Thursday, January 03, 2008

Overcoached University

He only walks on water most of the time, evidently. The Great Bob Stoops, who we all would love coaching our program, had a lot of help in losing that Fiesta Bowl last night, but wow, I am not sure I have seen a coach with a greater case of over-coaching than Stoops last night.

He coached Oklahoma last night like he was playing Madden on his Xbox, with wild calls like:

· Going for it on 4th down in his own territory, way too early.
· Going for 2 points way too early.
· Kicking an onside kick way too early.
· And never coming close to figuring out the West Virginia mastery of the zone-read option.

Even the Oklahoma writers saw it that way

Bob Stoops came to the desert a year ago and got outfoxed by Boise State's Chris Petersen.

Stoops came to this Fiesta Bowl and outfoxed himself.

Oklahoma's BCS slump continued Wednesday night in a big-time way, a 48-28 browbeating by West Virginia.

The Sooners weren't the better team. Not by a long shot. West Virginia's defense dominated the first half, and its offense dominated the second half.

And Bill Stewart, the down-home, one-game-and-done interim coach for the Mountaineers, didn't get in the way.
The same can't be said of Stoops or his staff.

The Sooners were woefully ill-prepared from the outset, just as they appeared to be against Boise State.

"Obviously, I need to do things differently as a head coach,” Stoops said of his fourth BCS defeat, three of the embarrassing variety.

Starting with picking his spots a little better.

Just like a year ago, OU rallied, clawing within 20-15 midway through the third quarter, when Stoops, who once had the magic touch on such surprise, tried to wizard his way to a win.

He called an onside kick.

Horrible decision. The Sooners had all the momentum. The defense finally had slowed the Mountaineers, with three straight possessions turned away. The offense had moved 59 and 80 yards on its two second-half drives, to a field goal and touchdown.

No reason to give West Virginia breathing room. But that's exactly what Stoops did when Garrett Hartley's kick didn't even roll 10 yards. West Virginia pounced on the ball, and OU momentum went poof faster than you could say Mark Bradley.

"Obviously, you're in a tight situation,” Stoops said. "We had the momentum. If you get the onside kick, you get a chance to really give them a blow.

"In the end, you don't do those kind of things when you don't have momentum. I felt the opportunity was there...

"There were still a lot of plays after that.”

Yes, and all of them went West Virginia's way.

The Mountaineers drove to a third-and-one at the OU 16-yard line, then came the most amazing stretch of defensive deficiency in Sooner football history.

You don't think momentum swung? West Virginia's next seven snaps:

• Noel Devine's 16-yard touchdown run;
• Devine's 3-yard run;
• Pat White's 42-yard run;
• Darius Reynaud's 30-yard TD run off a reverse;
• White's 79-yard scoring pass to Tito Gonzales;
• White's 5-yard run;
• Devine's 66-yard TD run.

That's seven plays, four touchdowns and 241 yards. That's not acceptable if you're Kansas State playing the '71 Sooner wishbone.

"Just definitely outcoached us and outplayed us, more physical, more disciplined in all parts of the game,” Stoops said. "Very disappointing to finish the season this way and after such a solid year to come out and play as we did.”

More BCS nonsense: OU had 13 penalties, for 113 yards. "Embarrassing,” Stoops called it.
Good word for the whole night.

This BCS bugaboo is getting big. USC 55-19 in the Orange Bowl; the overtime loss to little Boise State, when Petersen's late-game tricks commandeered the game; now this runaway, in which West Virginia had 526 total yards with 9:21 left in the game, then called off the dogs.

"Not very positive,” said Stoops, who admitted to growing tired of hearing about OU's BCS streak. "You get to this position ... you need to finish out and play well in these games.”

The Sooners not long ago were post-season darlings. Now they can't win in January.

Their coach, who once was Mister January, did them no favors in this Fiesta.

