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Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Podcast: Compu-Picks preview

Matthew Smith of Compu-Picks joins Homerism for a podcast to preview the 2013 college football season.

Matthew and I discuss:

  • His dim outlook for Oklahoma;
  • His bullish opinion of TCU;
  • Alabama as a clear-cut No. 1;
  • And more.

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

Eating what you kill in the Big 12 (Part I)

Big 12 logo

(Editor’s note: I’ve been trying in fits and starts for a couple months to develop a coherent explanation of what I think the future holds in store for Oklahoma and the Big 12 vis-á-vis the changing media landscape. In the first of what I intend to be a two-part series, I’d like to cover the broad implications of the evolving landscape in media and technology for college sports.)

If you're a fan in Big 12 country, it's hard to look around at the current landscape in college sports media and not wonder just what guys like Bob Bowlsby and DeLoss Dodds are thinking.

The Big Ten has established its own conference network and is expanding its membership in service of squeezing every last nickel from it. After doing its own poaching, the Pac-12 flipped the switch on its network last year. The SEC expanded and just announced a new deal with ESPN for a network that is promising untold riches and more Finebaum. Even the ACC has expanded and is exploring the prospects of having its own channel on your dial.

The Big 12, on the other hand, is sitting back and watching valuable brands walk out the door. Meanwhile, its schools are negotiating their own pastiche of deals to “monetize” whatever "third-tier" rights are. Instead of a new TV toy to play with, the league has a hodgepodge of individualized Longhorn and Sooner and Jayhawk Networks with varying degrees of distribution and value.

Why? At this point, the Big 12's mere existence is – rightfully – attributed to Texas' greed and ego. When ESPN dangled the Longhorn Network in front of UT, it ensured that America's most dysfunctional league would live to negotiate another day, albeit with a fractured constituency.

Whether intentionally or not, though, another parallel narrative is emerging that will compete for how we view the conference shuffle in retrospect.

We don't have a truly a-la-carte cable system yet, but the gravitation towards on-demand viewing and customization is clear. Streaming technology has put the traditional model of "appointment viewing" on notice, and alternatives to the cable box are proliferating.

Equally important for sports fans, in a truly on-demand world, there’s no reason why my options should be limited by the aggregate demand in my service area for a channel. If I live in Boston and want the PAC-12 Network, we’ve reached the point at which technology should easily allow for that and, as Andy Staples of SI.com points out, do so with no appreciable drop in broadcast quality.

That begs the question: Who needs ESPN or Fox?

If anyone, anywhere can access your content, conferences and even the schools themselves can more easily achieve the necessary scale to support their own networks and sell directly to the market. Without a doubt, ancillary concerns would need to be addressed (production, selling advertising, etc.). Those aren’t small issues, but neither is the mountain of money to be made from putting college football behind your own paywall.

Decisions that are being made right now will have a big hand in how schools and conferences are positioned to take advantage of these potential opportunities. In Part II, I'll look a little deeper at the different conferences' strategies.

Linking Up: Big 12 Week at CBR

Odds and ends:

*We’ve been doing conference previews at Crystal Ball Run to help pass the time in the offseason. This week is the Big 12, so be sure to check back early and often.

*Speaking of great Big 12 previews, our buddy Bill Connelly has done some yeoman’s work for the last few months previewing every FBS team. He is wrapping up the Big 12 squads today with none other than the Crimson and Cream.

*What a strange season for Mad Men. The show has never exactly been feel-good, but, man, it plunged into the depths of depression for the sixth season. It felt like all of the major characters were just falling into the same destructive patterns as before, with even worse consequences. Every week was so damn grueling that I’m having a hard time dealing with the prospect of finishing the show off when AMC brings it back for its seventh and final season (whenever that may be).

That said, 1968 has been forever etched into the American consciousness as a year of upheaval and radical disruption. The show did a fantastic job of capturing that feeling in this series of episodes, and despite the melancholy mood of what was one of Mad Men’s most uneven seasons, the finale seemed to go out on a note of optimism, the kind that comes from breaking out of a rut.

*More TV: As good as Jon Hamm is at playing Don Draper, he still bows down to James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano in the pantheon of indelible television characters. Gandolfini’s passing last week got me to thinking about what it was like him perform. For all the gangster lore surrounding The Sopranos, you can only mine the novelty of that kind of dramatic conceit for so long. Gandolfini and Edie Falco carried that show in its later seasons through the gravity of their performances.

*Even more TV: I missed last night’s episode, but I’m really digging the reboot of The Killing. The show seems to have gotten away from the ham-handed misdirection that dogged its first two seasons. Joel Kinnaman is still great as Holder, too. If you gave up on the show – and I wouldn’t blame you if you did – give the new season a shot.

Sooners Recruiting Update: OU scores important DT pledge

The Sooners scored two big verbal commitments in recent weeks, one at the vital position of defensive tackle and the other continuing OU’s surge in the Tulsa area.

DT Brandon Glenn was off the radar until a great camp workout at the Sooner summer camp where he battled future offensive line targets and dominated with speed and power. Glenn plays 3-4 DE for his high school, but OU views him as a future DT. His HUDL highlights are private right now, but Rivals has footage of him. In those highlights, he’s playing 3-4 DE but shows a lot of potential at DT. He shows excellent mobility, athleticism and motor. He’s chasing and catching much smaller players in the backfield. It’s easy to see how defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery projects him at DT, with his frame easily capable of carrying 290-300 range while keeping his speed. He’s not a finished product at DT, but the potential is obvious.

The second verbal is Jeff Mead of Tulsa Union. If you watch the NFL draft, you will notice how many of the top draft picks are often former basketball players. Mead fits that model perfectly.

He was mainly known for hoops prior to last year, when his junior year film at receiver became available and colleges around the country started offering. On film, Mead shows awesome hands – some legit "how did he catch that?" catches – excellent body control in the air (catching passes at the peak) and excellent downfield speed.

He’s not near the level that A.J. Green showed in HS, but his frame, skills and ceiling are that high. He’s not going to be a Calvin Johnson-type guy at 6-5, 235. But you can easily see him at 6-5, 200 range guy with excellent speed. A.J. Green in HS was 6-4, 184. Mead had offers from LSU, Texas A&M and Clemson before choosing OU. (Before you ignore Clemson, remember the Tigers have/had DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins at WR.) He’s probably going to focus only on football at OU, which will help his development. Add Mead to Dallis Todd, and OU has an excellent pair of big outside WRs for this class.

2014 Verbal Commitments: 10
(Class size: 25-27)

Dallis Todd, WR
(6-5, 210, 4.5)

Vontre McQuinnie, DB
(6-1, 200, 4.6)

Samaje Perine, RB
(5-11, 225. 4.45)

Justice Hansen, QB
(6-4, 200, 4.6)

Carson Meier, TE
(6-7, 220, 4.7)

Marcus Green, DB
(6-1, 175, 4.6)

Tito Windham, DB
(5-11, 180)

Alex Dalton, OL
(6-4, 280)

Brandon Glenn, DT

(6-4, 269, 4.8)

Jeffrey Mead, WR

(6-6,175, 4.55)

The horrible weather in late spring and early summer played havoc with OU’s summer camp plans. The Norman sessions almost got cancelled, but managed to go ahead. However, a bunch of Texas prospects did not make it to Norman as intended. Then, the Houston satellite camp was cancelled due to bad weather, robbing OU of a big opportunity to work out a number of prospects. Again, the bad weather scared off countless other kids.

OU is still offering 2015 kids at breakneck pace nationally, in Oklahoma and in Texas.

2014 offers have slowed a bit, save for a frenzy of new offers at linebacker, which will be detailed in that section.

OU’s at 10 verbals right now, and the class seems to be somewhere in the 25 to 27 range.

Recruiting Baker’s Dozen

1. Solomon Thomas – Top DL target.

2. Garrett Myles – After Thomas, perhaps the top DE prospect in Texas.

3. Michiah Quick – Best cornerback target for OU.

4. Ty Barrett – Big offensive tackle whose rankings are about to explode.

5. Garrard McDowell – Might be the highest-rated DT on the OU board. LSU offer is a huge concern.

6. Jovan Pruitt – Other big Dallas-area OT.

7. Steven Parker – Elite defensive back out of Jenks.

8. Joe Mixon – RB is not really a huge need, but Mixon is that highly rated.

9. Dwight Williams – Arguably the best LB on the board for OU.

10. D.J. Williams – OU’s best bet at DT.

11. Ismael Murphy-Richardson – Awesome-looking OLB with speed and range from Arizona.

12. Greg MicLisse – Might be the best MIKE LB prospect talking about visiting OU.

13. Christian Sam – OU’s top LB target in Texas at this point.

Class Breakdown

Quarterback: 1

Done with the pledge from Hansen.

Running Back: 2

OU has one RB in the fold and will likely take the next big-time RB and call it a day.

The remaining RB spot got very interesting the last four weeks. Nathan Starks got expelled from Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, and he’s trying to play his senior year at a Denver HS. He’s appealing an initial ineligibility ruling. Right now, he still has an OU offer.

Joe Mixon is tearing it up at camp events and is a five-star lock for most services.

Running backs coach Cale Gundy probably has three or four other big-time RBs on speed dial if both of these kids end up elsewhere, but, right now, these are the kids to track.

If I was Starks, with the off-the-field issues going on, I’d leap on that OU offer right now.

Nathan Starks (6-0, 210, 4.45) – It’s about time that OU signed a great RB from Bishop Gorman again. Starks is that RB. He has been very clear that OU is one of his favorites and that Murray is one of his favorite RBs. A very possible five-star RB.

Joe Mixon (6-1, 190, 4.45) – Any RB who wears 28 and wants folks to call him "the next Adrian Peterson" is probably interested in hearing from OU. Mixon has an OU offer and is excellent RB with home run speed. Like Starks, he has a number of big-time offers. OU should get a visit as Mixon will be a late decision closer to signing day.

Wide Receiver: 3?

Two big WRs have verbaled. One slot WR spot is open. Does that leave one more opening for a WR? One more slot for a WR that could play inside or outside?

Norvell almost has an embarrassment of riches at his recruiting position. Keenan Brown is making noise about committing as soon as he can visit Norman. OU does not have to take a slot WR after taking two slot kids last year (Bennett, and Young). But if K.D. Cannon wanted to be a Sooner? I’m guessing OU would make it work somehow.

K.D. Cannon (6-0, 170, 4.4) – Best WR in Texas? Cannon is a legit contender for that crown. Extremely fast and elusive, Cannon would make an awesome slot WR for the Sooners.

Keenen Brown (6-3, 185, 4.5) – Right behind Cannon/Foreman in terms of Texas WR rankings. He has the flexibility to play inside or outside for OU. A very polished WR prospect.

Mark Andrews (6-7, 226, 4.6) – Huge WR/TE who has been very public about his interest in OU. Andrews on film looks like an excellent big WR, but you have to wonder if a natural move to TE is in his future.

Corey Holmes (6-3, 180, 4.4) - This Florida receiver just received his OU offer and again seems very interested in OU. Montgomery looks like the coach who pushed the OU offer to Holmes. Holmes has a nice blend of agility, top-end speed and height. He just had a great visit to Norman, and a verbal is not out of the question.

Offensive Line: 5 (at least)

Bedenbaugh is hitting the ground running big time, including scholarship offers in Texas and nationally. Offers have gone out to top JUCO OTs, indicating how high a priority OU is making OL this year. JUCO offers in February provide yet another example of “Total Recruiting.”

Bedenbaugh is aggressively recruiting OL at a pace not seen in Norman in a long time. OU badly needs linemen, so the usual first-year break-in period for new assistants cannot be afforded.

OU appears to be leading on Barrett, and maybe Pruitt. OU might land JUCO OG Frank Kee as well. So OU could easily be at four verbals by the end of summer. The wildcards in OL recruiting are Braden Smith, Natrell Curtis and Roderick Johnson. Any of those kids would seriously add to the quality of the OL recruiting class.

Ty Barrett (6-5, 295, 5.2) – Athletic tackle prospect from Dallas Skyline. OU has numerous players from Skyline. Just visited for junior day and has an OU offer. His profile is on the rise and Bedenbaugh has made him a priority.

Braden Smith (6-6, 275, 5.0) – Nationally ranked OL prospect who starred last summer at the OU summer camp where he was probably the top prospect. OU will be in the hunt, but all the big powers have offered Smith. His recruiting is dead quiet.

