Ryan Welton

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Browns should consider cutting Myles Garrett altogether

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I didn’t feel great Friday night.

Maybe it’s allergens, or maybe it’s some symptoms from visiting the chiropractor Thursday. He’s super creative but aggressive, and my body might be ridding itself of all sorts of toxins because of his handiwork. Or it might be that he gave me his cold. It could also be that I’ve been running six out of every seven days for four weeks now, and maybe my sleep-deprived body just wants a break.

We watched “Free Solo” (woo-hoo, Disney Plus!) from the couch tonight with all the lights off and a fire on, and it makes my complaints seem like the ramblings of a lazy man.

But I can actually trace the moment I started not to feel great to the end of Thursday night’s game between the Browns and Steelers, when with :08 left on the clock, defensive end Myles Garrett lost his mind and decided to assault Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with his helmet. I’m a sports tweeter, so of course, I was part of the immediate over-reaction.

Except that my reaction, even in retrospect, wasn’t an over-reaction.

But what had been an extraordinarily boring game by all other accounts (21-7, ho hum) became incredibly stressful right at the very end.

I started rooting for the Browns the day they drafted Baker Mayfield.

I don’t root for uniforms. I root for people.

That goes for the Oklahoma Sooners, whose 2019 football edition for me has been hard to support. They haven’t done anything bad, but they’re being led on the field by a brooding, humorless quarterback who’s just difficult to get behind. He doesn’t even seem, to me, like he really wants to be here so much as he’s in a year-long job audition for the NFL.

Alas, the people I root for in this case are my fellow Okies, as much as anybody else.

Speaking of whom: when Charlie Kolar caught the last TD for Iowa State against the Sooners, I let out a, “Charlie!”

I had mentioned him to a colleague earlier in the week as somebody to watch out for. Kristi and I had watched him when he was with Norman North a couple years before, and the first thing I noticed were how good his hands were. His sideline routes were terrific, and I thought that surely he was being recruited by OU.

Nope. In my opinion, somebody at OU dropped the ball. I mean, they *did* bring on Drake Stoops, who was on the same high school football team, so it’s not like Charlie Kolar didn’t have Sooner eyes on him.

I won’t recite the Seinfeld routine on rooting for laundry, but I’ve often commented that if my brothers, my nephew, niece, stepdaughter, you name it, were to play a sport at the University of Texas, I would be wearing burnt orange at least the entire time they were there, at least for that sport.

When I pulled for the Toronto Raptors in last year’s NBA playoffs, aside from our honeymoon visit that I say brought the team luck, I was drawn to the entire organization. Led by Masai Ujiri, the Raptors and their quest to globalize the sport of basketball, combined with the guys they had on their 2018-19 team were easy to love.

So, too, were Baker Mayfield’s Sooners, unless you were a Buckeye, I suppose.

With all due respect to the memory of Arkansas legend Brandon Burlsworth, Baker’s the greatest walk-on to ever play college football. Brandon was by a mile the more humble human, but Baker’s skills and grit win out 1 million to one over virtually anybody to play the college game the past generation, aside from maybe Tim Tebow or Vince Young.

When Mayfield was selected by the Browns with their No. 1 pick, that was it. Color me a Browns man.

For what it’s worth, I’ve also watched most of Kyler’s games and root for the Cardinals, too.

But when Garrett ripped the helmet off of the former OSU quarterback, a Bedlam bad-ass in his own right, paternal instincts kicked in.

“Oh, no, you don’t.”

It’s like if an outsider comes in and messes with the kid down the street. Maybe that kid is a rival of your kid, but he’s still from the same neighborhood. He’s one of yours, in the macro, and that’s what Mason was in this case.

“But he started it,” many have said about Mason.

Not true. Garrett’s sack was way over the top to begin with.

In fact, the whole “but, but, but what about …” to me, is like having to deal with whiny children.

But rehashing Thursday night isn’t why I write.

The reason I write is to try to explain why it’s important that the Cleveland Browns get serious about character and culture. Most sports teams pay lip service to it. Periodically, they get lucky when a cancer leaves, such as when Bryce Harper decided not to re-sign with the Nationals.

I don’t hate Bryce at all. In Philly, he’s a good fit. In Washington, he was ultimately a poor one.

