So many questions in this week’s Ask Hoover blog, I’m gonna have to keep the answers short. I don’t want the Internet to run out of space.
OU is off, OSU hosts TCU and Tulsa visits Tulane. The Golden Hurricane will have a hard time winning any games from this point on if they can’t find someone to kick field goals (more on that below), and OSU will have a hard time winning anything without maybe the best receiver in the country, Tylan Wallace, who suffered some kind of knee injury in practice on Wednesday and, according to The Oklahoman, is having MRIs performed to determine the severity.
And OU needs to grow, and fast, from its loss at Kansas State. If the Sooners respond to adverse conditions like that, then they’re simply not who we thought they were.
I talk a lot about these questions and more on my daily OU podcast, “Locked On Sooners,” and I go in-depth on topics just like these on my semi-weekly Franchise podcast, “Inside OU” with Brady Trantham and Rufus Alexander. Both are available anywhere you get your podcasts, and “Inside OU” is available right here at TheFranchiseOK.com.
Let’s get to the questions:
@johnehoover Now that we see why Jalen being the leading rusher every week isn’t really a good thing, can Lincoln get back to focusing on his RB and make Jalen play QB more?
— Brandon Crawford (@Brandon090605) October 26, 2019
That’s what I wrote yesterday for the website. (Find that story here.) Sermon and Brooks are averaging about six carries per game. You might be able to win a third straight Heisman Trophy doing that, but you will not win a national championship.
Exposed is the single word takeaway for me today. @RJ_Young @AllmericanMayes @johnehoover @Colby_Daniels
Thoughts? I really think Riley and Alex have been brilliantly out scheming our deficiencies, but the Wildcats “exposed” and exploited every weakness that is now “glaring”
— The Objective Homer (@SulphurSooner) October 26, 2019
Maybe. But I think this loss was as thorough as I’ve seen from a team: poor coaching, poor play-calling, poor line play on both sides, a fumbled kickoff return, a dropped pass for an interception (both turnovers resulting in touchdowns), and botched officiating at the end of the game. Oh, and Kansas State coached brilliantly and played their butts off.
OU should have had no chance to win this game.
And yet …
Who had Baylor as the only undefeated team in the big 12 after week 9?
— Tyler Pierce (@tylerlongshanks) October 26, 2019
Not me, not undefeated. Although I can think of one writer who picked them to challenge for a spot in the Big 12 title game: yours truly made Baylor his Big 12 darkhorse this year. My editor at Sporting News even asked, “you sure about this?”
@AllmericanMayes @steelyonsports @johnehoover @Colby_Daniels as expected the overreaction train is rolling. How can fans suddenly bash Riley for play calling? Is it possible the O-Line is a bigger liability and we had to use the backs as extra blockers so Hurts ran more?
— MICHAEL STRANZ (@MSGTSTRANZ) October 26, 2019
Yeah, you might be onto something. I wrote about that in my column yesterday. (You can read that here.)
But Lincoln himself said he should have run the ball more. He also said he should have managed the clock better at the end. I thought the second trick play was a bad idea (execution failed on the catch, but that’s why you should avoid trick plays: too much can go wrong. Also, does OU really need trick plays to beat K-State?)
Bottom line: Lincoln is a brilliant football coach, and he didn’t have a good game. Those two things can both be true.
@johnehoover is Texas still back?? Asking for a friend 😂😂😂
— Job Lorenzen (@jslorenzen1) October 26, 2019
The answer, unequivocally, is no.
Although they would be a lot closer if they hadn’t had a startling rash of injuries.
Where did you rank UGA?
— Straight Outta Pali (@jslemaker) October 27, 2019
My FWAA Super 16 ballot this week is as follows: 1, Ohio State. 2, LSU. 3, Alabama. 4, Clemson. 5, Penn State. 6, Florida. 7, Georgia. 8, Utah. 9, Baylor. 10, Oklahoma. 11, Minnesota. 12, Auburn. 13, Oregon. 14, Wisconsin. 15, Michigan. 16, SMU.
