Thankful

I count my blessings in people.

Material resources, tangible things, while they are necessary and should not be taken for granted, they aren’t what determine happiness. Wealth and happiness are not correlated. If that were the case, the happiest among us would be the CEOs and billionaires. If this were true, the people of Haiti that I have come to know and love would be the most miserable on Earth. It’s the people that truly matter, who should be celebrated this Thanksgiving and every Thanksgiving.

That’s what I am thankful for… For people.

I am thankful… For the incredible friends and family that God has surrounded me with.

I am thankful… For people that have sacrificed to allow me live in freedom.

I am thankful… For the people that have molded me into the man I am today, and for the ones that are going to shape me into the man I will be in the future.

I am thankful… For the people that see more in me than I see in myself, who dream bigger for my future than I can fathom.

I am thankful… For the people that love me enough to hold me accountable, that call me out when I am in the wrong.

I am thankful… For the people that have let me in, that have trusted me enough to be vulnerable with me and trustworthy enough to have that vulnerability reciprocated.

I am thankful… For the people that inspire me daily with the way they learn, the way they lead, and the way they love.

I am thankful… For the people that bring tears to my eyes, laughter to my voice, and joy to my heart.

I am thankful… For the people that evoke passion from me, that stir my spirit and bring out the very best in me.

I am thankful… For the people that make me think, that believe differently than me, that challenge me to reevaluate the way I view the world.

Above all else, I am thankful for my God.

Who has blessed me beyond all measure.

Who has granted me peace beyond understanding.

Who has withheld from me the things I thought I wanted in favor of the things that He knew I needed.

Whose plan for me is infinitely greater than my plan for myself.

Who continues to bless me when I don’t deserve it.

Who holds on to me when I run away.

Who restores my flimsy faith when it falters.

Who continually amazes me with His love, grace, and mercy.

Who died in disgrace so I could live in fulfillment.

Hallelujah! How great is Our God!

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

TD

TD’s Takeaways- Week 12

Boomer Blizzard!

sammy-wv

The snow sure looked like a lot of fun on TV. In person, I imagine it wasn’t quite as “cool.” Nevertheless, the Sooners took care of Business in Morgantown, adding a 28 point win on the road to the resume’. I was particularly impressed with the dominance of the offensive line, allowing us to keep the ball on the ground and only attempt 15 passes. Baker was incredibly accurate in the cold, despite being 9-15. Early on, he had three bad drops. Other than the drops, and a few lackluster drives in the third quarter, the offense performed exceptionally, putting up 56 points on the best defense in the conference.

The defense wasn’t quite as impressive, giving up nearly 600 yards of offense, with almost 400 of that being on the ground. But, though the defense did show cause for concern, some of the second half struggles were at least partially because of Jordan Evans’ injury. As the mike backer, Evans makes all the calls and sets others up to succeed. Losing him hurt for sure. Throughout the night, the Sooners played bend-but-don’t-break defense, surrendering an awful lot of yards, but forcing turnovers and holding the Mountaineers to under 30 points.

GBR

zack-maryland

I myself spent my weekend in Lincoln, Nebraska, where my brother plays for the Huskers. I was thoroughly impressed with the Huskers’ facilities, their athletic department, and their fan base. They have an impassioned following that packs out Memorial Stadium each and every Saturday. The facilities that former athletic director Tom Osborne and current AD Shawn Eichorst have built and sustained are the best that I have ever seen.

As for the game, the Huskers dominated the Terps from the start, despite playing without QB Tommy Armstrong. They now move on to face Iowa this week, in a game that could possibly affect the Sooners. Once again, Armstrong is questionable, but now there is a new twist. Ryker Fyfe is also questionable after injuring the wrist on his non-throwing hand. Ironically enough, if Armstrong and Fyfe are unable to go, it could possibly be my brother Zack that gets the nod at QB after switching back to QB from wideout after the accumulation of quarterback injuries. Selfishly, I hope that he gets a shot.

One-Track Mind

Last week, I wrote about “The Process.” The application point of that story was that the players cannot focus on the end result, but rather focus on what they can control. AKA They can’t pay attention to playoff chatter. But, I am no longer a player, so I am going to prognosticate and scheme and dream up wild scenarios as much as I so desire. So, here are my conclusions about the Sooners’ Path to the Playoff.

We have to be the best 2-loss team.

What does this mean? Who are the teams that I believe would get the nod before us if they have two losses?

  1. Ohio St– They beat us head to head by three scores on our home field. If the committee were to ignore this I would be indignant because of the implications for the future of college football. It would render non-conference scheduling pointless.
  2. A B1G Champ Penn State or Wisconsin– The Big Ten is the nation’s strongest conference this year, and winning this conference would put these teams in ahead of us. The possible exception would be Nebraska. If Wisconsin were to lose, and then Nebraska were to beat Penn State in the title game, I believe would get the nod before the Huskers due to Nebraska’s weak OOC schedule and humiliating defeat in Columbus.

All other possible two-loss teams (most likely from either the ACC or Pac-12) would not get a spot before a Big 12 champion Oklahoma squad with “quality losses”, a ton of starpower and momentum, and a dominating brand.

So what do we need to happen?

Luke Falk
The Hopes of Sooner Nation rely upon the arm of this man
  1. Washington needs to either lose to Washington State or the Pac-12 South champ. This one isn’t negotiable.
  2. Either Ohio St or Nebraska needs to win the Big Ten. We can’t have two Big Ten teams in the playoff, and if anyone other than these two teams were to win the conference, I think a second team would get a spot as well.
  3. If somehow Clemson were to lose to either South Carolina or the Coastal champ, that would give us some wriggle room. But I don’t see that happening.