Since 2003, When Oklahoma lost the Sugar Bowl to Marcus Spears, Stephen Peterman, and LSU, here is what Stoops and the Sooners have done in the Bowl games:

1/4/04 – Sugar Bowl, LSU, Loss, 21-14
1/4/05 – Orange Bowl, USC, Loss, 55-19
12/29/05 – Holiday Bowl, Oregon, Win, 17-14
1/1/07 – Fiesta Bowl, Boise State, Loss, 43-42
1/2/08 – Fiesta Bowl, West Virginia, Loss, 48-28

Ouch. I know Bob Stoops is a genius, and handles every situation properly, and basically is everything you want in a coach…and more, but wow. 1-4, with a Holiday Bowl win? Not the best run of form in the Stoops era. You also don’t want to yield 43 or more, 3 times in 4 bowls, I would guess.

As we prepare for the NFL playoff weekend, I did want to make sure you know all about my football leader. Pat Kirwan is a smart, solid, and under-rated NFL scribe and broadcaster who teaches me something everytime I give him a chance. I think he is flat out money, and I want to share his page with you so that you can enjoy him, too.

Kirwan’s page

Here he shows that 65% of the NFC #1 seeds in the NFC since 1990 have made the Super Bowl

Dolphins fire Cam Cameron …And it sure looks like the Cowboys are about to get raided some more.

Parcells is there, Jeff Ireland is now there, Steve Hoffman and George Edwards are still there, and soon, new head coach Tony Sparano? Or, is it Jason Garrett? And then which Cowboys free agents will it be?

It's one and done for Cam Cameron after newly hired General Manager Jeff Ireland fired the first-year coach and all but two members of his coaching staff Thursday morning.

Evidently, Cameron and new vice president of football operations Bill Parcells' mutual friendship with iconic college basketball coach Bobby Knight wasn't enough to save Cameron from becoming the first Dolphins coach to be fired in 37 years or since George Wilson was replaced by Don Shula after the 1969 season. Jim Bates wasn't retained after serving as interim coach for the final seven games of the 2004 season.

Under Cameron, the Dolphins became the eighth team in NFL history to finish 1-15, by far the worst season in franchise history. They lost their first 13 games before edging the Ravens 22-16 in overtime. The team also has missed the playoffs six consecutive seasons, a franchise record
The two coaches who have been retained are assistant special teams coach Steve Hoffman and linebackers coach George Edwards.

According to the team, some of Cameron's assistants who were let go might be rehired by the new coach.

Cameron is the 19th first-year coach to not return for a second season, with the last being Bobby Petrino, who resigned from the Falcons after 13 games this season.

Cameron's firing means the team will have its fifth coach in five seasons.

A frontrunner for the coaching vacancy is Cowboys assistant head coach Tony Sparano, who will interview for the Falcons' job on Friday.

Dirk shows up big …and so do the centers. See, Avery? Sometimes you play your big man against them. It worked for Utah, and it might have worked for you. I enjoy how Dampier’s shoulder gets worse and worse as we look back at last April. I could have sworn that everyone said he was fine, and that they just didn’t think it was a good matchup for him…

Dirk Nowitzki got something Wednesday night he could have used against the Warriors back in April. He got big-time help from his buddies.

Nowitzki, harshly criticized for the team's fade in last season's playoff loss, paced the Mavericks with an efficient 29 points, only one aspect of his dominating, all-around performance.

But his teammates' commitment to defense and attacking the rim at the other end, especially in the decisive fourth quarter, made all the difference in dispatching their nemesis 121-99 in front of 20,172 at American Airlines Center.

It didn't matter that the Warriors had played twice on the road since the Mavs last played on Saturday afternoon. This was about the Mavs enforcing their game and shifting the tide in what has been a strangely lopsided series for several seasons.
The victory snapped a four-game home skid to the Warriors in the regular season and put the Mavs up 2-0 on Golden State this season.

The Mavs never trailed in this one, but they found themselves in position to fail again in a spectacular way to Don Nelson's free-wheeling team. The Warriors sliced an 18-point second-quarter deficit to three points three times in the third quarter and trailed 89-85 heading into the fourth.

"Overall, everybody saw it as an opportunity to step up and play better and I think we did it," said Mavs forward Josh Howard, who finished with 19 points, scoring 13 in the first quarter, and a game-high 13 rebounds. "There was nothing that was said except, 'play defense.'"

