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Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Sooners in the Super Bowl

For the third straight year, there will be no former OU players on either Super Bowl team.

Fifty-seven Sooners have been on rosters in past Super Bowls, and 28 have earned Super Bowl rings. Twenty-five of them actually played in the big game (those listed in bold were starters):

Carl McAdams (at OU 1963-65), Linebacker, New York Jets: Made 2 tackles in Super Bowl III.

Bobby Boyd (1957-59), Cornerback, Baltimore: Made 2 tackles in Super Bowl III.

Eddie Hinton (1966-68), Receiver, Baltimore: Caught 5 passes for 51 yards in Super Bowl V.

Ralph Neely (1962-64), Offensive Tackle, Dallas: Played left tackle in Super Bowls V, X, and XII.

Jim Riley (1964-66), Defensive End, Miami: Made 6 tackles including 1 sack in Super Bowl VI.

Kyle Davis, Dallas (1972-74), Center, Dallas: Made 1 tackle for punt return unit in Super Bowl X.

Randy Hughes (1972-74), Safety, Dallas: Made 2 tackles, recovered 2 fumbles and picked off 1 pass in Super Bowl XII; made 1 tackle in Super Bowl XIII.

Kenny King (1976-78), Fullback, Oakland: Had 6 carries for 18 yards and caught 2 passes for 93 yards; he caught an 80-yard pass from Jim Plunkett to put the Raiders ahead, 14-0, en route to a 27-10 win over Philadelphia. King had 3 carries for 12 yards and caught a couple of passes for 8 yards in Super Bowl XVIII for the Los Angeles Raiders (the Raiders played in L.A. from 1982-94).

Reggie Kinlaw (1975-78), Nose Tackle, Oakland: Made 3 tackles in Super XV and 6 tackles in Super Bowl XVIII.

Greg Pruitt (1970-72), Halfback/Kick Returner, Los Angeles Raiders: Carried 5 times for 17 yards, returned 3 punts for 8 yards (2 fair catches), and 1 kickoff return for 17 yards in Super Bowl XVIII. His kickoff return set up a 70-yard scoring drive.

Uwe von Schmann (1976-78), Kicker, Miami: Made 2 PATs, kicked a 20-yard field goal, and handled kickoff duties in Super Bowl XVII. Uwe kicked field goals of 37, 31 and 30 yards, made 1 PAT and handled kickoff duties in Super Bowl XIX.

Tony Peters (1973-74), Safety, Washington: Defended 2 passes and broke up 1 in Super Bowl XVII.

Jackie Shipp (1980-83), Linebacker, Miami: Made 1 tackle in Super Bowl XIX.

Steve Sewell (1981-84), Running Back, Denver: Had 3 carries for 4 yards and caught 2 passes for 12 yards in Super Bowl XXI. Steve tossed 1 pass for 23 yards, caught 4 passes for 41 yards, and carried once for -3 yards in Super Bowl XXII. He caught 2 passes for 22 yards, and made 1 tackle on a fumble return in Super Bowl XXIV.

Rickey Dixon (1984-87), Safety, Cincinnati: Made 1 tackle in Super Bowl XXIII.

Dwight Drane (1980-83), Cornerback, Buffalo: Made 1 tackle in Super Bowl XXV, and 5 tackles in Super Bowl XXVI.

Tony Casillas (1982-85), Defensive Tackle, Dallas: Made 3 tackles in Super Bowl XXVII, and followed with 5 tackles in Super Bowl XXVIII.

Scott Case (1982-83), Safety, Dallas: Broke up a pass, forced 1 fumble, and had 6 tackles in Super Bowl XXX.

Terry Ray (1988-91), Safety, New England: Recorded 3 tackles in Super Bowl XXXI.

Keith Jackson (1984-87), Tight End, Green Bay: Caught 1 pass for 10 yards in Super Bowl XXXI.

Darrius Johnson (1992-95), Cornerback, Denver: Made 1 tackle in Super Bowl XXXII. He followed that with 1 tackle and 1 interception in Super Bowl XXXIII.

Joe Bowden (1989-91), Linebacker, Tennessee: Recorded 3 tackles in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Cedric Jones (1992-95), Defensive End, N.Y Giants: Had 1 tackle in Super Bowl XXXV.

Garrett Hartley (2004-07), Placekicker, New Orleans: Kicked 3 field goals (46, 44, 47 yards) and 1 PAT for 11 points to lead the Saints in scoring in Super Bowl XLIV.

Remi Ayodele (2004-05), Defensive Tackle, New Orleans: Started at right tackle in Super Bowl XLIV.

Big 12 will give you nothing on expansion, and you'll like it!

Bob Bowlsby

During the last two days of meetings between Big 12 athletics directors, conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby offered up a study in equivocation in his discussions with members of the media on any subjects of substance. The man is a true marvel when it comes to sticking to non-commital talking points and crafting milquetoast sound bites.

Although little came from the meetings in the way of real news or forward progress, I do have a few general thoughts on what we did hear. Note that when talking about expansion, the issues tend to look different depending on the criteria you're using to evaluate them. What could be a plus in terms of postseason positioning could be a negative for the fan experience, for instance. (Which bites the big one, by the way.)

*Nobody knows anything when it comes to predicting the future.

It comes off as a weak excuse for standing pat, but Bowlsby is correct in his assertion that we lack compelling evidence about the benefits of expanding the conference. However, that begs the question of what kind of evidence he and the schools want. Bowlsby didn't give many clues as to what actually constitutes a legitimate argument in favor of expansion or against it.

About the only thing we do know is that Bowlsby expects any new conference member to generate at least $26 million in additional annual income. That seemingly limits potential expansion targets to a select fraternity – say, Florida State.

*Nobody knows anything about the playoff, either.

From the standpoint of access to the new four-team playoff, we really don't know how the selection committee will value different criteria. Will the committee members view teams from a conference that doesn't have a championship game less favorably than one that does? In the event of a tie in the conference standings – as was the case this year with Oklahoma and Kansas State – would the lack of a clear-cut champ factor into consideration?

Theoretically, the round-robin schedule should help boost the Big 12's strength of schedule, but that would depend on the selection committee's ratings metric. When SI.com did its mock playoff selection simulation in late November, Kansas State's presumed SOS advantage over Alabama and Oregon didn't make much difference in the mind of that group.

*The Big 12 doesn't have the hand to act as an aggressor.

Truthfully, any potential targets for acquisition in the ACC probably see leaving for the Big 12 as Plan D. The three more preferable options: some ordering of an invitation to the SEC, an invitation to the Big 10 and a stable ACC.

In other words, even if the Big 12 was gung ho about adding more schools, it is in a holding pattern until the SEC and B1G make their intentions known. After the public embarrassment of DeLoss Dodds' failed entreaties towards Notre Dame, staying mum may actually help the conference save face should Jim Delany or Mike Slive opt to poach FSU or any other school on the Big 12 radar. (You can also ask David Boren how it felt to get stoned by the Pac-12 a couple years back.)

*The "alliance" with the ACC sounds like a logistical nightmare.

How are you proposing to match up 10 teams from the Big 12 with 14 from the ACC for scheduling purposes? What happens to existing scheduling agreements, such as Oklahoma's upcoming series with LSU and Ohio State?

*What is the point of an alliance, anyway?

As a fan, I'm all for increasing the number of good match-ups every season, and an alliance might achieve that. (Of course, as I mentioned, aggressive scheduling has never been an issue for OU.)

Perversely, from a strategic standpoint, I'd argue that the Big 12 actually needs to dilute scheduling more than enhance it. With the round robin adding a guaranteed extra conference loss to the resumes of half the teams, they need more non-conference cupcakes to keep up from a perception standpoint with teams from conferences that are only playing eight league games. (I agree that it sucks, but you can thank the SEC.)

If the argument is that an alliance would help both leagues gain visibility for recruiting in the other's footprint... please. A kid from Miami will be more likely to go to Kansas State because he might play a game on the East Coast at some point? Color me skeptical.

Lane Johnson turning heads at Senior Bowl

Lane Johnson

Lane Johnson is making NFL scouts sit up and take notice at the Senior Bowl practices leading up to the all-star game Saturday.

*Reportedly, the Chicago Bears may have designs drafting him at their 20th slot in April’s draft.

