ESPN has been featuring its “V Week for Cancer Research” in honor of the late Jim Valvano. Please consider donating to cancer-based causes, but also take time to remember that Valvano once urged us all to laugh, think and cry before it’s too late.
Here was my attempt last week...
This made me think
Alabama, contrary to popular opinion, isn’t the most charmed team in college football. Oklahoma is.
The Sooners reached the 2015 College Football Playoff despite debuting in the CFP rankings at No. 15. Never mind Clemson, LSU, Ohio State and Alabama, who were 1, 2, 3 and 4 at the time, OU trailed Memphis and three other teams in the Big 12.
The Sooners surged to reach the semifinal that year, but also beat TCU by Steven Parker’s fingertips on the Horned Frogs’ decisive 2-point try. They needed chaos to occur above them in the rankings and got the parade at the end of “Animal House.”
Last year, OU debuted at No. 7 and didn’t jump into the top-4 until Selection Sunday. The Sooners spent November hanging on for dear life, and beat Oklahoma State because Taylor Cornelius threw poorly to an open Tylan Wallace on a game-deciding 2-point play.
OU caught another 2-point break this year when Iowa State’s Brock Purdy chose to throw into coverage instead of targeting his wide open tight end. The Sooners launched their epic rally at Baylor with a touchdown on a drive marked by a defensive holding penalty on a fourth-down incomplete pass. OU got a generous spot on a late fourth-down play to hold off TCU.
Meanwhile, teams ranked ahead of the Sooners fell like soggy November leaves. Minnesota first, followed by Penn State, Oregon, Alabama, Utah and Georgia.
Never mind their own schedule, the Sooners needed six games outside their control to break right after being ranked No. 10 on Nov. 12. All six broke exactly right.
Everyone needs good fortune to guarantee a great college football season. This isn’t news.
It’s just that OU’s fortune over the playoff era has been unparalleled.
The only year the Sooners felt relatively secure was 2017, when they reached the top-4 in week 11 and stayed there. And even then, the Sooners did have to sweat their defense blowing that 62-52 shootout at OSU.
What I’m saying is if the playoff rankings come out next year and OU fans see their team outside striking distance, they should shrug their shoulders, kick up their feet and let the dominoes fall straight into their lap.
This made me laugh
If you didn’t realize LSU coach Ed Orgeron was a glorious throwback by the sound of his voice — part Bear Bryant, part Louis Armstrong, several gulps of Tabasco sauce — you knew it at the end of his Peach Bowl teleconference Sunday afternoon. His signoff?
Bonus... This made me wonder
Commissioner Bob Bowlsby’s response when I asked him Saturday to assess the Big 12/ESPN+ streaming partnership to this point:
“The Oklahoma State-Kansas State game, we had a disruption due to the weather. But the quality of the service has been good. They produce just like they produce other ESPN games. So I’ve been very pleased with it.
“I was involved in both the start-up of the Big Ten Network and the start-up of the Pac-12 Network. You just have lots of bumps in the road in year one. My estimation is we had fewer of those than in most rollouts that I’ve been a part of.”
I haven’t tried to stream a games on ESPN+ yet, but several of you have. I know several of you are already frustrated.
I wonder if Bowlsby’s comments frustrate you further.
This made me cry
The depth of Allan Trimble’s influence...
I dropped by the Tournament of Champions luncheon last Wednesday and happened to sit next to Ryan Boatright, the young football coach at Webster. Boatright is a 2012 Jenks graduate who developed in the Trojans’ system and idolized Trimble in doing so.
When he got to high school and actually played for the man?
“When you saw or even heard from Trimble you knew what a strong presence he was,” Boatright said. “You always wanted to do your best to do right by him. He invested everything he had in the program, and you wanted to return that.”
Boatright coaches in a different world than Jenks. His Warriors played some games with fewer than 20 kids on the roster this season. They don’t have nearly the same pedigree or resources.
It does not prevent Boatright, however, from applying Trimble’s standard to his own program and his own life outside the game.
“He was such a positive role model as a coach. He really set my prerogatives straight,” he said. “Faith, family and football... He lived it. He preached it. Those same values transition with me being a head coach now.”