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Oklahoma Needs Positive Response To Adversity For Successful Season

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

So far, this week has been one to forget for anyone associated with the Oklahoma football team.

Monday, it was finally confirmed that junior college wide receiver Courtney Gardner would not be coming to Norman and playing for OU in 2012. Gardner will instead stay at Sierra College in California until January, when he will enroll at OU.

Gardner failed to complete an English class in time to be eligible for this season, but after passing the class, should be a solid go for next season.

Offensive lineman Will Latu, a junior college transfer from College of the Canyons in California also failed to qualify academically and won't be joining the Sooners in the fall.

Also on Monday, the Sooners' top 2013 commitment, running back Greg Bryant from Florida, decommitted from OU. Bryant is rated as the No. 2 running back for the class of 2013.

07/30/12 RELATED STORY: Day To Forget For OU Football

Then today brought yet another tough break for the Sooners, when senior starting center Ben Habern decided to end his football career because of fear of lingering effects from back and neck injuries he sustained over the course of his time at OU.

08/01/12 RELATED STORY: Oklahoma Sooners Center Ben Habern Ends Football Career

All of that has happened this week, and it's still only Wednesday. It's tough to predict how these developments will affect the Sooners because no one really knows how things will go this year for OU anyway.

The Sooners return a lot of talent, but it's the mentality of each individual player that fans should be concerned about. Last season, the Sooners dealt with a lot of entitlement and ego issues from a host of players. It was one of the longest and hardest years Bob Stoops has had to endure since he came to Norman, and he admitted as much after the Sooners' bowl win over Iowa.

If those prideful streaks are gone, and the team is focused on playing Oklahoma football instead of making stars out of themselves, then the Sooners have a chance to be very good this season. Now, however, you have to factor in how all of these developments will affect the team's psyche.

It's hard to go through all of these things and not be affected in some way, although, the only event that should really have an effect on the players is Habern's abrupt departure. All the other events are focused on more by fans and us media folk. Habern was a terrific player and a great guy. Losing a leader like him is tough to overcome.

Sometimes, everything seems to be working against you, and rarely, everything goes according to plan. For the Sooners to endure a setback is no surprise. It happens to every team, every year, in some capacity. Has there ever been a team that had every player play to their full potential, have no injuries, and catch lucky breaks along the way? I highly doubt that.

Instead of sulking around and dragging their feet as if it truly is the world against them, OU can rally around the team they have and use these hardships to bring unity to the team. To do that, you need leaders, and OU will need plenty to step up during this time, especially since Habern will no longer be there as a leader.

Summer practice gets underway on Friday, and we'll be able to see for ourselves over the next few weeks how the Sooners will respond to adversity. A positive response will open up limitless possibilities for the 2012 season, while a negative response could doom it to mediocrity.

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