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The last time the Oklahoma Sooners won the national championship…

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The Oklahoma Sooners have been to the College Football Playoff each of the past two seasons, but the search to end Oklahoma’s championship drought continues in 2019.  It’s been nearly two decades since Oklahoma last claimed the title of national champion, with the Sooners winning their first national title since 1985. Bob Stoops restored Oklahoma to their championship glory in his second season as head coach of the Sooners in 2000, and Oklahoma has been ticking ever since, albeit without another national title to brag about.

It certainly wasn’t the prettiest of national championship games we’ve seen, with Oklahoma defeating Florida State by a score of 13-2 in the Orange Bowl, but the Sooners would take it any way they could get it. The quarterback of that Oklahoma squad? Current UCF head coach Josh Heupel, of course.

Oklahoma’s current string of 18 consecutive seasons without a national championship is tied for the longest championship drought in program history since winning its first national title in 1950. Oklahoma’s previous 18-year drought ran between championship seasons in 1956 and 1975. Can Lincoln Riley and the high-powered Sooners offense keep things humming right along and add another national championship trophy to the collection?

Last National Title Season: 2000 (19 years and counting)

Who was President?

Oh, what a doozy this year was for American politics. Bill Clinton was in his final year in the White House at the end of his second term. His Vice President, Al Gore, ran for the office in the 2000 election, only to lose the Republican George W. Bush. Although Gore won the popular vote in the United States, Bush was declared the winner in the electoral college after the results of the election hung in the balance in the state of Florida. Oh yes, there were hanging chads to determine the winner of Florida’s electoral votes. Bush edged Gore by five electoral votes, 271-266.

Someone else who briefly ran for president in 2000? That would be current president Donald J. Trump. Trump’s brief campaign came to an end in February of 2000. He would, of course, give it another try later on.

What was on TV?

Reality competition took the airwaves in a big way in 2000 with the introduction of “Survivor,” the top-rated television show in 2000. Regis Philbin was asking contestants of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in its second year on the air and still widely popular, leaving many to ask “Is that your final answer” in everyday situations.

Monica was proposing to Chandler on “Friends” and “ER” was still bringing in top ratings for NBC’s Must See TV lineup in a post-Seinfeld world. But this was the final year you could watch a baseball game on NBC. The network chose not to renew its broadcast deal with Major League Baseball.

What movies were hot?

Are you not entertained? Russell Crowe took on the role of Maximus Decimus Meridius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, and he would have his vengeance in this life or the next, in the blockbuster hit Gladiator.” Topping it at the box office was impossible for nearly every film, but Tom Cruise did just that with Mission: Impossible 2. We also saw Tom Hanks talking to his volleyball friend Wilson in Cast Away and Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro teamed up in Meet the Parents.

Of course, one of the best football movies also hit theaters with Remember the Titans.

Who was on the cover of NCAA Football?

NCAA Football 2001 - Shaun AlexanderAlabama running back Shaun Alexander landed on the cover of “NCAA Football 2001,” available exclusively on the Sony PlayStation. This was the first time the ability to create your own player was included in the game, along with the option to create your own school and even your own league. Not only that, but you could play an actual playoff in the game’s dynasty mode with spots for up to 24 teams. The playoff mode never appeared in the franchise again.

The year 2000 also saw the introduction of the PlayStation 2, although the NCAA Football franchise would have to make the leap to the next generation console in 2001 with “NCAA Football 2002.” In the meantime, gamers were probably getting hooked on “The Sims” on PC, “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” on the Nintendo 64 or “Jet Set Radio” on the SEGA Dreamcast.

What else happened in 2000?

The year started with the St. Louis Rams hanging on to beat the Tennessee Titans in the Super Bowl. It was the first Super Bowl victory for head coach Dick Vermeil, and the Titans have not come as close to a Super Bowl victory as they did that day. Also earlier in the calendar year of 2000, capping the 1999 college football season, Florida State topped Mike Vick and Virginia Tech for the national championship game.

The Roger Clemens and the New York Yankees defeated Mike Piazza and the New York Mets in the World Series, dubbed the Subway Series. The staredown between those two remains one of the fall classic’s more bizarre and intense moments of the 21st century. It was the third straight World Series championship for Derek Jeter and the Bronz Bombers.