As I see it, the playoff teams are going to be

  1. Bama- No matter what.
  2. Clemson
  3. Ohio St- If they beat Michigan Saturday. Even if they don’t, I still think they would be the favorite for the fourth spot if Washington loses.
  4. A one-loss Washington, OU, or a two-loss PSU/UW B1G champ

So, as a Sooner fan, who do you root for this week?

meyer-osu

Michigan State and Washington State! Most likely combo of upsets in my opinion.

Minnesota and Nebraska! This would put Nebraska in the B1G champ as the West rep.

Ohio St! I know there are those that say “Michigan needs to win out”, but I am adamant that we do not want to be compared to a team that soundly beat us at home.

South Carolina! Not likely, but possible. It’s not like Clemson has looked invulnerable.

Let the madness begin! It’s going to be a fun week to watch some college football!

Enjoy the Autumn Spectacle!

TD

The Process

bake-wv

It’s Championship November. The time of the year where champions are proven and fakes are exposed. For teams across America, the goals are in reach. The end of the road is in sight. For the Sooners, it is so incredibly tempting to start crunching the numbers, comparing schedules, and dreaming up all the crazy scenarios that could put you in the playoff. The Prize is so close. It’s right there. How can you get to it? The answer is simple: Take your eyes off the prize.

Wait…

That’s not how it goes…

I know. Your parents… Your teachers… Everyone you ever trusted… They lied to you.

It’s not about The Prize. It’s about The Process.

But it’s the ultimate oxymoron. The formula doesn’t make sense. Stay focused on the what’s important, right? Don’t lose sight of your goals!

No. Focus on what’s next. Only pay attention to the details. Don’t think about The Prize. Tell yourself over and over again that it’s all about The Process, even when you don’t believe yourself, or when your excitement and ambition begin to take over.

That’s what champions do. Champions know that The Prize is IN The Process. You can only reach the end of the journey by focusing on the next step.

I learned this the hard way.

In 2014, we knew we were good. We had all the pieces. Everyone was coming back. There was NFL talent on both sides of the ball. Coming off of a Sugar Bowl victory, we were highly ranked in the preseason, and it seemed like everyone had us penciled into the first ever CFP. We worked hard. We had a great offseason. We knew that we had a chance to do something special.

ty-isu-2014

But we made a huge mistake. We made it about The Prize. No, not Coach Stoops. Of course,, he said all the coachly things. But we were dreaming big. We were dreaming of a national championship. It was Natty or bust…. And man did we bust. The first loss hurt, but I quickly realized it wasn’t over yet. Our dreams were still in front of us. Defeat #2 was debilitating, because I knew it just about put us out of contention. But, sure enough, I started postulating. I began to think of all the things that could happen for us to still have a chance to achieve the dream that we set out for so earnestly. But then came 3… and 4… and 5.

How did we go so wrong? We did everything right?

I made it about Prize.

Flip the script… 2015.

No expectations. No high rankings. No talk of a national title. But there was a buzz around the locker room. A chatter. But we weren’t talking about being Big 12 champs. We weren’t dreaming of a playoff spot, or scheming about a national championship. We were talking about beating them… All of them…as bad as we possibly could. Was the leadership very much aware of the stakes? Absolutely. Did we know what our ranking was? Of course we did. But the narrative being repeated from the top down was that this was about taking our respect. It was about dominance. It was about sending a message. It was about us being as good as we could possibly be from one week to the next.

ou-d-2014

What were we focused on? We were focused on The Process, and that took us to The Prize.

But there’s another thing.

It’s not just that The Prize is IN The Process.

The Prize IS The Process.

kobe-now-what

Kobe Bryant won his first NBA Championship and looked around the locker room in the midst of the confetti and champagne and thought “Now what?”

Ray Allen won his second NBA championship, and he woke up the next morning and went to the dentist.

There are countless similar testimonials from some of the most accomplished athletes in all of sports.

Why??

Fulfillment is not in the trophy. You find your joy in the journey. If you make it about The Prize, even if you do find it, you’ll be disappointed. It won’t make you as happy as you think it will. It cannot offer you fulfillment. A fleeting moment of glory, nothing more.

If you truly want to be happy, relish The Process. Make it your Prize.

By doing so, you just might end up with both.

It’s Winning Time, one play at a time.

Boomer,

TD

The Need to Fail

In my recent blog post entitled “Why Sports?” I briefly touched on what I believe is the most invaluable opportunity that sports have to offer: The opportunity to fail. Don’t take my word for it! Listen to the GOAT.

 mj-failure

Let’s reframe the way we think about failure. Failure of any magnitude, large or small, results in a number of immediate negative emotional reactions. Whether you’re 4 or 40, whether you strike out at a T-Ball game or you file for bankruptcy, you will experience feelings of despair, dejection, disappointment, doubt, and inadequacy.

Inevitably, there is a period of mourning and self-loathing, whether it be for a few minutes or a few years. In that crucial period, we all have a decision to make. Will you give up? Or will you get up? When you get up, the narrative changes. When you refuse to let your failure define you, you grab the pen and begin to author your own story. The transient emotions that are so paralyzing and inhibiting are replaced altogether. Though the pangs of failure in a success-hungry world are gut-wrenching, the refusal to succumb to a failure-identity plants seeds of strength that take root and last far longer than any short-term emotional reactions. Out of that soil sprout motivation, resolve, toughness, resiliency, compassion, perseverance, strength, and creativity. These characteristics, which would not exist without failure, are what lead to success and significance. When failure is viewed through this lens, as a necessary stepping stone to lasting success, we can learn to EMBRACE failure and PURSUE opportunities to fail! DO NOT FEAR FAILURE!

Wait…. Does failure even exist?

