There were a lot of OU fans happy to have beaten a Top 25 team by 25 points Saturday night--especially, in a week when Top 5 teams USC, Georgia and Florida suffered stunning losses.
The truth is that OU didn't just beat undefeated and 23rd ranked TCU 35-10, but for all intents and purposes, the game was not in doubt by the end of the first quarter when the newly-ranked No. 1 Sooners jumped out of the gate with a 21-3 lead.
Overall, fans left the stadium satisfied. But fans wouldn't be fans if they didn't have something to complain about-and you can actually lump in coaches and media into that grumpy group as well.
Many of the 85,000 in the stands and a million or so loyalists around the state and nation expect an unbeaten record every season and convincing and entertaining games. I have no problem with that. You'd rather have demanding and rabid fans than ones that leave unfilled stadiums beaming about any kind of win.
It's not endemic to Norman. Fans of traditional powers demand clean restrooms, full stadiums and 3 hours and 15 minutes of near flawless football. Norman is no different than fans in LA, Columbus and Lincoln. Give me a fan that is happy with 7-5, 8-4, 9-3 and maybe even 10-2 and you can have that fan right back.
In the case of OU's win over a TCU that could end with a 11-1 or 10-2 regular season record Saturday night, the criticism centered on.....Who else, but the offensive coordinator.
For all critics, the easiest thing to do is second guess play-calling. Members of the immense Second Guessers Association (SGA) seem to feel it's their responsibility to stridently bitch and moan about when passing on third and two doesn't work and bitch and moan when running on third and two doesn't work.
Can't have it both ways... that is unless you're an SGA member. Calling plays r after the play is a lot easier than calling the real play as the play-clock is ticking.
SGA membership is free of charge and open to all. From plumbers to lawyers and from grocery sackers to CEO's, experts are everywhere. No football background needed. Just vocal chords ready for a marathon.
SGA membership is in abundance and was in full throat Saturday night, before and after Sunday church services and particularly on Monday morning, when the Monday Morning Quarterback club swings into action.
During games, the SGA can be found in Lazy-Boys locked in to the boob tube in homes, trailers, and vans down by the river; A good percentage of the SGA are Delts and Kappas sipping suds on the east side, former players from row 72 in the NE corner to the forty nine yard line, and to the filthy....all espousing their wisdom to the bewildered wives and any within earshot or their vocal capacity. May God have mercy on the wives whose hubbies make fools of themselves?
And of course a small vocal minority of media geniuses who know without question the plays that will work and the players who should be on the field to execute them.
If you are part of the card-carrying SGA, please consider changing parties before the next election. Also, please consider making a copy of this text and handing it out your membership.
Candidly, 99 percent of the SGA don't know what they don't know.
College football in 2008 is complex and always in a state of flux.. Yes, coaches can outsmart themselves. But I've been in the stands and came away stunned that there were so many obnoxious SGA members who were not only critical of the play-calling but also downright mean in their vicious criticism of "their" players.
After almost getting into a fist-fight during my first and only game I watched in the stadium after playing, I vowed to never do that again. Berating college players is unacceptable, especially when most of the boo birds couldn't tell you the difference in a hot route than a hot suit.
Actually, I owe it to the numbskull sitting behind me that one time in the stands because that experience sent me into the press box. Haven't left there since. The press box is quiet-at least it's supposed to be. At least the second-guessers are confined and in smaller numbers. Not supposed to swear. And sober.
The easy target of the SGA is always the offensive coordinator. To be honest, I believe more passes should have been called in order to take advantage of holes in the defense created because of continual blitzes and to possibly get TCU to back off a little.
But, overlooked by some is the fact that Kevin Wilson has transformed his offense from those predictable and times sluggish and slow-to-respond offenses of 2006-07 into the high-octane, fast-break, high-energy, on-point, pedal-to-the-medal, quick-strike, precision scoring machine of 2008.
In response to the criticism about conservative play-calling after getting big lead, Wilson agrees. In part...."too cautious." Bob Stoops wanted more passes in the second half but doesn't insist when the game is out of hand and he is seeing the clock dwindle.
Agree or not, the fact is that when the score became lopsided, the priorities became to first, run the clock; second, protect the football and third, protect the QB. Bet you didn't think of number three. I know I didn't. And it should have been obvious to all of us geniuses.
OU would lose two or three games from here till the final buzzer in Stillwater if had taken a season-ending blow from an aggressive TCU defense that insisted on stopping the run and laying licks on anyone between the lines and whistles on God's green grass on Owen Field.
There's a inexact balance between taking what the defense gives you-in this case, taking some shots throwing downfield when TCU crowded the line of scrimmage-vs. working the clock keeping the new 45-second clock moving.
The key is this. It's almost mathematically impossible to get beat when you are up four TD's in the second half while working the clock and protecting the football. Obviously, the voters didn't care about style points as much as many Sooner fans who see the overwhelming offensive performances early in each of the four games. Bob Stoops teams have used this formula to build a 57-2 home record in ten years.
Having said all that, I'm calling Coach Wilson as soon as this column is finished. He needs my input about as much as Twiggy needed Slimfast. I want to know why in the world he got so conservative after getting the big lead. Did he have TCU and the points? The under? Or, was he just trying to win the game?
I think I know the answer. And that's why Wilson and Stoops and Venables and the rest of them are considered with the crème de la crème of college coaches. And that's why their team is back in the driver's seat.
Trust me. Coaches and players will tell you it doesn't matter where they are ranked right now. That's a bald-faced lie. They are bustin' their buttons tonight knowing they are the unanimous No. 2 ranked team in the nation. And they are proud to be a part of a program that has now set an NCAA-best record with 96 weeks at No. 1.
So someone must know something.