NORMAN — Jayden Gibson made the most impressive play in Oklahoma’s 69-45 victory over TCU Friday when he finished a 59-yard touchdown by dragging Horned Frogs safety Mark Perry into the end zone.
Then, two hours later, Gibson did something much more important. He offered a lesson in perspective.
Any chance that if the Big 12 race doesn’t go your way this weekend, he was asked, you’ll regret those two near misses at Kansas and Oklahoma State?
“I mean, losses always hurt,” Gibson said. “But at the end of the day, I’m not gonna sit in bed and think, ‘Man, we could have gone to the Big 12 if we did this, this, this and this.’ Losses happen, wins happen. As long as we stay together as a team.
“I think that’s the most important thing. We finished the season as a team. I feel like last year we were kind of broken up at the end because we had so many losses. It was like, ‘Man.’ My biggest thing this year is I’ll consider it a successful season if we just finish the season together. Finish the season together and strong-minded.”
There is a tendency to see this OU team, think about all that went wrong in Lawrence and Stillwater, realize all the Sooners can do right during any given game, and figure it must kill them watching Texas play Texas Tech and OSU play BYU with more control over their Big 12 destinies than the Sooners have.
There is a tendency to see the Sooners potentially miss out on this opportunity, pending Texas’, OSU’s and Kansas State’s results this weekend, and wonder if they’ll have championship windows as open against Georgia and Alabama in the SEC.
Gallery: OU’s 69-45 win over TCU in pictures
I wondered where “regret” would fit into Friday’s postgame comments.
I should have wondered if “regret” would even apply.
“No, I don’t think so,” Billy Bowman said. “We’ll have a bowl game to play and get that 11th win.”
“No sir, not at all,” Woodi Washington said. “I feel like we played a great year. If it doesn’t fall our way, that’s just the plan that God had for us.”
If this was a question of spirit, the Sooners had their answer.
“Whether that was disappointed or mad about what happened several weeks ago, I don’t sit here and throw it in the players’ face right now. We did that already…And the coaches’ face,” Brent Venables said of the Kansas and OSU setbacks. “Learn from it. Get better from it. Move on and don’t let that beat us again or define us. It’s a chapter in a book. You got a whole book. That’s one. And it’s an important one.
“But I believe in God’s will and I believe in eyes forward.”
Rewind to Gibson’s comments about going backward.
We get so consumed by the present, whether that’s a dropped kickoff at KU one week or two botched snaps in Bedlam the next, or more recently the half-baked protocol for a conference tiebreaker, that it’s easy to forget about how much the past can inform us.
“At the end of the day, 6-and-7 to 10 wins, bro,” Gibson said in reference to the Sooners’ 2022 record and their 2023 accomplishment as of Friday. “It would have been nice if it could have been 12 for sure. But at the end of the day, I’m grateful. We went through a lot.”
They sure did, both last season and this.
“We lost two games in a row and people thought it was gonna be over with,” Gibson said. “‘We’re gonna lose the rest of our games’ and all this stuff you see on social media. And we overcame all of that, man, and finished our season strong.”
Helps to understand why Gibson went to a Rod Wave concert Friday night instead of watching Texas-Texas Tech, or why he planned on sleeping Saturday instead of tuning into OSU-BYU.
Other Sooners said they would watch. R Mason Thomas admitted he’d probably be antsy hoping for a helpful loss.
McKade Mettauer admitted regret might creep in if those losses never materialized, saying: “We could easily be one or two plays from being undefeated. But yeah, you can’t look back now. We’re just hoping the chips fall in our favor.”
Venables vowed he’d have his team ready if the chips fell right, but had as much use for “woe is us” if they didn’t as he had for missed tackles against the Horned Frogs Friday.
“I don’t live like that. We’ll get what we’ve earned and what’s done is done,” he asserted. “We’ve learned from it. And I’ll use this moment — this season and those moments — to teach. We already have. To teach and learn.”
Maybe OU’s 2023 championship shot came and went.
Maybe that has certain Sooner fans spitting leftover bits of turkey and profanities equally as they watch Texas and OSU the rest of this weekend.
Maybe others are scared Georgia and Alabama aren’t liable to play as nice as TCU, Baylor, Colorado or Nebraska did in past Big 12 championship games that OU won.
Just don’t go bothering the Sooners about that.
Gibson kept referencing the season’s 10 wins and got around to the day’s 69 points and how much it all means to his team given the team’s journey, and said it about as well as it could be said eventually: “I feel like everyone should have nothing to be sad about.”