Jovan Pruitt (6-6, 290, 5.2) – Recently offered by OU and Notre Dame. Huge-framed kid looks a little stiff in his stance, but he shows some power on film. Like Barrett, Bedenbaugh has quickly made Pruitt a recruiting priority.

Denzel Ward (6-9, 290, 5.2) – Has verbaled to Purdue, but somehow I don’t see that commitment stopping him from visiting Norman.

Natrell Curtis (6-3, 285) – Teammate of UCLA signee Kenny Lacy. OU has offered along with host of Pac-12 schools. Just excelled at a recent all star camp. Might be the best OG prospect on the board.

Roderick Johnson (6-7, 300, 5.2) – If not for Andy Bauer (Ole Miss commit), Johnson would be getting more publicity as the best OL in Missouri.

Dontavius Blair (6-8, 300, 5.2) – Kansas JUCO already visited OU during a spring tour of schools. OU has already offered, and he looks like he will graduate by December.

Patrick Au (6-10, 360, 5.5) – Utah Juco. Massive athlete who is starting to receive some attention. Needs to drop some bad weight but the potential is there.

Frank Kee (6-4, 335, 5.3) – Texas JUCO. Kee, along with Dionte Savage from last year, would provide some serious size and depth inside at OG with Tyler Evans and Bronson Irwin being seniors. Kee is a mid-term graduate and is very interested in OU.

Tight End: 2?

OU struck out at TE in 2013, but the Sooners now have Meier. Getting him in the fold allows Boulware to be aggressive with other prospects. Koda Martin seems to have accepted his OT destiny by choosing A&M. Mavin Saunders has chosen FSU for now, but I think he might take some more visits this fall. Adding an impact JUCO probably allows OU to stay at only 2 TEs for this class.

Tyler Luatua (6-4, 230, 4.6) – Lautua could be used as an H-back in the OU scheme. Physical blocker, but also an excellent pass receiver. The entire nation is after Luatua, but maybe OU’s new verbal and teammate of Lautua can help OU get a visit.

Deandre Goolsby (6-5, 230, 4.7) – I think OU has been late offering Goolsby due to his KSU connections. OU has now offered, and he seems very interested, but you have to wonder if the KSU legacy can be overcome. Looks like a very athletic pass-catching TE prospect.

Trevor Wood (6-6, 235, 4.7) – Very physical TE who also plays DE. Great frame and excellent athleticism.

Jean Sifrin (6-7, 250, 4.6) – A new name out of nowhere, but his HUDL footage is very good in both blocking and receiving. Yet another former hoops guy realizing his pro career is at football. Might have an OU visit set up for game one. (Highlights are from 2011 season.)

Dalton Schultz (6-5, 225, 4.7) – Big-time pass-receiving TE who is gaining all kinds of national offers and attention.

Defensive Tackle: 2

The Sooners are not quite in the desperate place for DTs that they were in with the 2013 class. Still, you’d like to see OU sign a top DT every year. No prospects in Oklahoma right now, and Texas does not look to have a deep pool of candidates.

OU lost out on Jaycoven Henderson to TCU with the DT coaching position change, as well as Trey Lealaimatafao and Courtney Garnett.

Montgomery got his first target in Brandon Glenn, and ideally would like to add at least one more in D.J. Williams.

Travonte Valentine (6-3, 285, 4.9) – Valentine has verbaled to Louisville and now Florida, but he has an OU offer as well.

D.J. Williams (6-2, 290, 4.9) – Recent OU offer at DT. He’s right now still working on his technique at DT, but might be a better athlete than some of the other Texas DTs verbaled elsewhere.

Garrald McDowell (6-3, 265, 4.8) – McDowell seems very interested in OU and a summer visits could happen. McDowell is a little light for DT right now, but has a nice frame and is very explosive on video.

Armon Watts (6-5, 275, 4.8) – This new name is floating around. I’m not sure he has an OU offer. But with so few names at DT, I thought that I would list him. His film is very intriguing.

Defensive End: 2

OU signed an excellent three-player DE class in 2013, but I’m guessing Montgomery still has the green light to add two top-flight DEs if he can find them. OU has offers out to national targets like DaShawn Hand, but I don’t see it going anywhere. Deondre Clark’s desire to go out of state will probably mean that OU loses out on the best in-state DE. Montgomery seems to have OU firmly in the hunt for both Thomas and Garrett, but he has found two other top targets in Blankenship and Hollins. Blankenship, in particular, seems close to committing to OU.

Solomon Thomas (6-3, 260, 4.8) – Probably the top overall DL prospect in Texas. Thomas could be a 3-4 DE or possibly grow into a DT. OU has offered, and he just visited for junior day. He has now visited two times in the last month. Very impressive film.

Myles Garrett (6-4, 230, 4.7) – After Thomas, Garrett is getting a lot of attention as the next best DE.

Andrew Williams (6-4, 245, 4.6) – Your usual elite SEC type DE prospect. Williams has made a real connection with Montgomery. OU looks likely to receive a visit.

Justin Hollins (6-5, 210, 4.55) – New name that is starting to get a lot of new offers. Has tremendous frame and athleticism to play 3-4 OLB/4-3 DE.

Grant Blankenship (6-5, 230, 4.7) – Another physical DE prospect on film. Shows a nice burst off the line. OU just recently offered. Does a nice job handling the run on video as well as pass rushing.

Linebacker: At least 3

Last year it was DTs. This year’s desperate recruiting position that has the message boards worried a year before signing day is LB. Tim Kish has already been labeled by some as a disaster.

Other than Sam, I’m not sure who OU leads on at LB. Kish appears to be concerned about his prospects at LB, because OU sent out four new LB offers recently. Based on their film, it’s not a desperation move as any of the LBs easily could be/are four-star kids.

Christian Sam (6-2, 205, 4.5) – Just visited for OU’s first junior day. No offer yet, but his film is excellent.

Dwight Williams (6-3, 215, 4.55) – Might be the best OLB in California. Shows excellent power, burst, and pursuit. Seems interested in his OU offer.

Tay Evans (6-3, 210, 4.55) – Teammate of Sam and son of former OU hoops player Bobby Joe Evans. Evans is recovering from an shoulder injury but on film with his frame might have a higher upside than Sam.

Ishmael Murphy-Richardson (6-4,210, 4.5) – An explosive elite athlete at OLB. He shows great range and power at OLB. It’s pretty easy to see why OU offered.

Greg MicLisse (6-1, 235, 4.6) – A bigger MIKE LB prospect who shows nice power and speed in highlights. Some grade concerns around him.

Marquis Ware (6-2, 215, 4.6) – His junior year footage is more at a stand-up DE and TE, so the projection at OLB is more of a guess. He shows excellent athleticism and speed in his film, though. Teammate of more highly regarded Jamadre Cobbs.

Tegray Scales (6-1,214,4.55) – Scales shows good run-stopping ability on film and also shows some nice coverage skills against some spread offenses. Does a nice job against some pistol offense attacks as well.

Jamardre Cobb (6-2, 225, 4.6) – Been resisting listing him because of uncertainty about OU’s chances. But OU’s now offered his teammate Ware as well so perhaps a package combo will improve OU’s chances. Cobb’s physicality and explosiveness is just so apparent on film. He would be a big time prospect at LB.

Dakota Allen (6-1, 225, 4.6) – The newest LB offer from Texas. Allen looks like a very good Mike LB prospect. Physical in the run game and looks good in coverage. Based on his film, he’s been flying under the radar a little bit.

Defensive Back: 5-6

This might be the best and deepest talent pool of DBs from Texas in forever. In addition, OU has targets in the SEC, Arizona and California. Quick, Whiley, Watkins and Parker are the top four targets at this point. Mike Stoops would top last year’s great DB class if he got those four kids.

Nick Watkins (6-1, 185, 4.5) – Best big CB in Texas? His offer list (OU included) sure lends credence to that statement.

Steven Parker (6-2, 185, 4.5) – Best DB prospect in Oklahoma. Has an OU offer and was a star at the OU summer camp.

Michiah Quick (6-0, 175, 4.4) – Despite his HS having three big-time DBs just sign LOIs, Quick might be the best one overall. After signing Hatari Byrd and L.J. Moore, OU will be all over this California offer.

John Bonney (6-0, 185, 4.5) – OU offer out of the Houston area. He has not visited yet for a junior day.

Tyler Whiley (6-1, 190, 4.5) – Big CB prospect that seems very interested in OU. Would be a huge pickup for Kish/Mike from their former recruiting territory.

Courtland Sutton (6-3, 200, 4.5) – Looks like he could be an elite center field free safety or bulk up to play OLB. His film is very good.

Payton Hendrix (6-3, 190, 4.5) – Teammate of Watkins. Hendrix probably would make an ideal safety with excellent speed and range for the OU defense. Moved to Bishop Dunne his senior year.

Podcast: Iowa State preview

Our preseason tour around the Big 12 continues with Iowa State. Dan of Wide Right & Natty Lite joins Homerism for a podcast to preview what's in store for the Cyclones in 2013.

Dan and I discuss:

*Paul Rhoads' profile on the national coaching circuit;

*ISU's settled (?) quarterback situation;

*The move to the Pistol offense;

*The secret to the Cyclones' salty defense;

*And more.

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

Top games of 2013

Mike Gundy

With less than three months to go until college football kicks off again, how about a look at some of the biggest games of the upcoming season?

Week 1

*Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State at Houston: A couple of 8-5 teams in 2012 seeking to improve and this will be a good test early on to see how good each will be.

*Georgia at Clemson: Two teams high in the rankings last year that will make a run at their respective conferences. Both finished with impressive bowl wins.

*TCU vs. LSU at Arlington, TX: Horned Frogs will be better in ’13, and if they win this one, look out Big 12.

Week 2

*South Carolina at Georgia: Will the Ol’ Ball Coach ever win the SEC again? He can if he beats the ’Dogs on the road.

Brian Kelly*Notre Dame at Michigan: Usually a good rivalry between two historical powerhouse teams. Both lead all-time in win percentages—the Wolverines at .734 and the Irish at .733.

Week 3

*UCLA at Nebraska: One coach appears to be on the rise (Jim Mora at UCLA) and the other could be on the hot seat (Bo Pelini at Nebraska). Pelini needs to win the Big Ten or alums will be calling for his hide this year.

*Alabama at Texas A&M: The Tide’s only loss last year was to the Aggies in Tuscaloosa. Now, they have to go to one of the noisiest venues in the country where some guy named Johnny plays quarterback.

Week 4

*Boise State at Fresno State: This might be the year Fresno State gets a victory and a possible Mountain West title. The Bulldogs are picked 22nd by Athlons Sports and Boise sits at No. 11.

*Kansas State at Texas: Wildcats own a five-game win streak over the Steers.

Week 5

*Oklahoma at Notre Dame: Notre Dame owns a 9-1 series edge including seven straight. Can the Sooners break the luck of the Irish?

*LSU at Georgia: Should be a good cross-divisional game in the SEC.

Week 6

Trevone Boykin*TCU at Oklahoma: This one last year wasn’t decided until Julian Wilson busted up a pass with less than 30 seconds to go. Should be a showcase of TCU’s defense versus OU’s offense.

*Kansas State at Oklahoma State: The last time these two met in Stillwater (in 2010), an earthquake shook central Oklahoma.

*Ohio State at Northwestern: The Buckeyes went unbeaten last year. The Wildcats won their last three in 2012 and are picked in Athlon’s top 25.

Week 7

*Oklahoma vs. Texas: Only the greatest rivalry in college football. Need I say more?

*Florida at LSU: If the Gators want to win the SEC, they must win here.

*Michigan at Penn State: Nittany Lions should start 5-0 and then find out how good they are when the Wolverines come to town.

Week 8

*UCLA at Stanford: The Cardinal beat the Bruins, 27-24, in last year’s Pac 12 Championship, one week after whipping them, 35-17.

*Florida State at Clemson: This used to be a lot of fun when Bobby Bowden met his son, Tommy. Now, it’s Jimbo (Fisher) versus Dabo (Swinney), who ain’t related, but it still should be a big ACC tilt.

*TCU at Oklahoma State: The Horned Frogs have to win a big one on the road if they’re to claim the Big 12 crown.

Week 9

*Penn State at Ohio State: If the Lions win this one, the folks in Happy Valley will want a statue of Bill O’Brien outside the stadium.

*Stanford at Oregon State: Aren’t Beavers supposed to chew up trees? The Cardinal have won three straight.

