FanPost

Summer Series Installment #4: Oklahoma Sooners

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Ahh, the glory year. Wait, that's pretty much once every three years.

Football: 2010, 12-2, (6-2); Aside from a 47-17 blow out over Florida State, the non-conference slate for the Oklahoma Sooners was no easy path to travel down. Although escaping the non-con at 4-0, the other three games were won by a total of 12 points over non other than Utah State, AFA and Cincinnati. But akin to Bill Self’s basketball teams, Coach Stoops seems to make similar hay in mid-season form. After his teams are on a roll they seem to only build on their confidence. So as it would turn out, the Sooners jumped to 6-0, before rolling into Faurot Field in front of College Gameday, a national audience and a record crowd of 71,004. As fate would have it, Gary Pinkel was able to get the monkey off his back that night in prime-time thanks in part to the way the game started and hand OU its first loss of the season. So good bye was the #1 ranking, but the cureall to those blues came the next week in the form of the Colorado Buffalos. If you’re like me, you hate when teams like OU lose a game that early (though you prefer it to them being undefeated), because you know come season’s end they’ll still be in consideration of a NCG appearance, whereas if that same scenario happened to your Alma Mater you feel as though it wouldn’t happen. So to stop that non-sense, unranked Texas A&M and Von Miller gigged the Sooners in College Station. From there out though OU lived up to OU standards: 6 straight wins, a conference Championship (that I witnessed on TV at a bachelor party in Norman the night of) and a BCS trophy in the trophy case.

editor’s side note: that last Championship was a lose-lose situation as I didn’t want either team to get the title. Though it was fun driving back on I-35 the next morning only to pass Nebraska fan after Nebraska fan and hold up 1 finger and mouth “one point” with my buddy in the passenger seat.

2011 10-3, (6-3); Once again, 2011 began with National Title hopes. And vowing to not trip up like they did in 2010, the roster looked stocked once again as we were accustomed to. For a second year in a row, 6-0 was easy to reach and 7-0 looked likely, as Bob Stoops to that point had only lost 2 games ever in Norman to match up with 7-0 K-state, in front of Gameday, primetime, yada yada yada. To go Corso on y’all: Not so fast my friends. Texas Tech and Tommy Tuberville were able to take a game delay and keep the sharks out of the water. But yet again, OU would find ‘bounce back’ in game number 8 on the year, and that folks was making Tre-Walker’s “Mob Family” hunk of wood look flat out like a Ron Prince stunt, as our very own Defense was hammered for 58 points and our offense found no way to do much of anything. Looking like they would follow 2010 form, the Sooners followed up that win with payback against the Aggies. From there however, they fell to the future Heisman winner, and installment #1 team the Baylor Bears. So with no Big 12 championship game to erase things from the memories of the regular season, it was going to be hard to live up to even the 2010 accomplishments. Heading into the final weekend of the season, championship weekend, for a chance at a 3 way tie with K-state and in state rivals Oklahoma State, the sooner fell and fell hard to the hands of grandpa Weeden 44-10. Despite the 9-3 finish, the Sooners were invited out to the desert once again, but this time to other side of town and the Insight Bowl, where they handled the root of the Stoops-Snyder-Fry coaching tree Iowa.

From here, it's hard to say where the Sooners go. I think as long as Landry Jones is still around, they're really wasting some talent in the form of Blake Bell, but then again I went to the same HS as Blake so maybe I'm being prejudice. No, here's the deal both are great talents, and Landry really comparatively has great stats compared the the Heupels, Whites and Bradfords' of the world. I would tend to expect whatever the average is between the last two years, so about 11-2. I still think they are conference title favorites, but with the off-season they had and the suspensions handed out, I think it opens the door a little wider for West Virgina and Kansas State. Perhaps we see more Blake Bell, if these receivers don't play the first half of the season and a more run-centric offense. We shall see.

Men's Basketball: 2010-11, 14-18,( 5-11); The tagline 'experiment' never seems to favor the positive when combined with a head coach’s name. For the Oklahoma Sooners, the 2010-11 season book ended the Jeff Capel experiment in Norman. Even though Capel’s tenure included 2 tournament appearances, an elite 8 run and Blake Griffin, it’s hard to get the bad taste out of the mouth of Sooner fans the way it ended. Or is it because you have some red dirt in your mouth? Anyway, what started out as a pre-season ranking of #13 with returning Willie Warren, the former McDonald’s HS all-American it was all downhill from there. With such an epic fail, the university opted to release and search, and so they did.