*SI.com’s Chris Burke has Johnson listed as the 38th best prospect in this year's class, the only Sooner on his list.

*A couple of analysts for CBSSports.com have him going in the first round (one to Chicago at 20 and another to the Rams at No 16).

Pretty good for a guy who was unheralded at OU with no major conference or national honors. (CBSsports.com recognized him on its third team and he was voted to the all-Big 12 second team.)

Johnson didn’t receive a rating from the Rivals recruiting service coming out of high school in 2008. Then, Lane was listed at 6’6” and 202 pounds by Rivals. He spent one year as quarterback at Kilgore College before signing with the Sooners as a tight end in 2009.

He has grown an inch and put on 100 pounds since leaving high school. OU's coaches gave him a brief look at defensive end before moving him to the o-line. Johnson started at right tackle in 12 of 13 games in 2011 and started 11 of 13 at left tackle in 2012.

His Senior Bowl assessment during practice: “…has shown the length and ability to play both LT and RT. He has been very secure in his lateral movements and has shown the knee bend to hold his ground when being bull rushed. He is a certain 2nd round pick and may be emerging as a 1st round possibility.”

Johnson will get to block for his teammate Landry Jones one more time Saturday, unless both make it on to the same NFL squad.

Landry Jones looking for success on the next level

Landry Jones

Former Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones will show off his talents to pro scouts this Saturday at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. For Jones to be successful in the NFL, he needs a team to draft him and make him learn by holding the clipboard for a few years. It would not benefit him to be drafted by a crummy team like Kansas City or Oakland where he starts from day one.

New England, Green Bay or Denver would be ideal for Mr. Jones. Josh McDaniels helped develop Tom Brady for the Patriots. Tom Clements became offensive coordinator last year for the Packers, moving up from quarterbacks coaching position. His pupil? Aaron Rodgers. Landry also could learn a lot from Peyton Manning, who would be a hell of a mentor.

Being a backup for a few years would give Landry time to hone his skills. He’s got tremendous arm strength and has proven he can complete the deep ball with some good accuracy. His best throws have been outside the numbers and into the field side. And, he does well delivering on deep outs. He has shown he can throw in between a cornerback and a safety in a cover zone. He does well in play action and executes the pump fake with his shoulders.

But Jones does not follow through with his arm by consistently bringing over his shoulder. He needs to improve his footwork, and he doesn’t rotate his hips on delivery. His power comes from the upper body.

Anticipation is another weakness. Landry lacks the ability to time the pattern and throw into an area where his receiver could run underneath, which has resulted in incomplete passes or interceptions.

Landry’s decision-making also could improve. He’s not poised when under pressure, throws into double coverage and struggles with turnovers.

Jones worked on his skills when he learned from quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. last spring. That demonstrated that he's determined to be a better quarterback by flying out to California to work with Whitfield. “He could have easily been sitting on the couch with his family … but no, this guy puts on cleats and does two-a-days and travels somewhere just to try and get himself improved,” Whitfield said.

With that attitude, maybe Jones could be a starter in the NFL in a few years.

Playing the NFL lying game

Tony Jefferson

The annual feeding frenzy surrounding the NFL draft serves as a petri dish for lies, rumors and innuendo. One such suspicious report about Oklahoma safety Tony Jefferson came to light Tuesday, as NFL draft site WalterFootball.com produced a thinly sourced nugget supposedly emanating from the chatter around the campfire at Senior Bowl practices:

Scouts are saying that Jefferson has been getting trashed by some of his former coaches for horrible practice habits and a lack of work ethic in the weight room.

I'm not going to pretend to have any special insight into Jefferson or his work habits. I do, however, think this alleged whisper campaign raises an interesting issue regarding transparency between OU's coaching staff and NFL scouts.

Evaluations of NFL prospects strike me as a tricky dance for both scouts and college coaches alike. On the one hand, coaches have significant incentives to try to inflate their players' stock. When you see a Sooner walking across the stage on the first night of the draft, it speaks well of the program's ability to develop prospects for the next level. Additionally, having a reputation as a loyal advocate for your players can only help on the recruiting trail. The flip side holds true, too, in that it opposing coaches can impress upon recruits that Bob Stoops and his staff won't have their backs.

The expected knee-jerk reaction from fans when we read something like this rumor about Jefferson starts from that side of our brain. In the short term, the end of the recruiting cycle looms large, and the idea of losing committed prospects or losing possible studs over the negative publicity starts to take hold.

Still, that doesn't negate the benefits of keeping it real.

For starters, by definition, not everyone is above average. If coaches consistently pump sunshine about their players to scouts, their opinions become pretty worthless pretty quickly. And if no one is paying attention to what your coach has to say, it doesn't matter if he's your advocate or not.

Even worse, think about what happens when your program develops a reputation for producing overrated players. The market can correct the other way, too.

There's also the matter of gathering information from the NFL. Scouts rightfully expect a little quid pro quo in their dealings with college staffs. Coaches who just talk puppy dogs and ice cream about their guys will probably have a hard time getting a good read for their own players about their draft stock. That's not going to help anyone as they decide whether or not to make the leap or consider how best to prepare for workouts, interviews, etc.

Lastly, what message does it send to players in the program if they think the coaches will cover for them? When you know that your coaches will give scouts their honest assessments of your work ethic, that gives you strong motivation to get out of bed for 5 a.m. workouts. Presumably that not only helps the program, but the players' preparation for the next level as well. (Although I have no doubt that it sucks.)

Do coaches have a right to be vindictive if they so choose? Of course not – just honest. I have no idea what the reality of Jefferson's situation is and plenty of reason to be suspicious about this report. I certainly hope for his sake that it's all bunk and if so, that the coaching staff has cleared anything up with him.

As for the next guy working through the OU pipeline: If you don't know, now you know.

Sooners Recruiting Update: 2013 class drawing to a close

Dannon Cail
Mystery recruit Dannon Cavil was ready to get started Sooner than later.

Oklahoma is still ranked in the top 20 by Rivals and ESPN. The Rivals rankings will only go up once K.J. Young and Charles Walker get their new evaluations (probably 3 stars).

OU has 20 commitments and four early enrollees in Dannon Cavil, Ahmad Thomas, D.J. Ward and Jed Barnett. (Sounds like Quincy Russell will need one more semester in junior college and will enroll in June instead.) OU’s class in theory could be as large as 29 recruits. I fully expect some more attrition between now and signing day, so OU going for a full 29 would not be a big surprise if the right prospects decide to become Sooners.

OU usually falls a little short. Still, it’s going to be a mad dash to signing day. I fully expect new names to appear and old names to resurface. The recent trend has been OU loses one long-time commit – let’s hope it’s over with the loss of Jordan Mastrogiovanni – and steals someone late.

OU needs to close with at least one DB now that Tee Shepard is going to enroll at JUCO due to the eligibility mess created by his early enrollment at ND being disqualified. L.J. Moore is probably the leading candidate for that one DB spot, with Adrian Baker trailing as a second possibility. Tahaan Goodman just visited OU but he’s probably following Priest Willis to either UCLA, LSU or maybe USC. It's unclear where OU stands with Lamar Robbins right now.

At OL, OU needs at least two more high school players. Aaron Cochran has been the only consistent name on the OL list, as it has seen changes left and right the last six weeks, testing the patience of Sooner fans. New names Rami Hammad and Dwayne Johnson are both excellent-looking prospects from Texas with senior film far superior to their junior film. However, both players are starting to rack up other big time offers, so OU will have to close quickly.

In addition, OU offered former target Dan Skipper based on his senior year film. Unfortunately, that offer is probably about four weeks too late, and the delay has been driving the Sooner Internet fan base crazy. At this point, Skipper’s visit list is full, so it does not look like OU will get a visit from him.

SEC territory offensive lineman Josh Outlaw appears to have an OU visit scheduled. He’s a combo OL who could play inside or outside.

Beyond those needs, OU ideally would land one more HS linebacker and one true tight end. Right now there are only two names: One is a complete longshot (Danny Mattingly, who might visit after Oregon lost Chip Kelly) and an in-state legacy (Jackson Dillon, son of former OU LB Richard Dillon).