*UCLA at Oregon: Will Oregon be as good without Chip Kelly? This might be the first real test of the season for the Ducks, who are picked No. 3 by Athlon.

Texas-TCU

*Texas at TCU: The Longhorns will have two weeks to lick their wounds from the Red River Rivalry. If the Frogs win, Mack returns to the hot seat – if he isn’t already from the OU loss.

Week 10

*Northwestern at Nebraska: The Huskers came from behind with a couple of TDs in the final six minutes to pull out a 29-28 victory last year.

*Georgia vs. Florida at Jacksonville: The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Like OU-Texas, one of the few remaining rivalries played at the neutral site.

Week 11

*Oregon at Stanford: Could possibly decide Pac-12’s North Division as it has in the past two years.

*Nebraska at Michigan: May determine the winner of the Big 10’s Legends Division.

Week 12

*Michigan at Northwestern: Wolverines won, 38-31, in OT last year. A must win for each team.

*Oklahoma State at Texas: Controversial ending to last year’s game gave the Steers a win and got the Pokes fans’ panties in a wad.

*Florida at South Carolina: The Ol’ Ball Coach against his former team.

Week 13

*Texas A&M at LSU: Johnny Manziel or Les Miles?

Johnny Manziel*LSU at Alabama: Who to root for? Alabama in attempt to win three straight national championships, or Les Miles?

*Oklahoma at Kansas State: Revenge game for the Sooners. The last time the 'Cats won in Manhattan, some guy named John Blake roamed OU’s sideline.

Week 14

*Oregon State at Oregon: The Ducks look to extend their win streak to six over the Beavers.

*Alabama at Auburn: The Iron Bowl. Many will be pulling for Auburn if Bama is at or near the top of the BCS rankings.

*Florida State at Florida: A break from their respective conferences to see who reigns supreme in the Sunshine State.

*Ohio State at Michigan: Two teams who kept their rivalry going after going to separate divisions. Could they meet again in a rematch the next week in Indianapolis?

*UCLA at USC: May or may not have national implications.

*Baylor at TCU: (See UCLA at USC)

Week 15

*Oklahoma at Oklahoma State: This one might decide the Big 12 champion. Sooners won, 51-48, last year in OT. Expect a barnburner in Stillwater this year.

*Texas at Baylor: Mack won 12 straight in this series and got a win last year after dropping two straight.

Podcast: Previewing 2013 with Phil Steele

We've hit one of the annual rites of the college football season with the release Phil Steele's 2013 preview magazine. Steele joins Homerism for a podcast to offer up his outlook for the Oklahoma Sooners, the Big 12 and some of the national powers.

Steele and I discuss:

*What happened to the OU defense in 2012 and whether it will get any better in the fall;

*A difficult '13 schedule for the Sooners;

*The perceived talent drop-off in Norman;

*The wisdom of the coaching staff changes made earlier this year by Bob Stoops;

*Texas' status as Steele's Big 12 favorite;

*A sneaky good Oklahoma State team;

*Alabama's dominance;

*Whether Notre Dame can keep it up without quarterback Everett Golson;

*Texas A&M's ascendance;

*And more.

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

Offseason Intelligence: Texas Longhorns

After three lackluster seasons at a combined 22-16 record, the Texas Longhorns should make a play for the Big 12 championship this year with 10 starters returning on offense and nine on defense.

Offense

Last year Mack Brown finally decided on his starting quarterback, and David Ash appears be a lock to continue as the signal caller. He started 12 of 13 games a year ago and completed 67.3 percent of his passes with 19 TDs and 8 INTs. As a junior, he should have a better grasp of the offense, but the Steers are switching to a no-huddle spread offense similar to what the Sooners have been using the last six years. Ash was inconsistent in the new system in the spring. He will have fall camp to work out the kinks.

Ash will have his top two receivers back—junior Jaxon Shipley (6-1, 192) led the team with 59 receptions for 737 yards and six scores, and senior Mike Davis caught 57 balls for a team high 939 yards with 7 TDs. Greg Daniels (6-5, 258, Jr.) and M.J. McFarland (6-6, 245, Soph.) will battle for the starting tight end slot. Both played behind the graduated D.J. Grant, and they combined for 13 grabs, 215 yards and a TD.

The running game should be solid with the return of the Horns’ top three ball carriers. Sophomore Jonathan Gray (5-11, 207, Soph.), junior Joe Bergeron (6-1, 240, Jr.) and junior Malcolm Brown (6-0, 223, Jr.) combined for 1,592 yards and 23 TDs. Gray led the team with 709 yards. Bergeron led with 16 TDS.

What should make this offense be lethal in 2013 is the return of the entire front line. Guard Trey Hopkins (6-4, 300, Sr.) made the Big 12’s second team offense last year. He will be joined by guard Mason Walters (6-6, 320, Sr.), center Dominic Espinosa (6-4, 300, Jr.), and tackles Josh Cochran (6-6, 299, Jr.) and Donald Hawkins (6-5, 310, Sr.). The quintet has combined for 62 starts and totals combined experience in 139 games.

Texas Statistics, 2012

Offense (Nat'l. Rank)   Defense (Nat'l. Rank)
35.7 (23) Scoring (PPG) 29.2 (73)
171.5 (53) Rushing (YPG) 192.1 (88)
263.1 (41) Passing (YPG) 212.0 (36)
434.6 (40) Total Yards (YPG) 404.1 (67)

Defense

On defense, Jackson Jeffcoat (6-5, 245, Sr.) will start at one defensive end position. Cedric Reed (6-6, 250, Jr.) replaced Jeffcoat in the final six games of 2012 and should replace the departed Alex Okafor. Reed recorded 8 tackles for losses, including 2.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hurries. Jeffcoat had 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage last year, including 4 sacks.

Tackle Brandon Moore left a vacancy on the interior when he opted for the NFL draft. Junior Desmond Jackson (6-1, 300) is entrenched at one tackle position. Last year, he had 33 stops, with 7 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. Malcom Brown (6-4, 315, Soph.), Chris Whaley (603, 292, Sr.) and Ashton Dorsey (6-2, 295, Sr.) will battle for the other slot. Brown and Whaley saw action in every game a year ago, and Dorsey played in nine games. The front wall will have to improve on stopping the run. The Texas D yielded 192 yards per game and 29 TDs on the ground last season.

The 'Horns should be strong at linebacker. Jordan Hicks (62, 235, Jr.) missed the final 10 games of 2012, but he appears to be healthy to make a run for his old weakside slot. Kendall Thompson (6-3, 239, Jr.) filled in for Hicks and made 60 tackles, eight for losses, including 2 sacks. Junior Steve Edmond (6-3, 255) will return to the middle where he was second on the team with 103 tackles. He also had a sack, an interception and forced a couple of fumbles.

Texas returns three-fourths of its secondary, but lost Kenny Vaccaro, its best defensive back last year. Quandre Diggs (5-10, 200, Jr.) and Carrington Byndom (6-0, 180, Sr.) will be back at the corners, as well as safety Adrian Phillips (5-11, 201, Sr.). They combined for 186 tackles, 10 interceptions (Diggs led with four) and broke up 24 passes.

Special Teams

Diggs will be the punt return specialist again. He returned 13 last year for an 8.6-yard average, but he never got to the end zone. A couple of sophomores named Nick will return for kicking duties. Nick Rose (6-3, 192) will be the kickoff man, and Nick Jordan (6-1, 175) will again be the placekicker. He made 31 of 32 PATs last season, but only nine of 15 field goals. He made only 1 of 6 from 40+ yards, and 40 was his longest kick. The 'Horns will need a new kickoff returner and punter.

Podcast: Matt Hayes of The Sporting News on 15 years of Bob Stoops

With Bob Stoops heading into his 15th season at Oklahoma, Sporting News columnist Matt Hayes recently sat down with the Sooners' head coach to reflect on his tenure. Hayes joined Homerism for a podcast to talk about his impressions of where things stand with Stoops as he closes in on becoming OU's all-time winningest coach.

Hayes and I discuss:

*Stoops' offseason in the headlines;

*OU's proximity to the national elite;

*The expectations in Norman;

*Stoops' future in coaching;

*And more.

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

Stoops knows best?

Bob Stoops

I’ve read more than my fair share of day-in-the-life profiles of Bob Stoops like this one from GatorSports.com columnist Pat Dooley. As is the case with Dooley’s piece, the subject of how OU’s coach responds to criticism from Media Bloviator X inevitably comes up, and inevitably the response from Stoops is some variation on the one he gave Dooley: “You'd be surprised how little (of the criticism) I hear.”

If you had any doubts about that, I’d think they’ve been put to rest this offseason.

First, he raised a ruckus when he argued against paying college football players. Then, he pointed out that the SEC has some mediocre programs, which managed to take on a life of its own.

Now, he’s backing Mike Gundy’s hardline stance on ex-OSU quarterback Wes Lunt’s transfer options, and he sounds pretty dickhead-ish in the process:

“It isn’t right that they can just do what they want to do," Stoops said. "It isn’t good. I don’t believe in it."

Ugh. Good luck explaining that away. Oh, and this one, too:

"Nobody made them sign with me. I didn’t force them to, it was what they wanted to do.”

Keep talking this way, coach, and forcing recruits to sign with you might be the only way it happens.

As was the case when Stoops gave his SEC diatribe that caught national attention, it's probably a little disingenuous to just take the sound bites out of this. It's easy to build straw men on such matters without placing them in proper context. For example, "should college football players be paid?" is a different question than "should college football players get a cost-of-attendance stipend?"

Still, I'd hope we can all agree that giving coaches the power to significantly hinder a player's ability to pursue his future as he sees fit makes for bad policy.

College coaches sign up for a life in which a large degree of their success is dictated by the whims of teenage kids. They get millions of dollars if they can manage that well. That's the deal.

Stoops going all hardass on this issue in this case just seems strange to me. I can’t recall a single time where he has taken a punitive position on a player who wanted to transfer. Hell, two years ago, he helped expedite a departing player’s transfer within the Big 12. Plus, it's not like Stoops has never accepted transfers before.

I don’t know Stoops, and I definitely won’t claim any special insight into what makes him tick. Having followed him and the OU program pretty closely for about 15 years, I do think I have a grip on where he's coming from when he talks about these athlete welfare issues, for lack of a better term. Stoops has frequently mentioned his frustration with what he perceives as a growing sense of entitlement among players. He carps about helicopter parents. He talks with disdain about the media and outside influences leading his players astray.

All of which is to say that when Stoops tells his players that they're not the first people to have a "hungry Sunday," it may be his way of telling them to keep their eyes on the prize. And when he says he backs Gundy's play here, he might view it as some message that he's sending to his players about the importance of honoring commitments.

Listening to Stoops talk, he does come off like the native of a hardscrabble steel town, the kind of guy who looks down on quitters and believes there’s some ennobling value in fighting through adversity. A paternalistic, “this-is-for-your-own-good” streak runs through that kind of thinking. Some might find that admirable – yanno, paint it as a decent man trying to help his players despite themselves. And, in fact, there actually are some decent “nanny state” arguments that transferring harms players more often than not, which, in a perverse way, would mean that deterring transfers is beneficial to the players.

But that line of thinking also built Joe Paterno into a demigod at Penn State. We saw how that turned out.

The coach-as-builder-of-men narrative makes for a nice story and all, but big-time college football has evolved into a different kind of beast. The money and power and ego involved are all so great that the incentives for coaches to keep their players' best interests at the forefront of their minds simply aren't there – Stoops' paycheck should serve as a reminder of that every couple weeks.

If Stoops really is trying to do right by his players, there have to be better ways of him getting his points across.

Guessing the lines on OU's 2013 games

In advance of today's release of the lines for the Golden Nugget's games of the year, I wanted to get in my guesses for all OU games this season:

Louisiana-Monroe at Oklahoma (-23)

West Virginia at Oklahoma (-13)

Tulsa at Oklahoma (-24.5)

Oklahoma (+4) at Notre Dame

TCU at Oklahoma (-3.5)

Texas vs. Oklahoma (+1.5)

Oklahoma (-19.5) at Kansas

Texas Tech at Oklahoma (-13)

Oklahoma (-3) at Baylor

Iowa State at Oklahoma (-23)

Oklahoma (-7) at Kansas State

Oklahoma (+3) at Oklahoma State

Sooners dominant on way to softball national title

The Oklahoma Sooners dominated the softball world on the way to securing their second national championship with a win Tuesday over the Tennessee Volunteers. How dominant were they? How about wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the country and a 58-4 record. The squad won its final 12 straight games, including sweeps in the regionals, super regionals and College World Series.