The Dodgers had to get rid of Yasiel Puig. He refused to do what his coaches told him to do, and it played a role in L.A. losing the World Series. Why? He wouldn’t position himself where his coaches instructed, and then he’d throw a fit like a teenager when he misjudged a ball.

The Cleveland Browns need to start making plans to part ways with Garrett.

And they need to cut bait with Freddie Kitchens.

Garrett has shown signs all season long of having zero discipline after plays are over. The hit to the face after the play versus the Titans. Ending Trevor Siemian’s season. Todd Haley said Friday morning that this kind of behavior is either coached or glossed over — not that we can listen much to Haley. The former Cleveland assistant proved to be the biggest of asshats during the 2018 season, politicizing a locker room whose chemistry was already poor.

In fact, watching last year’s “Hard Knocks” and the entire NFL season play out, I was struck by just how much politics goes on between coaches in the NFL. There seems to be a lot of back-stabbing and sabotaging, and it makes me wonder how any organization’s culture ever really gets going.

Every assistant is gunning for the head coaching job, and it’s virtually without fail unless the coach has the full command of the room.

Bill Belichick. Mike Tomlin. John Harbuagh. Pete Carroll come to mind.

When Jimmy Johnson coached the Dallas Cowboys, he was famous for cutting even good players for small indiscretions. Now, to be fair, he also let great players slide for big ones. That era of Dallas Cowboys football eventually got out of control fast.

Freddie Kitchens doesn’t have command of the room, and he doesn’t appear to have either the support or the intestinal fortitude to address problems or problem players — and make no mistake, Myles Garrett is officially a problem for Cleveland. Forgetting the sheer violence of his on-the-field act, Myles single-handedly derailed the Browns’ playoff run.

It’s over. And it was because of Garrett’s incredibly selfish act.

It’s unfair to every other man on that squad. To every person in their organization. And to every Cleveland supporter.

But let’s don’t stop there. This team signed Kareem Hunt, whose character is extraordinarily questionable given that the Browns signed him after video showed him attacking a woman.

Let’s back it up further to when my beloved Sooners allowed Joe Mixon to stay on the team after he decked a woman at a local restaurant. And now he’s the Bengals’ problem. He should have been dismissed immediately.

Barry Switzer was known to have said back in the day that he didn’t think he had to tell his players not to rape, among other things.

And I would argue that as an NFL head football coach, you actually have to communicate everything. All expectations.

Address it or bless it.

And don’t assume.

Myles Garrett cost his team a chance at the playoffs and embarrassed his organization during a nationally televised game. His reputation is permanently stained. Cutting him or trading him would send a proper message to the rest of the team and to every kiddo who idolizes them.

We will not put up with this.

There’s a lot about Odell Beckham Jr’s antics that I dislike, but I would categorize most of it under showmanship. Jarvis Landry, too.

For my taste, Baker Mayfield has talked way too much in his first two years, and a down sophomore campaign is rightfully injecting him with some humility.

It’s the little things that galvanize a proper understanding of what’s expected:

  • Dress codes
  • Curfews when on the road
  • Penalties for being late

This should go for coaches, too.

Players in all sports have long complained that these little things are just about a manager or coach exercising control. Except that it’s the exact opposite. The discipline of details equals big-picture freedom because it minimizes distractions, improves behavior and leads to better chemistry and on-field performance.

And that success begets success.

The first time Myles Garrett got his team a 15-yard penalty for hitting his opponent in the face after the play, my message would have been: Do it again, and we won’t wait for the league to suspend.

Two more strikes and you’re gone.

Freddie has to have the power to do that with full support from John Dorsey and Jimmy and Dee Haslam. I guarantee you that Garrett’s behavior wouldn’t fly at Pilot-Flying J.

The thing is: Cutting your best defensive player loose would be a message to the rest of the team that winning the right way is way more important that winning at any cost. Truth be told, chaotic behavior like what Garrett displayed Thursday night isn’t conducive to winning in any way.

It’s highly counterproductive, and it makes the entire organization extraordinarily unlikable.

Baker got it right after the game by saying Myles’ behavior was “inexcusable.” More players should be saying it.

It’s time for somebody to man up in Cleveland and take control of the Browns organization.

They don’t need a buddy. They need a boss.

They don’t need a buddy. They need a boss.

