When I was 10 or 11 years old, I used to hide away in my room and listen to the radio.
My first memories were listening to WLS radio at night when the AM gods and frequencies allowed, and I listened to a lot of sports. I remembered listening to the 1980 Gator Bowl between Pittsburgh and South Carolina, and I listened to the 1980 Holiday Bowl between SMU and BYU, a veritable shootout by the standards of the day, a 46-45, Cougars win.
And I listened to the Orange Bowl that year, a 24-7 win for the Oklahoma Sooners over the Florida State Seminoles.
I wasn’t being deceptive about it, but Dad didn’t watch sports, and back in those days, parents controlled the remotes. This was the year before Mom and Dad bought me a TV, I believe, so I was huddled in bed with my transistor listening to John Brooks call the game for Oklahoma, his “Jiminy Christmas” the signal that good had come to the Sooners.
Some 38 years later, I’m at it again, listening to Oklahoma football on the radio, a 28-21 overtime nail-biter over the Army Black Knights. The very capable Toby Rowland was on the call, and it was a delight to hear in lieu of a $50 pay-per-view bill. The reason we have a PPV game every year is because of the Big 12 and its contracts with the networks.
They don’t have to do this, but they do — and I think it’s fan extortion. I didn’t buy it, even though I love both the Oklahoma Sooners and the Army Black Knights. CBS Sports Network shows all of Army’s games, so I started following Jeff Monken’s bunch a couple of years ago and kind of fell in love with their style and effort.
They sure as heck didn’t disappoint tonight.
Neither did the radio broadcast. Toby Rowland, Teddy Lehman, Gabe Ikard, Coach Merv Johnson and the highly under-recognized Chris Plank are fantastic. One of my News 9 colleagues, Michael Dean, makes an appearance on these broadcasts, too. Radio is still a glorious medium because it is theatre of the imagination.
But there was no imagining the nightmare that was the Army option game against an unprepared, undisciplined Oklahoma defense. Mike Stoops’ bunch can’t stop a competent passing team, and they can’t stop a competent running team. They need an opponent to stop themselves, truly.
At some point, repeating the same effort and mistakes over and over and over, game after game after game is insanity.
Or Coach Stoops has compromising photos of former President David Boren.
Coaches often respond to criticism by saying things like, “Geez, I didn’t know I had to teach college ball players how to tackle.”
And I say, “That’s exactly what you should be doing.”
If it were me, I’d obsess over why they weren’t tackling and then work with each player ad nauseam until they figured it out. There would be laps or stair runs for missed tackles, too. Whatever you can get away with in 2018.
But shame on us for saying anything about the obvious, right?
It’d be 1,000 times more acceptable if Mike Stoops showed any kind of emotion that evoked a little empathy, but he doesn’t. Thank God his crew finally got inspired in overtime, or any chance at a playoff in 2018 would be over.
College football is a funny thing. A loss to Army might not have done the trick. Even though the Black Knights were a 30.5-point underdog, Army is actually good. They won a bowl game last year in exciting fashion, a 42-35 win over San Diego State. in which the Black Knights won with a 2-point conversion before a game-clinching interception return for a touchdown provided the final margin.
Army is disciplined, focused and prepared. Every game.
Oklahoma’s offense has long been the same way while the defense has been a step behind for years. The Sooners defense is like that co-worker who puts in a half-effort but turns it on, maybe, when the boss yells or when it’s crunch time, doing just enough to not get fired when you really just wish they would show up to work drunk out of their minds so the powers who be would have no choice but to make a move.
Nobody aspires to be a micro-manager, but this is an Oklahoma defense that begs for micro-management. If Mike doesn’t want to do it, let Ruffin McNeill or Calvin Thibodeaux handle it.
I’ll say this though: I don’t hate Mike Stoops; I just don’t think his defense is ever prepared well. Like ever ever.
It is what it is.
He’s a ******** of a coach, but he’s our *********.
The craziest part of this is that I didn’t have to see one second of the game to figure this out. Great radio will do that.
Tonight was a real treat.
We’ll live to curse Mike Stoops another day.