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OU/Texas: The Best Rivalry In College Football?

Image from "EDU In Review" - click link for commentary on Top Ten Red River Rivalry Games

(Note: Originally published Oct. 1, 2010)

by Rob Loeber

College football is full of rivalries, and there are some great ones…

Michigan/Ohio State has tradition, but hasn’t been worth much the last few years.  The Iron Bowl between ‘Bama and Auburn is the best of what the South has to offer, but it still misses the mark.  Oregon and Oregon State call their battle the Civil War, but something about Ducks fighting Beavers just doesn’t inspire me all that much.  Bedlam is up there for sure, but you get the feeling it means just a little more to the side in orange.

OU/Texas is the gold standard in rivalries and here are the reasons why.

The Cotton Bowl is the perfect setting.  It’s almost exactly halfway in between Norman and Austin.  The stadium is split at the 50 yard line.  Sooners on one side, Longhorns on the other.  Show me another event like this in all of sports.  Go ahead show me.  You can’t do it.  The atmosphere alone makes this game what it is because you can feel the tension in the stadium and all around the fairgrounds.  Nothing but burnt orange and crimson as far as the eye can see.  The Texas State Fair is part of the experience.  Ride the ferris wheel, win a teddy bear, eat something fried, eat something else fried, almost get sick, drink beer, feel better, watch football.  If I’m not mistaken that might just be the meaning of life right there. Continue reading OU/Texas: The Best Rivalry In College Football?

Where’s The Journalism???

Local sports coverage is slipping in Oklahoma.  As a former member of the Tulsa media, it saddens me to make that statement.  Covering local sports was my passion and my livelihood.  Back then I sensed it, and even more so now, I see the profession slowly dying.

There is no longer an investment being made in real, substantial journalism.  When I tune into local news these days, I cringe because each station’s sportscast is predictable and dull.  Each channel airs a slightly altered version of the same show.

It’s fine to show highlights from the Drillers, Shock, Talons, Barons, OU, OSU, and of course the Thunder.  However, I have a feeling no one is flipping on their TV to see a couple of lousy highlights.  Nobody is sitting at home anxiously awaiting 20 seconds of Redhawks footage.

So why do stations fall into this cookie cutter pattern?  Is it because the anchors and producers are afraid to miss something or is it because they’ve been in the same routine for so long that they’re just too comfy and complacent to think outside the box?  Frankly, I know it’s the latter because I was guilty of it when I sat at the anchor desk.

Continue reading Where’s The Journalism???

Homegrown Talent Heading To The Big Leagues

Most batters don’t even see the fastballs that leave the hands of Owasso’s Dylan Bundy and Broken Arrow’s Archie Bradley.  Most pro scouts were left drooling as they watched Bundy and Bradley mow down the opposition and looked in astonishment at radar guns with readings in the high 90’s.  Most baseball fans will never see talented arms like these come through Oklahoma ever again.

Bundy is the three-time Oklahoma State Baseball Player of the Year. (courtesy bleacherreport.com)

June 6th, 2011 was a historic night in this state as Bundy and Bradley were both selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft.  Bundy, who just days before was named Gatorade National Player of the Year, was taken fourth overall by the Baltimore Orioles.  Bradley, fresh off a win in the state championship game, was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the seventh pick.

“Watching the NFL and NBA draft, you see all these guys and the excitement but you don’t fully understand it until you go through it,” said Bradley moments after hearing his name called and donning an Arizona hat. “Going through it right now it’s simply amazing and to be here in this moment with my family, friends and coaches that have helped me to this point, it’s unreal.”

Bundy’s older brother Bobby was drafted by the Orioles in 2008.  Dylan said he can’t wait to play alongside his brother and can’t think of a better place to start his professional career.  “I really can’t because I already know a lot of things the Orioles have to offer and with him right there by my side the whole time will be great.  Secretly, in the back of my head I was like I really want to go to Baltimore to be with my brother, that was my dream and it’s been a dream come true so far.”

Continue reading Homegrown Talent Heading To The Big Leagues

A Fan’s Manifesto – Winning Cures All

Al Davis' motto is all this fan is asking of his teams (courtesy footballnewsnow.com)

Just win baby.

The famous motto of Oakland Raiders’ owner Al Davis is somewhat ironic considering the Raiders do everything but win.  However, those three little words perfectly describe how almost every American sports fan feels about his or her team.

I am a fan just like you and frankly, I’m sick and tired of the expectations that are placed on me.  I don’t need to hear another coach, player, owner, executive, or media member call me out for not being supportive.  Here’s how this works: You (the team) create a successful product, and then I show up.  I’m not going to show up if there’s nothing in it for me.  Selfish?  You betcha.  Wrong?  Nope.

There’s no way athletic directors Joe Castiglione and Mike Holder enjoy seeing thousands of empty seats at Lloyd Noble and Gallagher-Iba, but the fan is the last person I’m going to blame for those arenas looking no better than junior high gyms.  Nobody is expecting Oklahoma to turn into a basketball crazed state anytime soon.  That being said, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the Sooners and Cowboys to make the NCAA tournament four out of every five seasons.  These are schools with a decent amount of basketball tradition.  They are big-time universities with big bucks coming from big boosters trying to get into a tournament that’s anything but exclusive.  If Jeff Capel and Travis Ford can’t give me something to look forward to, then why should I pay through the nose to watch a team hoping to sneak into the NIT?

Good economy or down economy, fan dollars are stretched thin.  If I have to pick and choose carefully, why am I going to pick a loser?  Some claim the Thunder is taking dollars away from the college basketball teams in this state.  I think that’s right, but it’s not because of over saturation in the market.  One team is on the rise and sells out; the other teams flounder around .500 and hear crickets during home games.  Fans will go see a winning product, period.

Continue reading A Fan’s Manifesto – Winning Cures All

Griffin Is Good, But Is He A Superstar?

We all knew this was coming.  We could see it when he was at that small, Christian high school in Edmond winning four straight state championships.  We witnessed him match up against the best collegiate talent in the country as he left us breathless and led the Sooners to the Elite Eight.  Those of us in Oklahoma have known for years what the entire world is beginning to understand…Blake Griffin is pretty good.

No team has found a way to stop Griffin from getting to the rim (courtesy sportsjury.com)

Kobe and Lebron are the faces of the NBA, but this season, no player is hogging more highlight time than Griffin.  The Clippers power forward is good for at least one jaw-dropping dunk per night and as a rookie, he’s already being mentioned among names like Karl Malone and Tim Duncan.  Griffin may not be a superstar yet, but that day is coming soon.  To those that say Griffin is overrated (you know who you are Skip Bayless), stop for a second to consider the evidence.

Through 41 games, Griffin is putting up 22.7 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists.  Wednesday night against Minnesota, he finally snapped a streak of 27 straight games with a double-double.  If you want to put Griffin’s numbers in perspective, he’s the only rookie in 25 years to record a double-double streak of 20 or more games.  Shaq never achieved those numbers.  Neither did Dwight Howard or Tim Duncan.  Only eight players in NBA history have averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds in their rookie seasons.  If Griffin keeps up his pace, he’ll be in a select club with household names like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, and David Robinson.

Continue reading Griffin Is Good, But Is He A Superstar?