Someone else can write the "Do We Realize How Good We’ve Got It" post for this season. In fact, I feel like I’ve read a minimum of 20 of those sappy bawlfests already this past week. I want to wallow in the mire comprising all the elements that still anger me right now.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things to be excited about as a result of this season. The WRs improve every year under Kennedy. The secondary will continue to get better. McCoy is probably not human. The team played as a team and the sum was greater than the parts. The impact of two young coaching hires was profound and has massive, positive, long term ramifications. It was a fun team and a fun season. Mack Brown did his best coaching job ever. Nonetheless, this is still our winter of discontent.
Strength of Schedule Matters, No Matter How Many Times Mack Brown Says it Doesn’t
No one forecast before this year that Cincinnati and TCU would be significant players within the BCS and harmful for us as a result of those teams being on OU’s schedule. What anyone besides people with their head in the sand could have told the guy on the street is that if you’re not going to win all of your games, you had better be playing some impressive teams. No one can or should rely on their own conference to carry them with the computers. Brown effectively espouses this position every time he’s asked about who we should or shouldn’t play. Even this year, the Big 12 schedule wasn’t enough and in normal years, the Big 12 isn’t quite this strong. You have to play someone in the non-conference slate.
We don’t have to have Ohio State or USC on the schedule every year. What you do need is a minimum of two teams that have a prayer of being good, another team that will be competitive within a top 10 conference, and then a throwaway, but absolutely of the D1 variety. Texas did not do that this season and Texas isn’t doing that next season and Texas isn’t doing that the season after that. Arkansas was fine, but no one ever viewed them as helping beyond the mid-level team from a power conference. Rice cannot be counted on to drive your SOS. They helped, as an anomaly, but FAU and UTEP absolutely did not. Next year, the non-con consists of UTEP, Wyoming, Central Florida, and Louisiana Monroe. Arkansas bailed for 2009, sure, but there were better options for a replacement. Texas literally has to be perfect next season or there is no shot of a national game appearance. The Big 12 will be down some and that doesn’t help. In 2010, it improves a little with UCLA, but there needs to be another team like that or you are hoping to be lucky.
Brown is convinced that UT doesn’t need to play a good non-conference schedule and he’s kidding himself. We are exposed to the same risk next year that we have been exposed to, and porked by, this season. OU next season plays Miami and Tulsa, and they’re in talks to play BYU. Ohio State and USC play each other. Florida plays FSU every year. Somebody is playing somebody every season and we’ve decided to stop doing that. Not only does that put a lot of risk with the computers, it hurts us with fan interest, it hurts with recruiting interest, it hurts with being in the Heisman hunt, and it hampers our ability to be on the conscience of the national sports scene. There is a lot more downside to scheduling weak sisters than not.
We Are Not in the Title Game Because of One Play
Folks can cite 50 reasons why we should or shouldn’t be in the title game, but it comes down very simply to one play, and no, Michael Crabtree wasn’t even involved with this play. Put simply, if Blake Buckner makes the popup, 5-year old skill-level interception to seal the game against Tech, McCoy has the Heisman on lockdown and we’re undefeated. Instead of that being the case, we’ve got computers and voters slapping us in the face and watching us cry. On top of that, we’ve got a guy who will be doing little more than taking up space against opponents with better people on the bench behind him for 3 more years.
Buckner is clearly going to be the next Rashad Bobino. You can watch the ATM film 10 or 15 times if you like, you still will not see this guy making a play. Not only that, he was missing plays and tackles 15 and 20 yards down the field at times. He is an active liability, adroitly taking himself out of plays. When he and Bobino are on the field simultaneously, we are effectively playing 9 on 11.
Not Understanding the Rules of the Game Makes One Pathetic, Not Sympathetic
By not playing the game within the confines of the current parameters and then complaining about the rules afterwards, Brown has helped create his own computer poll and voter problems. The system is very clear and has been for some time. You have to win and win big when you have a chance to step on someone’s throat. Not doing so and then whining about the very system that the program has already agreed to playing within is complete and utter negligence. Moreover, not going nuts on the scoreboard against coaches like Mangino and Briles and programs like ATM earns you no value with your fanbase; those opponents on future occasions; recruits; or your current team.
