One of the worst kept secrets out there is that it appears the Oklahoma Sooners are primed to start atop the polls come August. Of course, these Sooners are no stranger to this spot in the rankings, as they have spent more time there than anyone else.
It’s a point that has Sooner fans a little nervous and the rest of the nation primed and ready to break out their “chokelahoma” banners. Recent history shows that starting on top isn’t necessarily a good thing. However, that hasn’t always been the case.
There was a time when starting on top and staying on top was just how it was supposed to be. Most notably during the ‘70’s and ‘80’s when Barry Switzer roamed the sideline in Norman. An era in which Switzer won three national titles, and won all three after starting the season ranked No. 1.
Like Switzer, Bob Stoops is already an Oklahoma legend. He showed up in Norman in ‘99, took over a bottomed out program and breathed new life into it. His Sooners are in national title contention almost every single year. Winning seven conference titles in 12 years is phenomenal, along with putting his team in more BCS championship games than any other school. Including, being the only school to have played in all four BCS games, plus the stand alone National Championship Game.
Once again the expectations for the Oklahoma program this fall are almost as big as the targets that will be on their backs. These Sooners can count on every team they play bringing all they have. If these Sooners want to live up to expectations, they’re going to have to embrace the lofty ranking.
The Switzers teams that started out on top knew they were there for a reason. When Utah State and Wake Forest came to town in the ‘74 season, they were drilled 72-3 and 63-0, respectively. Point being, they didn’t take it easy on the little guys. Switzers three championship teams lost only two games, and neither of them were road games. Imagine how good his ‘74 team must have been for them to be voted National Champions despite being on probation and not playing in a bowl game.
If the 2011 Oklahoma Sooners want to add an eighth crystal ball to their trophy warehouse, they will have to reach back and dig up some of that ‘ol Switzer swagger. When Ball State comes to town, the Sooners need to hang 70 on them, and do it without a conscience. When Mike Lupica goes on his rant, Sooner Nation can just give him the we’re No. 1 sign.
When Oklahoma goes into Tallahassee and Stillwater, they need to go in and burn the house down. They need to call up the spirit of Uwe Von Schamann taunting the Ohio State crowd, and tell FSU, OSU and Texas what they’re going to do, and do it. Any less confidence than that won’t cut it.
The upcoming season indeed holds plenty of promise for this very young Sooner team. Going wire to wire would be a great source of pride for every player on this team for as long as they live. That may sound like even more pressure, but in the end, it’ll make it even more special.
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