My old high school tennis coach at Classen High in Oklahoma City, Mr. Don Fleet, was an effective teacher, not only on the tennis court, but in the court of psychology. He would always emphasize that in sport if you beat the crap out of your opponent at the start of a contest, you better do the same at the end of it. I feared the man as I did not like to meet the wrath of his temper or what he had in mind for me if I lost a match after beating my man in set one. That happened only once. Coach was old school and losing was not acceptable. I learned the facts of life from my old tennis coach, rest his soul.
Someone needs to tell the coaches at Oklahoma that it is not acceptable to beat the hell out of your opponent for the first half, only to let the game slip away in the final thirty minutes to get your ass beat. Sooner Nation, that again, is not acceptable. And any way about it, you should not be happy for just being there, the Rose Bowl that is. A season that was, yes, outstanding, should have been much more. OU should have won that ball game last night. And no, this loss should never be directed at any one assistant coach. It is not about assistant coaches. It is about attitude first, second, and always.
In his first year at Florida State, coach Bobby Bowden brought his highly inferior Seminole football team to Norman, Oklahoma to meet a nationally ranked Sooner team. Most expected a “half-a-hundred” to nothing score for OU, and Bowden and his team were in over-their-head that sunny afternoon on Owen Field. OU did not play well, but Florida State held up with starting six new players for the game and even though their record went from 0-2 to 0-3 with a 24-9 loss, the media worked hard at telling Bowden and his team how the loss was a “moral” victory an how proud they should be. Bowden would have nothing to do with that, was not happy they had lost the game, and did not praise the efforts of his losing team. His most remembered remark was “A game in which Florida State seemed to have no chance was one it might have won. Reiterating his distaste for moral victories, Bowden added: ‘These things are forgotten.’ Bowden was on his way in this turning point loss.
OU had a chance to win last nigh in the end to erase a very poor second half. They needed less than a yard in the first overtime to keep a drive alive and win the game. But a now conventional Lincoln Riley could not put the game in his Heisman Trophy winner and give it a try. No, he settled for a field goal to get a tie. Then in the second overtime he had to settle for three by his kicker and we all know what happened after that. Bowden in his loss to OU in 76 played all out, going for tough first downs, working for touchdowns and not taking the safe way out. He was a man that used his first season to show his resolve to win and not allow others to take victory from defeat. Last night was not the best for Riley. No complaints for Lincoln for going safe last night. No. But there are winners and there are losers and last night Lincoln Riley came in second to Kirby Smart. That cannot be overlooked. Winning coaches, players, make plays. My bet was on Bake to make a yard. Not for a field goal kicker to tie a game which in the end you lose.
What Lincoln Riley does from this day on and how he treats a loss in this beginning of his head football coaching career at OU is upon him. Will a tough loss to a team that you pushed around for a half only to falter in the California dusk on New Year’s Day eve be the catalyst for a great career at OU or will it lead to further losses to teams that you put a good beat down on then let up. Oklahoma, you took your foot off the gas, and got your ass handed to you in the end. Coaching mistakes, which Riley and his staff made last night, can be taken care of with experience. But attitude, a knife to the throat killer instinct, that is another matter. It was said of the game that Georgia was the more physical team in the end. Well, what about the beginning? It was the same Georgia team I believe.
That is the way I see it sport fans.