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Remember the Sonics! is introducing a new feature called Guest Space. Any reader is welcome to submit their own work for consideration, as long as it falls within the realm of sports history, analysis, projections, etc.

The Guest Space premiere article is from Brian Hodges, an Oklahoma native and avid Oklahoma State Cowboys fan.

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I know it may be heresy to write about Oklahoma City sports on a blog named Remember the Sonics, but please hear me out.

Oklahoma City has never been known as a breeding ground for top-notch athletes. While Hall of Fame athletes like Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench, and Steve Largent were born and/or raised in Oklahoma City, their time of greatness has long passed. Since then, Oklahomans have been forced to find pride in gymnasts such as Bart Conner and Shannon Miller… And who really cares about gymnastics?

Despite a long run of mediocrity, the past year has been freakishly good for Oklahoma City sports. For example, in the last calendar year players from Oklahoma City hoisted the Heisman Trophy (awarded to the best player in college football) and the Naismith Trophy (awarded to the best player in college basketball).

Here are a few Oklahoma City athletes who had outstanding accomplishments last season:

Sam Bradford – Football – Oklahoma Sooners QB

QB Sam Bradford

QB Sam Bradford

In only his sophomore year, quarterback Sam Bradford led the Oklahoma Sooners to a BCS National Championship. Throwing for over 4,700 yards and 50 touchdowns earned him the Davey O’Brien Award (awarded to the best quarterback in college football) and the most prestigious award in college football, the Heisman Trophy.

At the conclusion of this year’s college football season, Bradford was considered one of the top prospects for the 2009 NFL Draft. Instead of turning pro, however, he decided to return to Oklahoma for his junior year.

Sam Bradford’s 2008 College Football Resume

  • Led Oklahoma to a 12-1 Regular Season Record
  • Won the Big 12 Conference Championship
  • Earned a BCS National Championship Bid
  • Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year
  • AP First Team All-American
  • AP College Football Player of the Year
  • Sporting News Player of the Year
  • Sammy Baugh Trophy Winner
  • Davey O’Brien Award Winner
  • Heisman Trophy Winner

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Blake Griffin – Basketball – Oklahoma Sooners PF/C

griffin

PF/C Blake Griffin

In his sophomore year, Blake Griffin led Oklahoma to the Elite Eight. Griffin owned college basketball this season, averaging 22.7 Points Per Game and an NCAA-Best 14.4 Rebounds Per Game while recording 30 double-doubles. He won every legitimate “Player of the Year” trophy in 2009 and is universally projected as the No.1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

Blake Griffin’s 2008-09 College Basketball Resume

  • Led Oklahoma to a 27-4 Regular Season Record and an Elite Eight Appearance
  • Big 12 Player of the Year
  • Adolph Rupp Award Winner
  • Oscar Robertson Trophy Winner
  • AP First Team All-American
  • Sports Illustrated Player of the Year
  • Sporting News Player of the Year
  • AP College Basketball Player of the Year
  • John Wooden Award Winner
  • Too Many Other POTY Awards to List

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Xavier Henry – Basketball – Putnam City High School SG

xavier

SG Xavier Henry

Oklahoma City’s athletic success carried over to the high school ranks as well.

Xavier Henry, from my alma mater Putnam City High School, was the No.1 ranked college basketball prospect by ESPNU for most last season. He is still considered a top 10 prospect by every major recruiting website.

The 6’6” shooting guard committed to Memphis but is now considering other options since head coach John Calipari accepted the head coaching position at Kentucky. According to various sources, he has narrowed his list to Kansas, Memphis and the now-Calipari-led Kentucky Wildcats.

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Oklahoma City Thunder – NBA Franchise – Established in 2008

Most sports fans know how the Oklahoma City Thunder came to be, but most (former) Seattle Sonics fans are unaware of the Thunder’s impact on it’s new city. 2008 will always be remembered as the year that Oklahoma City finally received a major professional sports team.

While the Thunder struggled through its first season in Oklahoma City, it has a strong young corps of players led by superstar Kevin Durant. The Thunder will have a lottery pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, and have an outside chance at winning the No.1 Pick and adding local icon Blake Griffin to their roster.

Despite this season’s failure, the OKC Thunder are quickly becoming a stylish pick among NBA writers for the “team of the future.” The only question is when the Thunder can put it all together and produce a winning season.

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While the three athletes mentioned above are still very young, their potential is limitless. It is yet to be seen whether they will follow former Oklahoma City football star Brian Bosworth by turning into one of the biggest flops in the sports history or follow one of the Hall of Fame athletes mentioned before and become a legend.

Regardless of where they go from here, their futures are bright.

Oklahoma City sports fans should live it up while they can, because I don’t see Okies winning both the Heisman and the Naismith awards again any time soon.

-BH-

Brian Hodges can be reached at bhodges@harding.edu

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Uncle Sam Says "Fourth Place is for Canada!"

Uncle Sam Says "4th Place is for Canada!"