The Mavs won the final period 32-14, using an opening 11-0 run that included consecutive three-point plays by Jason Terry and Howard -- part of 46 points in the paint -- followed by a Howard 3-pointer. They held a team that averages 108.5 points a game to three field goals and 18.8 percent shooting in the quarter, while forcing six turnovers. Nowitzki had consecutive blocks on Stephen Jackson to emphatically put the game away.

Jackson, the Mavs' killer in the playoffs, scored 25 points, but Eddie Jones and Howard limited him to 8-of-21 shooting. Baron Davis had just 10 points, a dozen below his average, and six assists.

"We were really sharp defensively," Nowitzki said. "We rotated well and tried to keep the ball out of Baron Davis' hands and contest their jumpers."

Six Mavs scored in double figures. Erick Dampier followed up his 12-point, 10-rebound game Saturday with 13 and seven against the Warriors, a team whose small lineup used to make coach Avery Johnson think twice about even using his big center.
Dampier and Brandon Bass, rebounding from not playing at all Saturday, combined for 25 points and 18 rebounds. Bass, with 12 points and 11 rebounds, recorded his second career double-double, both this season and both against the Warriors.

Stars get steamrolled in Detroit

The Stars were already missing three of their better players in Jere Lehtinen, Philippe Boucher and Jussi Jokinen, and then saw Sergei Zubov suffer a hand injury Monday.

That meant Dallas had to face the Detroit Red Wings with a lineup filled with rookies and role players in the intimidating confines of Joe Louis Arena.

Yet, the bottom half of the lineup pushed up and gave the Stars a solid effort. It was the top half that foundered in a 4-1 loss to the Red Wings.

"We had lots of guys trying hard, lots of young guys trying hard," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "But the people who had the ability to make an impact on the game – they didn't have an impact."

The top line of Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro and Antti Miettinen was held off the scoresheet for the second consecutive game, mustering three shots on goal and finishing minus-5. Mike Modano had no shots on goal and went 3-for-9 in the face-off circle. And goalie Marty Turco allowed four goals on 26 shots and saw his record against the Wings fall to 1-9-5.

If the game against Detroit was a challenge, the Stars' best players fell way short of expectations.

"Certainly, leadership, myself – it needs to be better," Turco said. "Our whole system and game needs to be better. We talk about playing on that edge, and we're not even close to that edge."

The Stars have lost two in a row and played ragged in the last three. They still have one of the best records in the Western Conference at 23-14-4 (50 points), but their cushion is eroding.

The Stars get few schedule breaks, either, with a game tonight at Minnesota and a rematch with Detroit at home Saturday.

"That's what we need right now," Ribeiro said of the back-to-back games. "We need to go out and forget this game and play hard [against Minnesota]. We have to find a way to play harder."

Since Mike Ribeiro was acquired last October, here is a list of the games played by each of the Stars big scorers and their point totals:

Player – Games - Points
Ribeiro 119 - 102
Zubov 118 - 88
Morrow 81 - 70
Modano 100 - 68
Jokinen 120 - 68
Lehtinen 94 - 62
Boucher 104 - 62

What jumps out most here? Ribeiro running away with team lead? Morrow outscoring Modano in 19 fewer games? Jokinen equaling Modano with 20 more games? Or Boucher equaling Lehtinen?

Times, they are a changing. And with that in mind…


A strange rule in the collective bargaining agreement would not allow Mike Ribeiro, a potential unrestricted free agent who signed a one-year deal before the season started, to sign a contract extension with the Stars until Jan. 1.

So now, the Stars can officially sign him to a long-term deal.

Les Jackson, one of the Stars' co-general managers, said the Stars have already started negotiations with Ribeiro's agent, Don Meehan.

"We're talking, and things are moving forward," Jackson said. "We think things are very positive."

Winter Classic Numbers are in …And Hockey Wins!

More people tuned in on New Year's Day to see the NHL play outdoors than any other regular-season game in more than a decade.