Verbal Update: Add three, lose one

*The loss of Mastrogiovanni was a tough blow to OU’s recruiting efforts. The fact that he chose Texas A&M after the Sooners’ third quarter meltdown in JerryWorld doubled the blow. Of the three Sooner verbals at LB, Mastro was the one mostly likely to help next year and represented the bigger every-down LB that the OU defense needs for the future. Also, his senior year film was impressive, and there’s no HS LB anywhere on OU’s offer list of equivalent skill/ability.

OU may have to wait until 2014 to address the LB gap.

*OU badly needs to replenish the DT ranks, and Charles Walker is the second HS DT to verbal to OU. Walker has awesome film from his senior year (Rivals 100-type film). It’s the best film of any DT in Texas, including Justin Manning and A’Shawn Robinson. If he can stay healthy, Walker could be an impact DT after a redshirt year.

It’s hard to overstate how important his verbal was. There’s not another DT on the previous offer list who is still considering OU. It was Walker or bust.

*The next two verbals were pretty surprising, since they are listed at wide receiver – I’ve been saying for months that WR was Laquon Treadwell or nothing. That was apparently off target.

K.J. Young appeared from out of nowhere with the claim in his local newspaper of an OU offer. Apparently, linebackers coach Tim Kish has a long-time connection with Young’s HS coach, who tipped off Kish that no one was really offering his best player. Kish got hold of Young’s senior year film, and within days, he had an OU offer.

Young somehow was ignored despite posting nearly 1,600 yards receiving with 18 touchdowns. He had nearly 800 of those yards in four big playoff games against best competition. On video, he’s a big time play maker with elite hands and excellent speed. The only thing missing is a lack of elite, top-end speed. It’s almost impossible to argue with the offer. His film is that good.

The most recent commitment came from way out of left field. Back in the spring, I listed Dannon Cavil as a potential target. (Related to Ben Cavil, an OU player in the 1990s, and Kwame Cavil, Texas' top WR for Major Applewhite.) Cavil is a legit 6-5, 205 WR with excellent speed and agility. He could be an excellent complement to the slot WRs (Sterling Shepard, Jalen Saunders, Austin Bennett) and the bigger flankers (Trey Metoyer, Derrick Woods, Durron Neal, Jordan Smallwood, LaColton Bester) in the program.

Cavil gets to go through spring drills and provides a different WR piece for the future. His junior film is limited due to an injury, but his senior film is excellent. His HS is a big-time running offense, so Cavil didn’t see the ball a lot. However, his average yards per reception (33 catches for 720 yards with 8 TDs) shows his big-play threat potential.

Verbal Commitments: 20
(Class size: 24 to 26)

D.J. Ward, DE
(6-4, 235, 4.6)

Hatari Byrd, DB
(6-2, 195, 4.55)

Matt Dimon, DE
(6-3, 255, 4.8)

Stanvon Taylor, DB
(5-11, 175, 4.4)

Cody Thomas, QB
(6-5, 220, 4.6)

Ahmad Thomas, DB
(6-0, 200, 4.5)

Charles Walker, DT
(6-4, 280, 4.8)

K.J. Young, WR
(6-1,180, 4.5)

Dannon Cavil, WR
(6-5, 205, 4.5)

Quincy Russell, DT
(6-4, 315)

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DE/LB
(6-3, 220, 4.6)

Kerrick Hughes, DT
(6-4, 285, 4.9)

Jordan Smallwood, WR
(6-2, 195, 4.55)

Jordan Evans, LB/DE
(6-3, 210, 4.55)

Jed Barnett, P
(6-2, 210)

Christian Daimler, OL
(6-6, 280, 5.1)

Josiah St. John, OL
(6-6, 310, 5.2)

Dominique Alexander, LB/S
(6-2, 195, 4.5)

Austin Bennett, WR
(6-0, 170, 4.45)

Keith Ford, RB
(5-11, 200, 4.5)

Final Class Prediction

QB: Cody Thomas

RB: Keith Ford

WR: Jordan Smallwood, Austin Bennett, KY Young, Dannon Cavil

TE:

OL: Aaron Cochran, Christian Daimler, Dwayne Johnson, Rami Hammad, Josiah St. John

DT: Quincy Russell, Kerrick Huggins, Charles Walker

DE: D.J. Ward, Matt Dimon, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

LB: Jordan Evans, Dominique Alexander

DB: Stanvon Taylor, Hatari Byrd, Ahmad Thomas, L.J. Moore, Adrian Baker

Who is left in play?

Offensive line

Christian Morris (6-6, 295, 5.1) – Another UCLA verbal that has blown up in recruiting. OU has offered and will try and get him on campus. He’s a big athlete who again looks like he could be a great LT/RT.

Rami Hammad (6-5, 320) – Former OSU/Baylor commit who has just blown up since a dominating performance at the recent Semper Fi game. He looks a little like Trent Williams on film. UT looks like the favorite.

Josh Outlaw (6-4, 290, 4.9) – Recent Florida decommit. Powerful mobile combo OL prospect. Several out-of-area schools, including OU and TCU, are offering Outlaw.

Maurice Porter (6-6, 285, 5.2) – A Texas Tech verbal who as reappeared on the radar. Played OG his junior year, but played mostly tackle his senior year. Film is much improved.

Dwayne Johnson (6-6, 275) – A Purdue commit who is racking up offers based on excellent senior year film.  Excellent athleticism and mobility and his frame could easily carry 300-plus.

Aaron Cochran (6-7,330, 5.3) – A big RT prospect from California who is still on the OU radar.  He visited for the Baylor game, and Cal, where his brother plays, may not be the leader everyone thinks. Jeff Tedford is gone. But Sonny Dykes is now hired. Will that help OU?

Defensive tackle

Matt Romar (6-3, 265, 4.8) – The latest new name to appear at DT, Romar played DE most of his junior year, but moved inside to DT his senior year. He looks like he could be an excellent three-technique penetrating DT in the OU system. His frame looks like he could easily carry in the range of 285 pounds while keeping that explosive burst that OU needs out of that position. As a senior, Romar had 48 tackles with 5 sacks from the interior tackle spot. He was named All-State 5-A at DT.

Linebacker and tight end

Jackson Dillon (6-6, 215, 4.7) – An OU legacy who plays both LB/DE and TE, Dillon looks better at TE than LB. He definitely has potential.

Danny Mattingly (6-5 225, 4.6) – OU target from this spring. De-committed from ND recently. Probably heading to Oregon. I have no info that he is even going to schedule an OU visit or if OU is even interested, but he would make a great option at TE.

Defensive back

Lamar Robbins (6-3, 185, 4.45) – One of the top big CBs in Florida, Robbins is very similar to current OU CB Gary Simon. Robbins visited for the OSU game, and OU appeared to be leading. Right now, either Robbins is more focused on closer schools or OU is more focused on other targets. Robbins could also end up being a safety in the OU defense.

Adrian Baker (6-1, 170, 4.4) – A big-time cover CB from Florida. Baker verbaled to Florida State, but with Mark Stoops leaving FSU along with his recruiting coach, Baker has de-committed. He’s already visited Clemson and OU and now appears ready to choose between those two teams on signing day.

L.J. Moore (6-1, 185, 4.45) – OU is now back in the hunt for Moore. Moore is an ideal hybrid between CB and safety that would fit the OU defense perfectly. Hatari Byrd has been talking up the Sooners.

Damarious Randall (6-0, 185) – A late JUCO offer at DB. Not sure that OU will get a visit, but Randall could fit in several places in the Sooner secondary – CB, nickelback, or dimeback.

Tahaan Goodman (6-2, 185, 4.5) – One of the best safeties prospects in the country. His interest level in OU has been up and down. He had a good visit to OU, but some hosts issues stopped it from being a grand slam. Will probably end up elsewhere.

Mixed bag of Sooners who've left early for NFL

Tony Jefferson, Kenny Stills and Tom Wort have decided to forgo their senior years at OU and enter the NFL draft. If history (of Sooners entering early) is any indication of how they’ll do in the pros, the bust potential seems high. Of those Sooners who decided to leave Norman early, only the All-Americans were successful on the next level.

Roy Williams was the eighth overall player drafted in the 2002 NFL draft after the Dallas Cowboys did some wheeling and dealing to get the All-American safety. Williams played seven of his nine years for the Cowboys and was named to the Pro Bowl five times (2003-07). He played his final two seasons at Cincinnati, but retired after a fractured forearm slowed his career.

