In the midst of such a disappointing season, it seems like an easy question to ask this Thanksgiving: What could OU football possibly have to be thankful for?
Well, seeing as I've already hit you this week with one clichéd literary device from the blogosphere, why ruin a good thing? This year, Sooner football should give thanks for:
As much as the two programs despise each other, the truth is that Oklahoma and Texas need each other. They're the yin to the other's yang, the Yankees and Red Sox of the Big 12. Oklahoma's dominance in the early half of the decade clearly lit a fire under Texas coach Mack Brown–or caused one to be lit under him by his bosses. Now that the rivalry's momentum has swung to Bevo and Co., it's up to the Sooners and coach Bob Stoops to counter-attack.
(Of course, I won'be shedding any tears in my beer this January if the Longhorns find themselves on the ugly end of a BCS title game beatdown.)
The Sooners are going to miss Number 93 when he inevitably declares for the pro draft at the end of what has been a monster 2008 campaign. McCoy has anchored OU's outstanding defense this season, causing opposing offenses all kinds of headaches all season long. The second coming of Tommie Harris is going to make some needy NFL franchise pretty happy come April.
(I'll be honest: the name Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium has never sat right with me.)
Other venues may be bigger, more legendary, more scenic. But Oklahoma still owns the best home-field advantage in college football. The Sooners are riding a remarkable 29-game winning streak in Norman, having won every game there since the 2005 season opener. This season, with as poorly as OU has played on the road, the Sooners can thank their home stadium for helping keep them afloat.
Watching a team like Texas march towards the national title game after playing a seriously diluted schedule certainly creates the temptation for the Sooners to water down their own non-conference slate. Hopefully, athletic director Joe Castiglione won't give in. Big inter-conference matchups help make college football great for fans, and gaming the system by loading up on patsies shouldn't be what championships are all about.
After struggling to for the better part of two seasons to find a reliable kicker, the Sooners may have found their man. O'Hara has come out of nowhere to steal the job from the combo of Jimmy Stevens and Tress Way during the course of the last two game. (His official bio page on SoonersSports.com is blank.) It's a little early to be proclaiming the walk-on from Kansas the next Morten Anderson. At this point, though, Sooner fans will settle for someone who doesn't put knots in their stomachs when he trots out to attempt an extra point.
Obviously, this season hasn't turned out anywhere near Sooner Nation expected. If there's an upside to all the studs sitting on the OU sidelines this year, it's that neophytes like Landry Jones, Tyler Evans and DeJuan Miller have had a chance to come in and go through some of their requisite growing pains ahead of schedule. Hopefully, all the struggles of 2009 will be seasoning for 2010.