If you still have a team alive in the NFL playoffs, you’re one of the lucky few. For the rest of us, mid-January leaves an empty feeling. College football season is officially over. Just reading that last sentence out loud is almost enough to make my eyes wet.
So now we can turn our full attention to basketball. Or can we? I’m sorry, I just can’t do it. I feel no buzz, no excitement, and no anticipation for hoops right now. I don’t think I’m the only one. In this state, no one is talking basketball. Sure, the newspapers and local media will cover the games because they have to, but trust me, the fan bases of our state schools are not fired up. There is far more interest in the next football season than there is in the current basketball season.
Part of that is simply the climate in our state. Oklahoma is a football state, always has been, always will be. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of basketball tradition here. Henry Iba, Eddie Sutton, Wayman Tisdale, Billy Tubbs, the Griffin brothers, Nolan Richardson, and countless others have contributed to the hoops history of Oklahoma. But the truth is, no matter how many Final Fours the colleges rack up, and no matter how many dunks Kevin Durant throws down, basketball is never going to overtake football in the hearts and minds of Oklahomans.
Part of the basketball apathy is due to the unbelievable success of football in 2010 and what could transpire in 2011. OU is already one of the favorites to win a national championship, while OSU is getting its stars back and should start the season in the Top 10. Tulsa finished in the Top 25 for the first time in nearly 20 years, and the search for a new head coach is dominating the headlines in this part of the state. If there’s one constant in Oklahoma sports, it’s that it’s never too early to start talking football.
With a gullet full of turkey and the anticipation of tomorrow’s Bedlam showdown, this weekend is simply the most wonderful time of the year.
Houses will be divided, trash will be talked, and twelve months of bragging rights will be on the line.
It’s tough to find an Oklahoman who doesn’t care about this game. But tomorrow, Bedlam will be foremost in the mind of a football crazed nation. The game has the prime time slot on ABC and ESPN’s College Gameday is setting up shop in Stillwater. I might make the journey to the land of orange if for no other reason than to give Erin Andrews my phone number. No doubt, I’m exactly what she’s looking for.
OSU is in unfamiliar territory because there has never been this much at stake for the Pokes. The program has never played for a Big 12 championship. Beat the Sooners, and the Cowboys will do just that. Not to mention OSU can secure the first 11-win season in school history and snap that pesky seven game losing streak to its in-state rival.
Pressure can do funny things to a football team, but the Cowboys have proven themselves in crunch time all year long. The Sooners? Well, not so much. OU still hasn’t figured out how to solve the equation of a road game on prime time TV against a highly ranked opponent. The win over Baylor was nice, but routing an overrated Bears team doesn’t mean the Sooners’ road issues have suddenly disappeared.
While the Sooners may have been victimized by expectations, the Cowboys came into this season without any. They’ve been a looser bunch because of it. When asked on a local sports radio show which of his players were playing over their heads, Mike Gundy named nearly every starter on both sides of the ball. Can Bob Stoops make that statement about any OU players outside of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Broyles? I’m not so sure.
So my husband and I are building this barn, right? And it’s really going pretty well thanks to our family and friends who have sacrificed some Saturdays and our two friends Trial and Error who are there every day. The posts are in the ground and the trusses are up. It’s not that I don’t trust my husband’s judgment, but I just wanted to talk to an expert; enter former Oklahoma State University and NFL quarterback Rusty Hilger.
Julie: How did you get into the construction industry?
Rusty: I had just turned 16 in the summer of 1978 and I needed a way to pay for my first pickup truck. Trust me, it wasn’t much of a truck, but the $2.00 per hour I was earning at the local skating rink was no longer an option. South Oklahoma City was growing and new construction was everywhere. My truck and I got a job with a local homebuilder cleaning and organizing home sites prior to the final landscaping. In the summer of 1979, I worked for a roofing company and roofed my first house. During college, I worked summer construction jobs in Oklahoma City, Stillwater, and Tulsa for 3 different OSU Alumni. In 1985, an NFL career put my construction career on hold until 1990, when we undertook a four-month project to remodel and re-open the old Split-T restaurant in OKC. After retirement from the NFL in 1992, a career in construction seemed natural.
Julie: What kind of roof system is best suited for Oklahoma residents?
Rusty: Sooner or later (strike that; sorry Pistol Pete) at some point, most roof shoppers ask this simple question. First of all, the best roofing system for Oklahoma is not really a roof system at all. The best roofing system is actually “Full Replacement Cost” insurance with a $500 dollar deductible. Why? Since January of 2008, according to the National Weather Service, we have had more than 140 days of severe hail measuring 3/4” or larger in Oklahoma. In May of 2010, the hailstones were so large they came through the roof and into the home in some neighborhoods. No roof system will withstand these conditions and it is only a matter of time before it happens at your home. Many of our clients have replaced their roofing systems twice within the past 3 years. Check your policy or contact your agent for details. If you don’t have Full Replacement Cost insurance, get it!
