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OU Football: Are the Sooners elite?

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I received lots of interesting feedback on my Sunday column about Oklahoma not playing like one of the country’s elite teams. When I wrote it, I figured it would generate conversation. You can hardly write anything about the Sooners without creating debate, but say they aren’t playing well? That’s sure to stir the pot.

But here’s what’s interesting — most of the feedback that I received via email agreed that OU has yet to show its one of the best teams in the nation.

Here are some of the comments that I received plus my feedback in italics.

Larry L. says: Really solid column. Two statements leap out at me,  Ikard saying ‘We’re playing as well as we can play and we’re getting better every week’, and your perfect summary that it’ll be an all-hands-on-deck season.  I’ve lost count of  all the guys lost from last season and then this year to injury, suspension, transferring or being kicked off the team.  And that means that JUCOs and freshmen to have to step up and play meaningful minutes in big games like Kansas State.  Every game from here on out promises to be a dogfight.

Having seen Alabama, LSU, USC and Oregon, anyone still hoping for a national championship season is bound to be disappointed, but the Big 12 championship is possible, if everyone remembers to play like a champion.  Personally I’ll be thrilled if we can win back the Big 12 and put off the BCS Championship until next season.

I agree that OU doesn’t look to be on the same level as those other teams, but if OU wins the Big 12 championship, you’d better believe that the Sooners will be in the national championship discussion. That’s because the Big 12 champion is likely to be undefeated or have one loss in conference play.

Rusty says: It seems you have a talent using pen and paper or else you wouldn’t have been hired by The Oklahoman. Hopefully, you have some experience playing team sports. If you do you’ll realize that the beginning of any season can be plagued with mistakes and miscues. You will also realize how difficult it can be to learn the tenancies, skill levels and just pain trust of your teammates. As you know the more players there are on a team the more time you will need to fine tune and hopefully perfect your team performance. The Sooner football team as with any team beginning its season, had and will have their share of mistakes. The fact that they are nationally ranked as one of the top five football teams testifies that they are extremely talented. Just like you don’t expect to write perfectly with your first draft, the Sooner players and coaches don’t expect to reach perfection with their first or even their second performance. As you write your articles be mindful that you aren’t judged nationally by a panel of writers and coaches like they are. The road to any championship or successful season is a process. Good luck in your writing success as your work toward perfection as a Oklahoman journalist. I hope one day you will be rewarded with a Pulitzer Prize in journalism.  I challenge you to publish this comment and see how you feel when you are judged by others outside of your profession or field of expertise.

Well, Rusty, I have published this, but frankly, because my column appears in the paper and on the internet for all the world to see, I know a thing or two about being judged.

Now, to your point about teams not always being great at the start of the season, I agree. Every team isn’t great out of the box. But most teams show pretty big improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. The Sooners didn’t show that leap vs. Florida A&M, which was particularly surprising after how much they struggled vs. UTEP. You would think a truly elite team would’ve shown more improvement.

Dean says: Well written and an accurate appraisal of OU’s status. They looked too similar to the team that finished last year.

I’m going to withhold judgment on that, Dean, but it’s something worth watching as this season progresses.

Larry H. says: I am an avid Sooner fan from way back, and I agree with you 100 percent on their play so far this season. If they don’t get their (stuff) together by K-State, we will get out butts kicked, and a long season ensues.

K-State is definitely a gauge game for OU. Play well, and everything looks different. Play poorly, and who knows where this season could go?

Bart says: Despite the score, the football was NOT up to standard for our institution. My overwhelming impression was this: How in the world would they have performed without transfers  Brown and Williams? Those two played with attitude, as if their job depended on 110 percent effort.

Good point, Bart. Those two guys have been pretty darn important. And Justin Brown is really the guy who fell out of the sky. Damien Williams was recruited, but Brown suddenly became available when the Penn State punishment came down. He was a bit of a gift for the Sooners, and considering his role in punt return especially, his inclusion on the team has been significant.

Craig says: I saw some growing pains, but your article seemed a little more negative, and from the comments, apparently you’re more of OSU fan so maybe that explains it.

Not sure what comments you’re referring to, Craig, so I’m fairly sure those folks aren’t experts on me. I’m not an OSU fan. I’m not an OU fan. I’m a columnist who is paid to write her opinion. Sometimes that means I’m going to be positive, and sometimes that means I’m going to be critical. When I’m critical, it doesn’t mean I’m a fan of the other school. It just means I see a problem and I write about it.

And by the way, the truth is that I pull for both OU and OSU to win every game they play. Know why? Successful teams mean happy fans, and happy fans buy newspapers to read about their team. People buying newspapers is good news for me, so if OU and OSU win every game they play, I’m all for it.

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Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›