His Airness said it himself “I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. I cannot accept not trying again.” Kobe takes this concept to another dimension. The Mamba claims that failure “Does not exist.” While that may be a little bit of an extreme, here’s what one of the most unique minds I’ve studied means by this: Until you quit, you haven’t failed. What most call “failures”, Kobe regards as “setbacks” and “learning experiences.” As long as you learn something from a failure and press on, then the failure wasn’t even a failure at all.

mj-failure-3

While I wholeheartedly endorse the premise that “The only true failure is giving up”, I do think that Kobe’s theory fails to address two variables of success that are of utmost importance: Time and people. In a way, his view partially validates some of the accusations has had leveled against him as a leader. The key assumptions that must be true for Kobe to be right are that 1. Time is infinite and 2. People don’t matter. Sorry Kobe, but some goals have a shot clock! He assumes that the only time constraint is death. That we can just keep trying and trying again until we get it right. In the real world, a lot of goals have time windows that they have to be accomplished in, and we can’t just “try try again” until we get it right. In a roundabout way, this principle ties into the other half of my problem. People matter, and in each relationship that we develop, whether it’s a minute-long meet and greet or a 60 year marriage, there is a finite period of time that we have to make a positive impact on that person’s life. Kobe’s failure-less reality is built on the principle that personal growth is the ultimate goal, and that everything else comes secondary to that. Under that premise, “as long as you learn, there is no failure”, checks out. But what if self-realization/personal growth is actually the penultimate goal? What if the true aim of my life is to positively impact the OTHER PEOPLE that God has placed in my path, people that are not permanently a part of my journey? Will continually learning and growing allow me to reach my primary goal? Absolutely. But which takes precedence? Do I impact others IN ORDER TO assist in my own personal growth and to take the next step in my development? Or do I learn and grow SO THAT I can better impact the world around me? It seems like simple semantics, but I believe the distinction is of tremendous importance. Purpose matters! Start with Why!

kobe

Kobe is the man, and I believe he is spot on when he says that nothing is a complete failure where there is learning. Our definition of failure is linked closely to our definition of success. Is your view of “success” self-centered and focused on your own development and tangible goals? Or is your Success “others-centered” and reliant upon adding value to the world around you? I don’t think either view is wrong, but you can tell which side I fall on. Though I do believe failure does indeed exist, I agree that there is something to be learned from every failure.

Let’s rein it back in here

You… Me… We……… NEED TO FAIL. Failure is more than necessary; it’s absolutely vital. We need to fail like we need to breathe. Without it, we would never know success. As human beings, we should look for chances to challenge ourselves and test our limits! We should seek out opportunities to fail! What is so incredible about sports is that they give people (especially young people) a safe space to fail! A designated area where you can learn to fall (and then get back up) with minimal cuts and bruises. The similes are endless. Like riding a bike with training wheels, flipping into a foam pit, or mountain climbing with a harness. Sports allow us to fail with a safety net. They are an invaluable opportunity for our young people to master the art of perseverance. Because one day, we are all going to come face to face with failure in the real world, with no safety net, training wheels, foam pit, or harness. On that day, we need to already know how to fail: with grace and dignity, and how to respond: with determination and resiliency. Sports supply us with the simulated failure-experiences that we so badly need!

Don’t fear failure, embrace it!

If you aren’t failing regularly, then you aren’t dreaming big enough!

TD

TD’s Takeaways- Week 10

Sooners edge Cyclones in Ames, Eye Biggest Conference Test Yet In Baylor

meech-isu

On Thursday, the Boomer Boys took on the Clonies on a short-week of prep, and managed to walk away with a rather pedestrian 34-24 victory. The offense still managed to put up a decent number of points and yards, but the Iowa St. D slowed down the Sooners much more than any team has since Ohio St. The lack of a true running back most definitely hurt the attack, as well as some protection issues involving both the offensive line and the backs.

Even though we all would have liked to have seen more points on the scoreboard, you gotta give credit where credit is due! A couple of guys deserve some BIG TIME PROPS for stepping up on the offensive side of the football! Obviously this starts with Dimitri Flowers, who was relied upon as our primary ballcarrier despite having ZERO CAREER CARRIES prior to this game. Unbelievable performance by Meeches Peaches! It was highly publicized that Dimitri had to replace Joe/Samaje at the tailback, but what no one seemed to ask was “Who replaced Dimitri at fullback?” The answer to that would be Connor Knight! Con played by far the most offensive snaps of his career, and he did it as a blocking fullback. This guy showed up on campus five years ago as a 210 lb receiving tight end that couldn’t block worth a lick, and now he’s out there in the backfield as a 250 lb blocking machine! I love it!

Defensively, though we did give up some frustrating big plays, there were some definite positives! Over these last 3 games, we have gotten a ton of production from fresh faces! Du’vonta Lampkin and Kenneth Mann have taken the first snaps of their career, and have done some good things for us. Caleb Kelly has continued to see his role increase, and his future has greatness written all over it.

For Sooner fans, it was a frustrating game to watch because of some blown coverages, missed tackles, and surrendered third downs. But, incredibly enough, when you look at the stat sheet, we actually held Iowa St below 300 yards of offense and well below their season average, which is impressive. Doing so with so many injuries and a short week of rest/prep is doubly impressive!

Now onto Baylor.

With the Bears stumbling into Norman after back to back embarrassing losses, it is tempting to go ahead and chalk this one up as a W mentally and start looking forward to the Showdown in Morgantown that looms large.

Let me do my best Lee Corso impersonation and say “NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND!”

The Bears pose a significant threat to the Sooners.

Why? OFFENSE.