3 reasons why the Oklahoma Sooners fell flat against Kansas State

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The last time the Sooner Schooner tipped over, Oklahoma lost. To Kansas State.

Deja vu.

And the Sooners totally deserved it. The final was 48-41, but I’m here to tell you that this was a butt-kicking. I thought Oklahoma was out-coached and out-classed in every department.

The defense was obviously terrible.

Special teams couldn’t figure out pooch kicks.

And the offense had zero spark.

My wife asked me what I thought went wrong, and the first thing I thought was that the Sooners just aren’t nearly as good as we thought. I didn’t think they were that great against Houston, and it appears that both Texas Tech, West Virginia and Houston are beyond terrible.

But I came up with three specifics:

  1. The Sooners defense has suddenly lost depth. The injury to Jon-Michael Terry apparently cannot be understated. Where was the rush today? Where was the aggressiveness? And then Parnell Motley lost his mind and kicked a Kansas State player, getting himself disqualified.

    I don’t believe these are the only injury issues on the team either. My understanding though is that, today, OU had a whole bunch of second- and third-teamers playing.

  2. Oklahoma abandoned the run game. This one is baffling to me, and it’s 100 percent Lincoln Riley’s fault. The innovative play-caller was anything but today. Check out this box score:

    a. Jalen Hurts: 19 for 96 yards
    b. Trey Sermon: 3 for 9 yards
    c. Kennedy Brooks: 3 for 2 yards

    Riley is well-known for being able to memorize all his play calls and cite them on his radio show. Well, he should forget today’s batch because they were John Blake-era trash.

    I’ve read some folks comparing Jalen to Vince Young. I can see it a little bit in terms of his running style, but I can also see why he ended up second-string at Alabama. The drop-off from Baker and Kyler to Jalen, to me, is pretty significant.

    That Kennedy Brooks only ran three times, and that Rhamondre Stevenson didn’t even touch the ball is baffling. Unexplainable.

  3. Grant Calcaterra’s absence.

    Going back to the start of the Bob Stoops era at OU, the tight end has been a huge part of Oklahoma’s success.

    No tight end caught a pass today for the Sooners.

    Calcaterra has been out for three weeks with an “undisclosed injury,” and his absence today was killer. No tight end? No running game?

    Anyway, them’s my thoughts. The good news is that Oklahoma has been very resilient after losses in years past, and they lost at a good time of year.

    Win out, and the Sooners will be in the playoffs.

    My hunch though is that this team has 1-2 more losses in them.

Jalen Hurts Named Sooners’ Starter, But D’Eriq King Is The QB Oklahoma Needs To Worry About

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The Oklahoma Sooners named Jalen Hurts starting quarterback on Monday in breaking news that nobody doubted. The Alabama graduate transfer was a shoo-in for the job, it seemed, over the underrated Tanner Mordecai and the future superstar Spencer Rattler.

Hurts has played in three national championship games and helped the Crimson Tide win the 2017 natty.

But come September 1, Hurts might not be the best QB on Owen Field.

D’Eriq King is coming to town, and he’s got a Dana Holgorsen offense in tow.

Everybody who thinks that Week 1 versus the University of Houston is going to be a cakewalk is grossly mistaken. New defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and the Sooners D will get a stiff test in Week 1 against a proven offensive system and a QB who has a puncher’s chance at a Heisman Trophy in 2019.

Deadly serious.

King was leading the nation in touchdowns last November when a torn meniscus sidelined him for the rest of the year.

The website underdogdynasty.com, which covers football in Conference USA, the Sun Belt, the AAC and Independent college football, ranks D’Eriq King as its No. 1 player in the AAC.

They write:
We’ve said it for a while and we’ll say it again: D’Eriq King is the best player in this conference, no question. He was robbed for Conference Player of the Year last year, and deserves more respect from all of college football.

King was one of three players to account for 50 or more touchdowns last year. He did that in 11 games, and might have led all of college football in touchdowns if he didn’t get hurt. Dana Holgorsen’s staff gives him yet another playbook, but that won’t slow him down at all. Holgorsen said he won’t run King as much this year, so his passing numbers should improve. Regardless of what happens, King’s talent is too good to ignore, and we need to give him the respect he deserves.

