Then again, you couldn't pay me to live in Norman.
Then again, coach Bob Stoops is paid the big bucks to get his Sooner schooner back on track following Tuesday's derailment when it was announced that his starting QB and starting RG J.D. Quinn have been permanently dismissed from the program. It seems the NCAA frowns on student-athletes who receive "extra compensation above that to which they were entitled" relative to their employment.
The Sooners' lofty preseason status -- Stoops' troops were the clear-cut favorite to win the Big 12 Conference among media covering the league and are ranked No.1 nationally in three preseason polls -- was based, in part, on Bomar's steady progress toward the end of the 2005 season.
Tuesday's startling events made Stoops' comments, uttered just one week ago at the Big 12 Football Media Conference, incredibly ironic: "We really expect (Bomar) to start the season in a good way, and continue to improve. He has so much skill and ability."
And with most of the attention on Bomar, few are pointing to a Sooner offensive line that was considered its weakest link during the 8-4 season and returns just one full-time starter (senior LT Chris Messner). Quinn logged four starts in 2005, which is four more than backup RS-freshman Brian Simmons. When asked about his O-line last week, Stoops immediately responded that "guys like J.D. Quinn are going to make a big difference."
All snickering aside, we all know that issues of "extra compensation" are by no means limited to OU football; it is prevalent (in some form or another) at countless other places where grownups live vicariously through the accomplishments of young men in helmets and shoulder pads.
It is easy to vilify Stoops. He is brash and has done more to break my orange-bleeding heart than anyone else during five of the past six years. Some are reticent to commend Stoops for his decision to dismiss Bomar and Quinn, stating that he had little choice in the matter. We could fill this space with accounts of other national coaches whom, over the decades, did not do what Stoops chose to do on August 2. And what Stoops did was send a clear message that one person is not more important than the whole, including the integrity of the program.
But, here's my two cents worth regarding OU's suddenly wide-open QB derby. Some members of the Austin sports media have said that converted WR Paul Thompson is the most logical choice to replace Bomar. For the Sooner nation, the good news is the fifth-year senior has a year's experience; the bad news is the fifth-year has a year's experience.
Make that one game's experience. And it was enough to get Thompson demoted to the second-team and then converted to WR. A 43 percent completion rate in your only appearance (11-of-26 for 109 yards, zero TDs, one INT) does not exactly inspire confidence. The word is that Thompson earned his teammate's respect when he unselfishly moved to wideout. Now, Thompson is the veteran of a very young receiving corps. His backup (Eric Huggins) is a RS-freshman, and the two-deep at WR consists exclusively of sophomores. The list includes OU's most experienced WR Malcolm Kelly. The Longview, Texas product tallied a team-high 471 yards in seven starts as a freshman.
Does Stoops remove the one upperclassman from his WRs and move him back to QB for one season? Was Thompson's spotty performance in the 2005 home-opening loss to TCU an aberration, or a harbinger of things to come? Without Thompson behind center, does OU risk having just two scholarship QBs? My thought is that Stoops should leave Thompson at WR, and give his young QB a mature and reliable receiving target.
It's hard to fathom that JC transfer Joey Haizle is the answer. He completed 47 percent of his passes for 2,077 yards as a freshman in 2005, leading his team all the way to a 1-9 record. Rumor has at that expectations are still considerably higher in Norman than they are at Golden West Community College.
It's difficult for Horn fans to automatically dismiss RS-sophomore Hays McEachern, given his pedigree. After all, dear-old-dad came off the bench as Texas' No. 3 QB in 1977 and, with a little help with Heisman RB Earl Campbell, led the Horns to skid-breaking 13-6 triumph. But the walk-on will probably have to be content with his elevated status as OU's No. 3 quarterback.
That leaves true freshman recruit Sam Bradford. Scout.com's choice as the No. 17 QB nationally, the Oklahoma City product threw for 2,422 yards and 19 TDs as a senior. If I was betting man, I would wager that Bradford trots onto the field with the First-Team when Texas renews its Red River rivalry against the Sooners on October 7. He won't be confused with a dual-threat QB, but he's probably mobile enough (clocked at 4.64) to run the spread and move the pocket. He obviously has to play within himself and be just accurate enough as a passer to keep defenses from overloading the box to stop RB Adrian Peterson.
It's not a bad time for a freshman QB to take the reigns at OU. The Big 12 South's playing field may never again be this level when it comes to initiating new quarterbacks. Texas, Texas Tech and Texas A&M are all breaking-in QBs who have never started a home-opener. Whoever ends up at QB has the luxury of handing off to college football's premiere RB. OU's defense is not at the level of the "so good, it's scary" unit of 2002, but it's talented enough to at least give its offense a chance.
Fall Sneak Preview
Clendon Ross - Jul 31, 2006
We're less than a week from the official reporting date for the Longhorn footballers (of course, almost all of them have been on campus and working out since late May), and we're still two-and-a-half months from the official start of hoops practice, but the next two nights will provide a sneak preview of what we can expect from several of each program's young ones. And that sneak preview will not come in some distant stadium or gym, but rather right here in Austin in these guy's future arenas.
Tonight in the Erwin Center (7:30 tip, Fox Sports Southwest broadcast), true freshmen Jay (Justin) Mason and Dexter Pittman will participate in the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star Basketball Game while Tuesday night at Memorial Stadium, Vondrell McGee, Antwan Cobb, Jared Norton, Dustin Earnest, Hunter Lawrence, Montre Webber, Chykie Brown, Deon Beasley, Robert Joseph and Britt Mitchell play under the DKR lights in the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star Football Game
At the Erwin Center, both Mason and Pittman will play on a court that they will almost certainly contribute on this fall. Mason has impressed observers this summer and is slated for rotation time, if not the start, at the two spot along with A.J. Abrams while Pittman has literally worked off the pounds and himself potentially into the rotation on UT's depleted front line.
From today's Statesman:
Pittman, 6 feet, 10 inches, is the tallest of coach Rick Barnes' seven freshmen. He's also by far the widest, which some believed would result in a redshirt season during which Pittman could lose weight and make much-needed improvement in his conditioning.
But if Pittman's transformation during two months on campus is an indication, he's angling to help the team this season.
Pittman said he has reduced from more than 360 pounds to 325 under the guidance of Longhorns strength coach Todd Wright.
"If Dexter continues to make progress like he has in the last two months, he'll have a chance to help us," said Longhorns assistant coach Rodney Terry, the point man in Pittman's recruitment. "We're hoping he can give us some quality minutes. It will all come down to his conditioning."
Out at DKR for Tuesday's football game (7:30 kick, Fox Sports Southwest broadcast), at least seven of the 10 Longhorns competing could see action on the same field this fall for the Orange and White. RB McGee went from a 'might play' to a 'probable play' with Ramonce Taylor's exit. Both Norton and Earnest will compete for early time at LB, with Norton competing in the middle and Earnest at SAM or MIKE. The field goal kicking job is wide open, and K Lawrence will get a long August look there and as a kickoff specialist. Lack of proven depth in the Longhorn secondary, plus seniors starting at three of four spots, means CBs Brown, a physical specimen, and Beasley, who also could see action on offense at wide receiver, and S Joseph could provide depth and get valuable game reps before stepping into potentially much bigger roles next season. RB/LB Cobb, WR Webber and TE/OL Britt Mitchell are probable redshirts.