The definition of "sportsmanship", like so many things, has changed. Which is worse?
a) Shutting things down by the early 4th quarter, putting in the 3rd stringers and then talking about how much worse you could have beaten your opponent, condescending them in the post game?
b) Giving your opponent your best from beginning to end, scoring as you please if they can’t stop you, and letting everyone judge you off of that performance?
Note that ATM, Kansas, and Baylor all kept playing their starters, continued passing the ball, and never stopped attempting to score. Two of those teams eventually did score, while we sat on the ball. Ignoring the simple, understood fact that many voters do not watch most of the games and only look at final scores is either ignorance or stupidity. When someone knows the rules of engagement and willingly ignores them, they deserve whatever comes their way. I guess if you really believe that Brown let off the gas because he really felt for the opponent, as opposed to concern about what folks would say about him and his "sportsmanship", then this argument falls flat. If you've followed the program with open eyes over the Brown era, you can't really be seeing it that way.
Don’t Be Fooled By the Middle-Aged Mouthbreather Behind the Curtain
McNeese State alums unite! One of you walks amongst the gods of college football, ruining careers and fanbase joy. The complaints on Greg Davis continue and they damn well should. This guy spit the bit against Tech and he never fails to attempt to lose at least one game for us each year. His gameplan against ATM was an atrocity and precisely the kind of stupid shit that he’s built his brand upon. His 2nd down playcalling is hilariously bad even by the prior standards he’s set for himself. Whatever gains we’ve seen on offense this year can and should be attributed to the influence of Applewhite. Let’s hope Davis leaves when Brown does, and that Applewhite is then happy to replace him.
I am perpetually amazed by the credit that is almost forced upon Davis by members of our fanbase and occasionally the media. He’s not a terrible OC by the college standard. There is simply too much ineptitude in college coaching for that to be realistic. That considered, the guy is absolutely mediocre. Our talent on offense vacillates between excellent and elite. It has not been elite this year, except in the one place where it matters, QB. We’ve got great talent outside of that, but it is not otherworldly, as we’ve seen in years past. At the same time, no matter the overall talent make-up in a given year, the problems with the offense are usually the same. We’ve got no running game. We struggle in short yardage situations. We have no knowledge of going for the throat with the ball in our hands, as witnessed on 2nd and short and immediately after turnovers. We could be doing a lot worse, that I don’t really doubt. We could also be doing a lot better, and of that I am certain.
If we play Ohio State in the Fiesta, you can take it to the bank that we will play down to their level on offense. Instead of going out and calling an aggressive plan, utilizing McCoy’s wizardry and the offenses strengths with the passing game, we’ll look as if we’ve regressed and belong in the Big 10. We’ll see 3 yard outs, zone reads with the back perpetually running sideways, and we’ll hear warrior stories from the announcers about Freeman and Laurinaitis.
Rooting for OU is Buffoonery Taken to Artistic Levels
Some folks will tell you that how loud you cheer at home or online makes no difference towards the outcome of the game. I am in complete agreement. What it does do is shame the rest of us for associating with you until you figure out a way to redeem yourself. It is difficult to get motivated to want to talk football with some of our fans after their behavior leading up to and during recent games. There is no need for us to recount individual names here or in our personal lives, we simply know who they are and despair at their existence. The only conceivable way that this taint can be washed off is with stripper perfume and lye.
Beyond the embarrassment that folks rooting for OU have brought to themselves and their families is the simple fact that karma is a hateful bitch and you might have very well damned us all into fandom hell. Before the campaign was pimped out to us by satan’s imps to cheer for OU against Tech, we were looking at a much rosier situation for this season’s outcome. Now it appears that the cheering for OU has broken the 6th seal of the apocalypse and the world is coming to an end. Bradford is going to win the Heisman, OU is going to play for the national title, and Jamarcus McFarland is going to commit to the okies. Someone needs to go out and sacrifice a live chicken to Jobu to straighten out this wrinkle in the space-time continuum or plug the hole creating the vortex with 400 pounds of Mangino.
We’re splitting hairs in regard to anything else with which we’re unhappy in regard to this program’s performance this year. I am trying hard not to let the weak BS that led OU to the title game to impact my view on this season and it ultimately won’t. I do expect UF to absolutely demolish them in the title game and I hope they do. I hope it is gratuitous in its violence and I hope we hear Florida players screaming havoc and such throughout the game. Should that happen and we do find a way to roll Ohio State, I’ll always look back on this season as one of the most entertaining of my life, even if we did get screwed out of a shot at it all.