Tag Archives: sooners

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?

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?

No Buzz For Basketball

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.

Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon will both be back for another season in Stillwater (courtesy tulsaworld.com)

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.

Continue reading No Buzz For Basketball

This Year’s Bedlam Is As Good As It Gets

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.

The right way to welcome someone to the best day in Oklahoma sports (courtesy sportsgifts.com)

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.

Ronnell Lewis and the Sooners crushed the Cowboys 27-0 in 2009 for OU's 7th straight Bedlam victory (courtesy Oklahoma Daily)

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.

Continue reading This Year’s Bedlam Is As Good As It Gets