John Hoover

Ask Hoover: Hurts’ carries, Herman’s headbutts, OSU bowl picture, Arkansas coach, Tulsa social media … and pumpkin pie!

Ask Hoover: Hurts’ carries, Herman’s headbutts, OSU bowl picture, Arkansas coach, Tulsa social media … and pumpkin pie!

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley greets quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) as he returns to the sidelines after scoring in the first half of an NCAA college football game against TCU in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

We’re late getting out this week’s Ask Hoover because Mrs. Hoover’s leftovers were too good to ignore. That’s two straight days of turkey (and fixings; more on that later) and two straight days of naps.

I’ll need to substitute red bull for turkey tomorrow. Gonna have to be sharp for this year’s Bedlam showdown in Stillwater.

OU visits OSU at 7 p.m., and the Sooners are a 13-14 point favorite. The Cowboys are playing for bowl hierarchy, while the Sooners already have a spot in next week’s Big 12 title game and probably need a couple of convincing wins to return to the playoff. OU will win again in Stillwater, but I’ll take Oklahoma State and the points.

Tulsa closes out its 2019 season at East Carolina. TU needs a win to get back a little self-respect. I think Philip Montgomery’s boys know they’re better than their record, but finishing a game would be nice progress.

Let’s get to the questions.

 

Probably not. It’s Game 12. Riley said Monday that it’s not like Hurts is averaging 4 yards a carry. He’s averaging more than twice that, so Riley will continue to give Hurts the green light.

As for Hurts leading the team: he’s the extra player, the man the defense can’t always account for. It helps that he’s a such a gifted and instinctive runner, but when the quarterback is a runner, it becomes a numbers mismatch for the offense.

 

That’s a great analogy. Tom Herman will almost certainly be asked to make staff changes after this season, because what he’s doing clearly is not working. Some of Texas’ troubles can be pinned on an alarming run of injuries. Some, but not all. Herman has said the buck stops with him, and he’s right. He’s been outcoached on the regular this season, but more than that, he’s taken a healthy group of 5-star players and developed them into ordinary college players. That’s his greatest failing.

Also, whether it’s mocking Drew Lock on the sideline in the Texas Bowl or stumbling around the locker room with a sledgehammer or smashing his forehead into a player’s helmet, Herman seems to have a real problem with impulse control. Things like these add up in the minds of Texas administrators (and boosters and regents and politicians, etc.) and call into question if he’s the right person to lead this program. I mean, would Darrell Royal or Mack Brown have participated in such escapades? Heck no.

 

No, they won’t — not of their own will. The Power 5 gravy train is too lucrative to break away on their own.

If it does happen, it’ll be because the Power 5 leagues continue to leave them behind legislatively. One example is the existing financial split growing ever wider as student-athletes get more rights, more freedom and more earning opportunities. Most Power 5 schools will continue to generate resources to handle those challenges, while the G5 leagues will struggle to keep up.

The introduction of “autonomy” to the college conference lexicon created that fork in the road. The further that P5 conferences travel down their own path, the further the G5 leagues will be left behind.

There may be some merit a clean split, eventually, though it won’t be something the G5 leagues choose to do on their own.

 

Could? Sure. Will? No. Arkansas’ history of bad hires in the past decade doesn’t seem to be trending in a positive direction any time soon.

 

You know me, Andy. You know me. It’s like you were sitting beside me on the couch an hour ago.

 

Since pretzels taste like something the devil vomited up and then rolled out, baked and salted, I’ll take peanuts.

 

If the Big 12 winner (OU or Baylor) makes the College Football Playoff (Peach or Fiesta this year), then the loser goes to the Sugar Bowl.

My guess is if Oklahoma State loses tomorrow, the Cowboys would be invited back to the Alamo Bowl at 5-4, possibly in a third-place tie with 5-4 Iowa State (at Kansas State tomorrow); if Iowa State wins and finishes 6-3 and OSU loses and finishes 5-4, the Cyclones would go to the Alamo.

In that scenario, OSU would go back to the Camping World Bowl.

Next in the Big 12’s pecking order is the Texas Bowl, the Liberty Bowl, the Cheez-It Bowl and the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl.

If the Big 12 winner doesn’t go to the playoff, then just bump everybody down a peg: winner to New Orleans, runner-up to San Antonio, third place to Orlando, fourth place to Houston.

If OSU beats OU and finishes 6-3, they’ll basically lock up a spot in the Alamo Bowl.

 

We might need a Christmas miracle.

 

They would be a lot higher in the loss column. I’m guessing three additional L’s on the ledger.

Postseason-wise? I’d guess Oklahoma would be home next week rather than in Arlington. And as for a bowl, maybe San Antonio.

One place they wouldn’t be: on your TV screen every Tuesday night as one of the College Football Playoff contenders. To pretend otherwise is to just be obtuse.

 

My man Eric Bailey knows exactly what I’m thankful for.

