Oklahoma Broke ESPN’s Stage

Image from AwfulAnnouncing.com

Earlier this year, Coach Stoops drew a lot of fire for what he had said in the offseason about the SEC.  When i first heard the comments I thought it was vintage Stoops.  Stubborn, defiant, just Bob being Bob.  A few of us long time Sooner fans have felt a lot of heartache in bowl games.  Granted there are a ton of college football fans out there who would gladly trade places with us, but with losses against  Washington, Miami, LSU, USC  and Florida in National Championship Games in my memory, I’ve witnessed twice as many National Championship losses than I have wins.  While you want to rationalize and say that a lot of teams just wish they could be there, it’s been tough to stomach those five losses.  When you do look at it for what it really is, you see a program that is dominant.

We sport seven National Championships that we recognize, and if we had won those other five, you’re talking twelve.  If we counted em like Aggy did, we’d have 17.   I’m 37 years old, so on an average of about every five years in my life our Sooners are playing for a natty.  The problem is that in my lifetime, we’re 2-5 in those games that I know of.  Make no mistake, I thank my lucky stars every day that I didn’t wake up an Oklahoma State fan.  I’m just trying to paint a picture of how everyone else perceives us, or at least perceived us until two weeks ago tomorrow.

I live in Kansas City, and naturally I know several people who are diehard Jayhawk fans.  I have a lot of respect for the Jayhawks, and have come to the realization over the years that essentially they have the same school that we do.  They’re a dominant basketball school with a football team that’s a far cry from it’s counterpart.  We’re a dominant football school with a basketball counterpart that hasn’t had near the success the football team has.  We both have redneck cousins or “little brothers” who are just down the road in Stillwater and Manhattan, and it seems like every year KU is in the top five or ten, and every year at some point, they are the talk of college basketball.   Sound familiar? Like the Sooners they’ve won two natty’s in my lifetime, 2008 most recently and in 1988 when they ripped my heart out, but we won’t go there.  When I look at KU as a basketball program, I no doubt respect them.   They’re always good, other teams’ marquee wins are always against them, and when opposing coaches recruit, they say  “hey we beat Kansas last year.  Why would you want to go there?”  Sound familiar?  I caught myself looking at them this year after speaking with one of my good friends who’s a big KU alumnus about them, and thinking man we might get em this year since they aren’t that good.   Later I thought that several other fan bases may have felt the same way about us, even this year.   Before I take this thing too far off track, being so close geographically to a program that’s as historically dominant as KU is compared to what Oklahoma is in football has given me a true picture about how everyone else perceives us.  I tend to look at our Sooners through what most would call “crimson-colored glasses,”  but seeing a similar situation in Lawrence through a completely sober view has opened my eyes about the perception of us nationally.  In a nutshell you could describe both programs as one that will make a lot of noise, has a lot of tradition, and is always going to be in the conversation.

Given our three losses in national championship games in the last 10 years, and two of them being against SEC champs, it made Stoops an easy target after what he said.  In looking for his quotes from this last summer, I came across several articles that just roasted him, and naturally so.  He was coming off of a 41-13 shellacking against the darlings of the SEC last year in Johnny Football and the fighting Manziel’s so part of me says damn man, why don’t you just keep your mouth shut?  There’s another part of me that admires that defiance.  There’s a part of me that really admires Coach Stoops’ ability to know that he and his team are good, and have been good for a lot of years despite everyone’s dismissal.  Just his ability to believe in himself when no one else does.

Going into this matchup against Alabama, we were just that…dismissed.  We were cast off…didn’t deserve to be there…Bama should be playing Oregon, and the only reason that Oklahoma is in the game is because they travel better etc…Mark May predicted a 48-10 blowout win for Alabama, and really, there wasn’t any question as to who was going to win the game.  We were just a no-talent also-ran who just somehow lucked into the game.  After all, Alabama was the crown jewel in the SEC kingdom, and the SEC IS the crown jewel of ESPN.  The love fest that has gone on for the past few years has been sickening.  All of the SEC chant’s you hear in every game, Mizzou’s already chanting it and they’ve been over there what ten minutes?  A month before this Sugar Bowl game, the understanding was that Alabama was going to play Florida State for all the marbles and with a win cement Nick Saban’s legacy as the greatest coach of all time.

Before the game, K asked us to give our confidence on a scale from one to ten, and predict a score…

JY – From 1 to 10 my confidence is at a 7. I think we will see our best game all year.  Too much coming out about the focus and edge these guys are going into it with.  In 2003, we were the best team of all time, and K State wore us out.  Anything can happen. I’m going to predict 24-21 good guys.

I felt good about the game going in simply because I knew how hard our guys were going to fight Alabama.  After being around the game for so long, I also understand that the difference between teams and players isn’t that much.  When one team feels disrespected that gap gets closed a little.  When one team prepares harder than the other, the gap closes a little more.  So when you pull back the curtain and you see things for what they truly are, you realize that you don’t necessarily have to knock the king off of the mountain top if you’re able to knock his perch out from under him.