Over the past several years, these guys have proved time and time again that they can score, and that particularly they can score on us. Their offensive style is what concerns me most. People tend to think that they are similar to Texas Tech. NOT AT ALL! Extremely different styles of offense. Baylor has a very physical run game, and they want to be a run-first team. The use the run game to set up their deep shots via play-action passes. Baylor throws more deep balls than anyone in the country, and that is something that we have had trouble defending this year. The vast majority of their passes are off of some sort of run-action, with 6 or 7 people in the protection. Because they don’t throw drop back passes, getting pressure is very difficult.

With our run defense being the strength of the unit by far, why am I concerned about Baylor’s rushing attack? It’s simple…. DEPTH. We are so incredibly thin up front, and I am concerned about them wearing us down. I do not currently know the projections of who is supposed to be cleared to play, but I know that if Dimon, Walker, Bledsoe, and Romar are all out, with Obo being a little dinged up and Jordan Wade playing 80% of the game, we are going to get worn out by the fourth quarter. If we can stuff the run and make them one dimensional, I think we will limit their offense enough to win. If not, it could be a barn burner.

On the other side of the ball, we should roll. They are not nearly as good on defense as they have been, and the talent drop off is extremely noticeable. They take a lot of risks with some exotic slanting techniques, and if they don’t get home, the consequences are severe. If we have both Joe and Samaje back, I expect a 50-piece. Even if we only have one, I still expect us to score more than enough points to win.

Big 12 Buzz

I think I picked every single game wrong this week. But here’s what I learned.

TCU is an enigma

tcu-baylor

One week that can’t put up any points against a notoriously poor Tech defense, then the next week then blow the brakes off of Baylor to the tune of 62 points. They may be the spoiler when they head to Stilly soon.

Okie St wins again

rudy-kstate

This game went about how I expected, but I thought Snyder’s Cats could limit the Fightin’ Mulleteers to one or two less scores. Mason Rudolph is playing the best football of his career. Crazy thought: If the Central Michigan fiasco is correctly called, then the Cowboys would probably be in the top 8 of the CFP rankings at this point. Wow. Will the Committee take into account the admitted officiating blunders of that game?

Texas MIGHT be getting better on defense

ut-tt

At the beginning of the year, I thought Texas looked good. But then we all collectively realized that we were very wrong, and the defense was the biggest issue. I was outspokenly critical of both their scheme and personnel decisions, and privately I was even more scathing. These last few games, they have actually played….. decent defense. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but they kept Baylor and Tech both in the 30’s. Don’t get me wrong, they are still pretty bad. But they are better.

Kansas- WV

….. Nothing to see here!

National Spotlight

Fight On!

usc-oregon

I spent my weekend in Los Angeles, CA, enjoying the gameday life of a USC Trojan! While the city is a bit crowded and dirty for my liking, I did very much enjoy the fan experience. USC boasts a variety of neat traditions, and the atmosphere is palpably prestigious and dignified. The Coliseum, though very old, is a very unique venue. It feels as if you are walking into the Roman Coliseum itself. The problem is, they don’t fill it up. Not even close. I would say it was barely over half full at kickoff. When you’re located in a place like LA, the fanbase has plenty of other entertainment options when the team isn’t performing. Additionally, though the students go harrrrdddd at the tailgates leading up to kickoff, most of them don’t even attend the game.

From a stadium standpoint, the tradition of the Coliseum is awesome, but it is in serious need of a massive renovation. There are no permanent luxury seating locations for donors and guests, and no attractions that enhance the fan experience. Don’t get me wrong, I love the historic feel of it, but I believe with some additions and renovation it could be one of the premier venues in all of sports. But, as is, its bare-bones and lagging behind the rest of the CFB Blue Bloods.

From a team standpoint, no one is talking about the Trojans! Since making a change at QB, they have taken off and are really playing some good football. Oregon looked very overmatched, and I expect a change there soon, but that doesn’t take away from USC’s performance. They took their lumps early, but they are now hitting their stride. I think they are fully capable of upsetting the Huskies in Seattle this week!

Death Valley Shutout

fournette-bama

I know we’ve all been talking about it all year, but this Bama defense is unreal. LSU’s offense isn’t very good, but shutting out a top-tier team at home is an impressive feat nonetheless. I have seen nothing that makes me think Bama will be beaten this year.

Triggermen

watson-purple

Sometimes, I think that we are underestimate the impact quarterback play has on a game. Like I just mentioned, USC’s quarterback switch has propelled them back into the conversation in the PAC 12 South. Lamar Jackson is beating people by himself. Jalen Hurts has consistently been Bama’s top playmaker all year. Now, let’s look at the other side: when QB play goes bad. Saturday, Trevor Knight got hurt in the first half against Mississippi St. They struggled on offense, and lost to the 3-5 Bulldogs. In B1G country, Tommy Armstrong got knocked out of the game, and what was already going to be a tough challenge for the Huskers became a nightmare blowout. My point is: QB play can make all the difference. Deshaun Watson is now dealing with a surgery, and I am very intrigued about how that may impact the chase for the CFP title going forward.

 

November is upon us! That means it’s winning time!

Boomer Sooner! Beat Baylor

 

TD

Why Sports?

Why sports?

I’m fresh out of college, taking my first feeble steps of adult life, reeling from the joint discovery of the two mainstays of adulthood: Bills and taxes. Like most young adults at my stage of life, I am consistently asked “What do you want to?” Typically, I respond with something like “I want to work in athletics.” But “Athletics” isn’t as much the what as it is the how. The true answer to the aforementioned inquiry is a bit deep and intimidating for casual conversation.

What do I want to do?

I want to make an impact.

How do I plan to do that?

Sports.

But that brings up another question: Why sports?

Why do I think sports is the avenue through which I can make an impact on the world?