OU did it with superior offense, defense and coaching – Lauren Chamberlain’s powerful hitting (30 homers this year and the game winner in game one of the championship series with UT), Brianna Turang’s speed and Keilani Ricketts’ pitching (national Player of the Year with a 35-1 record) to name a few. Head coach Patty Gasso, in her 19th year as skipper, has a 929-283-2 record (76.6%) with numerous honors including the 2000 national title.

When OU scored five runs in the 11th and 12th innings in the first game of the World Series finale to beat Tennessee, 5-3, Gasso said it was the “greatest game I’ve ever been a part of.”

They followed it with a 4-0 win in the second game of the best-of-three series. Ricketts hit a three-run homer and Michelle Gascoigne pitched the shutout.

No Oklahoma sports team has been this dominant—with excellent offense and defense—since the football team won the 2000 national championship.

With the tornadoes that have ravaged central Oklahoma in the last couple of weeks, the Sooners’ national title in softball is good news compared to the sadness and chaos that has dominated the headlines here recently. There could be more good news on the way if the men's baseball team beats LSU in the super regionals this weekend. OU is currently riding an eight-game winning streak, having swept through the Big 12 tournament and regional play. Getting to the College World Series in Omaha and possibly adding more hardware to the trophy case would be even sweeter.

The last time the Sooners’ softball team won a national championship, the football team followed with their eighth title months later. An omen? We can only hope.

Sooners 2012 in Review: Tavon Austin torches Oklahoma D (Part I)

Last summer, in an effort to get a better handle on what to expect from Oklahoma’s defense in 2012, I reviewed some of the schemes that Mike Stoops had employed against spread offenses in his previous stop at Oklahoma and his ill-fated time as Arizona’s head coach. Even though these breakdowns made for a few nice exercises in film study, ultimately, they offered little insight into what the Sooners did defensively last season.

With that caveat in mind, I’m going to try a similar endeavor this year and look to expand to include both sides of the ball. My goals include extrapolating some understanding of Mike’s philosophy towards defending Big 12-style offenses, identifying major issues with the defensive schemes that OU used and figuring out what it all means for the defense going forward. Offensively, I’m more interested in examining how teams defended OU and how Josh Heupel might try to counter some of the more effective strategies.

In a lot of ways, this kind of analysis is as much about helping me process what is happening on the field, so I’d definitely encourage readers to chime in with observations or other opinions.

We’ll start with a multi-part series on OU’s wild 50-49 win over West Virginia in November, a game that laid bare all of the Sooners’ defensive deficiencies.

Austin attacks

The Oklahoma Sooners managed to pull out a win in their first visit to Morgantown to play West Virginia as a conference foe. Ask anyone who watched what they remember about the game, though, and the first thing out of their mouths won’t have anything to do with the Crimson and Cream.

West Virginia’s Tavon Austin gave one of the most spectacular individual performances of the 2012 season. The diminutive playmaker rolled up 344 rushing yards on 21 carries and tacked on another 82 through the air on four grabs. Not a misprint – Austin got the ball 25 times and averaged a stunning 17 yards each time.

It didn’t end there for the Sooners, either, as wideout Stedman Bailey had a field day with the OU secondary. Bailey had 13 receptions for 205 yards and 4 TDs. Yet, he was reduced to a sideshow next to Austin. (Have fun with that, Sam Bradford.)

All in all, it was a Theon Greyjoy kind of night for the D.

Holgo flips the script

(Earlier this year, Nickel Rover of Football Study Hall authored a fantastic piece on this game in which he illustrated how WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen utilized Austin as a multi-purpose threat. I’d highly recommend checking that out, because he did a superb job of explaining the Xs and Os.)

The real story of this game can be summed up in one image:

Austin Pistol

WVU ran 39 of its 82 offensive plays out of this set. The Mountaineers are lined up in a Pistol formation with trips to one side of the field and a single receiver split wide to the opposite side. In a Red Bull-fueled stroke of genius, however, Holgo the Conqueror added a nifty twist, putting Austin in the backfield at tailback. (We’ll call this the “Austin Pistol.”)

I didn’t pay enough attention to WVU closely enough prior to this game to know if this was the Austin Pistol’s actual debut. I do know that this game represented a clear shift in focus and tactics for the Mountaineer O, as the formation became a staple of the squad’s playbook.

Holgo essentially flipped Austin to halfback to close out the year. In the first nine games of the season, Austin carried the ball a total of 14 times. Austin went from a season high of five rush attempts prior to the Oklahoma game to 21 versus the Sooners. He got 59 carries in the final four games of the year. Overall, WVU averaged 46.3 pass attempts per game versus 33.1 rushes over the course of the first nine games. That ratio pretty much flipped down the stretch: 42.8 rushing attempts per game against 28.8 passes.

Choices, choices, choices

The Sooners primarily ran variations on a Cover-2 Man Under defense last season to combat the spread offenses of the Big 12. This allows the defensive backs playing man coverage to press up on the receivers split wide to disrupt the short passing game and quick-hitters that are so prominent among spread and Air Raid teams.

Oklahoma's Dime formation

Meanwhile, Mike used the opposing offenses to dictate OU’s personnel groupings, matching every receiver with a defensive back. As seen in the above image, a four-receiver offensive package meant OU would be running a Dime-ish package of four down linemen, one linebacker and six defensive backs.

Versus WVU, Holgo forced Mike to play football’s version of “Choose Your Own Adventure” using the Austin Pistol. By shifting Austin to running back, WVU was giving OU what was technically a five-wide personnel grouping. Working within the confines of Mike’s defensive scheme, the Austin Pistol presented the Sooners with three options:

1. OU could treat Austin as a running back and go with the usual Dime personnel. That might help against the run, but it would also mean that a linebacker would have to cover Austin as a receiver coming out of the backfield. Not to mention, what happens if Austin motions out of the backfield and into the slot?

2. Playing seven DBs, on the other hand, helps in covering Austin in pass patterns, but it also shifts the onus to high safeties Tony Jefferson (No. 1) and Javon Harris (No. 30) to play even bigger in run support.

3. A third option would be to put the game plan on the shelf and change schemes altogether.

OU picked door No. 2 and countered with a straight-up bizarre look that you rarely, if ever, see any team play: four down linemen and seven defensive backs. The Sooners lined up in this set on 34 of 39 plays in which WVU deployed the Austin Pistol.

Austin Pistol

Again, the Sooners are running a Cover-2 Man Under variation in the image above. Four of the DBs (No. 14 Aaron Colvin, No. 6 Demontre Hurst, No. 9 Gabe Lynn and No. 15 Lamar Harris) are lined up in man coverage against the WVU receivers split wide. Safeties Jefferson and Javon Harris (who's out of the frame playing deep middle) have the dual responsibilities of helping deep in coverage and supporting against the run.

The player in the middle of field where you’d generally find a linebacker is Julian Wilson (No. 2). Wilson played as the sixth DB in OU’s Dime personnel package throughout the season. Under normal circumstances, he’d be matched up on the perimeter against a receiver in place of Lamar Harris.

So, how did this particular play work out?

It proved to be a common them on the evening for the Sooners. In the next part of this series, I'll dissect the results and look at the larger implications regarding OU's scheme and personnel.

Sooners Recruiting Update: A slew of new commits

The Sooners enjoyed a flurry of verbal commitments last month with the coaches out on road almost all of May. They handed out lots of new offers, leading to four new pledges.

New offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh secured his first high-school verbal in Alex Dalton from Ohio. Dalton was also recruited by Bedenbaugh at WVU. He is an excellent offensive guard/center prospect for OU. He’s extremely physical and mobile and could really project anywhere on the OU OL. Ideally, he will be the future OU center after Ty Darlington leaves Norman. Dalton is now in the 280-285 range, but he easily looks like he could carry 300.

Most of the Big Ten offered Dalton, and before he looked like he was heading to Norman, Stanford was pushing hard for him. You had to like OU’s chances when Dalton visited Norman for a second time this spring. In fact, many recruiting analysts were expecting a commitment at the time. When weeks went by without a verbal, it looked like Dalton was perhaps going elsewhere. It appeared that Dalton was simply waiting for Bedenbaugh’s scheduled visit to his high school.

The other verbals were created by a slew of new offers sent out in late April and May after the coaches hit the road to do more in person evaluations.

If there’s one theme in Texas recruiting this cycle, it’s the amazing depth at the DB position. Mike Stoops has made a bunch of offers. Even though he is still waiting on a number of big-time kids, that didn’t stop Mike from offering Marcus Green from Cedar Hill. Green is a classic big CB for Mike’s defense. He’s 6-1 with long arms and excellent mobility. Mike thinks he’s a top CB prospect, and the hype on Green was just starting when OU offered. Green verbaled to OU and should be on campus for OU’s summer camp sessions.

If Green was from familiar territory, then Tito Windham’s offer and verbal were a big surprise. OU has offered any number of SEC area kids before, but usually they have come from Florida, Georgia, or Louisiana – Windham hails from Mississippi. Windham, who had been flying under the radar with only a Mississippi State offer, jumped on his Sooner offer. Now the name brands are starting to realize Mike just stole a big-time kid. Windham just received an offer from FSU.

Windham is very physical on tape, and he looks like he could be a CB or free safety. His height listings are all over the place, but Windham looks like a great athlete and defender. Like Green, he’s under the ranking radar right now, but just wait.

After spring ball ended, new tight ends coach Jay Boulware after finally had a chance to get out of Norman and start making some evaluations and offers.

Carson Meier at Tulsa Union was a name that was starting to get serious buzz. Meier on film looks to be an ideal prospect for the position – athletic enough to be effective downfield but also shows a physicality and willingness to block. He’s an excellent basketball player, too, and those highlights show a very fluid athletic player with a great frame. Meier checks in at 6-7, 220 right now, but he easily looks like he could carry 245-250 while keeping his speed.

It’s hard to believe that Meier was flying under the radar at a school like Union, but he was. I really think Boulware/Norvell realized that on tape Meier was as good as the kids they were offering nationally.

2014 Verbal Commitments: 4
(Class size: 22-24)

Dallis Todd, WR
(6-5, 210, 4.5)

Vontre McQuinnie, DB
(6-1, 200, 4.6)

Samaje Perine, RB
(5-11, 225. 4.45)

Justice Hansen, QB
(6-4, 200, 4.6)

Carson Meier, TE
(6-7, 220, 4.7)

Marcus Green, DB
(6-1, 175, 4.6)

Tito Windham, DB
(5-11, 180)

Alex Dalton, OL
(6-4, 280)

Offers continue to fly out the door for the 2014 class. In addition, even more 2015 offers are being sent out by OU to national and regional prospects.

OU is aggressively recruiting Texas and nationally. The staff members are doing more in-person evaluations nationally than ever before. That’s how Mike found Windham before the rest of the SEC. The four new verbals give OU excellent momentum heading into this weekend's summer camp sessions, which usually leads to new offers and new discoveries, player-wise. OU could easily land another two or three verbals by mid-June from this camp activity. In addition, there are number of big-time prospects who will visit Norman but not go thru the camp. Again, that could lead to another two or three more verbals.

It’s not unrealistic to think that the commitment number could be 14 to 16 by July 1.

Recruiting Baker’s Dozen

1. Solomon Thomas – Top DL target.

2. Garrett Myles – After Thomas, perhaps the top DE prospect in Texas.

3. Michiah Quick – Best cornerback target for OU.

4. Ty Barrett – Big offensive tackle whose rankings are about to explode.

5. Andrew Williams – Jerry Montgomery’s best out-of-state target.

6. Garrard McDowell – Might be the highest-rated DT on the OU board.

7. Jovan Pruitt – Other big Dallas-area OT.

8. Steven Parker – Elite defensive back out of Jenks.

9. Joe Mixon – RB is not really a huge need, but Mixon is that highly rated.

10. Dwight Williams – Arguably the best LB on the board for OU.

11. Jamal Adams – Best safety on the board for OU.

12. Christian Sam – OU’s top LB target in Texas at this point.

13. Nathan Starks – Status unclear following disciplinary issues.

Class Breakdown

Quarterback: 1

Done with the pledge from Hansen.

Running Back: 2

OU has one RB in the fold and will likely take the next big-time RB and call it a day.

The remaining RB spot got very interesting the last four weeks. Nathan Starks got expelled from Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, and it’s unclear where he will play his senior year. Right now, he still has an OU offer.

