, since the unwarranted firing of super recruiter John Blake, have been at or near the top in the Big 12 standings.  The great tradition of football under the stoic Bud Wilkinson and loose cannon Barry Switzer continues today under Bob Stoops.  Oklahoma, more than any other school in the Big XII, pours all its resources into its football program.  Oklahoma State actually has a better overall athletic program, but, looking strictly at football, OU rules Oklahoma.


OU was established in 1890, which is seventeen years before Oklahoma became a state.  Imagine going to school in some territory that nobody wants.  Other than the nearly uninhabitable desert lands of New Mexico and Arizona, Oklahoma was the last state in the continental United States to actually become a state.  That is beyond bizarre since Oklahoma is almost in the middle of the country.  Something must be wrong there.


Oklahoma has gone to BCS bowl games four of the past five years and lost them all in embarrassing fashion, which makes the Big 12 conference as a whole look weak.  They were steamrolled by a school with a lame duck coach last year.  The year before, they lost to a team that plays on a blue field, a team whose best players were trying to marry cheerleaders during the game.  In 2004 they were destroyed by USC and the year before that LSU beat them in the Sugar Bowl.  Throw in some regular season losses to undermanned TCU and Oregon and Texas Tech and Oklahoma State teams, and there is cause for concern. Expectations are high in Norman, and these losses are calling in to question the coaching ability of Bob Stoops.  Was Stoops the mastermind behind the Oklahoma juggernaut, or were Mike Leach, Mark Mangino, Little Brother Stoops, and the rest of the side characters more responsible for Oklahoma’s latest rise to national prominence?  I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle.


Oklahoma has an easy schedule, playing the likes of Chattanooga, Cincy, and TCU at home in non conference games.  The only road game is against a horrible Washington squad that has been on a downhill spiral since Don James left after his third straight Rose Bowl appearance in following the 1993 season.  In conference play, they get Kansas and Nebraska at home and have to travel to troubled Kansas State.  Their only home game against a southern foe is with Texas Tech.  They are designated as the home team in the Cotton Bowl this year.


The lifeblood of the Oklahoma football program is the state of Texas.  They are recruiting more nationally lately, but they go after Texas kids hard.  After taking the top couple of kids in Oklahoma, they send their coaches to Texas and get Texas kids to cross the Red River and play for Oklahoma.  They have always done this, and will continue to do this because it has worked for them and will continue to work well.  However, to maintain their presence in Texas, they have to rely on some shady institutional practices.  For instance, they offer in state tuition to kids from the DFW Metroplex.  They actively recruit Texas kids that fail to get into Texas or Texas A&M due to poor academic performance.  The more Texans they have graduating from Oklahoma, they greater their presence will be in Texas, and the easier it will be for them to recruit football players from the state of Texas.  Is it wrong?  Academically, it probably doesn’t make a difference.  However, the fiduciary duty of the administration at Oklahoma University has been compromised by spending Oklahoma tax payer money to pay for part of the tuition for kids that grow up in another state.  Imagine that you grew up in Oklahoma and wanted to go to school at Oklahoma University.  You were denied admission, even though the school was bringing in a thousand freshman from the Dallas area that struggled academically and couldn’t get into the top ten percent of their class in high school?  It’s a slippery slope, but as long as the football team continues to win, I guess it is worth it.


On the field, Oklahoma is favored to win the Big XII, and Deathburger predicts that they will win the conference.  I believe they’ll lose one game, maybe at Kansas State or at Texas A&M or even the Bedlam game.  Then, they’ll roll through the championship game and onto another BCS bowl game where they’ll get their asses handed to them once again.  It’s not a pretty picture for Sooner fans who are expecting more this year.


Offensively, OU should have its best team in years.  They return the entire offensive line and sophomore QB Sam Bradford.  Defensively, they must replace most of their linebackers and both cornerbacks, but the cupboard isn’t bare.  They may slip a half notch defensively, but their offense has come a long way since the days of Nate Hybl.  All in all, this is a very good Oklahoma squad that will try to reverse a trend of embarrassing losses in big bowl games.  They will finish the season ranked somewhere near tenth with two losses.


Oklahoma Notes

James Garner and Van Heflin attended OU.  Norman is the third largest city in Oklahoma with a population just over 100,000.  The Sooners play Washington this year.  Their first game at Memorial Stadium was in 1923, a win against Washington.  There are at least nine auto salvage yards within twenty miles of Norman.  Bob Stoops appears to be in the bottom quartile of the Lip-Philtrum Guide 1.  Howard Schnellenberger is the only known gentleman to coach the Sooners, but he only lasted one year.  Oklahoma has a disproportionate number of residents that live in manufactured housing.  Oklahoma fans sometimes rip the testicles off of Texas fans.



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