OU football offseason updates


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Feb 27, 2018
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Spring football season is over, so I'll just start an offseason thread. Here's the latest from Eric Bailey:

Sooner Caravan not returning to Tulsa in 2019, snapping a 51-year run

The Sooner Caravan – which had become an annual staple for Tulsa – will not return in 2019.

Over the past 51 years, Oklahoma football coaches from Chuck Fairbanks to Lincoln Riley have met with area fans to share thoughts on the state of the Sooners’ program. Recently, coaches from other sports like men’s and women’s basketball would attend the event.

“Since 1999, we have always had a major outreach program to connect with our fans and definitely expect that to continue,” OU director of athletics Joe Castiglione said. “However, like many programs around the country, we have experienced smaller attendance with the caravan concept in the past few years. Perhaps it’s because fans have more access to information and staff than ever before.

“Therefore, we’ve tried to ‘reimagine’ ways we can connect with fans.”
One more from Eric Bailey: Board of Regents to vote on permanent move for alcohol sales at Oklahoma sporting events

Alcohol sales could become a permanent fixture at Oklahoma’s home football games beginning in 2019.

OU President James Gallogly will recommend that the OU Board of Regents authorize the continued sale and advertising of alcoholic beverages at athletic events and facilities during a Friday meeting, according to an agenda released on Tuesday.

Oklahoma State and Tulsa recently added alcohol sales during home football games.*Tulsa began in 2016, while*OSU began in 2018.
Good thread. Good information. Thank you.


Thanks! Here's one more on the beer vote from Bill Haisten...

Texas and West Virginia are among major-college schools that sell beer during football games. Last year, Oklahoma State did it for the first time. OU is on the brink of following suit.

When they convene Friday in Norman, University of Oklahoma regents are expected to approve OU President Jim Gallogly’s recommendation that the university sustain its alcohol-sales operation in other sports and extend it now to include football.

Unless there is a surprise, beer would become an OU concession-stand staple during the 2019 season. Beer would be available to all fans on Sunday, Sept. 1, when the Sooners host Houston for the ABC-televised, prime-time opener at Memorial Stadium.

OU already sells beer at the Lloyd Noble Center (during both women’s and men’s basketball games). Beer is available at Sooners softball and baseball games. The prices at those venues: $8 for a 16-ounce can and $8.50 for a 20-ounce draft.

If the regents say yes on Friday (and every indication points to a yes), it’s safe to presume that the $8 and $8.50 prices would be in place also for football.

OSU officials decided on an $8 price point last season, saying it was consistent with the money other schools were getting for a 16-ounce beer.

If Oklahoma replicates the Oklahoma State menu, these beers could be sold during football games: several Oklahoma craft beers, along with Anheuser-Busch, Coors and Miller products.

At Oklahoma State, there is a limit of two beers per purchase. OU probably would enforce the same limit. Apparently, Cowboys fans drank responsibly. An official OSU reported that during 2018 home football games, there was not a single incident that involved police and a drunk fan.

Alcohol sales do not generate great levels of profit. When OSU made its alcohol move a year ago, deputy athletic director Chad Weiberg explained that “an enhancement of the fan experience” was the primary reason for selling beer.
Update: OU Board of Regents approve permanent alcohol sales at Oklahoma athletic events

NORMAN — Oklahoma will join the state’s two major football universities by permanently allowing alcohol sales at athletics events.

On Friday morning, the OU Board of Regents passed President James Gallogly’s recommendation to authorize the continued sale and advertising of alcoholic beverages at athletic events and facilities beginning in 2019.

Tulsa (2016) and Oklahoma State (2018) recently began alcohol sales during home football games. OU joins OSU, Texas and West Virginia as Big 12 schools where fans can purchase beer throughout their home stadium.

Oklahoma held a pilot program over the past seven months with alcohol sales at sporting events including basketball games, softball, baseball games and last month’s spring football game.
From Guerin Emig: Can OU defensive backs take advantage of Alex Grinch's Speed D?

If Alex Grinch is to steady Oklahoma’s scattered defense, he must fortify his front. Resistance starts there, coaches have told us since the helmets were leather.

Brent Venables put it this way once when he was OU defensive coordinator: “If you want to have any chance at playing good defense, it starts up front. Without it, you have nothing.”