No way, not this year. Is there any way LSU, Bama, OSU or Clemson even lets KSU stay in the game past the first qtr? They’re right where they deserve to be.
— Steve Mc (@pontoonMac) October 27, 2019
I’d agree with LSU and Ohio State. They’re playing at a really high level this year and seem able to peak every Saturday. Alabama’s injuries and inexperience, especially on defense, are a red flag. And Clemson just looks disinterested for large stretches of games. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, no?
Also, I’m willing to say that, after two months of coaching, Chris Klieman has his players playing good football.
John – what are your thoughts as to why OU struggled so much against KSU? Was this just an anomaly or did we get exposed?
— Scott Cowley (@jamespcowley) October 27, 2019
It was a thorough collapse: offensive play-calling and decision-making, defensive strategy, effort and preparedness on both offensive and defensive lines, abysmal linebacker play, poor technique in the secondary, an inability to deliver clutch plays — it all came together for an OU loss.
Now throw in the opposite of every one of those for Kansas State.
Only three Sooners performed at a winning level: Jalen Hurts, CeeDee Lamb and Gabe Brkic.
OU is the better football team, but Kansas State played better.
Ok wrong wording on my part but, the forced touching does negate the contact…..correct?
— JOHNNY OMEGA/NO MORE OU POISON (@JohnnyOmega6) October 28, 2019
By rule, “forced touching” creates an exception to the rule that prohibits players on the kicking team from touching the football before it goes 10 yards.
Somehow, officials — including Big 12 coordinator of officials Greg Burks — say the block on Trejan Bridges was not “forced touching,” meaning their interpretation was that the block did not force Bridges to make contact with the football.
They’re wrong. It did. And they’re building a fort and holding their ground, telling everyone that what they’re seeing on video isn’t actually what they’re seeing.
It’s a bad look for the Big 12. I don’t know why they just don’t admit they blew the call, and then botched the review.
What is an illegal snap?
— Todd Robison (@toddrobisonTX) October 28, 2019
An illegal snap is when the center moves the football before he actually snaps it. The rule is there to prevent the center from simulating the start of the play and thus drawing the defense offsides.
How is this any different than reviewing a fumble on the field that wasn’t ruled as a fumble? It falls under the same logic. The whole point of reviewing a call is to see if the call on the field stands.
— Tanner Brodess (@Tannerbrodess) October 28, 2019
There’s been a bit of a misunderstanding of the application of the NCAA rulebook. There’s no actual rule that says, “forced touching is not reviewable.”
The rulebook actually doesn’t officially allow for review of a lot of plays, per se. The NCAA has a fairly short list of plays that are reviewable — and then literally everything else is deemed “not reviewable.”
Where Saturday’s crew messed up, though, was in overlooking the recent addendum that allows for replay reviews to correct egregious mistakes. Looking at the replay, the K-State player blocking Trejan Bridges should have been determined as “forced touching,” which would have negated Bridges’ touch of the ball inside of 10 yards.
The KSU player’s arms were extended into Bridges. Did Burks not see that or was it not in any of their angles?
— Nate Heupel (@NateHeupel) October 28, 2019
I don’t know what he saw. I just think he sees the obvious just like the rest of us and then says, “No, that’s not forced touching.”
Same as the NFL rule that looks at replay to determine pass interference. Pass interference isn’t exactly black and white. It’s actually about 75 percent gray. So looking a replay to determine something that’s largely subjective is a fool’s errand.
If you’re going to go to replay to determine these things, then there has to be no gray area. Either the K-State player blocked Trejan Bridges into the football, or he did not. In this case, he clearly did.
Fifteen years into this thing, it’s incredible that replay still needs a lot of fine tuning.
If a ref saw that Bridges was blocked and didn’t call it because of that, and it went to replay (which it’s going to 90% of the time), wouldn’t that automatically skew the call since the “forced touch” isn’t reviewable? Can the ref who had eyes on it weigh in?
