Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin made Oklahoma’s defense look silly in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl when he was the offensive coordinator at Boise State.
Four years later, Bob Stoops and defensive coordinator Brent Venables unleashed their ravenous Sooner defense on Texas like a pack of wolves. The main course at this year’s Texas State Fair? Deep fried Bevo with a side of fried mashed potatoes. As if the Red River Rivalry needed any more flammable grease to cause a spark, Stoops kept his foot on the throttle, while maybe keeping his memories in Phoenix, for 60 minutes. The result was a Texas-sized beat-down of the young Longhorns 55-17.
Question: is there an over/under on how many spots No. 3 Oklahoma will drop in the Associated Press poll come tomorrow? The Sooners started the year atop both polls and haven’t done anything yet to make one believe they’re not one of the top teams in the country. But more recent primetime wins by LSU and Alabama have put the SEC West rivals ahead of the Sooners in the AP poll.
Not that it really matters now; rankings are subjective, and all OU has to do is keep winning and Bama/LSU will take care of itself. The former is a manageable task for Oklahoma. Although the Big 12 had five undefeated (now four) and top 25 teams heading into Week 6, the Sooners are still the class of the league, with a season-ending game in Stillwater against Oklahoma State looking like the final hurdle to a BCS championship game appearance.
But it’s hard to look at today’s win by Oklahoma and not realize that it was just as equally attributed to Texas’ total ineffectiveness as a team as it was OU’s dominance. Call it youth, call it whatever you want, Texas just wasn’t ready for an opponent like Oklahoma and they for sure aren’t the No. 11 team in the country.
The Sooners defense cashed in on Texas’ mistakes by causing five turnovers, three of which were returned immediately for touchdowns. In all, OU’s defense scored one less touchdown than their offense (four touchdowns).
Texas’ best play of the day — a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by RB Fozzy Whittaker — was actually their biggest mistake of all. Why? It gave the ball back to Oklahoma’s offense right away. The Sooners would drive 83 yards in two minutes and score a touchdown to go up 34-10 right before the half.
Yep, that kind of game.
Even in the midst of a coaching search that will determine your football program’s fortunes for the foreseeable future, you gotta have a little fun.
Late Wednesday, it appeared that Houston was zeroing in on a replacement for Tom Herman, who left to become the head coach at Texas late last month. Thursday morning, it was reported that Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin had been hired by UH.
In response to the reports of a final decision being made, Cougars athletic director Hunter Yurachek offered a little papal levity, replete with non-white smoke indicating no football pope has been hired.
The Houston Chronicle, citing a source with knowledge of the situation, subsequently reported that “the University of Houston has not made a decision on its next football coach.”
That said, it’s expected that Kiffin is Yurachek’s man, with an announcement coming as early as tonight. University officials will meet later on today to finalize the search and come to a consensus.
In addition to Kiffin, ex-LSU head coach Les Miles and interim Houston coach Todd Orlando and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite have been under consideration. ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy writes that “[w]hoever the next coach is, Houston is trying to require an excessive buyout so he can’t leave after a couple of seasons without paying a substantial penalty.”
As a reference point in that aspect of the situation, Herman’s buyout was $2.5 million. Herman spent two seasons with the Cougars before leaving for the Longhorns.
Yet another FBS opening is reportedly on the verge of being closed.
According to a report from FootballScoop.com, Jay Norvell “will be the next head coach at Nevada.” The Reno Gazette-Journal writes that “Norvell, the third and final candidate to interview for the Wolf Pack football head-coaching vacancy, was so impressive he didn’t even leave Reno before being offered the job, which he quickly accepted.” Norvell was offered the job late Wednesday night.
The other two interviewed were Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin and Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. The former interviewed Monday, the latter Tuesday.
If/when hired, Norvell would replace Brian Polian, who “mutually parted ways” with the football program last month after four seasons. This would be Norvell’s first head-coaching job at any level.
Norvell just completed his first regular season as an assistant on Todd Graham‘s Arizona State coaching staff. With the Sun Devils, Norvell served as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator.
Norvell has spent most of his nearly three decades in coaching at Power Five programs, with stops that included Texas (2015), Oklahoma (2008-14), UCLA (2007), Nebraska (2004-06), Iowa State (1995-97), Wisconsin (1989-94) and Iowa (1986-87). He also spent six seasons as an assistant in the NFL — 1998-2001 as the wide receivers coach of the Indianapolis Colts, 2002-03 as tight ends coach of the Oakland Raiders.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher got together for a joint press conference in Miami today as the two coaches prepare to face one another in the Orange Bowl on December 30. Harbaugh said he is looking forward to the matchup but seemed to be much more interested in getting a chance to witness one of the pregame traditions of Florida State; Chief Osceola riding on Renegade and planting a spear in the turf.
“I’ve never been to a game at Florida State,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve always wanted to go there and see what that atmosphere was like in person. This will be as close as I’ve ever been to that. I’m excited for that. I know I’m going to get some chills when that Appaloosa comes riding out there.”
Of course, this isn’t exactly a home game for the Seminoles, so sometimes pregame traditions are put on ice for the bowl season. Knowing this, Harbaugh made his case and made sure everyone listening knows just how cool he thinks it is.
“I want to see that. That’s one of the cool things,” Harbaugh said. “We have cool things and other teams have cool things, but that is right up there as one of the coolest things.”
Fortunately for Harbaugh, he will indeed get a chance to witness this pregame routine in person. Florida State Associate Athletics Director Jason Dennard said on Twitter Chief Osceola and Renegade will make the trip to Miami from Tallahassee.
The Houston Cougars are reportedly hoping to have a new head coach named as soon as this coming weekend. As expected, Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and former LSU head coach Les Miles are among the final candidates being considered for the job.
One candidate no longer to be in the mix, according to a report from Joseph Duarte of The Houston Chronicle, is Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. That should be good news for Oklahoma, as it likely means Riley will be back in Norman for at least one more season to run the offense (and with Baker Mayfield coming back for 2017, the Sooners offense should continue to rack up some big numbers).
As noted by Duarte, five total candidates were vetted by Houston for the head coaching job. Kiffin, Miles and interim Houston coach Todd Orlando and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite along with Riley all were checked by the university as a decision is approaching.