Football Thoughts – the Bowl Season and Playoffs.

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on January 7, 2022

My beloved Oklahoma Sooners beat the Oregon cheating Ducks in the Alamo Bowl, 47Thoughts -32, getting a modicum of revenge for the infamous cheating game in Eugene, OR in 2006, but it was not, nor will ever be, enough. Oregon officials cheated in that game (so egregiously that the NCAA investigated, and heads rolled), and I, nor OU’s then-head coach, Bob Stoops, will ever forgive them.

Speaking of Stoops, it was a magical night for him. He righted the ship after the turmoil of losing Lincoln Riley to USC and coached this game as interim head coach until incoming head coach Brent Venables takes over. Stoops was greeted like a deity, which he is in Oklahoma, won the game, and even saw his son Drake catch a touchdown pass. He was living a dream.

I don’t know how OU will do next year, but I do know this: the defense will be a hell of a lot better. The defense that played in the Alamo Bowl was former defense coordinator Grinch’s defense, and it looked it. Riley is welcome to take Grinch with him to USC. Pass receivers were wide open while defenders were chasing after them like panting puppies.

Venables isn’t going to put up with that shit for a New York minute, and he knows how to correct it, having been the best defense coordinator in the country. I expect many of these players will be gone or buried in the depth chart by Spring practice.

There’s precedent for this kind of shake-up: When Bob Stoops took over as head coach, the Sooners were a demoralized, underperforming, out of shape lot. Stoops posted the off-season workout program and some lazy players left on the spot. Others flunked out along the way, but the rest were at least in shape.

I consider Mike Leach like John the Baptist, foretelling a great (coach) coming. Stoops hired Leach as offensive coordinator, Leach found quarterback Josh Heupel in an obscure small college in Utah, and developed him into an All-American, runner up in the Heisman balloting, and, of course, winner of the national championship.

Leach and Heupel were kindred spirits. At their first meeting, the two watched film all night. (I ran into Heupel in the Hotel about 3 am after the game. I didn’t think he was planning to go to bed that night. I know I wasn’t.)

In the Cheez-It Bowl, Big XII representative Iowa State lost to Clemson 20-13. I like the ISU program and their head coach, but I was not surprised Clemson won. ISU is plenty good enough to beat Clemson, but it has one fatal flaw, quarterback Brock Purdy.

Purdy is the archetypal Jekyll and Hyde. He can give defenses fits – he sure did give OU some – but he often finds a way to lose, in bizarre, unfathomable ways, to wit: One of Purdy’s passes was deflected at the line and sailed into the air. Purdy tried to bat it down but batted it straight ahead into the hands of a defender for a pick six.

Later, near the end of the game and trying for a game winning score, going for it on fourth and one, Purdy ran for the first down, crossed the line to gain and then inexplicably ran backwards and was tackled short.

Still, the Big XII acquitted itself well during the bowl season. In addition to OU, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Kansas State won. Iowa State and West Virginia lost, giving the Conference a 5-2 record in bowl games, the best among the Big 5 conferences. Texas and Kansas didn’t have bowl games.

The Pac 12 got wiped out, going 0-5. Maybe that’s the reason Lincoln Riley wanted to go to the Pac 12. Easier pickings.

It bemuses me that the Cotton Bowl is played at AT&T Stadium, which is 20 miles west of the Cotton Bowl, in Fair Park. Though if I had the choice, I would pick Jerry World too. The Cotton Bowl is really only good for the OU-Texas game anyway, because of the tradition.

The game went about as I expected. I thought Alabama might score a few more points, but the Cincinnati Bearcats were never in the game. I think the Bearcats deserved to be in the playoffs, they earned it, but I knew they couldn’t even sniff the other competitors.

Though the two quarterbacks were the talk of the town all season, I didn’t see anything all year that made me think either one of them is a shoo in Sunday starter. This is the year I would have given the Heisman to a defensive player, a number of whom are better than these quarterbacks.

Georgia wiped up the floor with Michigan, and while I’m glad that Harbaugh got the Ohio State monkey off his back, I’m satisfied that the two best teams got to the championship game.

This bowl season brought into vivid relief one unfortunate result of the college playoffs: it has diminished the importance of the bowl season itself. A lot of good teams strive for the playoffs and when they fall short, they lose interest in playing in a bowl game. Add to that the Covid problems and you have a mess.

Several Ohio State players opted out of the Rose Bowl, the Rose Bowl, to prepare for the NFL draft. I can’t blame them. If you go high in the draft and play the average NFL life expectancy of five years, you can make enough money to live comfortably for the rest of your life.

Some of the bowl games had so many problems that they were canceled, and nobody much seemed to care. I know I didn’t.

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