OK, got it. The Sooners need linemen like Neville Gallimore, Kenneth Mann and Ronnie Perkins to be stronger and steadier if they want to pull out of their defensive nosedive. Understood.

And yet 101 days from OU’s season opener against Houston, defensive backs like Tre Brown, Parnell Motley and Brendan Radley-Hiles appear just as prominently. It is obvious they, too, must be stronger and steadier. They must be more disciplined and more dynamic.

They can’t get caught 5 yards behind streak-running receivers. They can’t contest 50-50 fade passes a fraction too late. They must turn their heads and make plays on those balls, not clutch and grab at receivers out of panicked desperation.

It’s a lot to ask of defensive backs in a Big 12 Conference whose quarterbacks throw 10 passes in the first quarter, then go to the sideline and ask their coaches: “OK to cut it loose now?”
It is officially 100 days until kickoff... for OSU and Tulsa. For OU, it is 102 days, thanks to the opening kickoff moving to Sunday, Sept. 1.

From Bill Haisten: 100 days until college football: At OU and OSU, it’s time for better defense

At the front end of preseason camps, media coverage will center on the quarterbacks. It always does, even when there is an experienced guy at the position. This year, for sure, there will be quarterback storylines.

The Sooners and Cowboys will be driven by new QBs. For the Golden Hurricane, there might be a new starter — if Baylor transfer Zach Smith can unseat TU’s 2018 starter, Seth Boomer.

As OU, OSU and TU grind through August, this is what I’ll monitor more intently: the status of each program’s defense. There are new coordinators at OU (Alex Grinch) and TU (Joseph Gillespie). At OSU, Jim Knowles is preparing for his second season.

The best support for a new QB — and even for a talented, accomplished veteran like OU’s Jalen Hurts — is a run game that ranges from dependable to dynamic, and a defense that can be a factor in recording victories.

A defense that is more of a help than a hindrance.

A defense that gives you a chance instead of a headache.
From Eric Bailey: Lincoln Riley says Sooners entering 'one of the more important summer periods'

NORMAN — The upcoming two months will be critical for Oklahoma’s football program.

It has been the same in years past, but there’s just a different feel this time, coach Lincoln Riley said Thursday during a Q&A session with beat writers.

Riley pointed out the defense got a taste of new coordinator Alex Grinch’s style during the spring. The offensive line needs to take shape. And, of course, expectations remain high for the next quarterback.

“I’m excited about our potential, but as we’ve seen the last few years, so much has to come together to be the team you want to be,” said Riley, entering his third season as the Sooners’ head coach. “Each kind of phase just has to be fantastic. I’m excited about what we did in the spring. I think, for us, in so many ways, it’s one of the more important summer periods that we’ve ever had.”
From Eric Bailey: Kickoff times set for Texas, UCLA games

Oklahoma’s annual Red River Showdown game against Texas maintains its usual time slot, while the Sooners will have a prime-time audience for its game at UCLA.

Oklahoma and Texas will face each other at 11 a.m. on Oct 12 at the Cotton Bowl. Counting last year’s two games (regular season, Big 12 championship game), it will be the ninth time in the past 10 meetings that the schools play at 11 a.m. The only different start time came in 2017 (2:30 p.m.).

The Sooners’ game at UCLA will begin at 7 p.m. CT on Sept. 14 inside the Rose Bowl Stadium. It will be the program’s second game in Pasadena in three seasons after facing Georgia in the Rose Bowl to complete the 2017 season.

Oklahoma’s games against UCLA and Texas will be broadcast by FOX.
From Guerin Emig: Malcolm Kelly eager to revisit OU after wild ride lands him on TCU staff

Malcolm Kelly’s wild ride had him on the road recruiting one recent day. He answered his phone and talked about joining TCU’s staff as outside receivers coach, about selling potential Horned Frogs on Gary Patterson’s vision.

We still see Kelly suited up against Patterson’s Frogs to open Oklahoma’s 2005 season. Now he’s returning to Owen Field on Nov. 23 to fight the Sooners?

“It’s gonna be good to go back across that Red River this year,” Kelly said. “With different intentions. With (pause) different (pause) intentions, man.”

