Oklahoma’s Sooner Nation Is In Angry Shambles Right Now
Well, it has been a few days since Bedlam, and I think most people have managed to wrap their heads around it. The OSU Cowboys managed to pull off a win against the OU Sooners against all odds.
Before you say something like OSU was the favorite going into the game... I know. A lot of people picked them to win, but if OU and OSU share one quality above all others, much like OU's bowl and playoff history shows, the Cowboys tend to blow things in big games. We actually call it the Poke Choke, and fans made peace with it a long time ago.
The game wasn't even over when the first OU fanbase opinions started filtering out across social media... Seems everyone was blaming the referees much like they do when they lose any big game. They said things like the refs were "punishing" OU for leaving for the SEC. Granted, it's a lot easier to see everything in the game sitting on the couch at home. Fans get that instant replay and slow-motion stuff. Refs obviously can't catch every call, and to be fair, they missed a few crucial calls that benefited both teams pretty equally.
People also eluded that Lincoln Riley was leaving to take a position at LSU, so he wasn't "necessarily in the game," but even in hindsight, as the details were wrong but the story proved true, head coaches at that level don't coach during the game, they act as the delegate between the team and the refs.
A few more excuses popped up Saturday night across the web, crazy theories about Big 12 conspiracies and even OSU Cowboy cheating, but there were a few level-headed Boomers that spoke to the sheer volume of penalties OU amassed during that hour of gameplay... flagged twelve times for 74 yards in the wrong direction. Three in a row in the third quarter. The Sooners were playing like Cowboys usually do.
Sunday rolled around and a new rumor became news in the span of about twelve minutes.
I feel bad for OU fans. The last few weeks have been dominated by rumors of coaches leaving rather than the usual "We'll win the title this year..." hubbub normally spoken in those circles.
The sentiment that OU should fire their defensive coordinator Coach Grinch, but then flip-flopping to wishing he'd stay when the rumor popped out he was headed to Texas Tech for the head coaching position. That was the most rabidly discussed rumor on the coaching staff until the Lincoln Riley news popped up.
Now the discussion is "Why is Lincoln Riley leaving?"
There's an unconfirmed rumor that Riley wasn't a fan of OU's moving to the SEC. Though he had talked plenty of trash on the SEC, his record in that conference didn't inspire confidence in his ability to lead a winning team. 1-3 against SEC teams in his time at OU, those losses given at the hands of Alabama, LSU, and Georgia. The only SEC team he managed to topple was Florida, and nobody in the Sooner Nation brags about that...
If I were him with his record, I wouldn't want to play SEC teams all season either.
All the same, there's another unconfirmed rumor that makes a little more sense... His preferred offense is common out west. Regardless of wins and losses, he likes to coach the way he likes to coach. Even so, it'll still be an uphill battle. There have only been two uncontested west coast national champions in the last fifty years of college football, USC claims both of those.
Why wouldn't he stick around long enough to coach in his teams' bowl game? Admittedly, it won't be a prized bowl game, probably an early-December time-filler game, but a bowl game nonetheless.
Even if Riley is super-successful at USC, the odds of him leading USC to another national title are slim. He'll likely still have to compete against SEC teams to be a champion and the SEC has practically owned the top honors for half a century.
Another worry among Sooner fans is this... Will OU be able to compete in the SEC?
If you look at the records, the Sooners haven't been very strong against SEC teams. Even though I'm a die-hard OSU fan, watching OU pummel Alabama at the 2014 Sugar Bowl might be my all-time favorite football game.
Texas A&M and Missouri moved from the BIG 12 to the SEC in 2012, and if one word could sum up their respective performances since then, it would be "meh." Is that the same destiny OU faces? Mediocrity?
To pile on that worry, now Oklahoma has to do so with a new coach who will bring in a new program... but at least that isn't for a few years right?
Oh yeah, ESPN can't quit talking about OU and Texas jumping straight to the SEC in 2022, media contractual agreements be damned. The Bedlam announcers couldn't stop talking about it being the last Bedlam contest, even OSU's Coach Gundy said it was "probably the last Bedlam series to be played in Stillwater."
Back in July, OU wasn't to join the SEC until 2025 due to media rights and conference contracts... Turns out, if OU sits down with the lawyers, they could feasibly knock out a deal to hit the SEC next Fall. Like everything else, it all comes down to who gets paid what amount of dollars.
If you're Sooner Born & Sooner Bred, it's enough to drive you crazy. At least until the "new" wears off all this information.
Personally, I'm convinced OU will be the SEC's Kansas or Baylor (back when they sucked). Just points fodder for the heavy-hitters, at least until they can get something going. I'm also convinced that if OU wants to be the great national championship-caliber team they once were, they have to join the SEC. Can't be the best in the nation if you're not playing the best in the nation.
I'm more curious what will happen to the BIG 12 after moving to just eight teams. Will we move back to being the BIG 8? Will we invite other teams to the conference? With Tulsa get a shot? Houston maybe? Boise State, Wyoming, Cinncinati, etc... So many different teams being tossed around, too many rumors. Or will the BIG 12 stagnate and become a laughing-stock conference like CUSA, AAC, Independent, and Sun Belt? Has the sun set on the experiment that was the plains-states BIG __ conference? It sure hasn't been the same since losing Missouri, A&M, Nebraska, and Colorado.
All the same, it'll be nice to see my team finally dominate a conference. Go Pokes.