A while back, it seems, Bob Stoops made a choice.
When he first arrived in 1999, there was no other choice to be made but to build with what he had. He took the raw talent that was given to him and hardened it into a gritty, tough, get-the-fuck-out-the-the-way, ass-kicking organic machine. It begat a national title instantly, mandatory nationwide respect and laid utter waste to the soft, burnt orange prima donnas who, solely because of that Crimson Machine, couldn't sniff national success for half a decade.
But something changed. Stoops came to a crossroads and there was a choice to be made.
Maybe he saw the college offensive landscape changing. Maybe he wanted to be a step ahead of the spread offenses that were about to inundate college football. I don't know, but he chose glamor and flash over heart and soul – passing prowess over hard-nosed rushing. Yes, what he chose was beautiful, and it garnered him mad riches. The Sooners became, again almost instantly with Sam Bradford at the helm, the greatest offensive scoring machine in the history of college football.
But just like Blind Dog Willie Brown, he is stuck with his choice. Worldly reality resurfaces when the glitz wears away. With Bradford gone and Landry Jones in his place, things haven't turned out how Stoops hoped. The shiny life is not so shiny anymore and there is no grit to fall back on.
With a passing game a shell of its former self, the Sooners are trudging along, because that's all they can do. It was predetermined back then. Stoops won't switch quarterbacks. Josh Heupel won't call more running plays. They can't. There is no dominant running back or offensive line built from the hearth.
We sold the grit for the glam. The Devil is collecting in the form of ever more common losses to the likes of Kansas State and Baylor.
Where's our Ralph Macchio to redeem our soul? I don't think Mike Stoops has the magical fingers or the crane technique to save us from this chosen destiny.
Here are this week's Reality Rankings, and, yes, it bites. (Last week in parentheses.)
1. Alabama (1) - Tide hold court and looking forward at their schedule, they will for some time.
2. Florida St (4) - What a difference a year makes. After OU beat Florida St. last year, there was not much excitement in Tallahassee. This year Florida St. won the big early game and the Seminoles are feeling the love.
3. LSU (2) - Big struggle for the Tigers against a seemingly mediocre Auburn team. The SEC homers will say it's because ALL SEC teams are tough. With Auburn sporting a 1-3 record and needing overtime to beat Louisiana-Monroe, that doesn't hold much water.
4. Stanford (3) - Had a bye week after the USC win. To maintain their high ranking, the Cardinal will have to have a very strong showing against below-average Washington on Thursday.
5. Notre Dame (5) - Don't think the win against Michigan was as valuable as it seems, but the Irish are getting the gritty wins when it counts. Toughness, it's a beautiful thing.
6. Florida (6) - Had over 200 yards rushing and passing against Kentucky and now have a week of before challenging LSU at home. LSU is in for a battle at The Swamp.
7. Kansas St. (-) - Unfortunately, I agree with the AP ranking for the Wildcats. Bill Snyder's boys don't beat themselves. Kansas St. will only lose to a better team.
8. Georgia (7) - Could be interchangeable with Oregon here. Vandy and Missouri look to be slightly better wins than Arizona and Fresno St.
9. Oregon (9) - With more performances like the one against Arizona, the Ducks will undoubtedly rise up in the Reality Rankings.
10. Texas (10) - Slim pickings in terms of quality wins for other teams leaves the Longhorns at the 10 spot.
Dropped from rankings: UCLA (8)