— Steve Bullard (@stevebullard) October 28, 2019
The ref who had eyes on it can not weigh in at that point. It’s out of his hands. The head referee, the replay ref and the Replay Operations Center in Las Colinas, are all communicating during the replay review to determine what happened and what the proper application of rule should be.
At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen.
Is he saying that being blocked into the ball illegally is not reviewable? Only reviewable aspect was when player touched the ball?
— Yes Im drunk (@ThomasTheDummy) October 28, 2019
That’s exactly what he’s saying. The only reviewable aspects of this play are the timing of the blocks by the kicking team (can’t block inside of 10 yards) and the touching of the ball by the kicking team (can’t touch the ball inside of 10 yards).
But he also said the player blocking Trejan Bridges was not “forced touching.” I strongly disagree with Greg Burks’ interpretation here, and here’s why: 100 percent of OU fans will say that the block caused Bridges to touch the football, and 100 percent of K-State fans will say that the block did not cause Bridges to touch the football. And fans of other teams around the country will probably fall somewhere closer to 50-50.
See the problem?
Officials wear black and white for a reason: the call is either this or it’s that. Replay reviews should not be open for interpretation. Subjectivity has no place in replay reviews. Humans make judgment calls on the field and it’s a tough job.
But watching a video from 10 different angles and determining that either this happened or it did not should not be subjective in any way. It either happened or it didn’t.
In this case, the K-State player’s block of Trejan Bridges CLEARLY affected Bridges’ path and contributed to his touching of the ball.
So they are allowed to review to see if he touched it (thus reversing call on field) but not review the cause for touch simply because they missed it live??? THAT is bizarre.
— never squib kick (@reidonfootball) October 28, 2019
Not a question, but is the most concisely stated interpretation of what happened Saturday that I’ve seen. Bravo.
Why have replay at all?
— Jim Wise (@Jimbo_Wise) October 28, 2019
That’s the question of the day. If you seriously have the ability to re-watch every play and you still can’t get it right, then speed the game up and just do away with it.
how do you review touch vs no touch and the legality of that touch vs no touch and not consider the exceptions to the rule. It’s not two different rules. One is the rule, the other is an exception to the rule. How is one reviewable and one not reviewable?!?!?!?!?
— Tim Buckman (@buckmtim) October 28, 2019
Another eloquently stated case for a severe misapplication of the rule.
You have a rule, and you have an exception to the rule, but the rule falls under the purview of being not reviewable?
But that’s exactly why the NCAA added the “egregious error” clause that allows for common sense to prevail.
The Big 12 did not apply the “common sense” rule.
It’s mind blowing to me that in such a specific instance as an onside kick, they would allow review of illegal touching, but not the singular exception detailed in the same rule!!!
— John Woolman (@johndwoolman) October 28, 2019
You people were on point this week. Good stuff.
Makes no sense…why have a rule about forced touching if you can’t enforce it?????
— SoonerSentry (@sooner_sentry5) October 28, 2019
Another perfect take. It’s like winning the lottery. Unfortunately, nobody’s getting rich here because you all have played the same winning numbers. Good job.
My question is, why are only parts of the play reviewable? Common sense would dictate that the ENTIRE play is reviewable. It doesn’t make sense that you cant review ALL factors in the play.
— AmericanCzechMark (@markjmelton65) October 28, 2019
Replay has been in use on the college level since 2004. It was implemented in the Big 12 in 2005. And it continues to be an unnecessarily tangled mess.
Fortunately, the NCAA instituted a rule that allows for correcting of “egregious mistakes,” whether a play actually falls under the purview of replay or not.
Unfortunately, Saturday’s crew didn’t apply that rule.
Can we all agree “forced touching” is just the worst terminology?
— okladad (@Thathorsedad) October 28, 2019
Where’s the petition? I’ll sign it.
