John Hoover

Ask Hoover: Who kicks for OU? Will NIL kill college football? Can reviews suck any worse? Is OU actually any good? Bedlam odds? Chuba’s Heisman chances?

Ask Hoover: Who kicks for OU? Will NIL kill college football? Can reviews suck any worse? Is OU actually any good? Bedlam odds? Chuba’s Heisman chances?

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, left, talks with Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley in 2017. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Time again for Ask Hoover, my weekly Twitter mailbag where I answer your college football questions.

That was fast. The State of California voted this week to allow college student-athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness, starting in 2023. California lawmakers march to their own drum, for sure. But that decision has apparently cleared the way for other states to jump on the NIL bandwagon.

The biggest worry was that California student-athletes would be operating under a different set of rules. But at this pace, all 50 states will be on board by … say, next Thursday.

I hope it works out for the student-athletes to get paid whatever someone is willing to pay them for endorsements, etc. There are all kinds of pitfalls ahead as it applies to NCAA rules — let’s just ask Rhett Bomar and Big Red Sports and Imports about getting paid for doing nothing. Actually, that’s probably not fair, either. Big-time student-athletes have been getting paid under the table for generations.

Now the difference is that small-time student-athletes can get paid, too, and it won’t be against the rules. (As the dad of a former college soccer player, I’m asking why wasn’t this rule passed 10 years ago? My kid needs to start paying her own cell phone bill.)

The NCAA has seen this coming for a decade now, since the Ed O’Bannon case began in 2009. And they’re still wringing their hands over it. If only one of those “A’s” stood for “action.” Figure it out, guys.

As for this week’s games, I’ll be at OU-Kansas on Saturday, and in addition to the content here at TheFranchiseOK.com, I’ll have videos up throughout the weekend on my YouTube channel (YouTube.com/c/JohnHoover). Also look for my Franchise “Inside OU” podcast with Rufus Alexander and Brady Trantham, as well as my new daily OU podcast, “Locked On Sooners,” part of the Locked oN Podcast Network.

Let’s get to the questions.

This answer has been changed to reflect today’s news that Cal Sutherland, who won the starting job in preseason but was suspended last week after an arrest for public intoxication, is now the subject of a university Title IX investigation. According to The Oklahoman, an alleged victim told police that she was involved in “a short physical and verbal altercation” with Sutherland at an off-campus apartment complex.  The arresting officer described Sutherland as being “in an intoxicated condition in which he wasn’t totally aware of what he was and had been doing.”

This allegedly occurred the same day as his Sept. 21 arrest.

So, to answer your question, Gabe Brkic.

Lincoln Riley said Monday “it’s always kind of open. … We’ll evaluate it as we go through the week and just put the best guy out there that is ready to help us beat Kansas.”

 

Here’s the thing: if everyone is on board, if everyone is playing by the same rules, then it won’t destroy anything. But if politicos start drawing party lines on this thing to pander for votes, yeah, college sports could absolutely go down the toilet. This is something fans of college sports need to watch closely, and if it starts heading down a path that looks like it will irreparably injure what we currently enjoy, then those fans need to make their voices heard. Write your congressman or congresswoman!

Not sure what to think yet on this state. Oklahoma lawmakers have historically been very reactionary. So if 50 states eventually sign off, I’m guessing Oklahoma will be among the last 10-15 or so to do it.

I do think college football will look decidedly different in Oklahoma in 10 years … because Mike Gundy has said he doesn’t want to coach that long and Lincoln Riley could very well be in the NFL.

 

This is one of many good points I’ve seen this week. I could see a world where there’s some kind of division on teams between the haves and the have-nots.

Then again, isn’t that already kind of the way it is? We’ve known for years that many five-star recruits receive illegal inducements that their peers don’t. And the truth is, players largely already know who’s getting what. And if they don’t know all the details, they do have their suspicions: rumors, innuendoes, locker talk. Maybe putting everyone’s cards on the table and making it all legal would remove that suspicion. And maybe if everyone knows the star quarterback is getting paid beaucoup bucks for endorsements, he might be more likely to take his offensive line out for Thursday night steak dinners, which in turn endears him to them and makes them want to protect him even more.

I have many concerns about this brave, scary new future, too, but I’m trying to see the glass half-full.

 

I’m sick to death of review stoppages just like you are. That and the unnecessary unnecessary roughness calls have absolutely broken the game of football. The worst part about the reviews is the lack of common sense. Everyone who sees the replay can clearly see one thing, but so many times the ref comes back with some cockamamie explanation that defies what is obvious to the eye. I heard earlier this year, “The ball was caught … but it was not a completion.” What the heck does that even mean? Why are you ruining my game?

On the timeouts, such hijinks are prohibited in the NFL. There’s a rule expressly forbidding consecutive timeouts during the same stoppage of play. In college, teams can call three consecutive timeouts if they want. I certainly prefer the NFL version. Calling three straight timeouts — presumably to “ice” a kicker (which, studies show, doesn’t actually work) — is flimsy gamesmanship, although Major Applewhite made it work in a game against Memphis a few years back. You’re right, why would NCAA rule makers want to continue to subject fans to 5-6 minutes of dead time? That’s a rule they need to change.

 

It’s a legit question. The Sooners’ non-conference opponents this season are 4-10, with wins over Prairie View, North Texas, Northern Colorado and Washington State. And Texas Tech, which already wasn’t very good, is missing its starting quarterback. OU certainly looks the part, outscoring its opponents 56-19 with very little effort.

But are the Sooners in a class with their last three playoff opponents — Clemson, Georgia and Alabama? Heck, are they in a class with Texas? We won’t know the former for at least the next three months, but we’ll find out the latter next week in Dallas.