I’ve got an amazing wife who keeps our family afloat with her tireless work ethic and boundless love; I’ve got a daughter who’s generous and tough and courageous and relentlessly driven; and I’ve got a son who’s kind-hearted and smart and resourceful and strong. I’ve got brothers and a sister who helped put me where I am and nieces and nephews who fill my heart. Family is all.

I’m also thankful to the amazing folks at Tyler Media who allow me to expand and explore a career that has taken me places I never dreamed a poor kid from the village of North Pole, Alaska, could ever go.

 

Lincoln Riley doesn’t divulge such information. Maybe we’ll know the details one day.

The best insight I’ve gotten was last year from Ruffin McNeill, who said Lincoln only has a few plays, but each one of those plays has three or four sister plays.

That is to say, Hurts probably has two options off each play, and off each option, he has several sub-options.

I think what you’re after here relates to why he keeps the ball so much. That’s fair. He’s carried it more than any OU quarterback in history. Think about that for a second. I think OU’s early troubles on the offensive line forged a distrust on Hurts’ part; he bails out early instead of trusting the protection and staying with his reads.

Related to that, do we know for sure that Hurts trusts his second and third and fourth receivers? He said he does — said he trusts everyone on the offense — but do we take that at face value when the results suggest otherwise?

 

It’s a good question in that the CFP selection committee says Baylor’s schedule has held it back. That’s fair. But the reality is that very few teams this year played a difficult schedule. A few played two tough non-conference opponents, but not many at all. To make a case that Baylor doesn’t belong because they played a soft non-con while also making a case for Alabama is foolish.

(More on why later.)

 

Give me a horse-sized duck. A well-placed kick to one of those bony little legs and all I’d need is some l’orange sauce.

 

I’ve always thought coaches should utilize their wildcat QBs more creatively. When the craze first started, I think coaches took more risks. But as the risks blew up into bad plays, they naturally became more risk-averse. I bet Taysom Hill could fill that role for the Saints — probably as well as anyone ever has. I love that dude.

I’m not sure about your second question. I’d think a passer would be less accurate a his upper body takes more and more punishment, but I don’t think that ever affected John Elway or Joe Montana. Those guys took a beating every Sunday and their accuracy was fine right up until retirement.

 

The SEC and the networks who broadcast their games have created a self-fulfilling prophecy: well, the SEC is good because we’ve been telling you that the SEC is good. If you beat a 6-5 SEC team, that’s like beating a 9-3 team from another conference.

It’s an unfortunate joke that’s been played on college football for going on 15 years now.

Now listen, I’m not saying the SEC isn’t the best conference. Championships and NFL Draft picks say it is, and that’s all the evidence I need.

But measuring a conference’s strength from top to bottom, the SEC needs to stand down. It’s a top-heavy league, and trying to bolster the reputation of the teams at the top simply because they beat the teams at the bottom is wholly wrong.

 

You nailed it. Many, many OU fans will only be truly happy with a national championship. I get that. Bud Wilkinson’s monster hasn’t been fed in 20 years.

But I know a lot of OU fans are also thrilled they’re in playoff consideration every year, and they’re winning the Big 12 every year, and they’re producing Heisman contenders every year. That’s exciting stuff.

The problem is finding that wispy thin, gray line that sits somewhere almost imperceptibly in between. Where does “happy winning the Big 12” become “content not winning a national championship?”

 

My man Blinkin Riley asks the hard questions.

My answer: Yes.

Honestly, I think “best team” (i.e., the “eye test”) has merit. But I also think the CFP should be the culmination of a more prolonged campaign, the final battle of a three-month series of battles.

In other words, if you lose your battle, you don’t get to advance to the final battle.

If Alabama wants to play in the playoff, then they should have beaten LSU. If Oregon wants to play in the playoff, then they should have beaten Arizona State.

The college football season is a three-month playoff. It’s the shortest regular season in major sport. You want to win it all, don’t lose. (I’m not saying all playoff teams have to be undefeated, I’m just saying if you want to make a serious argument, then you should probably win all your games.)

So, to answer your question, as long as we’re using only subjective criteria and trying to support those decisions with actual metrics, then “most deserving” is a far better measuring stick.

Want in? Don’t lose.

______

Formerly co-host of “Further Review” and “The Franchise Drive,” columnist John E. Hoover is a college football insider on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover co-hosts The Franchise “Inside OU” Podcast with Brady Trantham and Rufus Alexander, and the Locked oN Sooners podcast on the Locked oN Podcast Network. He also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his YouTube channel at YouTube.com/c/JohnHoover, and his personal page at johnehoover.com.

 

John Hoover
@JohnEHoover

John Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he was co-host of "Further Review" and "The Franchise Drive." Now he's The Franchise college football insider: Oklahoma's state Heisman rep, a voter in the FWAA Super 16 poll, an FWAA media access liaison, and a Big 12 writer at Sporting News and Lindy's preseason magazine. In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist and won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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