The Los Angeles Lakers won their first NBA title in 12 years by topping the Indiana Pacers in six games. The Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant era would go on to win two more titles for a three-peat. Team USA won the gold medal at the Olympics in Sydney, Australia with a roster consisting of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, and Gary Payton. The highlight of the tournament, however, was Vince Carter dunking on France.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DFIjRktA70

Tiger Woods was at the top of his game in 2000 with victories in the U.S. Open by 15 shots, the British open to complete a career grand slam at -19, and the PGA Championship with a to-par record of -18.

Zion Williamson, who was just drafted No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft, was born.

Current head coach Lincoln Riley was playing quarterback for Mike Leach at Texas Tech. Future Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford was in junior high school.

America Online, purchased Time Warner for $162 billion, and some people were still using dial-up to access their AOL email.

The final “Peanuts” comic strip was printed a day after the death of comic strip artist Charles Schultz.

Close calls

Oklahoma has had multiple chances to add another national championship to their program’s history since winning it all in the 2000 season. In 2003, the Sooners ended the year ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings, but Nick Saban and No. 2 LSU won the 2004 Sugar Bowl for the national championship (which was technically split after USC was named the national champions by the Associated Press). Oklahoma returned to the BCS championship game the following season but were no match for No. 1 USC, with the Trojans thrashing the Sooners 55-19 in the Orange Bowl for the BCS title.

No. 1 Oklahoma reached another BCS Championship Game in 2008 but Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and company ran into a buzz saw with Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. Oklahoma has since made three appearances in the College Football Playoff, but they have yet to win a game. The Sooners have lost semi-final matchups against Clemson (2015), Georgia (2017) and Alabama (2018) despite having a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback each of the past two seasons (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray).

No team has come so close to adding so many national titles in the 21st century without getting across the finish line as Oklahoma. Will the ball bounce their way again soon?

Wisconsin receiver Aron Cruickshank transfers to Rutgers

Wisconsin receiver Aron Cruickshank is transferring to Rutgers.
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Former Wisconsin wide receiver Aron Cruickshank may be leaving the Badgers, but he will remain in the Big Ten. Cruickshank announced he is transferring to Rutgers.

Cruickshank confirmed his transfer to Rutgers with a post on his Instagram account on Saturday afternoon. According to NJ.com, Cruickshank was making an official visit to Rutgers this weekend. The visit must have gone well because he announced his transfer decision on the same day. Cruickshank announced his entry to the transfer portal earlier this month.

This is a nice addition for new (again) Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. If the hiring of Schiano was supposed to entice more talent in and around The Garden State to want to stay close to home to play Big Ten football, then the transfer decision of Cruickshank is an encouraging start for the Scarlet Knights. Cruickshank is a Brooklyn, New York native, and Rutgers does love to attach itself to the New York metropolitan region.

Cruickshank appeared in all 14 games played by Wisconsin in the 2019 season, including all 12 regular-season games, the Big Ten championship game, and the Rose Bowl. Cruickshank was used mostly on special teams with 23 kickoff returns for 674 yards and two touchdowns. Cruickshank had one of his kickoff touchdowns in the Rose Bowl loss to Oregon. He returned four kickoffs for 194 yards in the game. He also returned one kickoff to the house earlier in the season at Nebraska.

Cruickshank will have to sit out the 2020 season due to NCAA transfer rules. That will leave the former Badgers receiver with two years of eligibility beginning in 2021.

Texas brings Jay Boulware home from Oklahoma

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Jay Boulware is crossing sides in the Red River Rivalry… again. Boulware officially joined the Texas coaching staff on Saturday, the school announced. Boulware will be the special teams and tight ends coach for the Longhorns.

“Jay is a proven, accomplished coach and special teams coordinator who as a former Longhorn and Texas native, has deep roots in our state,” Texas head coach Tom Herman said in a released statement. “He also has extensive experience coaching in the Big 12, having spent a decade in our league, and has worked with teams that have competed at the highest level, including a National Championship team at Auburn in 2010.”

“I’ve been watching this program from afar since the day I left there in the spring of 1997, and I’ve always had it in my mind that I would like to come back someday and help Texas win a National Championship,” Boulware said in his released statement.