Let’s change it to “forced contact.”
Am I missing something here? 8c talks about blocking but they weren’t reviewing if he was blocking, they were reviewing whether or not he touched the balk before he went 10 yards?
— Eric Lewis (@eric_lewis66) October 28, 2019
That’s correct, they weren’t reviewing the contact inside of 10 yards, they were only reviewing the touching of the football inside of 10 yards.
I was just making the observation that one team is allowed to block inside of 10 yards and the other isn’t. Just interesting to me.
I need this broken down, I’m lost , so did they make the right call based on their rules ?
— Traci Soesbee (@coopersoesbee) October 28, 2019
Why is this still a thing? Is there a rule as to whether forced touching was because of the kicking team player running into the receiving team?
— Brian Fife (@fifrat) October 29, 2019
Yes, that applies to both teams. If a player is forced into the football by his opponent, that’s considered “forced touching.” In this case, it would have negated the kicking team’s touch inside of 10 yards.
But the same call can be made if a player from the kicking team blocks a player from the receiving team into the football and then gains possession, such as on a punt.
— Jack Chappell (@Jackaransas) October 29, 2019
Stiffarms to the facemask are within the rules so long as the offensive player doesn’t grasp the facemask.
You make a good point about the “hands to the face” penalty though. Maybe it’s because the player delivering the stiffarm has possession of the football and that allows him certain freedoms? I’ll ask my officiating friends and see if they can offer any clarity.
I’d like to see answers to these two questions. If it was “indisputable video evidence” then why did the review take so long? If there are other videos that are more definitive then why not share them with the public?
— Tracy Thomsen (@TracyThomsen63) October 29, 2019
That’s a good question. Maybe it took twice as long as usual because they only saw the most revealing angle at the end? Replays are provided by the TV crew from the engineering truck outside in the parking lot, so maybe they didn’t find the right angle until the very end.
I’ve seen lots of other angles from local cameras on the field, and they were all definitive.
Also, and this may be treading into dangerous territory as it relates to “indisputable video evidence,” but if you’re looking at a two-dimensional video monitor and you see the football suddenly change speed, direction or rotation after it “appears” to contact a player, I think it’s safe to assume that it did actually contact that player. Footballs can bounce funny and all, but the laws of physics still apply.
John: what is your opinion? Did the crew blow this?
— Scott Cowley (@jamespcowley) October 29, 2019
On multiple levels. Here’s what I wrote this week:
1. TU has been so close this year, a few clutch plays go their way and they’re staring at Bowl Eligibility. Chances of putting it all together and going on a winning streak to close the season??
— Sooner State Sports (@SeymoreHeinyz) October 29, 2019
Not good. At all.
What we’re seeing at TU is plenty of talent and ability but a crushing lack of confidence.
Will they all be seeing sports psychologists? Hypnotists? Tony Robbins? Because that appears to be the only way they’re gonna get out of this funk.
2. Talk of OU needing out of the BigXII and moving. How would it really impact OU if we went to SEC or BIGX…hypothetical. It didnt help the others that left. Which would be a better fit for the OU Brand?
— Sooner State Sports (@SeymoreHeinyz) October 29, 2019
Not gonna happen before 2022 or ’23. The Big 12’s TV contracts and grant-of-rights come up in 2024-25, but there could always be movement before then if the Big Ten wants additional expansion (the Big Ten’s TV contracts renew in 2024, so networks will want some clarity on league membership before then, possibly late ’22 or early ’23). Also, if OU or Texas or anyone else wants to leave for the Big Ten, that’s a short enough timeframe that losing Big 12 TV money for 2-3 years to the grant-of-rights deal won’t be prohibitive — not with the Big Ten’s bottomless revenue stream.
I’ve gone back and forth on this.