Tommie Harris was the 14th overall pick by the Chicago Bears in the 2004 draft. The All-American defensive tackle played seven years in the Second City and was named to the Pro Bowl three times (2005-07). He was hampered by a couple of knee injuries (late 2006 and 2007) and signed with Indianapolis, and then San Diego. His career now appears to be through.

The Minnesota Vikings took Adrian Peterson with the seventh overall pick in the 2007 draft. The All-American running back was just voted to his fifth Pro Bowl, and he came up nine yards shy of breaking the NFL’s season rushing record in 2012. Peterson, the all-time leading rusher in Vikings history, is becoming one of the best runners in NFL history.

In 2008, the Atlanta Falcons selected Curtis Lofton in the second round. The former All-American linebacker became a starter for the Falcons his rookie year, and he led the team in tackles in 2010 and 2011. He signed with New Orleans in 2012 and led the team with 123 stops.

Gerald McCoy was the third overall pick by Tampa Bay in 2010. The All-American defensive tackle was voted to his first Pro Bowl in 2012. A torn bicep hampered him in 2011, but obviously he made a tremendous comeback in ’12.

The St. Louis Rams made Sam Bradford the No. 1 overall selection in 2010. The former Heisman Trophy winner has been the starting quarterback every year for the Rams, and he was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in '10.

Most of the other Sooners who jumped to the pros early were all-conference first teamers, except for Malcolm Kelly. He was a second round pick by Washington in 2008, but injuries hampered his career and he was released in August 2011.

Jimmy Wilkerson went to Kansas City in the sixth round in 2003. He spent five seasons starting at defensive end for the Chiefs and then signed with Tampa Bay in 2008. He started for the Buccaneers in 2009, but suffered a torn knee late in the season. A year later he signed with New Orleans, but did not start for the Saints. He signed with Seattle in 2011, but spent the season on injured reserve. Wilkerson is currently an unsigned free agent.

The Cleveland Browns tabbed Brodney Pool in the second round in 2005. The former all-Big 12 cornerback played five years for the Browns and two for the New York Jets. He signed with Dallas in 2012, but was cut because he failed his initial conditioning test during the first week of training camp.

Reggie Smith never panned out after being chosen in the third round of the 2008 draft by San Francisco. He was hampered by injuries and cut after he signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2012.

Atlanta took Dominique Franks in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. He was cut from the Falcons’ roster early in 2012, but re-signed with the team a week later. Franks has played sparingly the last three years and started four games in 2011. He remains active on the team as the third-string cornerback.

Ronnell Lewis was a fourth-round pick by Detroit in 2012. It’s too early to tell how he will pan out, but he’s listed as third-team defensive end for the Lions.

Dynamic running back De’Mond Parker was an early entrant to the 1999 draft and a fifth-round choice by the Green Bay Packers. He played two years for the Pack and started only once. He signed with Detroit in 2001 and Buffalo a year later, but was cut by both teams.

So, if you’re not an All-American at OU, the outlook for your career on the next level is rough. Jefferson was a first-team all-conference pick for the Sooners and that came last year. Stills made the Big 12's second team the last two years. The best for Wort was a Big 12 honorable mention nod in 2011.

Odds aren't good that all three will be on an NFL roster in five years. If history holds true, they'll all be out of work.

Sooners in the Pro Bowl

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson is going to the Pro Bowl for the fifth time, and he’s bringing a couple of Sooners with him to Honolulu on January 27.

Peterson had a remarkable year for the Minnesota Vikings by rushing for 2,096 yards after overcoming a knee injury late in 2011. Since turning pro in 2007, he has been voted to the all-star game every year except 2011.

As a rookie, Peterson was named the MVP at the 2008 Pro Bowl by rushing 16 times for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns.

AD will have Trent Williams and Gerald McCoy joining him on the NFC squad. This is the first year both have been voted to the Pro Bowl, and all three should play barring any injuries.

Williams is in his third season as offensive tackle for the Washington Redskins. He starred at the same position for OU from 2006-09, and was an All-American in 2009. He is expected to be a backup for the Pro Bowl game.

Like Williams, McCoy was an All-American in 2009 and made the roster in just his third year in the NFL as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. He overcame a torn biceps injury to have one of his most productive seasons in 2012. The Southeast Oklahoma City High School product recorded 30 tackles, including five sacks, one forced fumble and one recovered fumble.

Sooners in the Pro Bowl

Player Years Teams
Jim Weatherall 1955-56 Philadelphia
Tommy McDonald 1958-62, 65 Philadelphia
Jerry Tubbs 1962 Dallas
Clendon Thomas 1963 Pittsburgh
Ralph Neely 1967, 69 Dallas
Steve Owens 1971 Detroit
Greg Pruitt 1974-75, 77-78, 83 Cleveland, Los Angeles
Joe Washington 1979 Baltimore
Billy Sims 1980-82 Detroit
Derland Moore 1983 New Orleans
Lee Roy Selmon 1979-84 Tampa Bay
Scott Case 1988 Atlanta
Keith Jackson 1988-90, 92-93, 96 Philadelphia, Miami, Green Bay
Stephen Alexander 2000 Washington
Roy Williams 2003-07 Dallas
Tommie Harris 2005 Chicago
Jammal Brown 2006 New Orleans
Davin Joseph 2008, 11 Tampa Bay
Adrian Peterson 2007-10, 12 Minnesota
Gerald McCoy 2012 Tampa Bay
Trent Williams 2012 Washington

Lee Roy Selmon is the only other Sooner to earn MVP honors in a Pro Bowl. Selmon had four sacks and was named co-MVP in the 1982 all star game.

Podcast: Wrapping up 2012 for the Sooners

Oklahoma fans have had a little more than a week to digest getting thrashed by Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, a loss that wrapped up an eventful 10-3 season. The Skinny joins Homerism for a podcast to put a cap on the year and look at the state of the program going forward.

Skinny and I discuss:

*What happened against the Aggies.
*The status of the Big 12.
*The success of Mike Stoops' return to the Sooners.
*Does OU need to junk the spread?
*The chances that Bob Stoops can ever make another run at a national championship.

(Subscribe to Blatant Homerism's Podcast through iTunes. Please rate and review the show if you get the chance, too. Thanks.)

Offense not to blame for Sooners' talent shortage

Jaz Reynolds

Last week’s shellacking from Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl has sent Sooner fans into a tizzy wondering how Oklahoma can get back on track. Fresh off of taking the OU coaching staff to task for poor preparation in bowl games, Tulsa World columnist John Hoover has further cemented his reputation as Bob Stoops’ chief watchdog with another scathing column. This one takes aim at the program’s offense.

Hoover's long-winded critique raises plenty of solid points about the diminishing returns from OU’s no-huddle spread* scheme. While the blog post hits on a host of tangential issues, the thrust of his argument is that the Sooners’ reliance on the spread is driving elite players away from Norman.

(*This is where I insert my normal caveat about my frustrations with the ubiquitous application of the term “spread offense.” In this context, I’m using spread to refer to OU’s version of the Air Raid.)

I have given this issue plenty of thought, even before Hoover raised it. I read the recruiting chess board a little differently.

OU hasn’t really been competing for recruits against programs that run the “pro-style” offenses that have dominated the SEC as of late. While SEC programs typically stock their rosters with players from the Sun Belt region – Florida, Louisiana, Georgia and the like – OU has traditionally pulled recruits from Texas. The Sooners’ primary competition in the Lone Star State? Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor, etc.

UT has made a move towards more of a pro-style attack, but the rest remain as spread-happy as ever. That includes the current “It” program on the national scene, Texas A&M, which is making some serious noise in the SEC.

If you’re looking for the missing talented players who were once on the Sooners’ roster, chances are you’ll find them wasting away down in Austin. Mack Brown has always had a knack for reeling in talent in his home state, but he has truly locked it down in the last four years. The Longhorns have finished no lower than fifth overall in the Rivals.com team recruiting rankings since 2009. Considering the past few seasons in Austin, it’s a pretty remarkable feat.

OU’s rankings in those four years: 13, 7, 14, 11.

Whereas Stoops once had a shot to win some recruiting battles south of the Red River, Mack has made it no contest. Texas' offensive transition may have had an effect in that regard, but a number of the players on the roster last season became Longhorns while watching Colt McCoy work his magic out of the spread.

