The turns we all take are really something. It’s no different for athletes.
Consider this story from Sooners wishbone icon J.C. Watts at an Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame luncheon last Tuesday:
“I actually quit twice. The second time, I went home to Eufaula. My dad saw that this was becoming somewhat of a habit and things were not going well. He said, ‘I’m not gonna try to influence you one way or the other. This is a decision you’ve got to make on your own. However, I want you to know if what you’re doing is easy, everybody would be doing it.’
“Coach Switzer called me and said, ‘Come back and let’s talk. After we visit if you feel like you want to leave, I’ll give you a release.
“I packed up and went back to Norman. Coach Switzer said, ‘If you stay, you’ll play. You’ve got a future here. You’ll start for two years.’
“For some reason I didn’t think he was just telling me that. I really felt like he was saying that with conviction. So I stayed, I matured and it turned out just as he said.”
Mind you, this was the second time Watts nearly left the Sooners. The first?
“It was about two o’clock in the morning. I knocked on the door of Darrol Ray,” Watts said in reference to the great OU safety from that era. “He was across the hall from me. He came out and helped me load up my car. He told me, ‘Watts, you woke me up in the middle of the night for this. You’d better not come back.’”
So now you know what made me think and laugh last week. That wasn’t all.
This made me think
Remember this the next time a football team slaps a slogan on a shirt to convince you things are going to be different...
Last offseason, the Oklahoma State Cowboys printed shirts listing league teams that beat them in 2018. Texas Tech was included.
Seems Mike Gundy has two choices given OSU’s 45-35 weekend letdown in Lubbock. He can get a head start on a fresh set of offseason shirts.
Or he can quit with the gimmicks and start with the coaching.
This made me laugh
Jeff Long’s statement in the aftermath of Snoop Dogg’s R-rated performance at KU’s Late Night in the Phog Friday included the line: “I take full responsibility for not thoroughly vetting all the details of the performance...”
Jeff, dude, here’s your pre-performance vetting:
1. Read the name “Snoop Dogg” in the marketing proposal.
2. Recall the state of your basketball program as it relates to multiple alleged NCAA violations.
3. Think “Yeah, probably not the time or place.”
This made me cry
Several OU athletic staffers are still pretty close with Long, once one of Joe Castiglione’s lieutenants in Norman. I fear the Snoop disaster all but guarantees we’re stuck with country music crooners at the Sooners’ spring football game another 20 years.
This made me cringe
When KU coach Bill Self spoke at an FCA luncheon in Tulsa last Wednesday, he mentioned friends teasing him: “Is it true that bad publicity is better than no publicity?”
Self busted out a similar line Friday at Late Night.
Time to retire that one, Bill.
Back to the tears
Sports Illustrated was already a shell of itself, but it was still awful to see some dirtbag outfit called Maven destroy it last Thursday by cutting half its staff.
Seeing the rolled-up SI in my mailbox Thursday afternoons was as much a boyhood joy as playing soccer for the Whippets on Saturday mornings. I stopped playing soccer when I went to college, but I kept devouring SI. Cover to cover, man.
Letters from Christy. Cards from Mom. The World Picker column from Dad. SI. That’s all I needed from the outside world to get through my freshman year at Oliver Hall.
You don’t even need to roll SI up anymore the magazine is so thin. It’s more like a pamphlet. It won’t be long before it disappears from mailboxes and doctor’s offices altogether.
I hope I’m not alone in being very sad about what has happened to it, and to print sports journalism.