 

divine
Deaubrey Devine- My favorite player as a baby (or so I’m told)

 

I have lived the impact of sports for 23 years. As a coach’s kid, I experienced firsthand the impact that athletic participation can have upon the lives of kids and communities. When I was little, I hopped in the back of my dad’s 1987 Jeep Wrangler as he left for that day’s workout, practice, or game. First stop: Zellwood, where there was only one street in and out. Pooh, Tom Tom, or whoever else was on the team at the time would hop in, and on we would go. Next stop: Plymouth, home of Warren Sapp. It seemed like there would always be a Gallon brother jumping in the back of the Jeep there. Lastly, we would swing through South Apopka, crossing over the train tracks to turn onto one of the numbered streets, usually either 13th or 15th. With more than a full carload, we would then head for the school, and the grueling work would begin.

The symbolism is evident. My dad was literally picking kids out of low-income communities so that they could be a part of the team. And I was right there, unknowingly absorbing and observing. By the time I was in high school, I had ingrained in me the pivotal realization that sports could change the situation for young men, for families, and communities.

 

levi
Levi Duncan… Or “Bevi” according to Zack

 

 

Sometimes, when talking about playing sports, we overemphasize the tangible benefits, and I am not just talking about making it to the league. We are quick to praise sport participation because it leads to scholarships and increased educational opportunities. But the stark reality is that the vast majority of young men and women that participate in youth sports never see the tangible benefits. While we need to celebrate those that get scholarships, we also need to remember that most don’t. Most athletic careers end before the collegiate level.

But here’s the thing: It’s still worth it!

Playing sports is an invaluable experience because of all the intangible rewards attached. Sports teach life lessons. On courts and fields across the nation, young men and women learn to struggle in an arena where the consequences are imaginary. They learn to fail, yes fail, and then they learn how to overcome failure and strive for success. They learn to exhibit qualities like integrity, toughness, and perseverance, along with so many others. They learn how to work as a team and how to rely on other people. Games and practices act as a dress rehearsal for life, where they are constantly faced with a variety of challenges, and are forced to adapt and overcome them. Through sports, they learn these things, and so much more, as they develop from boys and girls into young men and women.

Sports spur our youth to achieve in the classroom as well, which is the lasting solution for changing socioeconomic circumstance. We have evidence of this right here in the state of Oklahoma. In the 2014-2015 academic year, 1700 OKCPS seniors were studied. Of those 1700 youth, 99% of athletes graduated, compared to 77% of non-athletes. Performance-wise, athletes sported a 2.82 GPA, compared to a 2.11. An additional statistic shows that athletes are 33% more likely to graduate from high school. The point is, athletics motivate students to achieve in the classroom. Many athletes stay on top of their grades just so they can play sports, without realizing that it is the schoolwork, not the athletics, that is much more likely to change the circumstances of their lives and the lives of their families.

For those reasons, it is of utmost importance that kids of all ages participate in sports. BUT, it’s not quite that simple. In order to participate, kids need tremendous support from the community. Kids don’t just walk onto the field and play. It’s kinda like the saying “It takes a village.” Parents that encourage kids to participate and give them the resources to do so. Coaches that are willing to invest time and energy into developing young men and women without much compensation. Youth leagues and organizations provide the infrastructure for sports to take place. Community members and charitable organizations team up to provide equipment for those in need, and to create and upkeep facilities needed for sport participation.

Do your part to support sport participation, and encourage others to do the same.

  • Encourage kids to be active and to play a sport
  • Volunteer as a coach, referee, or organizer
  • Donate sporting equipment for those that can’t go buy their own
  • Help create and support the facilities needed for kids to be able to play

Right here in Oklahoma, there are several organizations that are striving to make a difference every single day. Cleats For Kids collects sporting goods for OKC youth that need it, and over the past 5 years they have given out over 35,000 sporting goods items to those in needs. Working with the same mission, but from a different angle, is Fields & Futures. Fields & Futures works to renovate, create, or restore athletic fields at OKCPS middle and high schools. Both of these organizations are centered on creating opportunities through sport and improving the lives of the people of Oklahoma. If you are looking for a starting point to help provide these opportunities, look no further!

c4kff

Currently, OU SAAC and OSU SAAC are partnering with both of these incredible organizations to make an impact. Through the end of this week, both student organizations are collecting sporting goods on their respective campuses, and at the conclusion of the week, they will jointly present their proceeds to Cleats For Kids at the Fields & Futures opening at Roosevelt Middle School. If you have any questions about how to donate or how to get involved, check the pinned tweet on my Twitter profile or email me!

So back to the question that started all this: Why sports? The answer is quite simple: Sports are a pathway to a better life, whether you make the big time or not. Through sport, I can impact the world around me, and so can you!

 

God Bless

 

TD

TD’s Takeaways- Week 8

gunslingers

Gunslinger’s Duel

I fancy myself as being good with numbers. But, that being said, I haven’t taken a math class since my Senior year of high school, and I am still trying to process the barrage of numbers that rained down upon Jones Stadium Saturday night. 

1708

819

125

76

Those are just a few of the numbers that stand out when attached to various statistical categories. I’ll sum it all up rather succinctly: It was absolutely absurd. The offenses were incredibly impressive, but the defense may have been equally as unimpressive. 

Offense

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Texas Tech

If nothing else, this game validated an opinion that I have had for much of the season: Joe Mixon is the best player on the football field at any given moment. The guy is absolutely incredible. He proved himself in a big way on Saturday. He showed that he can truly be the feature back rather than a “change of pace”, and that he can handle a heavier workload than 10-15 carries per game. This year, my magic number of combined touches for Joe and Samaje has been 35-40. With Samaje out, the question was how we were going to replace his production, especially in the between-the-tackles run game. Well, The answer to that question was “More Joe.” Mixon got 35 touches on his own last night, and made up for Samaje’s production and then some. The only question yet to be answered by this dude is whether he can be that guy week in and week out against better defenses.