At the same time, spread teams like Baylor, TCU and, now more than ever, A&M are raising their recruiting profiles, too. It stands to reason that if players are eschewing OU because of the spread, they wouldn't want to play for Art Briles or Kevin Sumlin, either.

In fact, with competition intensifying in the state of Texas for recruits, Stoops has taken a more national approach to recruiting. OU is now chasing more players from places like California and Ohio. Is it possible that the Sooner offense is dissuading talented recruits from those locales from picking OU? Maybe, although historical data suggests that distance from home seems like the far more likely factor.

As I mentioned, Hoover raises a number of objections to Oklahoma’s style of play, all of which deserve some consideration. There are good arguments to be made for dumping the spread. The idea that OU’s offense is hurting the Sooners’ ability to lure top talent to Norman, however, doesn’t hold up.

Lack of defensive talent hamstringing Sooners

Corey Nelson

“If you can’t play defense, people will beat your ass.”

Legendary Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer made that statement to the Tulsa World three days after the Sooners lost to Kansas State last year. And the King is right.

The Sooners played horrible defense in 2012—ranking 45th in total defense by giving up nearly 379 yards a game and 40th in scoring by allowing 24.2 points per game. In four of the Sooners' final five games, OU’s defense yielded an average of 581 yards and 43 points.

A good D should have at least one great linebacker or down lineman. The Sooners have been devoid of a hotshot linebacker or down lineman the last few years. Tom Wort, who announced Wednesday that he is leaving OU to declare early for the NFL draft, and Corey Nelson were major disappointments this year. Travis Lewis was the last linebacker to make an all-conference team in 2009, and Curtis Lofton was the last All-American linebacker at OU in 2007.

Nearly every year, a linebacker tops the list in tackles at Oklahoma. Not in 2012, when Wort and Nelson ranked fifth and sixth, respectively. The top four came from the secondary.

Jamarkus McFarlandOklahoma hasn’t had a defensive lineman receive any honors since Gerald McCoy in ’09. Jamarkus McFarland  was a Parade All-American and one of the top defensive tackles to come out of high school in 2008, but he produced little on the field.

“We’re not as good as we have been,” Switzer commented on the defensive line. “We don’t have the Tommie Harrises or Gerald McCoys squatting down there in the middle. They just don’t have the talent.”

For Bob Stoops to return the Sooners to national prominence, he must sign some defensive talent. He signed only three DTs in 2011 (Jordan Phillips, Marquis Anderson and Jordan Wade) and none last year. Alabama signed seven DTs the past two years. The Tide weren’t able to stop Johnny Manziel, either, but Bama is in the BCS title game for the third time in the last four years.

Qunicy Russell, a junior college All-American, signed with the Sooners and will go through spring practices. Kerrick Huggins is a four-star prospect out of Dallas Skyline, and ranked 13th overall defensive tackle according to Rivals, but 22nd by Scout.com.

Jordan Evans of Norman North is the lone linebacker committed to Oklahoma so far. He’s a three-star prospect and ranked 43rd among linebackers, according to Rivals, but unranked by Scout. Jordan Mastrogiovanni, a three-star linebacker from Dallas Jesuit, de-committed from the Sooners and is expected to sign with Texas A&M. Ranked the 28th best linebacker by Rivals and 18th by Scout, he changed his mind after OU lost the Cotton Bowl.

No one needs to tell Stoops that good recruiting could bring more championships to Norman. Maybe he should enlist one of the greatest college football recruiters to tag along—Barry Switzer.

Cotton Bowl: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Johnny Manziel

Wow, the third quarter of the Cotton Bowl was the single worst quarter of football I've seen OU play since the second quarter of the 55-19 debacle against USC in the 2005 national title game. The warning signs were all there in the first half: Big-play drives by Texas A&M countered by long, time-consuming drives requiring constant execution by the Sooners.

The Good

*Tress Way had a good last game punting the ball for OU.

*The offensive line for the most part gave Landry Jones enough time to generate a passing game, which created three long drives in the first half.

*Brennan Clay made some nice physical runs to pick up first downs and had an excellent screen pass play.

*Kenny Stills had a nice first half.

*Landry, minus his one requisite pick, had a solid first half with a great TD throw on the run to Justin Brown. It showed some of the improvements Landry has made this season.

The Bad

*Run blocking at crucial times was subpar, especially the interior OL, which got worked by just three or four guys.

*The Belldozer insertion on 2nd-and-goal from the 1-yard line was unnecessary. Leave in the offense with Damien Williams.

*Damien Williams seemed rusty at times, missing running lanes.

The UGLY

*The entire freaking defense down the line.

*The front four made zero plays and was just dominated inside and outside.

*Franklin Shannon missed several chances to tackle Johnny Manziel before breaking off huge plays.

*Tom Wort missed his usual tackles.

*The secondary, again, was in coverage, but the defensive backs made zero plays on the ball to force turnovers. The secondary never adjusted to tackling Manziel or the Aggie RBs.

*Finally, after the third touchdown of the third quarter, the defense seemed to quit. The stink of Lubbock circa 2009 and Stillwater in 2011 was there.

*The offensive play-calling to start the second half was terrible – passive and predictable. OU didn't test teams deep and spread opponents out. The three-and-outs decided this game.

*Mike Stoops' scheme was flawed from the start. A&M carved it up like it wasn't there. Mike has showed zero adjustments to spread teams with QB running games.

The Unknown (The Future)

*When does a 10-3 season seem like a step backwards? When you get blown out in a bowl game by a team that you beat last year by a couple of TDs. We will ignore the recruiting impact of this loss for now. Where does OU go from here on the field?

*The defense is in complete disarray and loses six starters (Demontre Hurst, Tony Jefferson, Javon Harris, David King, Jamrkus McFarland, Casey Walker). The returning starters and veterans are a huge mixed bag of players not getting it done at an all-conference level. The only player on defense who might be all-conference is Aaron Colvin, and he isn't making plays on the ball.

*Defensive tackle returns one guy with "starting" playing time. That's it.

*Defensive end returns Geneo Grissom and Chuka Ndulue, but it's very possible neither guy starts next year if more athletic players are ready.

*Linebacker? It's Franklin Shannon and then hoping that Aaron Franklin and Eric Striker can make enough plays to get on the field.

*Defensive back? A new cornerback seems easier than finding two safeties. OU badly needs competition at all spots.

*Realistically the defense won't be "fixed" until 2014 at the earliest.

*Offensively, OU needs to break in a new quarterback. Many OU fans will be happy to see Landry go, but a new starter is going to make mistakes and probably rack up some losses.

*Regardless of who wins the job, hopefully the new QB will be allowed to use his mobility to help the OU offense become more multi-dimensional.

*So far, the jury is still very much out on Josh Heupel as offensive coordinator. His Mike Leach era background seems to dominate his play-calling.

*Even projecting the most optimistic results at QB and with the rebuilt defense, the current BCS system means a very likely loss to a loaded and talented Notre Dame team in South Bend will all but end any thought of OU being in any kind of title game hunt.

Texas A&M 41, Oklahoma 13: No words

Landry JonesWhen the final gun sounded on Oklahoma’s 41-13 humiliation at the hands of Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, I tried to write about the game itself.

About one of the worst defensive efforts in recent memory. About horrific offensive play-calling. About watching a team that slumped through the second half like they were on their way to a colonoscopy. About an ass-kicking typically reserved for Savannah State showing up for a paycheck game.

Maybe it reflects a lack of creativity or simple competency on my part, but I have run out of ways to write of the stunningly familiar disappointments of Bob Stoops’ tenure as Oklahoma’s head coach.

Stoops’ track record has rightfully put him among the best college football coaches of his generation. The consistency from year to year has produced a remarkable number of wins and hardware for his trophy case.

Yet, that same consistency applies to his failures as well. Longtime Sooner fans like myself have seen this same kind of collapse so often that the whys and wherefores of each particular occurrence blend together into a decade-plus montage of back-breaking interceptions, defensive backs burnt to a crisp and kick returners streaking past would-be OU tacklers towards the end zone.

When it comes to Oklahoma football, there’s still far more good to be had than bad. Plenty of fans would kill for their favorite team to have just one season of double-digit wins. OU now has three in a row.