Check out this pass. This is the type of stuff that killed the Sooners time and time again the past few years, especially against teams that had taller receivers (think Texas and Iowa State):

Let’s check the roster. I’ve got some good news, Oklahoma. Houston doesn’t have any upper-classmen taller than 6’2″ and their one 6’3″ receiver is a freshman.

But to be brutally honest, this YouTube video should scare the devil out of Oklahoma fans. King is a fantastic passer, and Sooners fans know darned well that Oklahoma’s defense of the past two seasons wasn’t really any better than any of the teams you just watched in that video.

There are zero guarantees Oklahoma wins Game 1. The battle versus Houston in Norman on Sept. 1 is basically a Big 12 game from the past couple of years. Winning is surely expected, but by no means should anybody fail to understand how big a test this really is.

This could be a 55-48 type of game.

So, while Monday was all about getting the Jalen Hurts-as-starter news out of the way for the Sooners, OU fans should be getting to know D’Eriq King.

Dude could be the stuff of Oklahoma’s nightmares come Sept. 1.

Photo credit: University of Houston athletics

Is Oklahoma Sooners QB Spencer Rattler Closing In On Jalen Hurts?

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I’ve only begun to dive into Netflix’s QB1 series featuring Oklahoma Sooners phenom Spencer Rattler during his time at Pinnacle in Phoenix. I’m struck by how small he is compared to other big-time quarterback recruits.

And then we see him throw. Crisp.

And then we see the attitude. Confident.

And, damn, if it isn’t like seeing a young Baker Mayfield get after it.

As a Sooner fan, the thing that strikes me the most is how committed Rattler was to Oklahoma from the get-go. His coaches had to tell him to stop wearing his OU gear at practices.

But could this freshman, who didn’t go through spring ball at OU, have a chance to supplant incoming transfer Jalen Hurts as opening week starter? I don’t think there’s a chance of that — but there is a lot of buzz at how Rattler is performing.

This article from the Norman Transcript suggests Rattler is in the thick of the QB race with Hurts and Tanner Mordecai, who is no slouch for the Sooners. The reporting is that while Rattler hasn’t necessarily made ground on Mordecai or Hurts, he has come into his own as far as execution.

OK, then. But could Rattler see playing time this year? I’d bet the farm that he at least gets his four games before taking the redshirt, probably. In fact, I predict we’ll see him Week 1 versus Houston.

Former OU nose tackle Dusty Dvoracek talked with News 9 Sports Director Dean Blevins about Rattler, noting how impressive he’s been in practice.

I think the biggest question I have is whether Rattler is actually redshirted. My current hunch is that he won’t be. We’re in an era of win-now, and if Lincoln Riley thinks No. 7 can help Oklahoma in a Big 12 title game or a national playoff, then Spencer Rattler will be playing when it counts — even if it’s only for a couple of packages.

Photo from Soonersports.com

Browns on the rise, but Haslam ownership provides doubt

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Jimmy Haslam, owner of the Cleveland Browns.

As a new Cleveland Browns fan, I’ve taken to consuming all-news Browns: I listen to WKNR when I can, online of course, and I subscribe to the Cleveland Browns channel on YouTube.

The firing of Hue Jackson seemed appropriate as did the dismissal of Todd Haley. For me, the firing of Haley, who appeared to be undermining his boss at every turn, was especially warranted. All of us Oklahoma Browns Baker Mayfield fanatics watched “Hard Knocks” and had come to appreciate GM John Dorsey, a proven winner.

However, I think many of us have yet to get to know Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, a man who made his billions with truck-stop chain Pilot Flying J and whose brother is the governor of Tennessee. By all accounts, as a new Browns fan, Haslam was progressive: he hired Dorsey and drafted the great Baker Reagan Mayfield.

But Jimmy Haslam also was behind the drafting of Johnny Manziel.

And he was also responsible for all sorts of chaos within the organization, as was documented this week by ESPN’s Seth Wickersham. The author documented everything, from Haslam’s tendency to pit coaches against each other to his family’s own admission that they really don’t know anything about the NFL.

On one hand, I appreciate Haslam’s willingness to be vulnerable in that way. On the other hand, even with the drafting of Mayfield, the firing of the inept Hue Jackson and the hiring of the hopefully ept Freddie Kitchens, there isn’t much evidence that Haslam has for sure learned the error of his ways.

He must let John Dorsey run the football part of the business with zero meddling.