The feeling here is that yes, OU is a Final Four team. There’s an awful lot of talent on that offense, and the defense — currently ranked 47th in total yards allowed and 29th in points allowed — has shown real improvement.

 

I like where OSU is going. The offense is equipped with playmakers, although spreading the football around to players outside of Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace would seem to be instrumental if they’re to become a legit threat to win the Big 12 Conference. The defense isn’t very good, but maybe Jim Knowles can continue to build around a handful of talented players.

Odds are tough, but I’ll give it a shot: As of today, I’d make Oklahoma a 6-to-1 favorite to beat Oklahoma State.

 

See two tweets above. OU’s defense is so much better than it was last year, and I don’t just mean NCAA rankings. Forget tackling better, forget covering better. That can change based on the opponent, and OU’s opponents so far this year flat out stink.

The Sooners do two things in 2019 that they didn’t do in 2018 (or 2017, or 2016, etc.): they hustle and swarm to the football, and they communicate effectively. The lack of turnovers and the long plays in recent years under Mike Stoops were a result of Mike’s inability to connect with players.

What I mean by that is that disconnect produced an incalculable number of plays where the players simply didn’t know what the call was or what their responsibility was. And as that phenomenon — or whatever you want to call it — festered, players became physically unsure what to do (that accounts for the multitude of coverage busts and lack of “run fits” that led to so many missed tackles) and then mentally unsure whether they wanted to do anything at all (i.e., simply sprint to the football with hostile intent).

A simplified scheme means players know what to do. So they do it faster, and with confidence and passion.

 

I think you nailed it. I see a bunch of average to above-average teams in the Big 12, with Oklahoma and Texas leading the pack. We’ll find out next week exactly what that quality at the top looks like.

But I also think there are a couple of teams that, if they continue to grow and evolve and get better each week, can flip things in their favor. Baylor is one of those teams, and Oklahoma State could be another. Baylor has a very good quarterback and one of the Big 12’s best defensive lines, and OSU has two of the league’s best offensive players and a dynamic QB who must learn to value the football more.

Keep an eye on TCU. I believe in Gary Patterson, and his defense will always give the Frogs a chance, although it’ll be an uphill climb with a true freshman quarterback.

 

Oklahoma’s defense needs to get better in a couple of areas:

One is pass rush from the edge. The defensive line has been mostly brilliant this season, disruptive and aggressive. But in terms of sacking the quarterback, that group only has 6 ½ sacks. Ronnie Perkins has one in four games. The edge rush tandem of Jon-Michael Terry and Nick Bonitto has just 1 ½. Opponents have thrown the football 117 times, and keep in mind, those opponents have been behind early every game and, well, they’re just not very good. Yet the d-line only has 6 ½ sacks. That number needs to improve or Big 12 QBs will carve them up.

I’m tempted to jump on the bandwagon and say the safeties need to play better — otherwise, why would coaches need to move a 5-star wide receiver to play that position? But Delarrin Turner-Yell (18) and Pat Fields (16) rank second and third on the team in total tackles. That’s not bad. But still, yes, whether it’s tackling or coverage, they do need to play better.

Brendan Radley-Hiles has given great effort, but he’s been exposed a few times. Some have asked why not put Tre Brown there and let Jaden Davis take Brown’s cornerback spot — well, because Brown has been a corner all his life, not a safety or nickel, and he’d be on a steep learning curve to switch positions at midseason like that. The responsibilities at safety or nickel are completely different than those of a corner.

 

If Chuba Hubbard averages 200 rushing yards a game over the 12-game regular-season, he’d finish with 2,400 yards. That would be a bit short of Barry Sanders’ all-time record (2,850 yards in 12 games), but it’s possible Hubbard would have two more games to chase Sanders’ total.

Only four running backs in FBS history have surpassed 2,400 yards in a season: Sanders, Melvin Gordon (2,587 in 14 games), Kevin Smith (2,567 in 14 games) and Marcus Allen (2,427 in 12 games). Only two of those (Sanders and Allen) averaged more than 200 yards per game, and both won the Heisman. Gordon finished second in the voting, Smith finished eighth.

If Hubbard is going to have a chance to at least get to New York, Oklahoma State might have to win nine games and/or beat OU and have a big game against the Sooners. Heisman voters like winners, and they like players who have big moments against good teams.

 

I can attest that offensive linemen can’t hear the clap when crowd noise is amped. At least, the Rams didn’t last night in Seattle. On a big play late in the game, as the play clock was ticking down to zero, Jared Goff was clapping like he was front row at a Foo Fighters concert — but the snap never arrived.

Just like anything else in offensive football, the clap is meant to deceive the defense. Sometimes it initiates the snap, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s determined either in the huddle or from the sideline calls. If you can get the defense to jump and get five yards or a free down, go for it.

______

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.

More in John Hoover

John E. Hoover: It took beating Texas, but Jalen Hurts now has ‘OU DNA’ and an ’emotional attachment’

John E. HooverOctober 15, 2019

John E. Hoover: In Texas beatdown, Oklahoma’s defense puts Sooners on a different path

John E. HooverOctober 12, 2019

Ask Hoover: Can OU’s OL hold up? Who wins the RRR? What’s up with Baker? State Fair go-to? Jerry World? Texas trash talk? Hurts’ Heisman haters?

John E. HooverOctober 11, 2019

John E. Hoover: In this Red River Rivalry, it’s all about third down and red zone performance

John E. HooverOctober 10, 2019

Sporting News: To beat Texas, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts must overcome first-year Red River jinx

John E. HooverOctober 9, 2019

The Franchise