This is weird. The Freshman All-American receiver from that 2005 season is suddenly 32 years old.

Kelly has dealt with an injuries-induced early retirement from football. He has made a brief go at the oil business. He has had football call him back, this time to coach.

He has arrived at some peace, but it has not been easy.

“It took a while, man,” Kelly said. “Coming out (of OU) as a junior, I had a first-round NFL draft grade. I was projected to be a top-15 overall draft pick. Then you go to the combine and everybody’s like, ‘You’re damaged goods pretty much (a reference to the quadriceps injury he sustained in December 2007, his final year in Norman).’ Some teams told me they didn’t have me on their draft board anymore.

“Then you get to Washington and you blow your knee out your first training camp. If it had happened where it was something that was under my control, then maybe I would have been able to let go of it. Maybe I would have let it off my mind quicker. But since it was injuries, things I couldn’t control, that stuck with me for a while. It did. For a while, I didn’t watch ‘SportsCenter’ or anything that had to do with football.

“But I knew I had to get over it. I knew I still had love for the game. So it turned into, ‘How can I turn this love of the game into another profession?’ That’s how coaching came into play.”
From Bill Haisten...

Roy Williams was a big-play superstar safety for the Bob Stoops-coached Oklahoma Sooners in 1999-2001. Williams was a key figure on the 2000 national-title team, and at the end of the 2001 season he was an All-American and won the Nagurski Award (given to the nation’s best defensive player) and Thorpe Award (given to the best defensive back).

Williams and former Sooners quarterback Josh Heupel are among 76 former major-college players on the Class of 2020 College Football HOF ballot.

In the Class of 2019, only 13 nominees received good-news phone calls and 63 nominees did not.

Heupel was the MVP of the 2000 OU championship season, and he was the Heisman Trophy runner-up, but it’s tough to get a feel for where he stands in the minds of voters nationally. He may not get into this hall of fame just yet. He will eventually, and when he does, it could be as much for coaching as for what he did on Owen Field.
On this day two years ago, Bob Stoops resigned as head coach and Lincoln Riley got promoted.

And in other OU football news...

Oklahoma made huge strides with its 2020 recruiting class on Thursday afternoon.

Seth McGowan, a 6-foot, 215-pound running back from Mesquite (Texas) Poteet High School announced his commitment to play for the Sooners.

McGowan’s pledge came after than an hour after Brian Darby (6-0, 200) pledged to join Oklahoma. He plays for A&M Consolidated in College Station, Texas.

McGowan, a four-star recruit by Rivals, had OU, USC, Texas A&M and Georgia among his finalists. He joins Aledo (Texas) High school’s Jase McClellan as running backs with commitments to the upcoming recruiting class.
From the Associated Press: Kyler Murray ahead of Cardinals veterans with the playbook

TEMPE, Ariz. — Everything has been new for Kyler Murray since the NFL draft. He’s had to adjust to new teammates and coaches, being in a professional atmosphere, facing the demands of being an NFL player.

But as the Cardinals opened their first mandatory minicamp Tuesday, Murray had an advantage in one area: the playbook.

First-year Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury has brought in an entirely new offensive system that’s unfamiliar to the Cardinals veterans but that Murray knows, at least to a certain degree, after playing at Oklahoma.

Just last week, Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald, entering his 16th NFL season, acknowledged Murray is ahead of most veterans in terms of the playbook.

“Obviously, I’m more familiar with it; coach Kingsbury knows it the best,” Murray said after the first practice of minicamp. “With him (Fitzgerald) being a veteran, not having to come to the OTAs and me being there every day, studying it every day, yes I do know it better. But that’s my job.”
The OU Club of Tulsa will have one of its biggest scholarship fundraisers taking place on June 24.

The 16th OU Club of Tulsa Scholarship Golf Tournament is scheduled for that day at Meadowbrook Country Club. The shotgun start for the annual event will be at 8 a.m.

The tournament helps raise scholarship funds for northeastern Oklahoma students.

The event is open to the public.

Former OU players often play in the tournament. Uwe von Schamann is scheduled to play this year.