I am definitely biased, but once again I gotta give my boys up front some love. 7 different guys played on Saturday. 0 sacks. 1 hurry. Over the past 3 games, the OL hasn’t given up a sack and Baker has felt pressure very few times. This is so much more important than people realize, because it gives Bake the ability to trust his OL and sit in the pocket. In the first few games, protection was actually pretty good, but Bake was antsy and it was apparent that he was anticipating pressure even when it wasn’t there. That translated to inefficiency on offense. Now, Bake looks very comfortable in the pocket, and that is a direct result of him being able to trust the guys up front to give him time.

Defensively, there isn’t much to say. Designed run wise, Tech was stuffed. The run yards they had were mostly off of scrambles by Mahomes. The pass rush was surprisingly effective for only having 1 sack in 88 drop back attempts. Through a couple of different methods, the Sooner rush men were winning up front, but either A. The ball was out by the time they got through or B. Could not get Mahomes on the ground. The real frustration was in the back end. Sometimes, we actually had tight coverage and Mahomes just threaded the needle. Other times, guys were running wide open down the field. I don’t pretend to be an expert in the secondary, but I did notice that West Virginia severely limited the Tech passing game by being physical with the Tech wideouts at the line of scrimmage and forcing Mahomes to hold the ball longer than he wanted to. I was expecting to see more of that from our squad. Nonetheless, the Sooner defense definitely has some work to do in order to bring home a Big 12 title. Thankfully, these next few games do not feature offensive juggernauts. But after the Sooners take on the Cyclones next Thursday, the defense will resume the task of trying to stifle potent offensive attacks.

A weekend in Logan, Utah

fingaz

I myself was not in Lubbock on Saturday. Rather, I was in Logan, Utah, to watch former roommate/teammate Joe Palange and the Utah State Aggies take on the Fresno State Bulldogs. I greatly enjoyed the atmosphere and feel of Merlin Olsen Stadium, and walked away very much impressed by the facilities of the Aggie program. 

As for the game itself, Utah State never trailed, and controlled the game throughout, coasting to a 38-20 victory. The following day, Fresno State fired their head coach after a disastrous start to the year. As the clock wound down, I relished watching my buddy Fingaz get sent in to help pound the ball down the field running power and split zone. 

Aside from the game, I want to point out that the state of Utah was absolutely gorgeous! I greatly enjoyed the trip, and hope to perhaps return there for vacation one day.

Oh my Bama

 

trev-bama
Sorry Trev 😦

In case we haven’t all figured it out yet, Alabama is really, really good. They soundly beat the Aggies on Saturday, and they look as close to unbeatable as any team I’ve ever watched. BUT!! Don’t write in any W’s yet! All it takes is one game of unpreparedness, and the Tide could fall! With LSU and a resurgent Auburn looming, Bama cannot be crowned just yet.

Take Me Home Country Roads

 west-v-tcu

West Virginia is for real. Two weeks in a row, the Mountaineers have absolutely shut down two of the most lethal offensive machines in the nation. The offense is improving, and the defense is somehow stellar despite losing a ton of very good players from last year. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s true: West Virginia is good y’all. I expect them to beat Okie St this week, and then home contests against the Sooners and the Baylor Bears will begin to loom large. 

Big Ten Defense

wisc-iowa

As maligned as Big 12 defenses have been this year, I have looked elsewhere to watch solid defensive play, and I have found it in the Big Ten. Wisconsin and Iowa slugged it out for 4 quarters playing tough, physical football. Wisconsin has stifled nearly every team they’ve played on offense, and they’ve done it without maybe a single household name. Can you name any Wisconsin defensive players? I can only name two: Vince Biegel and TJ Watt. I played against Biegel in the Army All American game, and hung out with him all week. I think Watt might have a brother or uncle or something that is pretty good at football. Otherwise, Wisconsin is dominating with no names and I love it!

The key point is that playing good defense always gives you a chance to win. Case in point: Penn State vs Ohio State. Everyone knows the Nittany Lions had no business being on the field with the Buckeyes. It should’ve been a blowout. But Penn State played defense, and that gave them a chance for something wacky to happen at the end, and they won the game. They hung around and their defense kept them within striking defense, then a special teams play but them over the top. It’s not flashy football, but it’s awesome!

 

As always, it was an entertaining fall Saturday across America! As we head down the home stretch, I can’t wait to see which teams prove their worth, and which fold under pressure!

 

Boomer!

 

Ty

Queso Top 10

queso

On this past week’s edition of The Huddle, I expressed my love for queso and vigorously expressed my preference for queso over guac. I proclaimed that I can rank my top 10 Norman-area quesos, and since then I have been asked to back-up that claim. So, after consulting with fellow queso aficionados Connor Knight and Maddie Manning, here is my comprehensive list.

1. Saltgrass Steakhouse

This may strike some as strange, but its an undiscovered gem in the queso universe. The queso blanco and pico are a solid combo, but the shredded brisket is what makes the difference.

2. Charleston’s

Some might prefer the spinach dip, but Charleston’s queso is legit. Their chips are also typically hot and fresh. Do yourself a favor and order a side salad as well so you can get a croissant roll.

3. Louie’s

Kinda similar to Charleston’s. Solid all-around.

4. Toby’s

Queso blanco. Lindsey St. construction is preventing me from consuming this regularly and I’m upset.

5. Torchy’s

New kid on the block. The avocado is a game-changer. Look out Norman.

