Tulsa World

Where do our teams stand after Week 1? OSU vs. TU: A tale of two brothers

- GUERIN EMIG Tulsa World THE PICKER

We’ll get to some mail in a sec, but first from a conversati­on I had last Sunday night with a good friend: “Do we need to adjust our expectatio­ns for Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Tulsa football based on their lousy openers, or was it just a lousy weekend?”

A valuable question that leads to another: Is it teams or games we’re dealing with here?

I tend to lean toward games, probably because I’d rather lean toward games. If what we saw from OU, OSU and TU last

week is what we’re going to get the rest of 2021, we’re in for a dark, cold fall.

I choose to believe the Sooners, Cowboys and Golden Hurricane have a lot more to offer us than they showed in winning ugly, winning ugly and losing ugly, respective­ly.

OU didn’t play three hours of bad football against Tulane. They did have bad moments.

Spencer Rattler, his offensive line and OU’s secondary need to smooth out their rough edges in particular for their team to go where it expects to. Here I might put some faith in Lincoln Riley, Bill Bedenbaugh and Alex Grinch to help that along.

Does Riley have a track record of coaching teams that snooze with big leads? Yes. But he also has a track record of coaching teams that surge in late October into November and early December.

Bailing on the Sooners this early feels like bailing on Riley and his quarterbac­k. History shows that to be ill advisable.

OSU’s poor stretches against Missouri State fell mostly on the Cowboys’ offensive line. Poke fans flashed back to the deficienci­es from 2020 when they watched that. I don’t blame

Sometimes big brothers can be real jerks, and this comes from a big brother. We tend to take over in family situations, and we make decisions without always discussing the repercussi­ons. But, hey, who picks up the check, baby?

I was not always the best big brother growing up. I was a bit of a bully, but not really in a physical way. I almost always decided what my brothers and I were doing, especially on long summer days on school break. Whether it was an early round of golf, an all-day board game session or first turn on the Atari, I made the call.

But one time my actions were met with strong resistance.

My youngest brother had gotten hooked on “Days of Our

them.

But I also advise them to consider a couple things: 1, They should wait and see if quarterbac­k Spencer Sanders makes a difference when he returns; and 2, They should be encouraged by another flashback to 2020, when the defense protected games the offense struggled to nail down.

Jim Knowles’ defense is still very good. That bodes very well.

TU’s defense played well, for the most part, in last week’s loss to UC Davis. That, too, is encouragin­g.

Yet to be determined is whether Davis Brin is the answer at quarterbac­k. It’s a question worth asking based on his mistakes in the opener, but there is no way we should answer that right now.

Let’s give Brin a few more games (tough as they are) to settle in. Let’s assume TU’s resilience, so obvious last year, hasn’t waned just because Zaven Collins is gone.

Let’s choose to believe the Hurricane, like the Sooners and Cowboys, had lousy season openers that don’t automatica­lly signal lousy seasons.

Sure beats the alternativ­e. To the email ...

From Jim: “Do you know how many suspension­s there were for the Tulsa and Mississipp­i State teams in their first games? In your view were they appropriat­e?”

Good question, Jim. Thank you.

My colleague Kelly Hines reported six TU players were suspended for the entire opener against UC Davis and three others suspended for the first half.

I have no problem with that decision and here’s why: It clearly cost the Hurricane in that game.

You get into a brawl as horrific as the one after last year’s Armed Forces Bowl, you want your punishment to resonate. TU’s suspended players didn’t just miss the first game of the season, they missed a loss. They will feel that the rest of the year.

Surely they will use it as a lesson, however hard it went down, moving forward.

I reached out to a Mississipp­i State reporter about suspension­s for the Bulldogs’ 35-34 win over Louisiana Tech. They replied that two players did not suit up, and while Mississipp­i State did not officially give a reason for that, the inference was it was a disciplina­ry measure from the brawl.

From Bill (last Friday): “Off to Stillwater Saturday to watch my Cowboys. Knowing Gundy never wants to be ahead by more than one score (I’m thinking it’s a Las Vegas point spread thing or something!), here’s hoping we have a better show than TU.”

Bill got a different outcome at OSU’s than the one from TU-UC Davis. The Cowboys did win.

But I’m not sure the show was any better than the one at Chapman Stadium.

From LP: “The plight of OSU really angers me. I have a degree from OU and both my daughters have degrees from OSU. Bedlam always results in a food fight. And (I guess) I hope Riley and team can pull off a national championsh­ip.

“But I think pulling out of the Big 12 and leaving Stillwater hanging in the lurch was just wrong. Sure, it makes sense from the standpoint of TV dollars, recruiting, scheduling — all pretty important considerat­ions. But I hate the ‘if you can’t beat the

SEC, join ‘em’ mentality. I admire Clemson and Dabo.

“OU has the right to say, ‘It’s not our job to care about OSU.’ But just plain selling them out seems wrong to me.”

Regarding Clemson and Dabo Swinney ... I keep reverting back to what TU athletic director Rick Dickson said a few weeks ago, about an “NFL Lite” where the top 30-32 teams band together regardless of conference affiliatio­ns.

If you’re asking me about an end game to all of this? There’s my answer. Tier 1 college football.

OU will be included undoubtedl­y. OSU should be included. What the Cowboys must do in the meantime is assert control of their circumstan­ces.

From Van: “The exodus by Oklahoma and Texas is not a demise for a leftover eight, but an opportunit­y for some pleasant upheaval in most revered two things in American life, even more than apple pie and the American dream: religion and football.

“The proposed addition of four other schools to the Big 12, Cincinnati, Houston, UCF and Brigham Young, brings more than major markets to the conference.

It brings a sense of Godliness. Three major religiousl­y affiliated institutio­ns, Texas Christian, Baylor and BYU, add a unique character to a sport conglomera­te.”

BYU would bring some unique qualities to the Big 12. Provo is beautiful and its citizenry, I hear, is among the friendlies­t you’re likely to encounter. Road trips should be nice.

The Cougars play proven football. Their Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affiliatio­n gives them a national following, which would be a big deal for a Big 12 looking to reestablis­h media market value post-OU and Texas.

BYU is also known for its adherence to an honor code often scrutinize­d for its rigidity against the LGBTQ community, a problem that cropped up during the university’s 2016 Big 12 candidacy.

The Cougars play in a Mountain time zone that would be a slight adjustment. The Cougars do not play on Sundays, per their LDS affiliatio­n, regardless of sport. That would be a bigger adjustment.

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