Julie: Winter is on its way. Do you have any advice regarding protection from Oklahoma ice?
Rusty: Protection against ice dams is required at eaves wherever the January average temperature is 25*F or lower or where there is a possibility of ice forming in the eaves. From Kansas to the North Pole this product is required as code. In Oklahoma it is an option, yet Oklahoma ice storms and snow create problems if this product is not used. It creates a 100% watertight seal that keeps water out at the most vulnerable areas of your roof (at the eaves and rakes, in valleys, around chimneys, pipes, etc.).
Julie: What is the biggest mistake that home owners make regarding roof upkeep or maintenance?
Rusty: With the exception of storm damage, the weakest link in any roofing system remains the pipes sticking up through the roof. Most pipes are made of PVC and the pipe jack is a rubber-like material used to seal around the pipe. This rubber-like material will deteriorate over time at a faster rate than the shingles. The pipes should be checked every year and a special roofing silicone should be used to ensure a watertight seal.
Julie: What do you love the most about Oklahoma?
Rusty: Oklahomans are committed to the values important to me: God, family, friends, and football!. I was born and raised in Oklahoma City and attended Oklahoma State University before being drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1985. I loved the time I spent in Manhattan Beach, Ca; Birmingham (Detroit) MI; Seattle, WA; Indianapolis, IN; Dallas, TX; and Nassau, Bahamas. Although these are some terrific cities, none of them compare to the down-home family lifestyle and attitude of our neighbors here in the great state of Oklahoma.
Julie: If anyone has more questions about roof replacement, how can they contact you?
Rusty: If you have questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call anytime at 405.227.9689.
Wow! Rusty had some great information to share. The most surprising to me was that we both spent time on roofs in the 70’s! If you want to know more about that, contact me. If you need to know more about getting a new roof, you need to contact Rusty.Thanks to Rusty for sharing his expertise with me….and now with you! Happy building!
It’s a good thing I don’t gamble on sports. I’d have better luck picking Powerball numbers than predicting the outcome of college football games much less how the season is going to play out. This year on the gridiron is like a science experiment gone wrong. There is no hypothesis to be made, because there are no trends, no consistent data, no rhyme, no reason, only random chaos.
How else can you describe what’s happening in the Big 12? Baylor, yes Baylor is in first place in the Big 12 South. This is the same Baylor that’s been a doormat of the conference for more than a decade. Eight games into the season and the Bears are bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. Right now, Baylor looks every bit as good as Oklahoma, Texas, and Oklahoma State. Maybe better. I can’t believe I just typed that sentence.
Try to wrap your brain around this: Oklahoma blasts Iowa State 52-0; the Cyclones then dominate Texas in Austin, the same Texas team that just came off a convincing road win at previously unbeaten Nebraska. Those same Huskers that were locked up by the ‘Horns, go to Stillwater and hang 51 on the undefeated Cowboys.
But the wackiness isn’t limited to the Big 12. The number one team has now fallen in three straight weeks. That hasn’t happened since 1960. Maybe the most bizarre part of it all is the fact that a computer gets to decide how an eventual champion will be determined. Ever try arguing with a computer? I’ve yelled at, sworn at, and pleaded with my computer, but it can’t be reasoned with. The folks at the BCS obviously think computers are smarter than humans. I won’t win that debate, so let me just make some general comments and predictions that will surely go wrong because they come from my feeble human brain.
WHAT HAPPENED TO OU AND OSU?
Sooner fans, let me be clear. Your team was badly exposed and outplayed the other night in Columbia. OU was not, is not, and won’t be the best team in college football this year. To think otherwise is simply delusional. The Sooners were not worthy of the number one BCS ranking, and there is a laundry list of reasons.
First, the best team in the country doesn’t turn the ball over twice inside the opponent’s 20 yard line. Second, a team that can win a national title is a team that can rush the quarterback effectively and tackle in the secondary. The Sooners can do neither. Third, the quarterback for the best team in the country doesn’t continually pull this Jekyll and Hyde act. Landry Jones is one player at home, and a complete mess on the road. Staring down your intended receiver is not a trait of the leader of the best team in the land. Fourth, the last time I checked you are the University of freaking Oklahoma. With your history and tradition, you are one of the powers in college football. Why in the name of Bud Wilkinson can’t you find someone who can kick a 30 yard field goal? Please tell me why the coaching staff isn’t bringing in one of the country’s best high school kickers year after year? A big time football program like the one in Norman has no excuse for this. None. Fifth, and maybe most importantly, the best team in the country doesn’t quit. How else do you describe what Bob Stoops did when he elected to punt with two minutes left? No, you’re probably not going to win the game, but what kind of message does punting send to your players and to your fans? It says we’ve lost, we’re done, let’s get this over with please.
