There are so many intangibles for every bowl game.
Aside from the playoff games, and perhaps a handful of others, it’s difficult to tell which team or which coaching staff is going to be focused. In the case of some players at LSU and Stanford, it becomes even more muddy when trying to sort through which players even care about their bowl game.
Hard to guess whether Oklahoma State is content with its bowl allotment and matchup against Colorado in the upcoming Alamo Bowl and it’s hard to guess how the Sooners will perform with all of their off-field issues that have come up since the end of the regular season.
The Joe Mixon/Dede Westbrook history of violence are in the news and have moved into something larger than just talking points. The two players at Oklahoma have transcended sports, and not in the kind of way that brings anything but notoriety to the school and the team. Everyone has an opinion on what these two have done, what should be done, what is and what should be. All of it together has been a polarizing issue.
Now comes the bowl game.
So, far, since the Mixon video was released last Friday, there has been a written statement offered by the university and no media access to Mixon. Westbrook hasn’t faced the media, either. I’m not sure what the answer is here. Hard to say whether putting Mixon out in front of everyone (media) is a good idea or not, but the longer and longer there is official silence from Westbrook, Mixon and beyond, the more likely it is this creeps into the bowl day dialogue.
Handling a crisis situation, and that’s what this is at Oklahoma, is never easy. It’s going to be near-impossible for national media to ignore this situation, and no one is suggesting it should be brushed aside, but what’s curious and undetermined at this point is how this conversation will work its way into the Sooner bowl prep. Very little of the lead-up to this game has been about the game. Very little has been heard about what the Sooners plan to do offensively or what kind of wrinkles they may show defensively. And that’s understandable.
Is football more important than violence against women? Of course not. Is it possible to compartmentalize, and both cheer for Oklahoma and be upset with the actions of Westbrook and Mixon? Of course. That can happen, too.
But count on, especially if things go wrong early For Mixon and Westbrook in this upcoming Sugar Bowl against Auburn, the talk shifting to how much the off-field distractions have ruined the on-field performance.