COLUMN: Bad seasons inevitable for any football team, including Sooners
There have been few times in my career at The Oklahoma Daily when I’ve felt my job was pretty pointless. Saturday was one of them.
For the past three years, I’ve used this space of the paper to break down OU football games. Sometimes, I feel it’s my job to criticize the team. Other times, I feel like they should be praised. And often, I’ve felt called to be a voice of reason in a state that is passionate, but also literally crazy, about their college football.
But after Saturday’s 16-13 loss to No. 3 Texas, I felt, for the first time, at a loss for words.
It’s not like there was nothing to remark on from Saturday. The injury to junior quarterback Sam Bradford, the turnovers, the lack of rushing yards, the great defensive game plan and the inspiring performance from the defensive players- these are topics to discuss.
However, for the first time in my career, it seems pointless. Because I’ve come to realize as much as “Sooner Magic” does exist, there are seasons when it’s nowhere to be found. In fact, it seems something the complete opposite of that magic surrounds this year’s team.
For many students at OU, this season is a first. With the Sooners now 3-3, they’re officially out of the national title hunt, and a conference championship seems like a long shot. For seniors who have watched this team win three straight Big 12 titles, that may be tough to take.
But people who have been longtime fans of any team realize there are simply seasons like this. Your team won’t compete for championships every year.
OU has lost its three games this season by a combined five points. Each loss came against a ranked team away from home, and if the Sooners could go back and replay five different plays, they could be undefeated and sitting atop the national polls. Instead, they’re at .500, and ranked No. 25. It’s going to be one of those years.
Something that is both unique and terrible about college football is that once you recruit players for each season, that’s the end of any changes for your team.
If this were a professional football team, when senior tight end Jermaine Gresham was lost for the season, they likely would have traded for a top tight end. When the offensive line showed some struggles, they would have signed a veteran free agent. But the Sooners can’t do that; they’re stuck with the current roster.
It’s easy to talk about how close the Sooners are to being undefeated, but there are reasons OU has yet to beat a ranked team. This offensive line, like many expected, has shown its youth and inexperience. They simply haven’t shown they can consistently open holes or protect the quarterback against top opponents.
The receivers, while showing flashes of greatness, have continued to be an average group, save sophomore wide receiver Ryan Broyles. Combine that with the injuries to Bradford, Gresham and Broyles, and it may be surprising this team kept the score close against BYU, Miami and Texas.
Injuries can do that. This team has a championship-caliber defense, and with Bradford and Gresham in the lineup, they likely would have been able to overcome some of their offensive deficiencies. But OU doesn’t have Bradford or Gresham.
So trying to explain and analyze each OU loss this year would mostly be done in vain. This team has talent, and will win some games, but when OU fans look back on the 2009 season, they’ll simply remember they had some bad luck.
It’s just one of those years.