6. Chili’s

I am not above leaving Torchy’s and walking next door to get some Chili’s skillet queso. Benn a huge fan since I was a very young lad.

7. The Mont

Some might say The Mont should be higher up sheerly because of the location and atmosphere. When paired with a Swirl, this queso could be slated a bit higher.

8. The Garage

The drop-off is definitely real right about here. But The Garage is a solid choice.

9. Fuzzy’s

A little runny for my liking, but delicious nonetheless.

10. Cheddar’s

It’s really a toss-up here. Cheddar’s is decent with the sausage in it.

 

A key point is that free queso is not good queso. Any place that gives you free queso when you walk in (Ted’s, Tara’s, etc), is generally not much more than nacho cheese. Take your queso choices seriously people! And let me know the top spots that I’m missing!

 

TD

 

TD’s Takeaways- Week 6

Another thrilling weekend of College Football is in the books! Let’s take a quick look at some of the highlights!

The Hat Goes Back to Norman

bake-flag

The OU flag was firmly planted on the 50, and the Golden Hat made its way back to Norman, but not without a good amount of drama.

On the pregame show, I listed two key things that the Sooners needed to do to win the game: Limit big plays, and win the turnover battle. Well, we really didn’t do either of those things, giving up two TDs over 45 yards and turning the ball over 4 times. That is why the game was as close as it was. If the Sooners would’ve played clean, it would’ve been a blowout.

OU was able to oust the Horns despite making a ton of mistakes and getting some bad breaks. The Sooner defense entered the game down four starters (Dimon, Walker, Evans, Johnson), and by halftime they were down two more (Thomas and Quick). Jordan Wade and Matt Romar also appeared to be hurting throughout the game. At times, there were four guys on the field that DIDN’T EVEN GO TO OU LAST YEAR (Beal, Doucet, Jordan parker, Sylvie), plus a fifth that hasn’t played before (Sunderland). Despite letting up a lot of points, credit has to be given to the coaching staff and to the guys that stepped in and performed pretty well overall considering the circumstances.

Offensively, the Sooners rolled in spite of some early mistakes. Dede Westbrook has emerged as the go-to wideout, and Samaje was a workhorse. I’m a bit biased, but the offensive line deserves some credit. They paved the way for nearly 300 yards rushing, and also didn’t even let up a pressure, much less a sack. This group is improving rapidly, and will be even better once they get Jon Alvarez healthy.

What is remarkable about the Sooners’ offensive dominance is that it happened without impressive performances from probably their two most consistent weapons through the first four games: Mark Andrews and Joe Mixon. Both players made uncharacteristic mistakes, yet the offense was not at all crippled because of it. Look for both guys to bounce back in a big way this week against K-State.

The Sooners are clicking on offense, and the defense is improving, regardless of what the statbook says. The fact that OU was able to beat Texas despite the big plays on defense and the turnovers on offense is an indicator of just how much better the Sooners are than the Horns this year. Going forward, the defense needs to simply get healthy, while the offense must continue to orchestrate a balanced attack and develop more of its undiscovered weapons.

Back to the Palace for an early kickoff vs the Wildcats!

SEC Showdown

am-tennessee

College Gameday ventured down to College Station for the clash between unlikely unbeatens Tennessee and A&M, and what a spectacular game it was! Throughout the year, it has seemed that Tennessee is simply destined to win, despite how poorly they look at times. The Vols fell behind 21-7. They had 7 (SEVEN) turnovers. Jalen Hurd and Jalen Reeves-Maybin didn’t play. And yet, somehow, some way, Josh Dobbs and Co. almost pulled off a wild come-from-behind win…… ALMOST. The Ags survived in large part due to the performance of sensational freshman running back Tray Williams’ 217 yards rushing and Trevor’s 5 total TDs.

One particularly play is worth talking about. Late in the fourth quarter, Tray Williams broke down the sideline for what was almost a 71 yard touchdown run. Just before he crossed the Goal Line, Malik Foreman dove and punched the ball out from behind, forcing a touchback and giving Tennessee a chance to go down and tie the game. Two things stood out to me about this play.

  1. DETAILS MATTER- Williams had the ball in the wrong arm. It’s a tiny detail, but it almost cost A&M the game.
  2. Foreman Learned- Last week, Foreman was the corner that gave up the TD that almost cost UT the game after he let up, thinking that UGA QB Hunter Eason was not able to throw the ball that far. This week, it was quite the opposite. Foreman pursued when many others would have thought his effort was pointless, and his unrelenting effort gave Tennessee a chance to win. I love seeing players learn from their mistakes.

What continues to impress me about A&M is HOW they are winning. The Aggies are winning football games by running the football and playing defense. Going into the year with zero experience at RB, an elite wide receiving core, and a defense that was much maligned the past several years, it would be very understandable for someone to have predicted that for the Ags to be 6-0 it would mean that they were outscoring opponents and slinging the ball all over the yard. Not at all. They are winning with smashmouth football, which is how the SEC is won.

Now, they get a much needed bye week before their date with the devil (Saban/Bama). They need to get superstars like Myles Garrett and Ricky Seals-Jones healthy to have any kind of chance at rolling the Tide. If Bama can take care of business in Knoxville this weekend (which is no easy task), then Gameday will be headed to Tuscaloosa as Trevor Knight attempts to dethrone Nick Saban and the Tide once again.

