Balogun case key for Sooners
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Monday, August 24, 2009
8/24/09 at 9:45 AM
In the span of just a few days, Mike Balogun went from being a pedestrian backup with an interesting story to being a critical player with a lawsuit against the NCAA.
Those tired of the Balogun story — anyone interested in the 2010 recruiting class (will half of them even play a down at OU?), or anyone interested in whether Sam Bradford had his chicken grilled or baked (will that really mean more touchdown throws?) — apparently have lost interest in whether the '09 Sooners have a realistic chance at winning a national championship.
Other than quarterback, is there a more important position for Oklahoma in 2009 than middle linebacker? There wasn't in 2008.
With a knee injury taking out promising freshman Tom Wort, Balogun's status with the Sooners is magnified. Will Balogun win a permanent injunction — or, as the weekend's developments indicate, a compromise with the NCAA — that allows him to play? Or will he sit all season, watching as the oft-injured Austin Box tries to fill the spot? Or maybe erstwhile 8-man star Ronnell Lewis, another true freshman?
Is that who Sooner fans want at middle linebacker in the Cotton Bowl on Oct. 17 if — just working off historical precedent here — starter Ryan Reynolds experiences a fourth knee injury? When that happened last fall, the Sooner defense hit a startling dropoff.
Balogun's attorney, Woody Glass, delivered some stunning news on Sunday, replying to an e-mail with the following:
"I am working with the attorney representing the NCAA on a resolution that would keep the TRO (temporary restraining order) in place (allow[ing] Mike to practice) while the amateurism committee reconsiders Mike's certification. Obviously, the timing is a concern but we are working on an agreement that would expedite the process. I am optimistic that we could have a decision from the NCAA before September 5th."
Glass said Monday's schedule hearing in Cleveland County District Court would not happen.
He said the NCAA was "not considering an exemption but they will reconsider his eligibility status with all the information we have developed. My hope is that our evidence will be the most believable and persuasive because it is in the nature of sworn testimony."
That should pique Sooner fans' interest.
John E. Hoover 581-8384
OU's Mike Balogun (right) went from a backup linebacker to a key player in a lawsuit against the NCAA over his eligibility. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World file