Not everyone likes the BCS. In fact, nearly everyone hates the BCS. While the BCS is a better system then its predecessor, it leaves much desired in terms of deciding the best team in college football. I have been involved in many discussions aimed at solving the BCS dilemma, and there are a variety of solutions that all seem feasible. Change seems inprobable though, as a plethora of inter-conference agreements and business contracts stand in the way of any alteration to the current system.

That argument is for another day. This article is to discuss ways in which the BCS is advancing. While I was shocked to read the following article, it intrigued me to see that the BCS is expanding its area of influence.

The author of this article was not attached to the site I found it on, but whoever it is gained my respect.

After determining the Big-12 championship game participants, the BCS computers were put to work on other major contests and today the BCS declared Germany to be the winner of World War II.

“Germany put together an incredible number of victories beginning with the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland and continuing on into conference play with defeats of Poland, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. Their only losses came against the US and Russia; however considering their entire body of work–including an incredibly tough Strength of Schedule–our computers deemed them worthy of the #1 ranking.”

Questioned about the #4 ranking of the United States the BCS commissioner stated “The US only had two major victories–Japan and Germany. The computer models, unlike humans, aren’t influenced by head-to-head contests–they consider each contest to be only a single, equally-weighted event.”

German Chancellor Adolf Hitler said “Yes, we lost to the US; but we defeated #2 ranked France in only 6 weeks.” Herr Hitler has been criticized for seeking dramatic victories to earn ‘style points’ to enhance Germany’s rankings. Hitler protested “Our contest with Poland was in doubt until the final day and the conditions in Norway were incredibly challenging and demanded the application of additional forces.”

The French ranking has also come under scrutiny. The BCS commented ” France had a single loss against Germany and following a preseason #1 ranking they only fell to #2.”

Japan was ranked #3 with victories including Manchuria, Borneo and the Philippines.

I had a good laugh at the United States fourth place finish…

sk.

[my apologies to mike gundy]

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This was originally going to be a comment posted on a previous article. However, i ended up wasting too much time on it and decided to give it featured space.

When evaluating the strengths of major football conferences, one game cannot tell everything you need to know. in the wake of a Florida national championship, it has been widely accepted that the SEC established their dominance in college football this year. However, there are still dissenters to this conclusion (Anthony this isn’t aimed at you, I’m aware that you never held this opinion…publicly).

This Kid Understands

This Kid Understands

That being said, I believe that the SEC was a better conference than the big12 in every measure this year. Their play throughout the year and especially a stellar bowl season set them on a level above the Big12.

For further analysis, lets go hypothetical. Since this will never be determined on the field (with this years teams at least), we have to predict what would happen if the conferences squared off…

Lets say we lined up the SEC and the Big12 in a heads-up series, with each team facing their conference counterpart in terms of overall record. Here is the slate of games in reverse order of final standings:

Note: the rankings were determined on overall W-L percentage before bowl games. this allows teams that had a great season but took a bowl loss (e.g. Oklahoma) to maintain the position they held most of the year. additionally, a team may be moved up or down a position to match a team that they actually played in their bowl (e.g. tech v. ole miss)


Maxi-Tampon BowlBoise, ID

  • Iowa State (2-10) v. Mississippi State (4-8)

Great Value Douche Bag Bowl – Bentonville, AR

  • Baylor (4-8) v. Tennessee (5-7)

Trojan Rough-Riders BowlTampa, FL

  • Texas A&M (4-8) v. Arkansas (5-7)

Febreze BowlOklahoma City, OK

  • Kansas State (5-7) v. Auburn (5-7)

Oprah Magazine BowlPhoenix, AZ

  • Colorado (5-7) v. Vanderbilt (6-6)

Charmin Ultra-Soft BowlAtlanta, GA

  • Kansas (7-5) v. Kentucky (6-6)

Maxim.com BowlLas Vegas, NV

  • Nebraska (8-4) v. LSU (7-5)

Barack Obama BowlChicago, IL

  • Missouri (9-4) v. South Carolina (7-5)

Revenge of the Nerds Collector’s Edition DVD BowlMiami, FL

  • Oklahoma State (9-3) v. Georgia (9-3)

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia BowlSan Diego, CA

  • Texas Tech (11-1) v. Ole Miss (8-4) —SETTLED

Meineke Car Care BowlCharlotte, NC

  • Texas (11-1) v. Alabama (11-1)

Holiday Inn Express Tournament ChampionshipDallas, TX

  • Oklahoma (12-1) v. Florida (12-1) —SETTLED

My Scorecard: SEC Wins 9 Games – Mississippi State, Tennessee, Arkansas, Auburn, Vanderbilt, LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, Florida. Big12 Wins 3 Games – Kansas, Missouri, Texas

Comment to criticize, react, and offer your own scorecards of how this series would play out.

Gotta love the hypotheticals…

sk.

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    The Little Twelve?