From Eric Bailey: Lincoln Riley contract: OU football coach would owe school about $4.6 million if he leaves for NFL after 2019 season

Lincoln Riley’s rich, new coaching contract at Oklahoma could earn him a $400,000 bonus for winning a national championship. It also has him forfeiting to the school the right to his name and likeness for advertising and promotional purposes in perpetuity.

The Tulsa World received a copy of the OU head coach’s contract through an open records request.

The 15-page document allows a peek into Riley’s five-year, $32.5 million deal which runs through the 2023 football season. It was approved by the OU Board of Regents on Jan. 30.

Riley will earn $6 million in 2019. The amount increases by $150,000 over the next four years and includes a $1 million bonus if he remains as the Sooners head coach on April 1, 2021 (which would fall before the third season of the contract).

Riley’s annual base salary is $325,000, and the majority of his multi-million dollar salary is paid from unrestricted private funds and/or outside athletics-related income.
From Guerin Emig: Lincoln Riley strikes, Brock Vandagriff commits and OU's offense is set through the mid-2020s, potentially

Lincoln Riley could sign a $100 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys after the 2019 NFL season.

Brock Vandagriff could change his mind and sign with Georgia instead of Oklahoma in December 2020.

Vandagriff could report to OU in the spring of ’21, decide it’s not for him and do what so many other quarterbacks are doing — transfer somewhere else.

This could still go sideways, theoretically.

Practically? The way it appears right now, with*Vandagriff tweeting his commitment to Riley’s Sooners on Thursday morning, the only direction Riley’s offense is headed is forward. At warp speed.
From Guerin Emig: Sam Ehlinger is my favorite Big 12 quarterback, but Jalen Hurts is the favorite for All-Big 12

Baker Mayfield doesn’t like Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger — he said so on Norman’s KREF Radio recently — but I do.

Terry Bradshaw doesn’t respect Ehlingler — he said so during an appearance at alma mater Louisiana Tech recently — but I do.

Ehlinger doesn’t have Bradshaw’s arm. He doesn’t put up Mayfield’s stats.

He does tend to matter most in important games. He does, as the Longhorns’ most valuable, more assertive player, provide the most inspiration for the “Texas is back” narrative.

I really appreciate the kid.

But as I stare at my Preseason All-Big 12 Conference ballot, I can’t pencil him in at quarterback.

Sorry, Sam, but that’s going to be Jalen Hurts.

I don’t know that Hurts has an NFL arm either. I doubt he’s going to rack up the numbers Mayfield and Kyler Murray did the past four seasons at Oklahoma.

He is going to play for Lincoln Riley, same as his two predecessors. That fact is enough to make Hurts a reasonable preseason candidate for the Heisman Trophy, let alone All-Big 12.
From Eric Bailey: Trey Sermon, Kennedy Brooks top contenders to lead diverse OU backfield in 2019

NORMAN — Could Trey Sermon continue an impressive trend of leading rushers during the Lincoln Riley era?

During the Oklahoma coach’s four seasons of calling plays, his offense has had four different top rushers. From Samaje Perine to Kennedy Brooks — and with Joe Mixon and Rodney Anderson in between — the Sooners have produced a dynamic run game.

OU fans were asked this question by the Tulsa World during an informal poll before this year’s spring game: Which running back would have the most rushing yards in 2019?

Sermon, a junior, picked up 46.9% of the vote. He was followed by Brooks (40.7%) and T.J. Pledger (12.4%).

The position’s depth has allowed Riley to be innovative with his attack. He has said previously that it is a dimension he didn’t have while he was East Carolina’s offensive coordinator for five seasons.

It also helps that the Sooners have a “share-the-wealth” mentality. There were only three instances last season when a running back had 20-plus carries (Brooks twice, Sermon once).

“The quantity helps because we use those guys in so many different ways,” Riley told the Tulsa World last month. “We want to keep them healthy so they can play their best ball. It’s an important position for us.”
Fyi Big 12 media days are a week away...

Fresh off a second straight College Football Playoff appearance, Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley will be joined Monday by wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and Nick Basquine, defensive lineman Neville Gallimore, linebacker Kenneth Murray and offensive lineman Creed Humphrey.

Monday will mark Murray’s second consecutive trip to the conference’s annual media gathering; the rest of the Sooners will be making their first media days appearances.