The message to Oklahoma State fans is much simpler. If your team is ever going to contend for a South title or a conference title, you must have a defense. The last decade in Stillwater has seen a carousel of coordinators with very limited results. Right now OSU ranks 97th in the country in total defense, but 3rd in total offense. Sadly, it’s the same song, different verse for the Cowboys. Oklahoma State hasn’t had a defensive player drafted in the first round since Kevin Williams in 2003. There just isn’t enough top-notch talent on that side of the ball coming through Stillwater. Put a halfway decent defense with the Pokes’ offensive talent, and there’s a team I will believe in.
WHO WINS THE BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP?
Maybe it’s too soon after the weekend, but I have very little confidence in OU being able to run the table. The Sooners are abysmal on the road and tough tests remain in Waco, College Station, and Stillwater. On the other hand, I can’t pick OSU because the meat of the Cowboys’ schedule is still ahead, and did I mention their defense? Texas is done, and Baylor might just be the best team in the South. I’m going to repeat this sentence three times: “Baylor wins the Big 12 South.” Every time I say it, it sounds more absurd. I’m not ready for it. Sorry Bears, I’ll go with OU by default.
My gut tells me Nebraska is the best team in the conference, and I see a massive let down for Mizzou when the Tigers invade Lincoln this week. I love Bo Pelini’s coaching style and his intensity, no way the Huskers are dropping two straight at home. Nebraska takes its first step back to being the program it was in the 90’s by winning the Big 12 championship.
WHICH TEAM IS REALLY THE BEST TEAM IN THE COUNTRY?
Not an easy answer, but I believe Alabama is the most complete team I’ve seen. Sure, the Tide lost to South Carolina, but the loss was early enough in the season for Nick Saban’s team to recover. Alabama has two of the criteria I’m looking for in a title contender. Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson makeup the best backfield in the country, and if Saban will just stick with the ground game for four quarters, the Tide can roll all the way to a championship. ‘Bama also plays great defense, a defense that will be meet it’s toughest test when Auburn comes to Tuscaloosa on November 26th.
Auburn won’t get past Alabama, and I don’t see Oregon going unscathed either. The Ducks go to USC, have to get by Arizona at home, then survive the Civil War against Oregon State in Corvalis. Chip Kelly has done a phenomenal job with that team, but a one loss Oregon team isn’t going to pass a one loss Alabama team.
I can’t convince myself that Michigan State is for real (maybe if the Spartans win at Iowa this week), and even though Boise State and TCU deserve to be highly ranked, I can’t label them as the best because of the competition they face.
‘Bama plays Boise for the national championship and the Crimson Tide, improbable as it may sound, finds a way to win back to back titles.
(I can’t wait to come back to this column after the season and see just how far off I was!)
WHO WINS THE HEISMAN TROPHY?
Sadly this award has become a trophy for the best player on a front running team. The number in the loss column matters more than all the other stats combined. That said, right now it’s Cam Newton’s to lose. If the Auburn quarterback leads his team to victory in Tuscaloosa, there’s no way he’s not hoisting that bronze statue.
WHICH TEAM IS MOST OVERRATED?
Missouri. Major props for beating a mistake prone and highly overrated Oklahoma team on your home field, but I’m not ready to buy in to the Tigers just yet. Mizzou’s non-conference schedule featured a long list of puff pastries, and again the toughest game to date was at home. I’ll maintain that OU lost that game more than Mizzou won it. I’d also like to see Blaine Gabbert complete a pass over 15 yards. The Tigers have a chance to prove me wrong this weekend at Nebraska. Win in Lincoln and you’ll get rid of the overrated tag in a hurry. But for now, I’m not a believer.
WHICH TEAM IS MOST UNDERRATED?
Utah. Nobody is talking about the Utes even though they’re undefeated. Kyle Whittingham’s team is 14th in the country in total offense and 5th in total defense. In other words, the Utes are getting it done on both sides of the ball. You want style points? Utah is beating up the opposition by an average of 35 points per game. This team shouldn’t be under the radar because of what its accomplished over the last few years. The Utes haven’t lost a bowl game under Whittingham and have two BCS bowl victories to their credit. If the Utes get through this current gauntlet of games (at Air Force, vs. TCU, at Notre Dame), there’s no way they should be ignored.
Take that computers.
Showcasing Red Dirt culture ~ authored and managed by contributors with connections to the great state of Oklahoma.