I thought that it was only fitting that at the end of the night, after all of the smoke and confetti had cleared and our guys had accepted the Sugar Bowl trophy, that they rushed the stage where Trevor and Coach Stoops sat with Rece Davis, Lou Holtz and Mark May.  On a stage that was prepared for Alabama,  the coronation had occurred far before the opening kickoff.  The anointing oil had to be put away and rehearsed questions for Saban and McCarron had to be swapped for inquiries for Stoops and Knight.  Once most of the team was up on the stage behind their Coach and MVP winning QB, something profound happened.  ESPN’s stage collapsed.   That stage that was built for Alabama.  That stage that pumped SEC propaganda for the past seven years.   That platform that was built for a king simply couldn’t handle the weight of a TEAM, it was simply too much.   In that moment, those Sooner pups did much more than win a football game.  They shook the foundations of college football…They broke ESPN’s stage.







  • Aunum

    Good article JY. And you are right about ESPN spin toward SEC for the last seven years or so. Before 2006, they weren’t oohing and ahhing over every team in the SEC, in fact being somewhat fair in coverage of all the country. Then suddenly, even kentucky and ole miss et al were world beaters. Im sure all that hype has nothing to do with the mega contract ESPN and the SEC signed in 2008 tho.

    • JY

      No doubt. It’ll be interesting to see how the hype machine churns after the top dogs got knocked off by us and Florida State.

      • soonermusic

        i’m sure they’ll choose to view it as an aberration, lucky momentary twist of fate, and be back to business as usual.

  • Sooner Ray

    We did more than break their stage, we made them look completely foolish and clearly exposed their bias. Bet they are still spitting out the crow feathers! Great write-up JY.

  • Indy_sooner

    Very well written piece, JY. For me, the most profound realization on the magnitude of Stoops’ comments, in hindsight, was the map showing OK. as the only state predicting a win in some ESPN poll. (Guess I cannot vote by proxy)
    It has forced alot of folks in *SEC country* people to humbly accept that he was right. However, make no mistake, we showed we can play with anyone and anywhere, the SEC lovefest be damned.

  • Steve Cooke

    What a pleasantly great read! Thxx JY

    • Sooner Ray

      What a nice pair! (Oh, and the girls aren’t bad either)!

  • Ed Cotter

    Great commentary JY. Always a pleasure to read your articles. Keep up the good work and BOOMER!

  • Billy Jackson

    Loved reading that article. Still laughing about being thankful not to wake up being an Oklahoma State fan.

  • ToatsMcGoats

    Perfect, JY. Love it!

  • soonermusic

    Nice one, JY. Stoops does not maintain over an .800 winning percentage by just “coming in on a load of wood,” as he said at the presser, or by not having players who can play (or, btw, by playing weak opponents all the time). Team attitude has clearly been a priority recently, and was nowhere better evidenced than in the behavior of the stars who went down injured and still stuck around to help prepare their replacements and support the team.

    When you consider that OU was without 5 or 6 starters, including several major stars (captains/leaders); when you consider that our side was endlessly criticized for inadequate recruiting, not enough talent or depth; it makes it that much sweeter that Stoops and Co. had plenty of players coached up and ready to play with the best, and that no matter what adjustments the well coached Alabama team made, or what the media expectations were, the players delivered and beat Alabama…by two touchdowns! Boomer Sooner!

  • The comedy ensued even further when they had Saban doing pre-game analysis for the natty, which was just a PSA for the SEC, and you could see how desperately they were trying to avoid the sugar bowl issue.

  • red clay

    What a great read and a perfect analogy – broke their stage. Heh heh. Guess old Lou Holtz might wanna rethink that “mediocre and irrelevant” talk. Projection, maybe?

  • Josh

    Growing up in OKC during the era of “The King” makes me love a defiant, to hell with your opinion HC at the helm of my Sooners. The “Beat Texas” hat and the comment about beating Texas making him “happier than a pig eating sh*t”, and even Coach Switzer’s tweets during game weeks this year are all just quintessential Sooner!!! Coach Stoops, while obviously not as colorful as Coach Switzer still embodies that attitude of Sooner fans. Watching the team I love and have for 35 years stand up to the college football world and say “We are Oklahoma, We aren’t scared of Nobody!!” is one of the greatest moments I’ve ever had as a fan. Sooner fans have a love for our team that is second to none, and that team, that night, made every single person that bleeds Crimson & Cream so proud to be a Sooner. Boomer Sooner and when does Spring Ball start because I’m ready to do this thing!!

  • L’carpetron Dookmarriot

    Indeed. We couldn’t escape the glaring metaphor of the stage collapsing under the weight of people who weren’t supposed to be on it. And that stage was being used to promote and hype a form of a circus, a show that was being broadcast, in front of a large audience, by the circus ringmasters.

    Really, the modern form of a circus can be thought of as football, that is, a circus where gladitorial combat is taking place.

    • Blueline Pete

      Best article you’ve written to date JY. Yes, the metaphor works, but it’s like OU literally broke ESPN/SEC’s back. They are so concerned with hyping the LHN as well as the SEC net, that they forgot that OU is still OU. There is a reason we are the winningest program since WW2 I believe. I was a special win for sure and I know that you felt good about it. I think many of us felt the same way we did OSU week when we found out how hard this staff and the kids worked on this one. It all showed on the field and I see it as a harbinger not an aberration.

  • Gary Jackson

    The fact is, Stoops and the Sooners showed the world how to beat Alabama. It was plain to see from when A&M beat them last year and if A&M had a defense they would have beaten them this year that Saban and crew don’t really have an answer for a mobile QB that is accurate in the pocket and on the run and a team that can play with tempo. Why do you think Saban made the comments last year about doing something in the rules to slow down the fast tempo teams? It’s because he is at a disadvantage against them.