Joe Mixon is tearing it up at camp events and is a five-star lock for most services.

Running backs coach Cale Gundy probably has three or four other big-time RBs on speed dial if both of these kids end up elsewhere, but, right now, these are the kids to track.

If I was Starks, with the off-the-field issues going on, I’d leap on that OU offer right now.

Nathan Starks (6-0, 210, 4.45) – It’s about time that OU signed a great RB from Bishop Gorman again. Starks is that RB. He has been very clear that OU is one of his favorites and that Murray is one of his favorite RBs. A very possible five-star RB.

Joe Mixon (6-1, 190, 4.45) – Any RB who wears 28 and wants folks to call him "the next Adrian Peterson" is probably interested in hearing from OU. Mixon has an OU offer and is excellent RB with home run speed. Like Starks, he has a number of big-time offers.

Wide Receiver: 3?

One outside WR has verbaled. One slot WR spot is open with the loss of Foreman. Does that leave one more opening for a WR? Does OU take Andrews and worry about his position later?

Norvell almost has an embarrassment of riches at his recruiting position. Mead’s recruiting rep has blown up completely as more folks look at that film and drool at the thought of Mead at 6-6, 205 catching everything in sight. Brown might pull the trigger for OU while other kids are weighing visits.

I’m glad Norvell will have to figure out who to take and who to stop recruiting.

Jeffrey Mead (6-7, 170, 4.6) – Is Mead a basketball player or a football player? His junior year showed a tall WR with great hands and excellent speed who was a consistent mismatch against smaller DBs. Mead has a tough call on which sport to play, but his potential at WR is bringing in national offers from everyone. He could be a Dorial Green-Beckham-type talent at WR down the road. The ceiling is that high.

K.D. Cannon (6-0, 170, 4.4) – Best WR in Texas? Cannon is a legit contender for that crown. Extremely fast and elusive, Cannon would make an awesome slot WR for the Sooners.

Keenen Brown (6-3, 185, 4.5) – Right behind Cannon/Foreman in terms of Texas WR rankings. He has the flexibility to play inside or outside for OU. A very polished WR prospect.

Dorian Leonard (6-5, 190, 4.5) – Malcolm Kelly redux? Leonard looks great on film. He's a big, fluid athlete making those big down field catches that Kelly did so well in 2006/2007. Has an OU offer.

Mark Andrews (6-7, 226, 4.6) – Huge WR/TE who has been very public about his interest in OU. Andrews on film looks like an excellent big WR, but you have to wonder if a natural move to TE is in his future.

Corey Holmes (6-3, 180, 4.4) - This Florida receiver just received his OU offer and again seems very interested in OU. Montgomery looks like the coach who pushed the OU offer to Holmes. Holmes has a nice blend of agility, top-end speed and height. He just had a great visit to Norman, and a verbal is not out of the question.

Offensive Line: 5 (at least)

Bedenbaugh is hitting the ground running big time, including scholarship offers in Texas and nationally. Offers have gone out to top JUCO OTs, indicating how high a priority OU is making OL this year. JUCO offers in February provide yet another example of “Total Recruiting.”

Bedenbaugh is aggressively recruiting OL at a pace not seen in Norman in a long time. OU badly needs linemen, so the usual first-year break-in period for new assistants cannot be afforded.

OU appears to be leading on Barrett, and maybe Pruitt. The Sooners are also in the top three for Braden Smith and Roderick Johnson, as well as new offer Connor Mayes. Also, Bedenbaugh looks like he wants two JUCO prospects for depth and talent upgrade.

Ty Barrett (6-5, 295, 5.2) – Athletic tackle prospect from Dallas Skyline. OU has numerous players from Skyline. Just visited for junior day and has an OU offer. His profile is on the rise and Bedenbaugh has made him a priority.

Braden Smith (6-6, 275, 5.0) – Nationally ranked OL prospect who starred last summer at the OU summer camp where he was probably the top prospect. OU will be in the hunt, but all the big powers have offered Smith. His recruiting is dead quiet.

Jovan Pruitt (6-6, 290, 5.2) – Recently offered by OU and Notre Dame. Huge-framed kid looks a little stiff in his stance, but he shows some power on film. Like Barrett, Bedenbaugh has quickly made Pruitt a recruiting priority.

Denzel Ward (6-9, 290, 5.2) – Has already committed to visiting Norman this fall. Huge frame with incredible agility. Has a sky high ceiiing.

Natrell Curtis (6-3, 285) – Teammate of UCLA signee Kenny Lacy. OU has offered along with host of Pac 12 schools. Just excelled at a recent all star camp. Might be the best OG prospect on the board.

Roderick Johnson (6-7, 300, 5.2) – If not for Andy Bauer (Ole Miss commit), Johnson would be getting more publicity as the best OL in Missouri.

Dontavius Blair (6-8, 300, 5.2) – Kansas JUCO already visited OU during a spring tour of schools. OU has already offered, and he looks like he will graduate by December.

Patrick Au (6-10, 360, 5.5) – Utah Juco. Massive athlete who is starting to receive some attention. Needs to drop some bad weight but the potential is there.

Connor Mayes (6-5, 320, 5.3) – Mayes is a recent offer who looks like an ideal interior mauler for the OU offense. He also played some center, but OU probably wants him at guard.

Frank Kee (6-4, 335, 5.3) – Texas JUCO. Kee, along with Dionte Savage from last year, would provide some serious size and depth inside at OG with Tyler Evans and Bronson Irwin being seniors. Kee is a mid-term graduate and is very interested in OU.

Tight End: 2?

OU struck out at TE in 2013, but the Sooners now have Meier. Getting him in the fold allows Boulware to be aggressive with other prospects. If OU gets Koda Martin, then I think that OU would still go after a third TE, because Martin could easily end up at OT. An ideal three-player class would be Meier, Mavin Saunders and Martin.

Will OU offer a JUCO TE ? Boulware might wait to see how Grant and McNamara fare this fall. Trevor Wood from Arizona is another name at TE to track if OU misses out on Martin.

Koda Martin (6-6, 250, 4.8) – Looking for a big prototype blocking TE? Martin is it. Last year he started showing some receiving skills as well. The only question is: Like Eric Winston, does he grow into an elite mobile OT or stay at TE?

Tyler Luatua (6-4, 230, 4.6) – Lautua could be used as an H-back in the OU scheme. Physical blocker, but also an excellent pass receiver. The entire nation is after Luatua, but maybe OU’s new verbal and teammate of Lautua can help OU get a visit.

Mavin Saunders (6-5, 225. 4.6) – Big WR who projects at TE in college. Huge frame and excellent speed. Very underrated based on his footage. Only started playing football last year.

Deandre Goolsby (6-5, 230, 4.7) – I think OU has been late offering Goolsby due to his KSU connections. OU has now offered, and he seems very interested, but you have to wonder if the KSU legacy can be overcome. Looks like a very athletic pass-catching TE prospect.

Trevor Wood (6-6, 235, 4.7) – Very physical TE who also plays DE. Great frame and excellent athleticism.

Defensive Tackle: 2

The Sooners are not quite in the desperate place for DTs that they were in with the 2013 class. Still, you’d like to see OU sign a top DT every year. No prospects in Oklahoma right now, and Texas does not look to have a deep pool of candidates.

OU lost out on Jaycoven Henderson to TCU with the DT coaching position change, as well as Trey Lealaimatafao and Courtney Garnett.

Some new names have surfaced from Texas and Louisiana. It’s not a great year overall for DTs, so Montgomery will continue to evaluate kids.

Peyton Newell (6-3, 275, 4.7) – Like Solomon Thomas, another big body that could be a 3-4 DE or bulk up to be a 4-3 DT. He’s received his OU offer, and OU visit is very likely.

Travonte Valentine (6-3, 285, 4.9) – Valentine has verbaled to Louisville and now Florida, but he has an OU offer as well.

D.J. Williams (6-2, 290, 4.9) – Recent OU offer at DT. He’s right now still working on his technique at DT, but might be a better athlete than some of the other Texas DTs verbaled elsewhere.

Garrald McDowell (6-3, 265, 4.8) – McDowell seems very interested in OU and a summer visits could happen. McDowell is a little light for DT right now, but has a nice frame and is very explosive on video.

Defensive End: 2

OU signed an excellent three-player DE class in 2013, but I’m guessing Montgomery still has the green light to add two top-flight DEs if he can find them. OU has offers out to national targets like DaShawn Hand, but I don’t see it going anywhere. Deondre Clark’s desire to go out of state will probably mean that OU loses out on the best in-state DE. Montgomery seems to have OU firmly in the hunt for both Thomas and Garrett. Montgomery has made some additional offers at DE in Texas as he finds more prospects.

Solomon Thomas (6-3, 260, 4.8) – Probably the top overall DL prospect in Texas. Thomas could be a 3-4 DE or possibly grow into a DT. OU has offered, and he just visited for junior day. He has now visited two times in the last month. Very impressive film.

Josh Malin (6-5, 260, 4.75) – Probably the top big DE after Solomon Thomas. Like Thomas, Malin could grow into an athletic DT.

Myles Garrett (6-4, 230, 4.7) – After Thomas, Garrett is getting a lot of attention as the next best DE.

Deondre Clark (6-4, 240, 4.8) – After Justice Hansen, Clark is probably the top prospect in OK. Unfortunately, he has a brother at OSU playing basketball and seems very interested in LSU. OU is recruiting him and has offered, but he seems focused elsewhere.

Andrew Williams (6-4, 245, 4.6) – Your usual elite SEC type DE prospect. Williams has made a real connection with Montgomery. OU looks likely to receive a visit.

Justin Hollins (6-5, 210, 4.55) – New name that is starting to get a lot of new offers. Has tremendous frame and athleticism to play 3-4 OLB/4-3 DE.

Grant Blankenship (6-5, 230, 4.7) – Another physical DE prospect on film. Shows a nice burst off the line. OU just recently offered. Does a nice job handling the run on video as well as pass rushing.

Linebacker: At least 3

Last year it was DTs. This year’s desperate recruiting position that has the message boards worried a year before signing day is LB. Tim Kish has already been labeled by some as a disaster.

Other than Sam, I’m not sure who OU leads on at LB. There are targets in Illinois and California, and all keep talking about visiting, but none of them have OU out in front right now. Just one of those prospects would make this LB a success.

Niles Morgan (6-2, 215 4.5) – OU has already offered this speedy physical OLB. OU has a connection back to David Smith, so a visit is not out of the question. Has a lot of big-time offers.

Christian Sam (6-2, 205, 4.5) – Just visited for OU’s first junior day. No offer yet, but his film is excellent.

Clifton Garrett (6-2, 225, 4.6) – If Morgan is the speed LB from Illinois, then Garrett is the power LB. The entire Big Ten has offered him. OU has offered, and a visit would not be a surprise.

Dwight Williams (6-3, 215, 4.55) – Might be the best OLB in California. Shows excellent power, burst, and pursuit. Seems interested in his OU offer.

Tay Evans (6-3, 210, 4.55) – Teammate of Sam and son of former OU hoops player Bobby Joe Evans. Evans is recovering from an shoulder injury but on film with his frame might have a higher upside than Sam.

Defensive Back: 5-6

This might be the best and deepest talent pool of DBs from Texas in forever. In addition, OU has targets in the SEC, Arizona and California. Quick and Parker are the two top targets, as well as best big safety that OU can find. Also, OU hopes to bring Tee Shepard on campus in January if Shepard gets the NCAA ruling that he needs.

Nick Watkins (6-1, 185, 4.5) – Best big CB in Texas? His offer list (OU included) sure lends credence to that statement.

Nick Harvey (5-11, 180, 4.5) – Might be the best CB in Texas. Verbaled to Texas A&M. OU will try to get him on campus for a junior day.

Tony Brown (6-1, 180, 4.5) – Okay, Brown might be the best DB in Texas. OU offer, but he is rumored to be a lean to LSU.

Steven Parker (6-2, 185, 4.5) – Best DB prospect in Oklahoma. Has an OU offer and was a star at the OU summer camp.

Michiah Quick (6-0, 175, 4.4) – Despite his HS having three big-time DBs just sign LOIs, Quick might be the best one overall. After signing Hatari Byrd and L.J. Moore, OU will be all over this California offer.

Jamal Adams (6-1, 190, 4.5) – Both OU and UT are after this big, talented safety. Might be the best safety in Texas.