OU wouldn’t have the kind of success in the SEC it’s having in the Big 12. That’s unrealistic. The Sooners would be in the SEC West with Alabama, LSU, Auburn and others, and that’s the hardest division in football
OU would have more success in the Big Ten, but the Sooners’ recruiting efforts would have to become even more national than they are now. Texas prospects wouldn’t want to come to OU nearly as much if all their road games were played in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Minnesota. And would enough of the best recruits from the Upper Midwest bleed the OU brand like so many Texas recruits do now? Doubt it.
Pac-12? That conference has all kinds of financial, administrative and image problems, plus the travel would be a nightmare.
I still think the Big Ten will make a play for Oklahoma, and, because of the money, I think the Sooners will be extremely tempted to listen.
What are the year by year statistics of rushing (Non-QB attempts) compared to 2019 today?
— Donnie Parish, CHCIO (@KineticCIO) October 29, 2019
That’s a long-form research project. Sorry.
I can tell you that Jason Kersey from The Athletic reported that Saturday’s six rushing attempts by Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks were the fewest in an OU game since 1999, when Michael Thornton ran the ball eight times.
Here’s what I wrote this week about the startling lack of carries for Sooner running backs, where it comes from and why it needs to change:
After this weekend I’m even more confused about replay then I’ve ever been. Is every single play under review for infractions? There was no flag for illegal touching, but the play could be reviewed for a touching infraction? But could not be reviewed for a block in the back?
— Scott Pettit (@Cpettit1Pettit) October 29, 2019
Technically, yes, every play is supposed to be reviewed. That’s why hurry-up offenses threw a wrench into the replay process a few years back. Things were moving too fast for the replay official to properly look at each play and keep up.
And you’re correct, reviews can’t determine fouls like illegal block in the back. Think of it this way: reviews are more intended to determine location — of the football, of the player, etc.
And actually, there was a flag for illegal touching — Bridges was flagged for touching the football before it went 10 yards. That’s the extended-hands-to-the-shoulders motion Reggie Smith used.
#AskHoover So OU lost to K-State and obviously I have to destroy all the Sooner gear I was wearing while watching that debacle. I would just burn everything but I live in a fire zone (CA), so I need another way of completely removing this stuff from the face of the earth. Ideas?
— Straight Outta Pali (@jslemaker) October 30, 2019
Maybe this will help:
Texas could easily have losses to OK ST and KU, how overrated is that brand? With matchups in the coming weeks, if OU wins out in the manner they should, are they back in the CFP?
— Job Lorenzen (@jslorenzen1) October 30, 2019
Pretty overrated, but it’s been that way for a decade.
I think one thing we can almost count on, like clockwork, is college football chaos in November. So yes, if Oklahoma plays like the team they did the first eight weeks of the season and run the table in impressive fashion, then they could absolutely find themselves right back in the playoff picture.
What the Sooners need to avoid is falling victim to that chaos themselves. Maybe this was their one hiccup.
OU also needs Kansas State to finish as strong as possible, and needs Baylor to be undefeated on Nov. 16 and have just one loss on Dec. 7.
This team has made the playoffs with a loss before. What does Lincoln Riley need to do to give this team an attitude and extra gear for the last half of the season? I think it’s run the hell out of Brooks and Sermon. Sorry for the late entry. #AskHoover
— Brandon Crawford (@Brandon090605) October 31, 2019
I think you’re right, and I wrote that this week: Jalen Hurts having the football on 45 of your 53 plays might win you a third straight Heisman, but it won’t win you a national championship. Lincoln needs to get the football to his big backs and impose his will on defenses at the line of scrimmage.
(What we don’t know is if he’s choosing not to do that because his offensive line got taken to the woodshed on Saturday. Maybe he’s smarter than all of us after all.)
He also needs them to understand what it takes to win on the road. They failed at their first real test last week, and they’ve got two more tries: in Waco and in Stillwater.
He did pull all media interviews this week, so maybe that’s his first step.
Do you think Parnell Motley will be suspended vs Iowa St and if so, will Jeremiah Criddell be in the rotation?