That all starts with a coach who’s supremely confident in both himself and his methods. Stoops is stubborn to the point of arrogance and acutely dismissive of criticism. He has every right to be that way, because when you step back and look at his career as a whole, it’s hard to argue against him.

For all that good that I alluded to, though, there seems to be just a little more bad every year. Every year, it becomes increasingly clear that OU is drifting farther away from the high standards that Stoops himself has set for the program.

And even though the details of those disappointments may all get lumped together, that doesn’t stop the discontent from building.

So, while I don’t have the inclination or energy to come up with a fresh perspective on yet another bowl debacle, I do have enough in the tank to offer Stoops some unsolicited advice. It shouldn’t come as a shock.

Brace yourself for a brutal offseason.

Game Preview: Cotton Bowl

Damontre Moore

No. 9 Texas A&M (10-2) vs. No. 11 Oklahoma (10-2)
77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic
Jan. 4, 7 p.m.
Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
TV: FOX
Line: A&M -3

Series: OU leads 19-11 (11-2 under Bob Stoops)

GAME PREVIEW

It seems the Sooners have been inundated with awesome offenses this year… The Aggies ranked 3rd nationally with 552.3 yards per game (317.2 passing and 235.1 rushing)… They also sit at 3rd in scoring with 44.7 points per game… If you haven’t heard already, freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel leads the team and is a dual threat who should give any defensive coordinator fits.

Manziel is the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy... He also garnered the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, as well as every other offensive award imaginable… He has completed 68 percent of his 400 passes for 3,419 yards with 24 TDs an 8 INTS, and he’s A&M's top rusher with 1,181 yards (6.4 per tote) and 19 TDs… He also set the SEC record for most total yards (4,600) in one season… Left tackle Luke Joeckel, this year’s Outland Trophy winner, leads an o-line that averages 308 pounds per man… Fellow tackle Jake Matthews joined him on the all-SEC first team this year.

Tailback Ben Malena is the team’s second-leading rusher with 752 yards and seven scores… Mike Evans leads the receiving corps with 75 catches for 1,022 yards and 5 TDs… Ryan Swope had 64 grabs for 809 yards and 7 TDs.

Stopping the Sooners’ offense will be a chore for the A&M defense, which ranks 56th in yards allowed (389.3 per game) and 79th in pass D (248.4 per game)… The defense has allowed 22.5 points per game this year.

Damontre Moore is a beast at defensive end, and he is the Aggies' lead pass rusher with 80 tackles, 20 for loss, including 12.5 sacks and 8 quarterback hurries… The linebacker trio of Jonathan Stewart, Steven Jenkins and Sean Porter has combined for 202 stops, including 13 behind the line and 7 sacks… The Aggies have only picked off 11 passes, but cornerback Dustin Harris leads with 10 passes broken up.

Special teams is nothing to really crow about … Punter Ryan Epperson averages 42.8 yards per kick… Taylor Bertloet has connected on 91 percent of PATs and 59 percent of FGs… The Aggies average 20 yards per kickoff return with no TDs… Dustin Harris is the leading punt return specialist with an 13.2 yards per return and one score… A&M allows 18.7 yards per kickoff return and 5.9 per punt return, giving up only 1 TD on a punt return.

With 32 days since the TCU game, Mike Stoops should have had plenty of time to come up with a defensive plan to stop Manziel & Co… Someone will have to key on the Aggies’ QB… If the Sooners can put a cork on Manziel, they will win… Stacy McGee’s suspension leaves the tackle position thin – expect David King to play there some… A&M’s offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury took the head coaching job at Texas Tech… Should be interesting if the play-calling changes for the Ags.

Lane Johnson and/or Tyrus Thompson will be given the duty of protecting Landry Jones’ blind side and keeping Moore out of the backfield… A great pass rusher doesn’t bode well for Oklahoma, as Jones gets rattled under pressure, so neutralizing Moore will be key to OU’s offensive success… Right tackle Daryl Williams will miss the game due to a knee injury, which means another shuffling of linemen to get the right fit… Seems to have worked this year, unlike 2009.

Jalen Saunders’ reinstatement will provide OU with another weapon in the receiving corps… OU has the nation's sixth-ranked passing offense, and the Aggies are 89th against the pass.

This should be another shootout…The quarterback who has a great day will lead his team to victory…. And likely to be the one who has the ball last.

ETC.

*Both teams had five-game win streaks to close 2012 and both have won all their games away from home.

*OU is the home team and will wear crimson jerseys.

*OU is 15-14-1 (52 percent) in bowl games when wearing crimson jerseys; 14-3 (82 percent) when wearing road whites.

*OU is 27-17-1 (61 percent) in all bowl games, including three straight wins.

*Bob Stoops is 7-6 in bowl games; Sumlin is 2-1 in bowl games (all at Houston).

*A&M is 14-19 (42 percent) in all bowl games.

*A&M is 4-8 in the Cotton Bowl, including six straight losses.

*OU is 1-0 in the Cotton Bowl.

*OU is 1-1 at Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

*A&M is 0-4 at Cowboys Stadium.

*In the 14 years since having the Big 12-SEC match up, the Big 12 team has won five times.

*Landry Jones, Joseph Ibiloye, Demontre Hurst, Tress Way and Jaydan Bird began their careers and will end their careers at Cowboys Stadium.

*OU is 0-2 on January 4th (BCS Championship Game losses to LSU in 2004 and USC in 2005)

*A&M has never played on January 4th.

*Johnny Manziel is the third of the top three Heisman contenders to face OU, and the Sooners lost to the other two.

*Heisman Trophy winners' teams are 23-22 in bowl games the year they win the award; 3-4 in the Cotton Bowl.

*A&M is favored for the first time in this rivalry since 1999; OU clobbered the Aggies 51-6 that year.

*OU has won 33 straight when leading at halftime (8-0 this year).

Oklahoma's Best Individual Bowl Performances

Ryan Broyles

*Fullback Leon Heath rushed for 150 yards on 15 carries (11.3 average) and scored two touchdowns to the lead the Sooners to a 35-0 victory over LSU in the 1950 Sugar Bowl. Heath was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player. Health followed that by rushing 20 times for 121 yards (6.05 average) in a 13-7 loss to Kentucky in the 1951 Sugar Bowl.

*Halfback Larry Grigg scored the only touchdown in OU’s 7-0 win over Maryland in the 1954 Orange Bowl. As a defensive back, he also intercepted the Terrapins’ pass in the end zone late in the game to thwart a possible tie.

*OU and Maryland met again two years later, and the Terps (trailing 14-6) were driving for a score. Carl Dodd intercepted at the 18-yard line and sailed 82 yards for the game’s final touchdown. The Sooners prevailed, 20-6.

*David Baker returned an interception 94 yards for OU’s first score in a 48-21 rout over Duke in the 1958 Orange Bowl. Baker also caught a touchdown pass and tossed a scoring strike against the Blue Devils.

*Brewster Hobby attempted only one pass in OU’s 21-6 win over Syracuse at the 1959 Orange Bowl—a 79-yard scoring strike to Ross Coyle for a 14-0 lead.

*Prentice Gautt carried only six times at the 1959 Orange Bowl and scored a touchdown. He averaged 15.7 yards each time he touched the pigskin.

*Oklahoma lost to Florida State, 36-19, in the 1965 Gator Bowl, and the only highlight for the Sooners was quarterback Ronnie Fletcher’s 95-yard TD pass to split end Ben Hart.

*Linebacker Steve Casteel had 12 tackles in OU’s 28-27 loss to SMU in the 1968 Bluebonnet Bowl.

*Halfback Greg Pruitt averaged 12.1 yards (8 for 97 yards) each time he touched the ball in the 1970 Bluebonnet Bowl. He also scored on runs of 58 and 25 yards in the tie game with Alabama.

*There were two Sugar Bowls in 1972, one on January 1, and the other 365 days later on December 31. OU won both games. Quarterback Jack Mildren rushed 30 times for 149 yards and scored 3 TDs in a 42-22 rout over Auburn. Mildren was named MOP of that game.

*Halfback Joe Wylie returned a punt 71 yards for a touchdown in the first Sugar Bowl of 1972.

*John Carroll kicked a 53-yard field goal against Auburn in the first Sugar Bowl of 1972.