And he must be patient.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the digital marketing world is that you have to let campaigns play out before evaluating. In sports, it’s awfully easy to become impatient and execute a regime change before the plan gets a chance to bear fruit.

You’d think this is a lesson Jimmy Haslam can get behind. However, it hasn’t worked for Jerry Jones in the near three decades he’s owned the Dallas Cowboys, and they truly don’t look to be any closer to the promised land than they were 20 years ago.

So, as a new Browns fan, my confidence soars because John Dorsey appears to be in charge,

But, man, is that tempered by the fact that Jimmy Haslam’s history shows that Dorsey won’t be left alone for very long.

2018 Year in review: Just how close is Oklahoma to a national title?

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For most folks across the country, the thought of another Clemson vs. Alabama College Football Playoff game – a fourth – is pretty dull unless you’re in Alabama or South Carolina. But for those of us in Oklahoma, we get what it’s like. We have our own version of Clemson vs. Alabama.

It’s called Jenks-Union.

And for 21 seasons or so between 1995 and 2016, either the Jenks Trojans or the Union Redskins won the state’s top football class. Year after year it happened until Owasso broke through two seasons ago and Broken Arrow last season. Yet Oklahoma’s top flight of high school football is still relatively boring given its lack of parity. It took everything the Rams and Tigers had to win one game against the state’s best.

I’d still lay all my dollars on either Jenks or Union next year.

That’s what we have in college football right now, with no reason to believe that next year’s championship game won’t be Clemson-Alabama.

Despite the fantastic seasons Oklahoma has had the past four years, having gone to the CFP in three of them, the Sooners are more like Owasso or Broken Arrow pre-2016 than they are Jenks or Union. The breakthrough is going to come, but we’re going to have to be patient and wait out Trevor Lawrence and Tua Tagovailoa.

The 2018 season got awfully frustrating at times until Mike Stoops was dismissed. We got two weeks of decent defensive play, and then the bottom dropped out. Oklahoma gave up 46 to Texas Tech and 47 to Oklahoma State and 40 to Kansas.

Yet we won every one of those games in a stretch of pure grit we haven’t seen since last season when the Sooners did the same thing.

I totally get it. Oklahoma has to get more physical. The Sooners have to get bigger. OU’s focus has to be on defense.

But with the hindsight that the end of the season gives us, can we muster some appreciation for the resiliency this team has shown for two consecutive seasons? It’s actually amazing that despite periods where it seemed as if none of the Sooners players even knew how to tackle that this squad pulled out win after win after win.

It speaks to the bond they have as brothers. It also speaks volumes about their head coach, Lincoln Riley, and his predecessor Bob Stoops, who was equally known for his gritty teams.

Riley got an extension and some more coin today, deservedly so. He’s running a great program, making tough decisions when the need arises and appears to be as aboveboard as it gets in the sometimes nasty world of college sports.

The truth is: Oklahoma might come in third or fourth the next five, six years in a row.

However, the Sooners are also THIS close to becoming the next Alabama.

I think Lincoln Riley is going to be obsessed with defense this offseason. While we might have to wait a couple years for it all to come together, the 2020-22 seasons look prime for at least one and likely multiple national championships.

Hallelujah & Hollywood: Marquise Brown practiced today for Sooners

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We’re three days from college football’s playoffs, a pair of semifinal matches stuffed in between relatively meaningless bowl games.

Oklahoma fans learned today that Heisman winner Kyler Murray wasn’t feeling well and missed media time. They also learned that Marquise Brown practiced.

“Thank the good Lord,” it was proclaimed even by the most agnostic football fans in the Sooner state.

Hollywood! And Hallelujah.

If only it were that easy. If dressing out for practice meant anything for sure. If Marquise’s injury was to his shoulder and not a lower extremity.

I’m not overly confident that Marquise Brown is going to be close to full-strength come Saturday night versus Alabama in the Orange Bowl.

But he doesn’t have to be to help Oklahoma. Mostly, he needs to be on the field and drawing Alabama’s best coverage. He’ll be the deadliest decoy in the sport, for one night.

Maybe Hollywood plays dead for a quarter and then busts out in the second. Maybe the third. Or the fourth.

Or maybe Marquise is good for a few possession catches and to free up other Oklahoma receivers. That’s a damned big deal if so.