John Bonney (6-0, 185, 4.5) – OU offer out of the Houston area. He has not visited yet for a junior day.

Tyler Whiley (6-1, 190, 4.5) – Big CB prospect that seems very interested in OU. Would be a huge pickup for Kish/Mike from their former recruiting territory.

Courtland Sutton (6-3, 200, 4.5) – Looks like he could be an elite center field free safety or bulk up to play OLB. His film is very good.

Payton Hendrix (6-3, 190, 4.5) – Teammate of Watkins. Hendrix probably would make an ideal safety with excellent speed and range for the OU defense. Moved to Bishop Dunne his senior year.

Doubling down with the devil

When the news broke Tuesday that we're getting a four-team playoff in 2014, a surge of excitement shot through me. I've never been a big playoff advocated, but how can you not be at least a little geeked to watch these games? For the fans, there's no arguing that the entertainment value of a college football playoff wallops the BCS.

If I was excited, I can only imagine how BCS arch critic Dan Wetzel must have felt. The Yahoo! columnist's book Death to the BCS is garnering plenty of acclaim in the last 24 hours as having driven a stake through the heart of college football's unpopular postseason model. The withering of the BCS – along with a massive portfolio of brilliant work – have helped elevate him to the position of being not only the best sports columnist alive, but the most powerful as well.

Naturally, fans and contemporaries in the sports media couldn't wait to see Wetzel's touchdown dance. He delivered, spiking the ball on the BCS's coffin of cronyism and pissing on its grave of corruption for good measure.

Although blown away by the brilliance of Wetzel's prose yet again, his victory lap of a column reminded me why this playoff-BCS debate has irked me from the start.

Death to the BCS demonstrated in full that college football's bowl system is highway robbery dressed up in pomp and tradition. It embodies all the worst parts of American society today – greedy largesse fueled by kickbacks, connections and insultingly disingenuous PR pitches. On top of all that, taxpayers are the ones footing the bill for the outrageous salaries and booze cruises.

But what has never really been proven to me is that this newfangled playoff thing actually makes anything about college football better.

I sent up a flare on Twitter yesterday asking people to define what makes this new system "better" than what we have. The responses I received were either filled with platitudes about a "truer" national champion or the entertainment value in the opportunity to see underdogs win the crystal ball.

But Wetzel would have us believe that a playoff is our payoff in a Faustian bargain to ignore all the seediness that underlies big-time college sports as a whole, not just the BCS. The lying. The cheating. The exploiting. The mockery of higher education.

The reality is that a playoff isn't the end of that transaction. It's doubling down on the deal.

We're talking about injecting more money and more pressure into a system where the competition is already cutthroat and the demands are superhuman. Getting into the playoff will give boosters and the media yet another artificial measuring stick by which they can tell coaches that they're not meeting expectations. The newly found cash can be used can be used to inflate coaches' salaries even more, giving them all the more reason to bend the rules and look the other way in the name of winning. More handlers will come out of the woodwork peddling influence over recruits' commitments. The demands will grow on university administrators to admit students whose 40-yard dash time is the highlight of their application. Once these unprepared athlete-students get to campus, even more will be shuttled off into worthless majors made up of path-of-least-resistance classes. (In some cases, no-resistance.) Fewer hours studying freshman calculus, more hours studying the playbook.

But we'll continue to ignore all that crap so we can get those three magical playoff games. Then seven, then 15...

I'm sure I'll feel better then.

Counterpoint: Is OU ignoring Texas in recruiting? It's complicated

Bob StoopsIs Texas less relevant to OU in terms of recruiting?

Allen made an interesting claim in his recent article, and it's the source of endless arguments on various Sooner message boards.

There seem to be two main connected threads in this argument:

  • Mack Brown's early verbal strategy is hurting OU, leading to...
  • OU shift its focus to other states.

On the surface, point No. 1 appears to be true, but, in reality, at quarterback, wide receiver and running back, OU has not been dependent on Texas talent at all. OU's biggest recent miss at RB is Joseph Randle from Kansas. At WR it was Justin Blackmon, who wasn't offered because OU took Jameel Owens instead.

Jay Norvell, Cale Gundy, and Josh Heupel are recruiting the best national kids they can find who are interested in OU. Some of those prospects might be in Texas, but OU is prepared to go anywhere to find the players needed. OU's RBs for 2014 could easily be from Broken Arrow, Okla., and Las Vegas, while the Sooners' 2014 QB could easily be an in-state prospect.

At defensive end and defensive tackle, the combination of Jackie Shipp and Bobby Jack Wright are still recruiting Texas as well as they always have. The state of Texas lately has not been producing any difference makers at DT, although both OU and UT have high hopes for Jordan Wade, Desmond Jackson, Justin Manning and A'Shawn Robinson. At DE, OU's two-deep roster features three Texas players.

There has to be some position where UT is really hurting OU in recruiting, right? Defensive back.

DB coach Duane Akina and a string of NFL draft picks in the 2005-2007 years have given UT a clear advantage at this position in the state of Texas. In addition, the pool of DB talent in the state continues to be depleted by the trend towards spread offenses in Texas high schools.

In previous recruiting classes, OU has identified athletes who they wanted to play at DB after losing primary DB targets to UT. Often OU is losing recruits to other schools promising them the chance to play offense. OU has been able to rely on one blue-chip in-state DB a year to counter that trend, but OU's secondary depth and talent are not where they should be. Mike Stoops taking his top young DB, Cortez Johnson, from Arizona as a transfer to OU is another indicator of the depth/talent issue at DB.

Mike Stoops

Mike is evaluating and recruiting with the power of the OU brand behind him. He knows California and Florida are loaded with talented DBs and he's going to offer every kid he can. In California alone, there are probably 5 safeties better than any safety prospect in Texas. In the 2012 class, Gary Simon, a three-star recruit from Florida, on tape looked better than any CB prospect OU offered in Texas. Mike's current Florida DB offers look great on tape. So, it is safe to say there is a big transition happening at that position.

Linebacker is another area in transition with the end of the Brent Venables era. Tim Kish is taking the OU brand for a test drive and has already offered a slew of national LBs. Yet, Kish is working back to Texas, with a verbal commitment from Jordan Mastrogiovanni and an offer out to Raquaan Davis.

Really, the rise in national offers represents the most significant change in OU's recruiting practices. (The Sooners may have a low hit rate, but they only need to hit on a couple of kids. OU is not worried about some false stat like Mack crowing he signed 24 out of 28 offers.)

Why? High-end video from Hudl.com and Youtube and similar channels are transforming recruiting. Back in 2002 I had to wait for the year-end recruiting signees DVD for footage of recruits. Rivals has had decent video coverage for the last 3 or 4 years, but nothing like what's available today.

I was able to watch almost 50 percent of Cody Thomas' throws last year on Hudl.com. I've been able to watch roughly 10 minutes of footage for almost every one of OU's 2013 verbal commitments, not some three-play highlight clip. The early availability of footage has enabled OU to make that many more offers earlier in the process. Four days in Florida can be spent meeting with 10 or 12 recruits, as opposed to spending time just trying to evaluate kids.

The abundance of video footage also is helping OU make summer camps more productive. The recent session in Norman had the best collection of rising junior talent ever.

And these summer camps offer perhaps the clearest sign that OU is not de-emphasizing Texas. The Sooners attracted considerable 2014 talent to their new satellite camps in Texas, which just ended. Given their success, the OU coaches should continue to make this investment to get in contact with as many top Texas kids as possible before Mack's pressure-to-commit fest begins every spring.

Oklahoma's new recruiting paradigm: Less Texas?

Landry Jones
New Mexico's own.

Think back to last fall's Red River Shootout and look at the big plays made in Oklahoma's 55-17 rout of Texas.

On offense, Kenny Stills caught two touchdown passes from Landry Jones, who threw for 367 yards on the day. Ryan Broyles, who had 122 yards receiving in the game, caught another TD toss from the 'Stache. Then there was Dom Whaley ripping of a 64-yard scoring run in the third quarter.

Defensively, safety Tony Jefferson snared an interception off of Longhorn QB David Ash deep in Texas territory that helped open the floodgates for OU. Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Frank Alexander had a forced fumble on a sack that was picked up and returned for a defensive score.

What do all of those Sooners have in common? In a heated rivalry game that has traditionally showcased some of the Lone Star State's top talent, not a one hails from Texas.

For a while, non-Texans like them were the exceptions on the Sooners' roster. However, if you've been paying attention for the last few years to OU's recruiting, you've undoubtedly noticed it. After dedicating the vast majority of the coaching staff's time and effort to mining Texas' fertile recruiting ground for decades, the Sooners' scouting has taken a decidedly national bent.

A mere five of OU's 26 signees in the 2012 class came from Texas. Even after the Sooners secured a pledge from Dallas Jesuit linebacker Jordan Mastrogiovanni on Thursday, of OU's 10 commits for 2013, there are only four Texans. Compare that to 2011, when 11 of the Sooners' 17 signees were Texas-bred. In 2010, it was 17 out of 29.

It has reached the point that Scipio Tex of Texas blog Barking Carnival asked a few weeks back if the Red River rivals are even recruiting against each other anymore.

Adrian PetersonScipio is one of the more astute college football bloggers of any persuasion out there, and he did a very good job of hitting on some of the key points from a Burnt Orange perspective. I have no access whatsoever to OU's program, and I prefer to keep it that way. Of course, that's not going to stop me from speculating as to what in the name of Billy Sims and Adrian Peterson is going on here.

A few thoughts:

*Maybe it's a blip?

Yes, the Sooners went light on the Texas in their 2012 recruiting smorgasboard. However, one reason for that could be that it was viewed as somewhat of a down year across the board for Texas talent, especially once Mack Brown had wrapped up his second-ranked class.

Also, OU's severe roster attrition forced Stoops and his staff to dig into the JUCO ranks more so than usual for immediate help. That's fewer spots for preps from anywhere.

On the other hand, the early returns on both commitments and scholarship offers for 2013 suggest more of the same as 2012.

*The (More) Sure Thing

Check out California and Arizona just hanging by the rail out there, looking all pretty. USC sweats them pretty hard, but who else? UCLA? Arizona St.? Oregon?

Texas may be the prettiest girl in the room, but she's also got every dude in the joint throwing game her way.

There was a time when recruiting in Texas meant the Longhorns and Sooners, then everybody else. Those days are fading. Texas A&M is seeing a bounce from moving to the SEC. In a sign of the times, Baylor just scored a head-to-head recruiting win over UT. Oregon has made significant inroads throughout the state. LSU might steal the best prospect in UT's class. Alabama just secured a pledge from one of the Longhorns' top targets at defensive back. (And if Nick Saban plans on getting involved in your backyard, watch out.)

Competition for Texas talent is picking up by the day. If you're Bob Stoops, where are you going to get the best bang for your buck?

Mike Stoops

*The Mike Stoops Factor

Tying into the idea that the landscape may be less competitive out west, Mike Stoops could have played a role in the recruiting shift. OU's prodigal son defensive coordinator spent the last eight years as head coach at Arizona, so he and Tim Kish, OU's new linebackers coach and a member of Mike's staff in Tucson, already have plenty of connections in Arizona and California. It's entirely possible OU wants to leverage those contacts. At the same time, losing Brent Venables also means losing one of Bob's most active recruiters in Texas.

OU's eyes started wandering even before Mike's return to Norman. Saying it's all Mike's doing would be a stretch, but the timing seems more than coincidental.

*Not helping me help you.

Culturally, Texas is a unique animal. You won't find a state in the union with more state pride. Football is a huge part of that identity, as is the state's flagship university in Austin. Put them both together, and you've got a lot "Don't mess with Texas" rolled up in one place.

Brown has done a tremendous job leveraging that identity to sell the state's elite prospects – and fanboy media types – on the honor of playing for the 'Horns. However, Brown has also dedicated himself to nurturing relationships with coaches around the state, who are undoubtedly as caught up in the notion of the prestige of playing for Texas as their players. Being tight with that group of gatekeepers play can pay significant dividends in terms of access and influence. (Consider how often recruits from Texas miss visits to Norman because they "can't find a ride," for example.)

In that respect, I wouldn't blame OU's coaches if they feel like they're banging their heads against a wall.

Of course, the rumors of internal strife within OU's program, which are seemingly being propagated in public by one particularly pro-UT source, could also be influencing the opinions of high school coaches in Texas towards the Sooners' coaching staff. I honestly have no idea about the legitimacy of such talk or its effect, although OU's attrition in the offseason definitely points to some chemistry issues.