*In the second Sugar Bowl that year, freshman receiver Tinker Owens caught 5 passes for 132 yards, including a 27-yarder for a touchdown in OU’s 14-0 victory over Penn State. Owens was named the game’s MOP.

*Noseguard Reggie Kinlaw had 11 tackles in each of the 1978 and 1979 Orange Bowls.

*Tailback Billy Sims carried 25 times for 134 yards and scored 2 TDs in OU’s 31-24 triumph over Nebraska in the 1979 Orange Bowl. This was a rematch of the OU-NU matchup seven weeks earlier where Sims fumbled on the Husker’s 3-yard line and the Sooners lost, 17-14. The next year, Sims rushed 24 times for 164 yards and scored a TD in a 24-7 victory over Florida State in the Orange Bowl.

*Quarterback J.C. Watts was named the MVP of the 1980 and 1981 Orange Bowl games. He ran 15 times for 127 yards and a 61-yard score in the 1980 game. A year later, he completed 7 of 12 passes for 128 yards. More importantly, he tossed a 10-yard TD pass and followed it with a two-point pass to Forrest Valora to give OU its 18th, and deciding point, against the Seminoles in the 1981 Orange Bowl.

*In only the second start of his career, safety Bud Hebert intercepted three passes in the 1980 Orange Bowl and was named defensive MVP of the game.

*Mike Keeling nailed a 53-yard field goal to help OU to an 18-17 win over Florida State in the 1981 Orange Bowl.

*Linebacker Mike Coast recorded 15 tackles in the 1981 Orange Bowl.

*Freshman tailback Fred Sims ran for 181 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown in OU’s 40-14 victory over Houston in the 1981 Sun Bowl.

*Quarterback Darrell Shepard rushed for 107 yards and scored a couple of touchdowns to be named MVP of the 1981 Sun Bowl.

*Freshman tailback Marcus Dupree rushed 17 times for 242 yards in only three quarters of action in OU’s 32-21 loss to Arizona State in the 1983 Fiesta Bowl.

*Fullback Lydell Carr carried the ball 19 times for 148 yards against Penn State in the 1986 Orange Bowl. His 61-yard TD scamper in the fourth quarter was an insurance score for the Sooners to help them attain their sixth national championship.

*Tim Lashar’s four field goals set an Orange Bowl record and helped the Sooners beat Penn State in the 1986 Orange Bowl.

*Safety Sonny Brown had two interceptions in the 1986 Orange Bowl to be named the game’s defensive MVP. A year later he picked off two passes and forced a fumble in the 1987 Orange Bowl. Brown intercepted five passes in three Orange Bowls (1985-87).

*Linebacker Brian Bosworth had 13 solo tackles in the 1986 Orange Bowl.

*Tailback Spencer Tillman ran seven times for 109 yards (15.6 average) and scored on runs of 77 and 21 yards to lead Oklahoma to a 42-8 win over Arkansas in the 1987 Orange Bowl.

*Quarterback Cale Gundy completed 25 of 31 passes for 329 yards and 2 TDs to lead the Sooners to a 48-14 win over Virginia in the 1991 Gator Bowl. Gundy, who also was named the game’s MVP, completed 11 straight passes at one point against the nation's sixth-ranked pass defense. In two bowl games (also the 1993 Sun Bowl win over Texas Tech), Gundy completed 40 of 57 attempts for 544 yards and 5 TDs.

*Tailback Mike Gaddis gained 104 yards on 20 carries and scored 3 TDs in the 1991 Gator Bowl.

*Scott Blanton booted a 78-yard punt against Texas Tech in the 1993 Sun Bowl.

*Linebacker Broderick Simpson had 13 tackles, one sack and broke up a pass in OU’s 31-6 loss to BYU in the 1994 Copper Bowl. Simpson was named the game’s defensive MVP.

*Tailback Quentin Griffin’s 10-yard run with 8:30 remaining drove the final nail in Florida State’s coffin as the Sooners beat the heavily-favored Seminoles, 13-2, to claim their seventh national title. Two years later, he carried 30 times for 162 yards and a score in the 2003 Rose Bowl.

*Safety Roy Williams had six tackles, three behind the line of scrimmage, and two sacks to be named defensive MVP of the 2002 Cotton Bowl. The Sooners held Arkansas to 50 total yards in a 10-3 victory.

*Quarterback Nate Hybl completed 19 of 29 passes for 240 yards and 2 TDs to guide OU to a 34-14 victory over Washington State in the 2003 Rose Bowl. Hybl was named the game’s MVP.

*Defensive end Jonathan Jackson had three tackles for -34 yards, including two sacks for -22, and a forced fumble in the '03 Rose Bowl.

*OU led Oregon 17-14 in the 2005 Holiday Bowl, but the Ducks were threatening with less than a minute remaining in the game. Linebacker Clint Ingram intercepted an Oregon pass on the Sooners' 10-yard line with 33 seconds to go to preserve the win.

*Linebacker Rufus Alexander had 17 tackles and forced a fumble in a 43-42 loss to Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

*Juaquin Iglesias returned seven kickoffs for 195 yards (27.9 average) in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl loss to West Virginia.

*Linebacker Curtis Lofton recorded 15 tackles in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.

*Freshman quarterback Landry Jones completed 30 of 51 passes for 418 yards and 3 TDs to lead OU to a 31-27 win over Stanford in the 2009 Sun Bowl. A year later, he connected 34 of 49 tosses for 429 yards and 3 TDs in a 48-20 victory over Connecticut.

*Linebacker Ryan Reynolds made 12 tackles in the ’09 Sun Bowl.

*Receiver Ryan Broyles hauled in 12 passes for 156 yards and 3 TDs in the 2009 Sun Bowl. The following year, he caught 13 passes for 170 yards and a TD in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl.

Cotton Bowl: A&M's time in the spotlight

Johnny Manziel

The Texas A&M Aggies’ meteoric rise grew into one of the 2012 college football’s biggest stories for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the skepticism about their ability to compete in the SEC. Forget pundits – I suspect that if you asked A&M fans before the season, a vast majority would have considered seven wins or so a successful year.

Win 10 games and beat Alabama? Dream on.

In the course of 12 games, however, new coach Kevin Sumlin, Heisman-winning freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel and the rest of A&M’s overachievers have completely changed the dynamic around the program. The discussion no longer revolves around whether or not the Aggies can survive in the SEC, but instead whether or not Sumlin is building a monster in College Station.

You don’t need to look beyond A&M’s upcoming date with Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl to understand just how much things have changed for the Aggies in the last few months.

The Vegas oddsmakers have installed A&M as a three-point favorite over OU. That doesn’t happen often. The Sooners were favored in 12 of their previous 13 meetings with the Aggies as Big 12 South foes, the lone exception being Bob Stoops’ first season as head coach (1999).

In fact, prior to this game, the Sooners have been underdogs a total of 20 times in Stoops’ 14 years as head coach. That’s what tends to happen when you’ve been as successful as OU has under Stoops. It also means that his teams have played in plenty of – for lack of a better term – games that people give a shit about. Showcases against teams like Notre Dame and Florida State. Games between top five teams in the Red River Shootout. Conference championships. BCS bowls.

Texas A&M, on the other hand, has spent the last 14 years living outside the spotlight. Games that people give a shit about have been few and far between. The Aggies’ biggest moments, such as the upset of Alabama, have come when no one expects them. Hell, that’s what has made this entire season so special for A&M.

Friday night’s game is a different proposition. Playing the underdog card is tough when you’re not even an underdog, let alone when your Heisman-winning quarterback is getting the rock star treatment around town and golfing with the Jonas Brothers.

It may sound like a cliche, but Sumlin has earned deserved praise for changing the culture of A&M football. His job changed in the last month, though. His team is living with the spoils of success, not just trying to prove themselves.

The Sooners are accustomed to people are giving a shit about their games. We’ll find out at JerryWorld if the Aggies are ready for people to start giving a shit about theirs.

1981 Orange Bowl: Sooners win a thriller over Seminoles

When the Sooners and Aggies tee it up at the Cotton Bowl on January 4, it is expected to be an exciting match up of high-powered offenses. Perhaps the most exciting bowl game ever for OU was the 1981 Orange Bowl, which found the Sooners also relying on its offensive firepower to score a thrilling win.