Hollywood could finish the Alabama game with only a catch or two and have a major impact on the Sooners’ success.

But from one Sooner fan to another, can I give you some news that has me even more fired up?

Trey Sermon is healthy.

Remember when we lost Rodney Anderson for the season, and we thought all was lost relative to Oklahoma’s ground game?

All I have to say is: Trey Sermon + Kennedy Brooks. Oklahoma is going to have a full-strength running game.

Sermon brings the thunder, and Brooks flashes lightning. They’re both effective tools for the Oklahoma passing game.

And if Hollywood is out there drawing double-teams, whether he’s full-strength or as gimpy as Kerri Strug, he’ll be making opportunities for CeeDee Lamb and Grant Calcaterra and Myles Tease, Lee Morris, Sermon and Brooks.

So, will Hollywood Brown be ready to go at full-strength?

Don’t know.

But it sure looks as if, with three sleeps before kickoff, that Hollywood Brown intends to play.

And that is huge for the Sooners.

Marquise Brown injury: ‘Hollywood’ ending still possible for Sooners, with or without star WR

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The question on everybody’s mind is: Will Oklahoma make the College Football Playoff with Alabama beating Georgia Saturday hours after the Sooners took care of Texas, 39-27, in Dallas?

The answer is almost certainly will Oklahoma be in as a four-seed at worst, third at best.

The question on my mind is: how is Marquise “Hollywood” Brown? He left the game in the second half with a foot injury and not only didn’t return for Oklahoma, he was carted off and returned in a boot and on crutches. Hollywood is one of the best receivers in Oklahoma history, and definitely the most explosive. He’s ‘Little Joe’ explosive.

In a national title game situation, he’s an X factor — against anybody.

To be honest, the injury appears to be a foot injury, not an ankle injury. My fear is that he broke his foot on the top of it or along the midfoot, also known as a Lisfranc injury. That makes me sound smart, but I’m not. I got the idea from a tweet:

I thought, “That’s a very specific proclamation,” so I looked it up. It fit what I was seeing in how the trainers were looking at Hollywood’s foot. For what it’s worth, head coach Lincoln Riley had nothing to say about it other than stating the obvious: Brown suffered a lower-body injury, and they’d examine him further. Multiple reports indicate that Brown seemed to tell his coach that he’d be OK although that could just be him saying it’s out of his hands and not to worry about him.

Without Brown, the Sooners are much less lethal on offense. With him, Oklahoma has a chance to win the whole thing.

Eventually they’re gonna win it all, you know.

And with or without him, what Saturday’s 39-27 win over the Longhorns showed is Oklahoma’s resiliency. This is the second season in a row in which the Sooners lost midway through the year and still made the playoff. Or so we think. I think it would be the third in four, too. To be able to come back and win out in each instance is highly impressive and speaks to a team’s mental fortitude as much as anything else.

Yes, I hate that the team’s defense was non-existent for much of the season.

Yes, I’m over those 59-56 games. That’s not good football.

These Sooners had every reason to throw in the towel or let up after the Texas loss. They had every reason to cave after getting blistered on social and in the press for a defense that gave up 47 to OSU or 40 to Kansas. Yuck! It’s not like they didn’t have it coming; they weren’t really improving.

However, they just took care of business, won games and waited for the moment the defensive side of the ball would step up.

They stepped up today.

That resiliency is proof positive that Oklahoma fans don’t need to sweat too much the loss of Marquise Brown. Hollywood will be back if he can, and if he’s not available for a Dec. 29 national semifinal, these Sooners of all Sooners are well equipped to figure it out.

Not because it wouldn’t hurt losing a player the caliber of Hollywood Brown.

But because this team, even though they’ve made us crazy for much of the season, might just be the most resilient Sooners of them all.

Resiliency is a winning quality. Winners are resilient.

Well done, men.

Heck of an example to the rest of us.

Horns Down? The NFL has figured out what college hasn’t

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A few years ago, you wouldn’t have ever heard me say that the NFL was more fun to watch than college football.

The tailgating. The atmosphere. The tradition.

But now, between 74-72 football games and conference rules stifling even the most modest of player celebrations, I find myself at the end of the college football season eagerly awaiting its end — and it’s been like that for at least the past five years. Mind you, when the Sooners make the College Football Playoff, I’ll be gung-ho if but for one more day.

