The 2000 Sooners had the echo of cartoon nemesis Howard Schnellenberger. Identifying the current Lex Luthor of Sooner Nation requires little imagination.
Mr. Monday appreciates young genius Eli Lederman weaving the tale of the parallels between this year’s Oklahoma football team and the living legends of the 2000 National Champs.
Allow Mr. Monday to add one more similarity to the list.
A villain. An evil ex-boyfriend. A saboteur.
In 2000, the shadow of that figure wasn’t as long but still lingered in conversations that people had in hushed tones. Mr. Monday isn’t talking about John Blake. Blake was a loyal Sooner and try-hard. He wasn’t trying to transform OU fundamentally. He was just looking for anything that worked and watching as much of it blew up in his face.
No, Mr. Monday refers to the distant echo of cartoon nemesis Howard Schnellenberger in 2000 and the current Lex Luthor of Sooner Nation, Lincoln Riley.
Of course, Schnelly was much more Boss Hogg than Darth Vader, but during his season-long debacle, he attempted to reshape the Sooners program into his image, Benny, Bud and Barry be damned.
Riley threw a similar egotistical hand grenade into the OU system with his departure and subsequent looting of the roster. The way he handled himself, crafting the fairy tale around his departure. (Who doesn’t decide in a couple of hours an emotional Bedlam loss to move their family across the country after a call with a potential employer?) Let’s face it: Riley had been back-channeling the USC HR department while playing lip service to OU fans (and telling tales of Norman bogeymen after the fact).
The result of Riley’s heel turn has been Oklahomans actively and enthusiastically rooting for USC to lose. That happened Saturday against Notre Dame as the Irish knocked the Trojans off their palomino and into the playoff gutter.
At the same time, OU has been riding high, fresh off Texas. The Sooners are big box office now, while Hollywood Lincoln is fumbling around trying to keep his stories straight and his defense of Alex Grinch believable.
Mr. Monday thinks it couldn’t have been scripted better for OU, just like the storybook year of 2000, when the Sooners rode a retread quarterback, a scrappy defense and a freshly minted coordinating genius turned head coach into history.
This year’s OU team is putting together its lineup of underdogs, oddballs, superheroes and movie moments that can add up to an Oscar-winning finish.
Making sure they have a bad guy crackling and smirking while he orbits overhead in the Death Star only adds to the depth of the drama and the triumph of the final moments. Hasta la vista, Lincoln. You could have been a contender. But instead, how about these apples?