    Yesterday a friend in one of my fantasy leagues said something trying to get a response out of those of us (most in this league) that are from the Midwest and are fans of the Big 12: “I’m pissed off that no one will acknowledge that the Little 12 is far inferior to the SEC” he so sweetly exclaimed.   After a brief cooling off period and some reflection on what it really meant to be the ‘best conference’ in the nation an internal conclusion was reached.  The answer: a complete season.

    My sentiments exactly Sam.

    My sentiments exactly.

    Yes the Big 12 was and deserved to be the unanimous choice for best conference during the regular season, but a 4-3 mark by the conference in the most important games of the year, with the unstoppable South division of the group going 1-3 just won’t cut the mustard.  And yes, for all you mathematicians out there the little brother of the division went 3-0 with wins by Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.  To be fair the Northwestern’s, Minnesota’s and even the Clemson’s (this year) aren’t even in the same ballpark, and a win in OT by Mizzou and 5 point win by Nebraska means the conference I hold so dear was very close to a 2-5 turnout.  Heck, even Texas, one of the biggest brothers barely pulled out a win over a team many thought they would demolish in hopes of claiming a split national championship.

    It will be okay, the concession stand didn't really run out of nachos.

    It's okay...the concession stand didn't really run out of nachos.

    Alas, (my eyes nearly not trusting what they see appearing on the screen before them) the Big 12 doesn’t deserve the title of the best conference.  Not yet.  Until you can beat a middle of the pack SEC team in a near home game when you were supposed to be the team that was one game shy of the national championship?  Thank goodness they didn’t make it.  If you want to see the definition of no defense look no further than Lubbock, had they prevailed in the mid-November game in Norman they’d have embarrassed the conference against the Gators down in the title game.  The SEC remains strong as the best damn conference in the land, love it or hate it, you have to respect it, at least until somebody proves different for an entire season.

    -asm

    My apologies to Les Miles.

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    Nic Harris tackles Percy Harvin

    Nic Harris tackles Percy Harvin

    Maybe Nic Harris was right. After watching the Oklahoma defense hopelessly try to catch up with Percy Harvin I am absolutely convinced that he spoke the truth about Oklahoma’s gameplan. When reporters asked Harris, a senior safety for Oklahoma, how  his defense planned to stop Florida scatback Percy Harvin, he explained, “As far as [the Oklahoma defense is] concerned, he is just another player.” Apparently the Oklahoma defense prepared for the BCS Championship Game with this in mind.

    Harvin finished the night with only 14 touches, but damned if he didn’t make them count. He totaled 171 yards of total offense (122 rushing, 42 receiving) and one touchdown.  To make matters worse, Harris drew considerable scrutiny for a fourth quarter tackle on (none other than) Percy Harvin. Instead of releasing Harvin once he hit on the ground, Harris pulled violently on Harvin’s legs, seemingly aggravating Harvin’s existing ankle injury. Not much came from the incident, but Harris’ motives are still unclear. Maybe it was unintentional because in his mind he was tackling “just another receiver.”

    Harris should consider a career as an NFL Defensive Coordinator… as long he sticks to his principles. Never forget that Peyton Manning is “just another quarterback,” Adrian Peterson is “just another running back,” and Brian Westbrook is a complete non-factor.

    Some day he might look back and laugh. Or not.

    sk.

     

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    Florida LB Brandon Spikes

    Florida LB Brandon Spikes

    Does this statement sting a little? It sure does if you’re a fan of the team down in Norman.  After weeks of debating the final tally has been counted and although my opinion was wrong, the old adage rings true: defense wins championships.  After a year in which those of us in Big 12 country saw so many 50 point games like they were old hat, the crystal ball is awarded to the one team that could finally do what my mom likes to scream at the television during our beloved team’s defensive attempts… “stop somebody!”  And stop them the boys from Florida did.  14 points from what was and in all likelihood will still be heralded as the most potent offense in the history of college football.

    This isn’t an attempt to take anything away from the king of the swamp, but Mr. Tebow, who I believe ESPN covers enough that no other outlet should ever have to talk about, is not the main reason the folks down in Gainesville will be chomping until their arms fall off.  No, every knee should bow at the performance turned in by the defensive side of the team in orange and blue, led by All-American linebacker Brandon Spikes (pictured to the right).  14 points?  If I had been offered a bet of any size by my colleagues here at RTS I would have taken it in a heartbeat, thankfully one was not offered or I’d be trying to find someone to lend me a shirt, a kitchen sink… you get the picture.

    Finally a team showed up that could play man coverage on wide-outs without getting beat deep, a team that could blitz and not worry about the risk of the big play behind them, a group that could hit someone so bad their backup felt it, a team that… could play defense.  I love the Big 12, and, although after a poor bowl record might say otherwise, I still believe they were the best conference this year, but the best team resides down in the Sunshine State.  What a show from the defense, and what a well deserved title for the Gators.

    -asm

    My apologies to Les Miles.

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