Which brings us to...

*Is there something about the water south of the border?

In his analysis, Scipio asserts that UT's dominance in recruiting its home state has forced the Sooners farther down their list of Texas prospects not only with regard to talent, but with regard to that nebulous "character" factor and academic standing as well. Considering that the vast majority of the 19 players who have left OU's program or been suspended indefinitely in the past 18 months hail from Texas, it sounds like a reasonable explanation.

Yet, UT has witnessed similar levels of attrition during that period, which throws a bit of a wrench into that theory.

You occasionally hear recruiting analysts grumble about Texas high school recruits being soft and entitled. It strikes me as a ridiculous generalization. But after chewing on those numbers for a bit, I do wonder if the criticisms have some merit.

Golden Nugget releases point spreads on 7 Sooners games

Vegas-skyline
Can you feel it?

I know it seems like it's a long way off, but college football season really isn't that far away. And you know how I know that? The Golden Nugget yesterday released point spreads for more than 100 of the biggest games of the 2012 season.

The Nugget's release of its Games of the Year numbers have become something of a holiday in the gambling community. It also represents an opportunity to watch the lines move and glean some wisdom from the sharp gamblers who drive the market at this time of the year.

The Nugget put lines on seven Oklahoma games this year: Kansas St., Texas, Notre Dame, Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma St., TCU. Not surprisingly, Vegas favors the Sooners in all of them, so, by extension, OU will be favored in all 12 contests this season.

Back in early May, I tried to handicap all of OU's games this season. Let's take a look at how my guesses matched up with the Nugget's lines, how the lines moved and what it all might mean.

Collin KleinKansas St. at Oklahoma (Sept. 22)
Golden Nugget: OU -16
Blatant Homerism: OU -9

Helluva start, huh?

Best of luck figuring out Purple Kansas this year. The Wildcats had an unbelievable run in 2011, but it was overachievement to the extreme. It makes getting a handle on K-State so difficult.

Texas vs. Oklahoma (Oct. 13)
*Dallas
Nugget: OU -6
BH: OU -7.5
Move: OU -5

That's more like it, although I'm kind of annoyed that I missed this by more than a point.

Texas looks like one of the sharps' darlings this year, as three of the Longhorns' lined games moved their direction. To everyone else, UT is a team that is just a game over .500 in the last two seasons. Out in the desert, they're one of the most talented rosters in the country, so getting points in just about any scenario seems like a gift.

Brian KellyNotre Dame at Oklahoma (Oct. 27)
Nugget: OU -12
BH: OU -8.5

Not bad, but not that good, either. I knew when I put these together the first time around that I'd probably be off here. The schedule definitely doesn't help ND. I think the Irish take a couple steps forward in terms of quality of play, though, even if their record doesn't reflect it at the end of the year.

Baylor at Oklahoma (Nov. 10)
Nugget: OU -17
BH: OU -18

I'm kinda surprised that this game didn't move towards the Sooners. People must have forgotten what Baylor was like prior to the Robert Griffin III Experience. Nick Florence could turn out to be a decent QB. RG3, however, he is not.

Oklahoma at West Virginia (Nov. 17)
Nugget: OU -4
BH: OU -3.5

Playing in the Big East, it's not out of the realm of possibility to think that WVU would be favored in every game this year, just like OU.

This game should scare Sooner Nation – check out how OU has performed as a small road favorite under Stoops lately.

Oklahoma St. at Oklahoma (Nov. 24)
Nugget: OU -8
BH: OU -8.5

Much like KSU, evaluating the Pokes is a tall order. I expect OSU to struggle a bit early behind freshman QB Wes Lunt. By this point in the season, however, he'll likely have the kinks worked out.

Oklahoma at TCU (Dec.1)
Nugget: OU -10
BH: OU -7.5
Move: OU -9

To be fair, I made this number prior to learning that Ed Wesley had left the team.

The Big 12 is full enigmas. Between TCU's roster issues and stepping up in competition, this all strikes me as guesswork.

I do think that 10 points are too many for the Horned Frogs to be getting in this match-up. Double digits in a conference road game in December, especially for a great coach like Gary Patterson.

Sooners Recruiting Update: OU has its QB

 

2013 Verbal Commitments: 8
(Projected class of 20 to 24)

DJ Ward, DE (Okla.)
6-4, 235, 4.6
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/479101/dj-ward

Greg Bryant, RB (Fla.)
5-11, 200, 4.45
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/893527/greg-bryant

Matt Dimon, DE (Texas)
6-4, 255, 4.8
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/484240/matt-dimon

Dalton Rodriguez, OT (Okla.)
6-6, 255, 4.8
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/440041/dalton-rodriguez

Stanvon Taylor, CB (Okla.)
5-11, 175, 4.4
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/644987/stanvon-taylor

Cody Thomas, QB (Texas)
6-5, 220, 4.6
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5_s9-08Mzg

Ahmad Thomas, SS (Fla.)
6-0, 200, 4.5
http://youtu.be/jrsAxCpOOr4

Keith Ford, RB (Texas)
5-11, 200, 4.5
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/609932/keith-ford

Verbal Update

*Ahmad Thomas was the biggest surprise verbal to date. Recent offer by Mike Stoops who must have thought he was seeing vintage safety play from 2000 to 2003 when watching Thomas' highlight reel. Thomas is a hard-hitting safety in run support who excels in coverage, and as the last line of defense on running plays makes a number of TD-saving tackles. He's a true strong safety, not some eventual hybrid LB. Thomas is not highly ranked right now by all services, but I fully expect his rankings to skyrocket once more folks watch his film.

*OU has its QB. Cody Thomas got the only offer after Max Browne and didn't let any other QBs get into the race. The biggest concern with Thomas has been his potential as an MLB draft pick. Thomas is not a power pitching prospect despite his cannon arm shown in football. (Thomas is a lefty, power-hitting outfielder.) Thomas right now is committed to playing college football and college baseball. You have to think at some point there will come a time that Bob Stoops/Josh Heupel explain to Cody that to win the OU QB job, he's going to need to drop baseball. The other concern is that we're 13 months away from his MLB draft status being clear. He's not a first-round pick right now, but things could change, and OU cannot afford to not enroll a QB in August 2013. Landry Jones is leaving and a QB battle is brewing, which could lead to multiple transfers. QB depth can disappear overnight. (More info on Thomas in the QB section.)

*Right now OU has six verbals ranked four stars or higher by at least one service.

2012 Additions

Cortez Johnson, DB (Arizona transfer)
6-2, 195
Note: Mike Stoops thinks that the kid can be an elite DB in college.

Lacoltan Bester, WR (Miss., JUCO)
6-2, 205, 4.5
http://youtu.be/i-TE_IsiEGc
Note: More than 1,0000 yards receiving, 17 TDs in JUCO league loaded with SEC-level talent.)

Jalen Saunders, WR (Fresno State transfer)
5-9, 165, 4.4
http://vimeo.com/34519770

*OU has added 3 players to their 2012 class. Saunders and Johnson will probably redshirt while Bester should see the field courtesy of the WR suspensions that were announced. It's unclear if these 3 additions reduce the number of scholarships for 2013 signing day or if recent suspensions have opened up new spots. In addition, the two new WRs probably mean that instead of a class of four high school WRs for this class, OU will stick with two or three.

Recruiting Notes

*OU heads into a busy month of June with summer camps potentially leading to a number of new offers/verbals. Last year, OU summer camps led to verbals from Eric Striker and Durron Neal and a week or two later John Micheal McGee and Ty Darlington. So it could be a busy time with new offers presented to kids who want to be Sooners and out of state offers/targets visiting Norman for the first time and possibly verbaling. Also, we are starting to see some more Texas regional offers go out, and I'd imagine that OU will start to cull the offers to longer-distance kids.

*Finally, OU has set up four official visits for the ND game. The Fresno DB 3 (Hatari Byrd, LJ Moore, Johnny Johnson) and new offer Adrian Baker are scheduled right now. Look for OU to leverage the media event that will be OU-ND as the glamour recruiting weekend for out of region official visits.

2013 Position Updates (expected spots)

Quarterback (1)

So QB is done, but why did Heupel offer Cody Thomas instead of Hayden Rettig or Brayden Scott?

I have to admit that while I liked Cody Thomas' highlight film and Thomas showed an excellent arm, good accuracy and nice fluid release, his highlight film was filled with a lot of horizontal short passing game action and he was hardly if ever under pressure. He was just in the shotgun throwing to wide open WRs and often telegraphing his passes. It wasn't a "wow" film like Max Browne's or Cooper Bateman's.

Fortunately, HUDL.com has Cody Thomas' full season highlights from 2011, so I watched his action from all 11 games.

The first interesting element is that his best 30 or some throws are not even in the youtube highlight reel. By deep diving into his 2011 action, you see that Thomas is great under pressure from the outside and inside. Thomas shows more downfield passing into coverage and working the middle of the field. His calm presence and ability to make plays when facing inside pressure is perhaps the most impressive element. His athleticism is much more apparent in escaping pocket pressure and picking up garbage running yards. His accuracy and touch on deep passes is very good. His accuracy while on the run is excellent, and you can really see his arm strength since he is able to just flip the ball with pace to WRs while on the the move. Finally, he does a good job selling the action to one WR while throwing to another, starting to move DBs with his eyes.

Running Back (2)

OU is done. Running backs coach Cale Gundy is already identifying 2014 targets, such Devon Thomas out of Broken Arrow, Okla..

Wide Receiver (2-3)

Position coach Jay Norvell seems to be looking at national targets and some Texas kids. One big WR and one slot WR seems like the likely combo.

Norvell is big-game hunting; he's after difference-makers. The suspensions certainly make three WRs a possibility.

*Alvin Bailey (Fla.)
5-11, 175, 4.4
http://youtu.be/VGPWIzwH36M

Teammate of Eric Striker. Would fit just behind Steve Mitchell on the small WR wish list.

*Devon Allen (Ariz.)
6-0, 185, 4.35
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sMdcuatxUw

Another name likely to blowup this year. Elite track athlete. Could be a great slot WR in the OU scheme.

*Torii Hunter, Jr. (Texas)
6-0, 185, 4.5
http://www.gametapetube.com/video/1053/Torii-Hunter-Jr-WRDB-8-Prosper-High-School--Class-of-2013

Son of the baseball outfielder. Will he go to college? How good could he be if he focused on football? Will off the field problems with his brother put Hunter on the back burner for OU?

*Travis Johnson (Fla.)
6-4, 210, 4.55
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5f0NJp0gko

Best big WR in Florida. Going to be hard to get out of the SEC, but OU's WR rep is on the rise with Ryan Broyles and OU's passing attack. Not elite speed, but great in the air and gets separation off the line.

*Laquon Treadwell (Ill.)
6-3, 190, 4.5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CBw4D0CJf8

Treadwell was all set to be at the OU spring game before the bad weather had him cancel his planned trip. He's an excellent big WR. Appears to have made a connection with OU signee David Smith who plays in the same HS district. Seems very interested in OU.

*Darrell Daniels (Calif.)
6-3, 200, 4.5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6uQQJV4IzM

Daniels might be the best big WR in the country. Norvell has great connections in California and will see if OU can stay involved. Daniels could also be an awesome safety.

*Sebastian Larue (Calif.)
5-11, 185. 4.5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O96AfhZUqtU

Best looking slot WR not named Steven Mitchell.

*Steven Mitchell (Calif.)
5-11, 175, 4.4
http://youtu.be/BHfkEbSH81U

Right now, he looks like the best slot WR target on the OU board. Great speed, hands, acceleration.

*Demarcus Robinson (Ga.)
6-2, 195, 4.5

Recently indicated on twitter that OU was in his top five. Related to former Chicago Bears WR Marcus Robinson.

*Carlos Burse (Ga.)
6-2, 200, 4.55
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbEw2I86P9k

Another Georgia WR who is seriously listing OU.

*Robbie Rhodes (Texas)
6-2, 184, 4.45
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTDVdOKSvBs

A new name claiming an OU offer on twitter. Offer list might be ready to explode. Shows excellent home run speed in highlights.

Tight End (1-2)

Dan Mattingly is probably the top target here, and he's a great looking TE prospect. Based on his highlight reel, Beau Sandland might be the best JUCO TE since Jeremy Shockey. Christian Morgan was at the OU camp, so I've added him back to the list.