Today’s decision by the Big 12 Conference to penalize Oklahoma if a Sooner player, or coach presumably, makes a “horns down” gesture just cements the conference among a sea of snowflakes in an over-sensitive universe. Of course, the rule-follower that I am, I’m not overtly among those who are suggesting the Sooners as a team do it at the beginning of the game — but the conference has practically begged for it, and I bet we see something a la Georgia-Florida a few years ago.

Lol, this was awesome, btw.

Georgia went on to win 42-30, fwiw.

This isn’t even an OU vs. Texas issue. We both agree.

Are we going to ask Longhorns fans not to chant, “OU Sucks!”? Never. If I don’t hear “OU Sucks,” how am I to even believe it’s Texas?

It’s part of the game. Heck, does anybody remember that once upon a time, Longhorns and Sooners would line up along Commerce and basically drunkenly yell at each other for hours?

My capacity for caring about this topic hasn’t even lasted as long as the writing of this post, except to say this: The NFL figured it out. In desperate need of a PR boost in the wake of Anthem Kneeling ’17, the league decided to let their players have fun again.

They allowed them to celebrate touchdowns.

The horror.

And, trust me: there is plenty of shade being thrown in some of these celebrations. It just takes a little sleuthing.

But besides it being the right thing to do, it’s smart marketing. If we’re going to have to sit through a four-hour 59-56 game, let’s see these guys bring their best celebrations. Heck, get the audience in on it and have a vote for the celebration of the game in the fourth quarter for $25,000 to a worthy charity?

Lighten the heck up already.

Cover photo is from soonersports.com.

Can we agree that Lincoln Riley owns the Oklahoma defense next year?

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They allowed Kansas 544 yards of total offense including 405 yards on the ground.

On the ground, they allowed the Jayhawks 8.3 yards per carry.

The ‘they’ I’m referring to is 1-10 Rutgers, one of the worst teams in all of college football.

It could have as easily been Oklahoma. The Sooners, despite a 55-40 win, allowed Kansas 524 total yards, 348 on the ground and at a 9.7-yards-per-carry clip. Oklahoma’s pass defense was also on par with Rutgers’, given the common opponent.

Oklahoma is 10-1, and Rutgers is 1-10.

Thank God for the Sooners offense because this team — without Kyler Murray and a brilliant offensive mind in Lincoln Riley — could as easily be 3-9.

The downward spiral of the Oklahoma defense absolutely started with Bob Stoops, the third best coach in the history of Oklahoma football. The man has a national championship to his name, and he brought the Sooners an entire era of winning. However, the move toward the spread offense went from 1999 gimmick to plague for the entire Big 12 conference, whose teams never bothered to learn how to defend against it.

And in the past five seasons, Oklahoma has gone from a modicum of aggressiveness to playing a permanent prevent defense against virtually every team, per the strategy of Bob’s brother, Mike and a full staff of coaches who have supported him, including current interim defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill.

So, what’s the big deal, you ask? We’ll just out-score everybody.

You’re right, but that becomes tougher when you play teams out of conference, especially teams from the SEC, Big 10 or an Independent team like Army. The Black Knights, in a 28-21 loss, held the potent Oklahoma offense to 355 yards and four scores, and they did it with ball control.

Where this philosophical discussion becomes tougher to argue is in discussing Alabama. If you were to poll 1,000 pretty knowledgeable college football fans, I think they’d say (aside from Clemson), the two teams that stand the best chance against the Crimson Tide would be Michigan (because of its awesome defense) and Oklahoma (because of our unstoppable offense).

I firmly believe Oklahoma could beat Alabama under close-to-perfect circumstances, but that score would probably look like 52-49. Maybe as many as three or four out of 10 times.

But Oklahoma could also, potentially, lose to virtually any team in Division I on a close-to-perfect day.

The Sooners are an injured quarterback away, a head coaching change away from reverting back to the Blake years. I think it’s super naive not to see that, and it’s not the end of the world if that were to happen. Makes you appreciate the great years, right?

I’m of the firm belief that Lincoln Riley is at once an offensive genius and quite possibly woefully incomplete as a head coach. But he’s got the opportunity to right that side of the ball.

This year, the terrible defense is on Mike Stoops and, largely, too, Ruffin McNeill.

But next year, can we agree that Lincoln Riley owns this?

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