The 1980 Sooners began Barry Switzer’s eighth season at 2-2 with wins over Kentucky and Colorado, but they dropped games against Stanford and Texas. After starting at No. 5 in the preseason, Oklahoma had fallen to 17th in the polls. The Sooners swept their next seven games, which included an out-of conference win over North Carolina, and captured the Big Eight conference title. They had climbed their way back to No. 4 in the country. As Big Eight champs, they got an automatic bid to the Orange Bowl to meet second-ranked Florida State.

The 10-1 Seminoles had outscored their opponents by an average of 32 to 7. They lost to Miami 10-9, but, just like OU, rebounded to win their final seven games, too.

A crowd of 71,043 spectators turned out for the 47th Orange Bowl Classic on News Year’s night of 1981.

The defense of the second-ranked Seminoles had contained OU’s offense most of the night, but the Sooners still managed to keep the game close with its own solid defense. Both teams missed field goals in the first quarter, and FSU took a 7-0 lead with 49 seconds until halftime. The Sooners quickly marched to the FSU 37 and Michael Keeling booted a 53-yard field goal to end the half and close the deficit to 7-3. Keeling’s kick set a new Orange Bowl record.

Oklahoma took the second half kickoff and drove 78 yards in 12 plays, using up six minutes to take the lead. From the FSU four-yard line, J.C. Watts pitched the ball to David Overstreet, who followed Steve Rhodes’ block and swept across the goal line. Keeling nailed the extra point and OU led, 10-7, with 8:59 left in the quarter. Watts had a 20-yard run to spark the drive and overcome a fourth-down situation.

The ’Noles added a field goal late in the third period and moments after recovering a fumble at the OU 17.

Early in the fourth period, OU’s offense stalled and Keeling set up to punt. The ball sailed through his hands and rolled into the end zone where FSU’s All-American cornerback Bobby Butler smothered it to add six more points for his squad. Following the extra point, Florida State led, 17-10, with 11:07 left in the game.

The ’Noles had to be feeling confident at that point, because their defense had not allowed opponents to score in the fourth quarter all season.

The Sooners would get one final chance with 3:19 to go and the ball at their own 22. Watts tossed a screen pass to Overstreet off the right side for seven yards. On the next play, the Seminoles’ Arthur Scott sacked Watts for a six-yard loss.

On third-and-nine, Watts found Rhodes open at the FSU 48. After the catch, Rhodes eluded a couple of Seminole defenders and gained 13 more yards, advancing the ball to the FSU 35. Coaches drew up that pass play at halftime for Rhodes, who had been unsure that he was even going to get to play in the game due to a pulled hamstring.

On the next play, Watts overthrew Jim Rockford on a fly pattern in the end zone. With 2:03 left on the clock, Watts completed a pass to Chet Winters for 14 yards to the FSU 21. On the next play, three Seminole defenders rushed Watts who lobbed the ball toward Winters. FSU’s Garry Futch got between Watts and Winters and had a chance to intercept the pass, but juggled the pigskin and couldn’t hold on. If he had, no one was between him and the OU goal line.

On second-and-10, Watts was bottled up in the backfield, then took off to his left and scrambled for an 11-yard gain. He went out of bounds at the 10 with 1:38 remaining. Watts then passed to Rockford in the end zone. FSU linebacker Jarvis Coursey stepped in front of the OU receiver and, he too, could not hold on to the football.

On the next play, Watts rolled right and fired the ball to Rockford, who dove to the ground clutching the ball in the end zone. Down, 17-16, the Sooners went for two.

Again, Watts sprinted right and lofted the ball to tight end Forrest Valora all alone in the end zone. Oklahoma led, 18-17, with 1:27 left. Watts, who was knocked unconscious in the third quarter, completed four passes in the go-ahead drive, which took nine plays and covered 78 yards.

Florida State took the kickoff and marched to the OU 45. With five seconds left, FSU kicker Bill Capece attempted a 62-yard field goal, but the kick lost its zip, and the ball dropped short of the goal posts.

Watts, who completed seven of 12 passes for 128 yards and ran for 48, was named the game’s most valuable player for the second straight year. He also received the honor for his performance in OU’s 24-7 win over Florida State in the 1980 Orange Bowl.

“We were going to leave it on the field,” Watts said after the game. “Win or lose—no tie.”

“It’s just unbelievable ... a great finish,” coach Barry Switzer said.

The Sooners finished the year third behind Georgia and Pittsburgh.

DGB to (Insert School Name Here)

If you've followed college football recruiting with even mild interest in the last 10 years or so, you probably realize the element of surprise is all but dead. Kids are committing earlier than ever, and members of the media have usually found out where a player is heading and tipped off their subscribers behind the pay walls in advance of prospects doing hat dances in their high school gyms.

Dorial Green-Beckham, the country's top-rated recruit in 2012, is a notable exception.

DGB and his family have doled out information about the coveted receiver's intentions judiciously. When DGB and his father, who has acted as a gatekeeper throughout the process, have given interviews, they haven't dodged questions, but they haven't revealed much.

With National Signing Day quickly approaching, we know that there are four schools still under consideration: Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. But that's about it.

In the meantime, the DGB saga has turned into a feeding frenzy for message board "insiders" and Internet trolls. Depending on who you talk to:

  • Pops loves or loathes Bob Stoops.
  • Distance is or isn't an issue.
  • Baby Bro is a lifelong Arkansas or Texas fan.
  • Mizzou has or hasn't offered a family member a job.

I could go on and on. It has become a petri dish for wild rumors, innuendo and speculation. The tiniest bit of news coming from recruiting sites and blogs – no matter how thinly sourced – turns into an inkblot test for fan bases looking for a reason to be hopeful about their favorite team's chances.

And when you think about it, so much of this story up until now has been driven by recruiting sites run by fans posing journalists. (Hell, couldn't you say that about all recruiting coverage these days?) An Arkansas site says DGB is leaning towards the Razorbacks, with no attribution, and suddenly it goes viral.

I don't know where this kid is going to go to school, but I do know that when he finally does pick a destination, it's going to make a ton of people look foolish. They're going to try to spin their stories and tell you how "School X was really close."

Remind me again how much that counts for?

Frankly, I'm looking forward to finding out where DGB isn't going more than where he is.

Oklahoma Hires Tim Kish to Replace Brent Venables

Tim Kish
Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops stuck with the tried and true in hiring a new linebackers coach.

OU announced Tuesday that Tim Kish has been hired to join the Sooners staff, following Brent Venables' departure for Clemson last week.

Kish, who served as Mike Stoops' defensive coordinator at Arizona, apparently got the nod over Tyrone Nix. It represents a safe hire, as Kish has experience in the Stoopsian Way and shouldn't have any problem meshing with OU's staff.

I could sit here and blow smoke at you, but I don't know much about the guy. Instead, I enlisted the help of my buddy and Wildcats fan Kyle Kensing, lead editor of SaturdayBlitz.com and columnist for Arizona Desert Swarm, to give us the 411:

Tim Kish was something of a scapegoat during Arizona's collapse – to a lesser extent than Mike Stoops, but a scapegoat nonetheless. Mark Stoops coached some very good defenses before bolting for Florida State, and the production took a decided downturn when Kish took over. Much of that can be attributed to youth across key positions, but UA ranked in the 100s across the board defensively this past season. Obviously, the DC is going to bear the brunt of that responsibility regardless of the pieces he has to work with.

But as interim head coach, he tried some things that Mike Stoops had been perhaps apprehensive to greenlight. One was some use of the 4-4 set, which Arizona fans know fondly as the "Swarm." The Wildcats lacked the personnel to do it right, mainly at linebacker, but the change was welcomed given Stoops seemed reluctant to adapt amid a time when it was desperately needed. It was an attempt to increase pressure off the line, which was the root of all UA's problems. Arizona couldn't sack potatoes, let alone quarterbacks.

I remember him from his time as linebackers coach, when I covered the beat for the university newspaper. The linebackers were a decided strength during the early years of Stoops' rebuilding project, and hence the reason he ascended to DC after Mark's departure. With the right personnel, he can be successful and Oklahoma doesn't lack that. Having the right infrastructure around him is crucial, too, and that's something Arizona lacked after losing Mark.