Miami-Florida St

um-fsu

On Friday night, the remote in my hotel room refused to work. But that was just fine with me, because the TV was stuck on the ESPN 30 for 30 Special The U: Pt 2. Watching the piece, I was reminded of how incredible the UM-FSU rivalry was in the early 2000s. I grew up in Florida watching those games, and for a few years, I would’ve even considered Miami my second favorite team (I know this is sacrilege as an OU fan). I loved Dan Morgan, Sean Taylor, Willis McGahee, and Devin Hester. On the first ever NCAA football game that I owned, I played with the Canes and threw jump balls up to Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne. When my dad’s team won state in 2001 and team captain Brandon Meriweather signed with UM, I started watching every game. In those days, the caliber of football played in that rivalry game was on the level of the NFL, probably because just about every starter on both teams got drafted and had a successful career in the league.

In recent years, the rivalry has fallen on hard times, with both teams goin through some tough years. The UM-FSU game that used to be circled on everyone’s calendars became just another normal ACC matchup. But then Florida St rebounded and returned to an elite level. Now, under Mark Richt, it appears that the Canes may be able to duplicate the Noles’ resurgence. I enjoyed watching a Florida St-Miami game that was intense, physical, and dramatic for the first time in a long time. It even had some signature kicker drama, but this time the joke was on the Canes, as a blocked XP gave the Seminoles a 20-19 win. For the good of college football, I hope that these teams reignite this rivalry in the coming years, and that Miami in particular rises to prominence once again.

 

As always,

Boomer Sooner!

TD

The Red River Rivalry

golden-hat

It’s so much more than just another football game. It’s a rite of passage. A tradition. An experience like no other.

It’s The Fair, Big Tex, Fletcher’s Corndogs, and the Golden Hat.

It’s coming down that tunnel and bursting into a horseshoe of the Sooner faithful, only to cross the 50 and hear the cheers turn to jeers as the crimson morphs into a horrid orangish-brown color.

The best moments in life overwhelm all the senses, leaving an indelible impression on the human brain that becomes an iconic memory to be replayed in the mind for years to come. The Red River Rivalry is one of those moments, indescribably rich not only in sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and textures, but also in heartfelt emotions, both in the participants and in the fans.

Once a year, on the second Saturday in October, two of the most iconic football programs in all the land clash, creating an experience that can never be duplicated. An experience that can only be described as the most unique rivalry In the United States of America.

Start ’em Young

I’ve made no qualms about it: I was brainwashed. As many know by know, my mom was a Sooner and her entire family is made up of Sooners, so I didn’t have much of a choice, even in Florida.

And like any good Sooner mother, my mom taught me to hate Texas.

As not much more than a toddler, I learned how to say three things: Jesus Loves Me, Boomer Sooner, and Texas Sucks.

I’m not sure that I learned them in that order.

demarco

So for me, I get it. This rivalry is special. Despite the distance, I grew up learning to hate Texas. As a kid, I woke up and donned my Rocky Calmus jersey and got ready to watch the game. As I grew (and as I realized I wasn’t going to be a linebacker), that Rocky Calmus jersey became a Tommie Harris jersey. I  was glued to the TV when Roy went airborne. I threw a tantrum when Shipley took that kick to the house. The first and only OU game I ever attended (before my recruitment) was the 2007 OU/Texas game. We had a new quarterback that everyone was talking about named Sam Bradford. Demarco  leapt over Joe Jon Finley and took one to the house. From birth, I wanted to be a Sooner. But from that 2007 game on, I wanted to play in THIS game. Five years later, I got my chance.

My Time with the Golden Hat

Beating Texas is a part of the responsibility that OU players have. It’s understood. It’s part of the job description, and it’s not negotiable. You have to beat Texas not just to cement your own legacy, but out of a sense of accountability to all those that came before you.

It’s not just for Rocky, Tommie, Roy, Sam, AD, Demarco, and the other stars of the Stoops era.

It’s the Boz, Keith Jackson, the Selmons, and Silver Shoes.

It’s Steve Owens, Clendon Thomas, and Billy Vessels.

But it’s not just for the names that you know, the names that line the walls of the museum and are emblazoned on pillars and plaques around the stadium. You have to beat Texas for all the guys names that you’ve never heard and never will hear. It’s a part of a bond that spans generations, transcending position, playing time, and accolades. Once a year, it’s all of us against all of them: Past, present, and future.

An acute sense of responsibility and legacy is what made last year’s debacle so incredibly painful. As a captain (particularly as the leader of the OL), I felt that I had failed personally. I did not have my team and my position group ready to play, and I myself did not set the example that I needed to. I had one job to do, and considering the quality of that particular Longhorn squad (compared to some of their impressive teams of past), my job wasn’t even that much to ask. Not entering the Cotton Bowl in THAT game with the utmost intensity and focus is unpardonable, but it happened under my watch. It was because of that miserable feeling, that unrelenting nausea over the next 48 hours, that the 2015 Sooners became Big 12 champions and CFP participants (the word participants disgusts me ugh). The Texas loss was burned so deep into our collective psyche that we called on it for motivation and aggression each game going forward. Understand that the same effect would not have happened if we had lost to Baylor, TCU, or Oklahoma St in the same embarrassing fashion. It was because it was Texas.

So it would seem that the Longhorn’s may have unintentionally aided our success, that maybe losing to Texas was actually a good thing. Let me shoot that down right here and there. No. Losing to Texas is never a good thing.

RBB Texas OU 10
I hope this hurts to look at

Now, I start a new journey alongside you: The fans. Today, I will grab myself a corndog and a beer, along with some other appalling deep fried abominations, and hopefully cheer the Sooners on to victory. I will cherish it all. The fair. The food. The atmosphere. But most of all, I will cherish the sad, sad looks on their faces when we plant the OU flag right in the middle of the Cotton Bowl logo. Don’t let the corndog adulation fool you, I’d much rather be in the fight.

I owe ’em one.

Boomer Sooner

BEAT TEXAS!!!!

beat-texas