*Dan Mattingly (Wash.)
6-5, 225, 4.6
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/842077/danny-mattingly

Most recent high school TE offer. He looks great on film – excellent downfield speed and a physical blocker. Seems very interested in OU. Should be OU's No. 1 HS target at TE.

*Beau Sandland (Calif.)
6-5, 250, 4.7
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-QUb4HcNqs&feature=related

Maybe the best looking TE prospect in a long time. He's a complete talent at the TE position, and I've never seen OU offer a JUCO TE this early. He's a special talent. The entire world of college football is going to want this kid.

*Hunter Henry (Arl.)
6-5, 245, 4.7
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/36569/hunter-henry

OU has offered this TE prospect. Getting prospects out of Pigland hasn't worked for OU lately.

*Jeremiah Gaines (Texas)
6-3, 230, 4.6
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/54202/jeremiah-gaines

Gaines also was just invited to OU's junior day. Gaines plays much more of a flexed out TE position in HS. He also carries the ball out of a shotgun H-Back look. Possible Millard replacement? He shows excellent speed and is a vertical threat.

*Christian Morgan (Texas)
6-5, 245, 4.75
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2Hjx9VRiX0

Morgan has been on and off the OU radar all spring. He's visiting OU's summer camp to try and lock down a scholarship offer. He's a good looking TE, but is not the downfield receiving threat Mattingly and Henry are.

Offensive Line (3-4)

So with Rodriguez verbaled, OU needs at least 2 more OT prospects. Several national kids have been offered while OU is still evaluating some of the earlier kids that have visited OU. Position coach Bruce Kittle seems to be recruiting at OL from a position of strength that isn't clear from the top kids he is recruiting. Ethan Pocic just picked LSU, so the numbers are falling, but Kittle is not actively trying to get back on kids like Dan Skipper, Clay Rhodes and Jake Campos.

*Na'ty Rodgers (D.C.)
6-5, 280, 5.0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HbgwZSHPtg

Rodgers is an excellent OL prospect very physical and athletic. Could easily play inside as well. OU has a connection to his dad who was at OU for a year before leaving during the Gibbs probation era. Dad is friends with Jamelle Holieway and still talks up OU. The OU centric OL for the Redskins isn't hurting either.

*Laremy Tunsil (Fla.)
6-6, 280, 5.0
http://video.app.msn.com/watch/video/fox-sports-next-laremy-tunsil/17b69kaf7

He's probably the best OT target on the board (it's him or Pocic). I don't see how OU can get him out of the SEC/Florida.

*Nico Falah (Calif.)
6-5, 270, 5.0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hBGMoRzGqg

It's hard to see how OU will get this kid away from UCLA/USC, but it's certainly worth the effort. He's an excellent OL prospect.

Kenny Lacy (Ariz.)
6-5, 275, 5.0 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Vrx9svjwgo

Best OT in Arizona looks like a surefire offer in his highlights. Athleticism is excellent. Raw, but has a huge wingspan. Looks a little like Tyrus Thompson coming out of HS. A DL guy learning that OL is his future in college. The kind of kid that makes OL recruiting so hard. Lacy has apparently been tearing it up at some combines this spring.

*Richy Klepal (Fla.)
6-5, 285, 5.2
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/180331/richy-klepal

Another OU target from Florida. Mobile athletic OT but getting him away from FSU will be tough.

*Aaron Cochran (Calif.)
6-7, 340, 5.4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PSxZsJnSNg

Largest OL target on the board. On Twitter, he's listing OU among his top five. You can see the physical skill on film, but he's very raw and needs to lose some bad weight. The potential is there.

*Christian Morris (Tenn.)
6-6, 275, 5.1
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/479039/christian-morris

Another mobile OT prospect. OU is battling the SEC for a visit.

*Dan Skipper (Colo.)
6-10, 280, 5.3
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/200963/dan-skipper

Skipper is a legit OT prospect, not some unathletic big man. His film is very good. He's mobile and very physical – even does a decent job at DT in some clips. It's not hard to see Ryan Solder (OT with the Patriots) potential here.

*Zach Hannon (Mo.)
6-5, 295, 5.2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Td1SNP2wt0U

More of an offensive guard prospect, which begs the question of why Hannon and not Rob Boyd? Hannon has played OT in high school. In highlights, he does look to have a long wingspan, a key for OTs.

Defensive Tackle (3)

DT recruiting is settling into three specific buckets. One is Justin Manning, the best bet for a highly ranked HS DT.

Two is JUCO DT recruiting. Recognizing the need to add some balance to their DT classes, the Sooners will probably add a JUCO DT.

Third bucket: If OU can get Manning, will OU add a second HS DT? There's not an obvious prospect on the offer board right now. I'd love to see a DT class of Manning, JUCO DT, and Josh Augusta or Eddie Vanderdoes.

Some more offers at DT to track, but no signs of a verbal about to occur.

*Justin Manning (DT)
6-3, 280, 4.9
http://www.ihigh.com/kimballknights/video_903159.html

Demarcus Granger's younger brother looks faster and more explosive than his older brother. OU needs to lock him up. He looks like he's going to be a big-time dominating DT.

Manning's talking about taking his time. Apparently, the timing of OU's offer annoyed Manning. He still seems pretty excited about OU and was annoyed that he missed the OU spring game.

*Josh Augusta (Ill.)
6-5, 290, 4.8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7XqQ65Jxe0

Augusta is a bit under the radar right now, but his potential is very high. He can probably carry 300 pounds easily and could be a DT, DE or OT. He plays a flexed-out TE in some of these clips and watching HS kids try to tackle him is not even funny.

OU offer got his attention. He could be the "big" DT prospect to go with Manning. Very similar to Jordan Phillips as a junior.

*Eddie Vanderdoes (Calif.)
6-4, 285 4.8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaXCTooV6hI

DE prospect who would probably play inside at OU. OU's pitching him that he can be the next Gerald McCoy. Like Augusta, Vanderdoes could easily go 300-plus once he hits a college weight room. His frame has that kind of room.

*Deadrin Senat (Fla.)
6-2, 300, 4.9
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/315915/highlights/9000390

An FSU verbal who has decided to reopen his recruiting. Senat may end up back at FSU, but he would be a great interior anchor for the OU DL. As long as he is open, I can see OU staying involved.

*DeAsian Richardson (Fla.)
6-3, 285, 4.9
http://youtu.be/Hx3nzjlrCD0

Like Manning, it's easy to see Richardson being able to play both DT spots for the Sooners. Your typical big, mobile, physical, SEC-region DL.

*Toby Johnson (Kansas)
6-3, 300, 4.9

Might be the best JUCO DT in the country. From Georgia originally, but not placed in JUCO by any school. OU's never offered a JUCO DT this early. SEC schools are the biggest challenge for OU as Johnson might want to return to that region.

*Tutulupeau Mataele (Calif.)
6-3, 285, 4.8
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/812836/tutulupeatau-mataele

Just like Johnson he's ranked as a top DT in JUCO ranks.

Defensive End (2-3)

OU needs just one more DE. Right now it's looking like Jordan Sherit is the only target on the board. Can Bobby Jack Wright lock down this Florida athlete?

*Joe Mathis (Calif.)
6-4, 250, 4.7
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/784656/joe-mathis

Big athletic powerful DE who seems to be very interested in OU. He's athletic enough to play either position for the Sooners. Mathis has backed off an early verbal, and schools may be taking a wait and see view on Mathis due to grades.

*Jordan Sherit (Fla.)
6-4, 245, 4.7
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZ5tWD8Vq98

Big time DE from Florida who has major connections back to OU thru his HS coach. BJW will probably visit him soon and might push for a verbal to end DE recruiting. He's got the athleticism to play TE for his HS and has a great rangy frame to play at 250-plus.

*Dimarya Mixon (Texas)
6-4, 255, 4.75
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/441882/dimarya-mixon

Could be a DE, but he could also outgrow DE and move to DT like Adrian Taylor. Currently verbaled to Arizona St., but OU's recent offer could change that.

Linebacker (2-3)

LB was the biggest question, with a lot of offers to out-of-region kids, but no one where you could say OU was in the top three. So OU has now offered two Texas-based LBs, Jordan Mastrogiovanni and Raquaan Davis. Davis is still sticking with his Baylor verbal, but Mastrogiovanni could be one of the guys in Norman in June visiting.

*Tim Kimbrough (Ind.)
6-1, 225, 4.6
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arFqESQmGRU

New offer according to Twitter traffic. Appears to be a very physical pure MLB.

*Yannick Ngakoue (D.C.)
6-3, 240, 4.6
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gB1JLFdhoac

Another big MLB. He's also playing DE in some of the highlights. OU has offered, but level of interest is unclear.

*Jordan Mastrogiovanni (Texas)
6-3, 225, 4.75
http://youtu.be/IWmNKJHy-a0

A bigger LB than OU has recruiting lately. Shows excellent range and physical play. I've seen his 40 time listed at 4.9, but he seems faster than that with better closing speed base on his film. Could be OU's first LB verbal.

*Raquaan Davis (Texas)
6-2, 205, 4.6
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/493834/raaquan-davis

More of a WILL LB in the OU scheme similar to Corey Nelson. Will he stick with Baylor now that OU has shown up with an offer?

Mike Mitchell (Texas)
6-4, 225, 4.6
www.hudl.com/athlete/168735/mike-mitchell

Is he a DE or big OLB? OU is probably trying to figure that out as well.

Reggie Chevis (Texas)
6-2, 235, 4.6
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mg8TzVxvoqc

Recent offer, according to Twitter traffic. Looks like a true MLB on video.

Chans Cox (Ariz.)
6-3, 220, 4.5
http://youtu.be/MbzZNE_sxHY

His highlights at FB are so dominant you almost downgrade the LB clips. Still it's easy to see the speed and power at LB once he focuses on that position.

Defensive Back (5)

Two down, three to go.

Can Mike get one of the big time remaining California safeties in Max Redfield, Hatari Byrd or Tahaan Goodman? CB is also up in the air, with any number of kids looking like possibilities. If Mike strikes out in Texas for his top targets, it certainly looks like he will go to California and Florida for replacements.

*Priest Willis (Ariz.)
6-2, 200, 4.5
http://youtu.be/W1iCNAZ8ILo

An ideal safety prospect for countering Big 12 offenses. Physical safety with speed and range. Could almost be a big CB. Kish has OU in line for a visit.

*Cole Luke (Ariz.)
6-0, 175, 4.5
http://youtu.be/qx0kPNzU8hg

Luke looks like an ideal CB prospect for OU. Fast, agile and excellent ball skills. OU appears in line to get a visit. Kish has been recruiting Luke for years. Another spring game victim of the bad weather.

*Max Redfield (Calif.)
6-2, 195, 4.5 California
http://youtu.be/ZSFXA52OO6s

Wow. That's all I had after seeing his film. He has unreal looking film at safety. Size, speed, power, range, and ball skills at safety. Top five player OU is recruiting regardless of position.

*Hatari Byrd (Calif.)
6-1, 185, 4.5
http://youtu.be/SxaXo0LRVMw

Are you seeing a trend here? Another great looking CB/safety target for OU.

*Tahaan Goodman (Calif.)
6-2, 190, 4.5
http://youtu.be/IMzUtJ0ptoE

After Redfield, he's probably the best safety in California. Yet another OU offer.

*Tyler Foreman (Calif.)
6-2, 195, 4.5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-ybptdWocA

Looks like a big time safety prospect. Physical in run support good in coverage.

*Maurice Smith (Texas)
5-11, 180, 4.5
http://youtu.be/Ao0-RZzFzOI

Might be the best CB in Texas. Both OU and UT are recruiting heavily. OU offer is out there and he's a top target. UT has offered now, and could be in the lead.

*Adrian Baker (Fla.)
6-2, 170, 4.5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTtc0gzWU7A

Another tall CB that Mike Stoops has offered in Florida. His offer list is exploding.

Podcast: Breaking down the Sooners with Phil Steele

The release of Phil Steele's annual college football preview magazine is one of the most popular mile markers in the marathon that is the offseason for college football fans. Steele joins Homerism for a podcast to offer his insights into the upcoming season for his No. 2 team in the country, the Oklahoma Sooners, as well as the Big 12.

Phil and I discuss:

  • The sometimes erratic play of senior quarterback Landry Jones.
  • Replacing Ryan Broyles.
  • A veteran offensive line.
  • How Mike Stoops' return will impact the defense.
  • The outlook for last season's Big 12 champ Oklahoma St.
  • Whether or not Texas is rounding into form.
  • And more.

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