Oklahoma cornerback D.J. Graham delivered a candidate for interception of the year Saturday in the team’s rivalry game against Nebraska.
With the Cornhuskers going for it on 4th and 18, Graham reached up for a one-handed interception and managed to hang on as he fell for a highlight-reel play.
Does it matter that this ended up costing Oklahoma yards, since an incompletion would have given them the ball anyway? Absolutely not. The play was too cool to ignore.
It’s not often you see defensive backs reeling in balls like that. It’s even notable when it happens at the NFL level, so Graham may have a bright future ahead of him.
On July 1, student-athletes earned the right to be compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL) for the first time ever.
It didn’t take long before college players started cashing in and earlier this week, Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler joined them.
After throwing a career-high five touchdowns in a in a 76-0 beatdown of Western Carolina last week, Rattler was given two brand new vehicles — a 2021 Dodge Ram TRX and a 2021 Dodge Charger Scat Pack — from Fowler Automotive Group, who are based out of Norman, Oklahoma. They also have locations in Oklahoma City, Healdton and Randlett.
“Being QB1 for one of the best football programs in the country is hard work but all the hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed,” Fowler Automotive said in a statement Twitter. “Fowler Automotive wanted to find a way to keep our boy Spencer Rattler comfortable, when he is driving to and from practice, and even though there is only one Spencer, having just one car wasn’t going to be enough, so we went big with two vehicles.
“We are proud and excited to announce our support of Spencer during the 21′ season and we can’t wait to watch all the exciting things he is going to do on the field this year. Welcome to the Fowler Auto!”
The two vehicles from Fowler Automotive aren’t Rattler’s only NIH cash-in. He’s also developed his own logo, opened an online shop and signed a deal with Raising Cane’s. He also sends out customized videos via Cameo.
But the 20-year-old Rattler isn’t keeping everything for himself. He is using his NIL deals and income to help “underserved communities.”
“We as players must use our platform and this new NIL opportunity to do good in the world,” Rattler wrote on Twitter. “I will donate a part of my earnings I receive to help underserved people and underserved communities. The time is now.”
On Saturday, Rattler and the Sooners host the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
It has been widely reported that Texas and Oklahoma are planning to leave the Big 12 to join the SEC, and the two schools have now all but confirmed that publicly.
On Monday, Texas and Oklahoma issued a joint statement announcing they have notified the Big 12 that they will not extend their grant of media rights beyond 2025, which is when the current deal expires. While the statement did not explicitly say the two schools will leave the conference, the message is clear.
That may sound like it places an official date on when Texas and Oklahoma will leave the Big 12. However, USA Today’s Dan Wolken notes that the schools have a legal obligation to honor the grant of rights through 2025, but they could explore ways to leave the Big 12 sooner.
The Big 12 will have little relevance nationally when Texas and Oklahoma leave. That is why the conference is reportedly considering merging with another Power Five conference. Either way, a major shakeup is coming in college athletics.
The strongest athletic conference in college sports appears to be on the verge of getting even stronger, as momentum continues to build toward Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC.
Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman reported on Friday that Texas and Oklahoma moving from the Big 12 to the SEC is “almost done.” An announcement could be made as early as next week. Bohls also noted that talks about the move began roughly six months ago, and Texas A&M has not been a part of them.
It was first reported on Wednesday that Texas and Oklahoma were looking to join the SEC. One theory is that Texas A&M officials may have leaked the story hoping that political forces and fans would push back against the conference shakeup and potentially scuttle it.
As of now, Texas A&M is the only school from Texas in the SEC. That gives the Aggies a major advantage with recruiting. Adding the Longhorns to the conference has the potential to set Texas A&M back significantly.
It sounds like Texas A&M is going to have to deal with it. While having Texas in the same conference could be an obstacle for the Aggies, we know who the biggest losers will be if and when the shakeup becomes official.
The SEC has already pulled ahead of the pack when it comes to athletic dominance in many prominent college sports. They generally have the best teams, most resources, and best fan support in football, baseball and softball, among other sports. Other conferences have competitive programs of course, and none of this means every school in the SEC is better than all schools elsewhere. But on the whole, the SEC is the big leagues compared to other conferences.
Two of the programs that could match up with the SEC in terms of competitiveness across sports, resources, and fan support, are Texas and Oklahoma. Those schools appear poised to leave the Big 12 for the SEC.
Not only would that further cement the SEC as the most prominent conference in major college athletics, but it would completely weaken the Big 12, making that conference nearly irrelevant.
Texas and Oklahoma are the power schools in the Big 12, especially in football. The conference already was down to 10 teams after four left last decade. They will be down to eight schools if Texas and Oklahoma leave:
– Iowa State
– Kansas State
– Oklahoma State
– Texas Tech
– West Virginia
TCU and West Virginia were recent additions to the conference after Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M left. They might be able to easily leave given their lack of long ties to the conference. The more likely scenario would be the Big 12 hunting for other schools to fill the spots. Houston and SMU might be natural additions.
Oklahoma State and TCU have had good football programs for quite some time. Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas Tech and West Virginia have also had their moments in recent history. The conference would still have some decent football, but without Oklahoma and Texas, they would completely lack a national respect. They would be regarded as a second-tier conference that wouldn’t factor into the championship picture in college football.
A major conference shakeup could be coming in college sports, but Texas A&M may be trying to stand in the way of it happening.
The Houston Chronicle’s Brent Zwerneman reported on Wednesday that Texas and Oklahoma have reached out to the SEC about joining their conference. Zwerneman went as far as to say an announcement about the two schools moving to the SEC could come within the next few weeks. Now, some are wondering if Texas A&M may have planted the story.
Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports laid out some of the reasons Texas A&M would be motivated to pull back the curtain on talks of Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC. At the moment, Texas A&M is the only team from Texas in the country’s strongest football conference. They probably don’t want the Longhorns joining them. The logic is that Texas A&M may have leaked the story so that political forces and fans could push back against the conference shakeup and potentially scuttle it.
As Thamel notes, Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork was one of the few SEC ADs who attended SEC Media Days this week. Thamel wonders if that was a “convenient way to shine a spotlight on Texas’ reported conversations.”
Texas A&M currently has a monopoly on recruits who want to play football in both Texas and the SEC. That would change if the University of Texas joins the conference.
This is not the first time there has been talk of Texas and/or Oklahoma changing conferences. If the SEC added Texas and Oklahoma, they would go from 14 schools to 16 and would add to the strongest athletic conference in the country. That would, in theory, make it even tougher for Texas A&M to break through and contend. You can certainly see why the Aggies would be opposed to the idea.
Are college sports in for another major conference shakeup?
The Houston Chronicle’s Brent Zwerneman reported on Wednesday that Texas and Oklahoma have reached out to the SEC about joining their conference.
Zwerneman says that an announcement could come within the next few weeks about the power schools joining the powerful conference.
There has been talk for years about Texas and/or Oklahoma potentially joining other conferences. In 2010, both schools considered joining the Pac-12. It was at that time that Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big Ten. Missouri and Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC, while Colorado left the conference for the Pac-12.
Texas has remained with the Big 12, while creating the Longhorn Network TV channel. The Big 12 ended up adding TCU and West Virginia and dropping from 12 to 10 teams.
If the SEC added Texas and Oklahoma, they would go from 14 schools to 16, and would add to the strongest athletic conference in the country. The Longhorn Network might be in jeopardy if Texas joined the SEC, which already has the SEC Network. It’s also unclear whether the current members of the SEC would approve the additions.
The renewal of the Oklahoma-Nebraska football rivalry in 2021 has been surprisingly fraught with off-field tension, and that escalated again on Thursday.
Sooners athletic director Joe Castiglione took aim at FOX for scheduling the game for its “Big Noon Kickoff” telecast on Aug. 28. That means the game will be played at 11 a.m. local time, despite the efforts of Oklahoma to get the game played at a “more traditional time that would honor this game and our fans.”
It’s not exactly common that a school would take on a TV partner publicly over this, but it’s also understandable why FOX would want this game in its typical showcase window. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work as well for Central Time.
The game has been dramatic for a lot of reasons, none related to the rekindling of the long-standing rivalry. One school even confirmed it tried to back out of playing the contest, but ultimately failed to do so. Now that it’s officially on the schedule, there’s a new controversy. Who knows what more might happen in the three months to go before the game is scheduled?
Nebraska fans aren’t terribly happy after learning that the school tried to back out of a scheduled rivalry game with Oklahoma in 2021.
Under the terms of a deal agreed in 2012, the Cornhuskers are slated to travel to Norman to reignite their football rivalry against Oklahoma. The two schools have not played since the 2010 Big 12 Championship, the final game Nebraska played in the conference before moving to the Big Ten. However, reports surfaced that Nebraska was looking at ways to get out of playing the game in order to schedule another home game instead.
In a statement, Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos confirmed the reports, and tried to defend the efforts by citing pandemic-related revenue losses. Moos ultimately committed to playing the game in the statement.
“Ultimately, the decision was made to move forward with our game at Oklahoma in 2021,” Moos said in the statement. “We have the utmost respect for the University of Oklahoma, and this storied rivalry, and I know our fans have been excited about this series for a long time.”
Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione had previously weighed in on the reports by noting that the Sooners were very enthusiastic about playing the game, essentially making clear that any reservations were solely on Nebraska’s end.
It doesn’t really matter how legitimate or understandable Nebraska’s reasoning is. Their fans have been looking forward to this game for a decade. This is a rivalry that dates back a century and was once one of the most heated in the sport. The fans want to see it happen.
Nebraska’s coach talked about silencing the doubters in 2021. Maybe the team still will, but this isn’t really a great start from a PR perspective.
Oklahoma wide receiver Spencer Jones was involved in a physical altercation at a bar earlier this month, and the redshirt senior was left with a serious injury that required surgery.
A video surfaced on social media on Feb. 19 that claimed to show Jones getting into a fight in the bathroom of Norman’s Logies in an area near the Oklahoma campus known as Campus Corner. The video, which contains inappropriate language, showed a man punching Jones repeatedly following a verbal altercation.
According to a report from OU Daily, the fight took place on Saturday, Feb. 13. Woodrow “Woody” Glass, an attorney hired by Jones’ family, confirmed to OU Daily that Jones was the man in the video. He said the receiver underwent a four-hour operation on Feb. 16 that was performed by Dr. Perry Brooks in Norman, Okla.
“Dr. Brooks came out of that surgery saying he’s extraordinarily lucky at this point, that he’s lucky he didn’t lose the eye altogether,” Glass said. “And so he was able to do some things surgically to rebuild that orbital socket and thinks everything is eventually going to come back to normal, but it’s going to take a while for him to fully recover.”
Police are investigating the incident. OU Daily reached out to Norman Public Information about the investigation but was told there would not be any comment until Monday at the earliest. Glass insists Jones was “trying to deescalate that situation” before he “became the victim of this vicious assault you’ve seen.”
Jones was a walk-on at Liberty before transferring to Oklahoma in 2018. He played in all 11 games for the Sooners last year and won the Peter Mortell Holder of the Year Award, which is given to the best place holder in college football.
The Oklahoma athletic department said it is aware of the situation but offered no comment.