— Bobby McKay (@Sooners1866) October 31, 2019
No. Motley served his penance by getting kicked out of the K-State game. He probably did some in-house punishment, too. But I doubt Alex Grinch will bench a senior and put in a freshman for a huge stretch run against four pretty dynamic quarterbacks.
Will Tylan Wallace play? Do any other questions matter.
— Phillip Gregg (@OStatePhil) October 31, 2019
I don’t know. It’s been reported that he suffered a knee injury in practice on Wednesday and is having multiple MRIs. As of this writing, that’s all we know.
Do u think the new pay to play ruling will be hurtful to smaller schools where kids might not have as much exposure? What’s to say some alum might not offer a kid 100k to go to “x” school? Will there be limits supposedly on how much?
— sooner fan (@soonerfan4670) October 31, 2019
I can only begin to explore the possibilities on a Q&A blog. I’ll talk to some experts in the coming weeks and get their opinions.
Short version: elite players will have more opportunities than their peers, and that will be interesting to watch unfold in locker rooms around the nation. And I think that’ll happen everywhere. It will be a recruiting inducement, sure, but there are rich boosters in Boise and Orlando just like there are rich boosters in Tuscaloosa and Austin. (I’ll admit, the blue blood programs have more rich boosters, and they’re probably a big more spend-happy. But how’s that different than now?) Maybe this is the impetus small schools need to actually make up ground.
What needs to happen is the NCAA needs to come up with some kind of cap or structure by which players can profit off their name, image and likeness. I mean, good luck restricting a players’ earnings, but maybe since they’re not yet deemed employees, that can stay under control. Otherwise, this could become a tangled mess.
Also, coaches need to have some input here.
“Sorry coach, can’t watch film today. I got a shoot a commercial down at the car lot.”
Adrian Peterson got suspended for a half for not going to class. Can you imagine?
“Spencer Rattler won’t be playing this week because he violated team rules. He left practice early to sign autographs and he’s suspended for one game.”
College football could get weird.
How in the hell can Osborne and Meyer be in the top 10 and not Switzer?…… what makes even worse is that Paterno is mentioned
— Shawn M (@sooners78) October 31, 2019
I wasn’t asked to participate in this vote, but if I was, I’d have had Switzer in my Top 10.
Forget for a second the national championships and the wishbone innovations and the defensive All-Americans and consider that it was Switzer who opened up recruiting African-American athletes to elite programs like Texas and Alabama. In that way, Switzer literally helped change society.
Before him, many bluebloods thought they were above recruiting black players. It wasn’t a football thing, it was a society thing.
That’s why the SWAC and other HBCUs produced so many more NFL players then than they do now. Once those elite players started going to Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas and other powerhouse programs, they stopped going to Grambling and Southern and Jackson State.
Switzer belongs on any Top 10 list.
Why did Switzer leave?
— Brian Storts (@StortsBrian) October 31, 2019
He lost control of his players, and to some degree they practically terrorized the campus. Three high-profile incidents in the span of a few months — one player shooting another, a gang rape, and the quarterback caught in a federal sting for selling cocaine — eventually forced the regents to demand Switzer’s resignation.
@johnehoover just saw a kicker for WV, who has never kicked in a game…ever, they pulled him off the soccer team, hit a 43 yard, but delay of game, by a millisecond, then his 48 yard got blocked, but still he has hit 2 x points, TU can’t do this???
— HeMan918 (@HMan918) November 1, 2019
If I were Philip Mongtomery, I’d have mined the TU soccer teams for a kicker weeks ago, if not sooner. And I don’t just mean the men’s team. I know that the women’s team has several players who could calmly step into a college football game and hit a field goal.
You might think I’m being silly, but I’m not.
Signing up a female kicker at this stage would only bring positive attention to the football team and the athletic department at a time when the school is desperate for it.
Do you even like college football, John. I demand that you answer honestly.
— Boom Green (@boomslang_green) November 1, 2019
Greatest game ever invented.
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.