It was 8 o’clock Saturday night, and I was in a full-blown panic.
I had reason to believe it would work: Be at an event at 3 p.m. 30 miles away, make a quick stop at another place, then be back at home in front of TV for OU’s 7 o’clock kickoff.
Not so much. As I sped down the freeway on the way back, my wife asked whether I wanted her to drive instead, believing that another one of my Tourette’s-like outburst over an OU play was going to lead to a fatal wreck.
“No!!!! I can listen to an OU football game and drive!!”
Well, barely. I made it in time to catch the fourth quarter of OU’s 24-19 loss to Kansas State. But not before I’d made the experience miserable.
This, too, is the OU football team’s problem … night games. Too much time to manage. It’s turning into a miserable experience.
Consider this: The Sooners’ last six losses over the past three seasons have been in games after 6 p.m. In those losses, OU has given up an average of five touchdowns per game.
Does OU have trouble maintaining focus for a late kickoff? Is there too much lag time during the day to get your minds straight for all the complexities of a modern-day football playbook? Is too much going on?
Football players have always had their focus derailed with travel time, team meetings, family time, girlfriends, classmates, remaining eligible, Big Red Sports and Imports, internal politics, etc. But today’s players also have to worry about social media, video games, smart phones, ESPN.com — at least.
That’s a lot to absorb before a night kickoff.
To be fair, OU has won night games. In its past 16, the Sooners have won 10, which is a .625 winning percentage, which is lower than the school’s all-time percentage (.717), which can get you fired at OU. Of the Sooners’ past 30 games, 21 have been under the lights.
Is there a solution? If they have a choice, OU athletic officials should decline any network requests to schedule night games. The Sooners put themselves in prime time by producing high TV ratings.
But OU is getting to be like vampires. The Sooners’ last victory when the sun was out was 10 months ago, a 26-6 win over Iowa State on Nov. 26.
Until OU gets its legs back, I recommend that all games be played while the sun is out. It’s much easier to have breakfast, check into the stadium and kick off. No girlfriends and no kinfolk until after the game. Much less time for interacting via social media or firing up a video game.
Or in my case, it’s much easier to sleep in, turn on TV at midday and wait for family time after the game. And I’ll save my outbursts for after the game on Facebook or Twitter.
ABOUT THE GAME: So many people are having panic attacks over quarterback Landry
Jones’ play against K-State. Yep, he had a bad game. He doesn’t seem to be improving. All
that off-season work with the Yoda of quarterback instructors didn’t seem to pay off. Obviously, he’s not Jedi material. But I’m not going to pile on. What are you going to do? He seems like a nice, young guy who really wants to be at OU. He married a coed. But he’s surrounded with a cast of players who don’t make him any better for his faults (it reminds us of how good Ryan Broyles really was). In Fox Sports Net’s pregame feature, I had a bad feeling about Landry laying a big egg. And he did. But what’s now? I know he’s disappointed OU’s national championship hopes are shot. Bob Stoops should start Landry from here on out. Landry, who’s closing in on being OU’s winningest QB, deserves that much. But Stoops should integrate Blake Bell earlier into games and not just during Bulldozer moments and mop-up. Open up the playbook for Bell. He’s the future.
SPEAKING OF THE FUTURE: The player who stood out most Saturday night was freshman wide receiver Sterling Shepard. My favorite storylines at OU are the ones that involve OU legacies (the Shepard family, the Peters family, the Owens family, the Littrell family). The younger ones seem to try harder and appreciate and try to uphold the program’s tradition, which sets them apart.
MORE ON THE FUTURE: Cody Thomas of Colleyville Heritage High School (video below) continues to be a good find for the Sooners, if he rides out the commitment. I saw him play a few weeks ago. He’s a 6-foot-5, 220-pound prototype QB. He’s a taller version of Christian Ponder, who also went to Colleyville Heritage. Against Denton Guyer last week, Thomas threw for 394 yards, rushed for 70 yards and was responsible for seven of the team’s eight touchdowns. He’s committed to OU, spurning Southeastern Conference powers and Oregon, among others. It helps that his girlfriend, whose parents attended OU, wants to be a Sooners cheerleader and made a video to get the message across. OU better hope that Cody and his girlfriend stay on good terms.