2011-12, 15-16, (5-13); The selection was made to bring back Lon Kruger to the heartland. In what appears to be a bare bones rebuild effort, Kruger was able to get similar performance out of a less talented roster and keep relatively the same numbers. Say what you will about the coach, but one thing’s for sure: he can still win games with your KSU Wildcats on the floor! Sigh.

*editor’s note: the point of this series using 2 seasons of stats helps extrapolate trends, and which way a program is headed, so obviously when a team struggles in both years with two different coaches it’s hard to find a lot to write about or how to project the upcoming year.

What I think will be most interesting about Lon and OU moving forward will be to first see how long he stays. Many believe he was pretty happy out in Vegas, and was looking forward to retiring out there. I get the impression that he was thinking another 5 years or so. So will the coaching change re-invigorate the guy, or will he put it in cruise control with some sort of end year in mind? Also many believe he was starting to lose his coaching touch. So without the UCLA flame-outs he thrived on out in slot-land, does he surface as a top 5 or bottom 5 coach in the 10-team big 12? Interesting stuff. I don’t see more than a .500 conference record as a ceiling for this team in the 2012-13 season.

Women's Basketball: 2010-11 23-12, (10-6); Two things stick out to me of the Oklahoma 2010-11 non-con schedule: A 76-69 loss on TCU’s home floor, and a 118-52 victory over UAB. I don’t care the talent differential there may have been, to more than double up your opponent’s score is impressive. Less than impressive was the overall record, but Big 12 gauntlet of a schedule more than prepared this team when March rolled around as they were a Sweet 16 team.

2011-12, 21-12, (11-7) You might start to wonder if Big 12 WBB is like SEC football. The conference RPI must be something ridiculous as many teams that get in seem to do it with only 20 wins. The lady sooners actually took 3 of their 13 losses out of conference play which also included a decisive victory over the Horned Frogs of TCU. In terms of conference play it appeared Deb Patterson and the ‘Cats posed no threat as the Sooners handed 2 losses Manhattan’s way. Regardless the body of work helped the Boomer babes get to the second round of the NCAA tournament this year.

Although I would think OU might be a bit on a downward trend, it’s probably safer to say they’re pretty stable around the 22 win benchmark. Now I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: without Texas A&M in this league, OU might get to by default move up 1 spot in the pecking order. This of course assumes both TCU and WVU women’s basketball are horrible. I have no understanding of how good either of those teams are, but for some reason I’m confident neither are at the Texas A&M level either.

Baseball: 2011 41-19, (14-11); Another sport in which we have some overlap with incoming foe Texas Christian, OU was able to take 2 games from the #8 and #11 Horny Toads. Anytime you accumulate 40 wins in baseball, you’re bound to do something special. Such was the case for these sooners as they found their way to Omaha. The final ticket punched back home to Norman was done by the eventual national Champions South Carolina in 12 innings 3-2. A heart breaking end to an impressive run.

2012, 45-25, (13-10); Once again it was another 40+ win team which split its series with TCU 1-1, but what was the bigger thing on the year was that they completely owned the Baylor Bears with an impressive 5-0 season sweep, to take them to the championship game in the Big 12 tournament. Déjà vu came in departing the post season at the hands of the Gamecocks only this time in the Super Regionals, and eventual National runner-ups.

With a combined total of 86-44, and two great post-season runs, there's no need to expect any trail-off for the Sooner Baseball squad. What will be interesting will be to see how TCU interrupts the conference season and tournament, but there's no evidence to say that Oklahoma can't push them aside away from a conference trophy. You have to consider OU a title contender in the years to come.

Volleyball:

2010, 23-11 (13-7) and for 2011, 21-12 (8-8). Both ho-hum performances, but good enough for an NCAA tournament berth both years. This team is to not be taken lightly, but if you have a coach like Susie Fritz, keep your team focused and you can beat the Sooners at home. They aren't going away any time soon, but they can be beat.

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