The Penguins-Sabres game in snowy Buffalo -- the first regular-season outdoor NHL game in the United States -- drew a 2.6 overnight rating and a 5 share on NBC. Those were the best numbers since a six-game regional telecast on Fox drew a 3.0 overnight rating and a 7 share on Feb. 3, 1996.

Pittsburgh won 2-1 in a shootout on a Sidney Crosby's score before a crowd of more than 71,000 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The big numbers, in the stands and on TV, came three years after the NHL lockout forced the cancellation of an entire season and after last season's Stanley Cup finals on NBC drew record-low ratings.

"We're delighted by the success of this historic event," NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer said. "The Winter Classic exposed hockey to a larger audience and definitely made new fans of the game."

The Winter Classic ratings also surpassed Wayne Gretzky's final game, which was broadcast on Fox on April 18, 1999, and drew a 2.5/6.

The Buffalo and Pittsburgh markets led the ratings, at 38.2/58 and 17.7/30, respectively. But markets such as Sacramento, Calif., St. Louis and Denver also drew strong ratings, even though the game went up against a number of college football bowl games, including an intriguing Capital One Bowl between Florida and Michigan.

"This was one of the best events I've ever been a part of as a player, coach or broadcaster," NBC game analyst Eddie Olczyk said. "It truly was a memorable experience and a great day for the sport of hockey."

Great Re-cap of Winter Classic

Email from Vacation:

Dear Sports Sturm,

I know you're on vacation so I expect no prompt reply but wish to express my desire for more Liverpool related blogs. In what has already been a storied year with Torres goal scoring, Rafa v Hicks rows, and a nice string of wins to scrape into the 16 of the Champions League, I keep stopping by the blog to get your sporty sport views. I love the Mavs, Stars, Boys, and Rangers but would like a little more futbol talk.

loyal P1 justin


My brother was one of your interns, Ryan.

I played at Baylor when Shaun Rogers and Casey Hampton were the DTs. Unbelievable set of college DTs. Then they also had Corey Redding as a DE. Shaun Rogers had a high-ankle sprain that he was playing through. A high ankle sprain is a painful and embarrassing injury, because you walk perfectly and can run in a straight line, so no one can see that you are necessarily injured, but any other type of movement and it is a terrible pain. So, basically Rogers was playing, but didn’t do much more than stand there and take up space. He would grab hold of the OG and C on a double-team and just hold everything up. He did not really rush the passer, instead he was there to clog the entire middle of the field. He was massive. I was 6’5—315lbs yet he dwarfed me.

The funny story is that on one pass protection play I got my hands up into his face/facemask. After the play he said, “Now #70, there was no need to get your hands up in facemask. That was uncalled for.” I told him that earlier he had given me a headslap, so he said, “Really? Sorry about that. We are cool then.” A very nonchalant remark from a huge DT. Almost regal. Then back to playing.

He kept playing and holding up the line of scrimmage. Huge man. He could be a run-stopper for years to come if he decides to.


You have got to be in turmoil now. Who do I root for the guy that I idolized in my youth or the guy they pay me to talk about. My question is, Where do you really want to be for the NFC Conference Game? I know it is not a fair question so I will ask you this, Brett or Tony? Remember that Jerry is Not looking to get this on air.

I respect your opinion (you are the only one besides Norm that talks Sports anymore) and you always impress a good opinion when you have something to say. So who
will it be?

Aggie Picks his nose

Office Hot in Here


Lance said...

Embarrassing night for Sooner. Big Game Bob? I think not.

As for the Fat Tuna raiding Dallas, Jason Garrett would be a fool to take the HC job there. He would have the Tuna's hand so far up his butt he'd never be able to make any coaching decisions on his own. I think Jason is wise enough to realize that and he'll politely decline even if the Tuna makes the offer.

Fake Sturm said...

Seeing OU suffer still makes me happy. Thanks for representing the Big 12 well, Sooner and Aggy. The Fighting Manginos still have a chance to salvage this thing.

Tony Soprano the next Dolphins coach? O!!

Andy D. said...

Guess who is the only winning bowl QB at OU in the last 5 years???

Right!! Somewhere, Rhett Bomar is smiling (and driving a pre-owned, new sports car).

OU. You are killing me.