Boulware comes to Texas from rival Oklahoma. Boulware coached with the Sooners from 2013 through last season and was a part of multiple Big 12 championship teams and a program that participated in the College Football Playoff each of the past two seasons. Boulware was Oklahoma’s special teams and running backs during the last seven seasons. HE previously coached tight ends at Texas, NIU, Arizona, Utah, and Auburn.

Boulware started his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the Longhorns in 2014. He eventually was named tight ends coach and spent three seasons with his alma mater (Boulware played offensive tackle for Texas in 1991 and 1992). His coaching stops have included Northern Illinois, Arizona, Stanford, Utah and Iowa State, where he joined Gene Chizik and followed him to Auburn. In 2013, Boulware was hired by Wisconsin to be a part of a new staff being compiled by Gary Andersen, but he left the Badgers for Oklahoma just months later.

Clemson DT Xavier Kelly announces entry to transfer portal

Clemson redshirt junior Xavier Kelly will leave Clemson as a graduate transfer.
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Defensive tackle Xavier Kelly will no longer be a part of the Clemson football program. The redshirt junior announced he has entered the NCAA transfer portal and will look for another school to wrap up his collegiate career.

“I have never shied away from hard work or a challenge. My time at Clemson was a challenge that I happily accepted, [and I] worked hard to be the best defensive lineman, teammate and student I could be,” Kelly said in a statement shared on his Twitter account on Saturday afternoon.

“With this being said, I have decided to enter the transfer portal and continue my football career elsewhere. It is an honor to be able to say that I graduated from Clemson. Clemson will always have a special place in my heart.”

Kelly was listed third on the Clemson depth chart for one of the team’s two defensive tackle positions. Kelly appeared as a backup option behind freshman Tyler Davis and redshirt sophomore Jordan Williams. Kelly appeared in 10 games in the 2019 season and recorded a total of six tackles with credit for half of a sack. Kelly did not play in either of Clemson’s game sin the College Football Playoff.

In 2016, Kelly was involved in a moped accident that resulted in stitches. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said at the time Kelly was not wearing a helmet when somebody crashed into his moped.

By entering the transfer portal, Kelly is free to have contact with any other college football program interested in recruiting him. As a graduate transfer, Kelly will be able to use his final year of eligibility in 2020 and will not have to sit out the 2019 season.

Bob Shoop and Brian Jean-Mary join Michigan coaching staff, Jay Harbaugh promoted to special teams coordinator

Brian Jean-Mary and Bob Shoop are the newest members of Michigan's coaching staff.
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Michigan has officially introduced two new defensive assistants to the staff. Brian Jean-Mary and Bob Shoop were added to the defensive side of the coaching staff on Saturday as Michigan continues to retool its coaching staff this offseason.

According to the release from Michigan on Saturday, Shoop will take on the role of safeties coach for the Wolverines. Jean-Mary will serve as linebackers coach. In addition, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh promoted his son, Jay Harbaugh, to special teams coordinator. Harbaugh will continue to coach the running backs as well.

“I am excited about the addition of Brian and Bob to our defensive coaching staff,” said Harbaugh. “Brian and Bob are well-respected, experienced coaches who represent great fits for the University of Michigan. Both coaches have experience coordinating some of the best defenses in the country, and their development of all-conference and future NFL players throughout their careers will benefit our program and student-athletes. Michigan Football looks forward to having Brian, Bob and their families join the University family.”

Jean-Mary joins the Michigan program after three seasons with former USF head coach Charlie Strong at USF. Jean-Mary has been a longtime assistant under Strong, coaching with Strong at Louisville and Texas prior to USF.

Shoop previously was the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State. This will mark a return to the Big Ten for Shoop. Shoop previously coached at Penn State under James Franklin. Shoop went to Penn State with Franklin after three seasons at Vanderbilt. Shoop left Penn State for Tennessee after the 2015 season and coached the Vols defense for two seasons for former Tennessee head coach Butch Jones. Shoop and Penn State also carried on a bit of a legal squabble over Shoop’s contract and his exit from the Nittany Lions. Shoop took a job at Mississippi State when Joe Moorhead was hired (in the same coaching carousel that saw a coaching change at Tennessee and the hiring of Jeremy Pruitt, a former defensive coordinator himself).