<span class="caps">OU</span> Football is Making its Mark!

Author: Lee Brennan
Category: Sports
Date Published: July 1, 2019

<span class=“caps”>OU</span> Football is Making its Mark!

by

A look at the unique impact the Sooners are having on America’s favorite pastime.

Remem­ber Bak­er May­field? A lot has hap­pened in the foot­ball world at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Okla­homa since the Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner, and num­ber one pick over­all in the 2018 NFL draft, car­ried his lega­cy to lift a defunct Cleve­land Browns foot­ball team out of the dol­drums in his rook­ie year. Notably, anoth­er OU Quar­ter­back, Kyler Mur­ray, kept the torch in the OU camp by win­ning the Heis­man Tro­phy again before going num­ber one over­all in the 2019 draft to the Ari­zona Car­di­nals. Not bad Soon­ers…

Mean­while, May­field capped off his first sea­son in the NFL by pass­ing Pey­ton Man­ning and Rus­sell Wil­son to break the record for rook­ie pass­ing touch­downs at 27 (a feat he accom­plished in only 13 starts) and by lift­ing the Browns to their best sea­son since 2014. A year ago, this was far from a fore­gone con­clu­sion. Since the Browns last win­ning sea­son in 2007 they have run through sev­en dif­fer­ent Head Coach­es a host of young quar­ter­backs who had the hopes of a promis­ing career. Notable names such as John­ny Manziel, Bran­don Wee­den, Brady Quinn, and Colt McCoy all came in, and they all failed to lift Cleve­land past a los­ing trend. More­over, May­field had some con­tro­ver­sy to over­come with some ques­tion­ing his matu­ri­ty and lead­er­ship. Ques­tions that many Okla­homans and fans felt con­fi­dent he would answer on the field. And he did…

Now, with anoth­er full sea­son of OU foot­ball behind us, we are see­ing some inter­est­ing par­al­lels with Mur­ray. The Car­di­nals Head Coach, Kliff Kings­bury, had the bird’s eye view on Mur­ray through his stand­out high school career. Kings­bury, who had been the Head Coach of the Texas Tech pro­gram, and Mur­ray got to know each oth­er well through the recruit­ment process before fate would lead them in dif­fer­ent direc­tions. With Kings­bury hav­ing the over­all num­ber one draft choice for the upcom­ing sea­son it was no sur­prise who his pref­er­ence would be. Indeed, it would have been no sur­prise to see Mur­ray be any­one’s first pick, but this match has a ring of des­tiny to it. No doubt, antic­i­pa­tion is high, and it is going to be a lot of fun to watch what they do.

Speak­ing of those two Heis­man win­ners who went as the first over­all pick in the NFL draft two years in a row, it is worth cel­e­brat­ing that this all hap­pened under the first two years of Lin­coln Riley tak­ing over as the Head Coach. To that point, Riley’s first two sea­sons have been leg­endary as he went 11–1 through reg­u­lar sea­son play, won the BIG 12 Cham­pi­onship and made it to the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­offs both years.

While many Soon­er fans are a bit torn about com­ing so close two years in a row the fact remains the Riley is achiev­ing some his­toric accom­plish­ments. Fur­ther, Soon­er fans should be encour­aged to see that Riley is not stay­ing sat­is­fied with the sta­tus quo. It is no secret that while the Soon­ers had an immense­ly pow­er­ful offense, the defense seemed to go in the oppo­site direc­tion. And as suc­cess­ful as the Soon­ers have been, it’s been a frus­tra­tion to fans won­der­ing what might have been had the defense has been more ade­quate. It does­n’t seem that Soon­er fans will have to ask that ques­tion again in 2019.

Dur­ing the off-sea­son, Riley hired Alex Grinch, the cel­e­brat­ed Co-Defen­sive Coor­di­na­tor from the 13–1 Ohio State Buck­eyes. Riley is quot­ed as say­ing, “Alex has an out­stand­ing track record as a defen­sive coach and a defen­sive coor­di­na­tor, He’s been one of the most sought-after guys in the coun­try here the last cou­ple of years, espe­cial­ly for the work that he did at Wash­ing­ton State. Tak­ing that defense where he did in a short amount of time is one of the best coach­ing jobs in the coun­try over the last sev­er­al years.”

Much like the duo of Mur­ray and Kings­bury, the addi­tion of Grinch to the Soon­er coach­ing staff is cause for a high­ly antic­i­pat­ed sea­son, and the defense should be fun to watch this year. But how do you build on offense after two Heis­man Tro­phy-win­ning Quar­ter­backs two years in a row? You do it by mak­ing his­to­ry. 

Jalen Hurts had a 26–2 record as a starter at Alaba­ma. Through a series of events, he lost his start­ing job to Tua Tago­v­ailoa, the even­tu­al Heis­man run­ner up to Mur­ray in 2018. Hurts is an immense­ly tal­ent­ed quar­ter­back and rather than spend his senior year at Alaba­ma he has trans­ferred to OU, and some­thing his­toric seems to be in the mak­ing.

Some­one of Hurt­s’s tal­ent being replaced as a starter is vir­tu­al­ly unheard of. But what a great for­tune for the Soon­ers, because it gave, Hurts a top tier pro­gram where he could go and get full use of his tal­ents. Replac­ing a string of Heis­man win­ners sounds impos­si­ble, but it is hap­pen­ing for the Soon­ers. So after two leg­endary years, could there be a chance for the OU Soon­ers to do it again? Is there a chance they could do more?

Soon­er fans can’t wait to find out.

Lee Bren­nan

Author, Busi­ness Devel­op­ment

Lee Bren­nan has worked across a broad spec­trum in his career rang­ing from jour­nal­ism, culi­nary arts, min­istry and liv­ing the life of an entre­pre­neur. Cur­rent­ly resid­ing in Tul­sa, OK where he is rais­ing his beloved daugh­ter, and enjoy­ing life with his friends and fam­i­ly, Lee is dri­ven by a love for peo­ple and a pas­sion for telling great sto­ries.

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