Pat Forde of Yahoo nailed it in his tweet “Story of Oklahoma’s revenue sports season: semifinal ceiling.” It only hurts because it’s true. The Sooners 95-51 loss to Villanova gave OU’s loudest critics a chance to pile on once again. Saturday’s defeat was just the latest in a long string of coming up short since 2001.
We are not going to open up old wounds for this column. One, because you have lived those moments, and two there is not enough Old Grand Dad in the liquor cabinet to numb the pain. Instead, let’s see if we can find a path that might lead to a National Championship in either football or basketball.
Since Oklahoma is a football school, we will start there. This season Bob Stoops it set on offense, If the receiving core can give Baker Mayfield targets, and the linebackers can step up on defense it will be a great year. Just one issue, the schedule is a Mother! It features a trip to NRG Stadium with Houston who is returning six starters on a defense that had 35 takeaways. Oh, they also dominated Florida State in the Peach Bowl. Thrown in Ohio State, trips to TCU, the annual Texas game, and Bedlam, it shows there are no guarantees to be back in the College Football Playoff.
If OU isn’t back in the CFP, it might not take too long for that return trip. The 2017 recruiting class is the best Stoops has had in quite some time. According to Scout, Oklahoma is number two in the rankings right behind Ohio State. OU is a perfect 9 for 9 with commits from prospects in the Scout 300, highlighted by corner Justin Broils out of John Marshall. Of Course, things have to pan out, but it doesn’t seem the 37-17 blowout by Clemson is deterring kids from wanting a chance to restore Oklahoma to past glory.
As for Basketball, Lon Kruger is still on the bench which is reason enough to have hope. If that doesn’t do it, Jordan Woodard returns for his senior season; Christian James is showing promise at point guard, Khadeem Lattin is another year older, and we just might see that front court live up to expectations. A trip to the Final Four is a bit much to ask. However, Kruger had a great early signing period, nabbing, four-star wing Kameron McGusty to go along with Matt Freeman and Darrion Strong. Not sure when we will see the Sooners back in a National Final game, but if Kruger hangs around awhile, you have to think the odds of it happening again are pretty good.
Oklahoma has to win a championship in a major sport to shut the critics up. Till they cross that hurdle people like Paul Finebaum will tweet things like this.” At least, OU now has the distinction of being the first school to get blown out of the Final Four in both football and basketball.” OUCH! He may be a water boy for the SEC, but he’s spot on, let’s hope he’s eating those words soon.