By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Nobody’s here to rain on Oklahoma’s signing day parade, so we’ll make this one little point quickly.
Even though the Sooners added a bunch of recruits to their signing day take after taking down Alabama at the Sugar Bowl and even though the recruiting gurus have graded them out as having the best class in the Big 12 and even though nobody decries the over-the-top hoopla of National Signing Day — when nobody has any real idea how any of these classes will eventually perform — more than me, once there was a day the Sooner Nation wouldn’t have been so pleased with landing what others judged to be the No. 15 (Rivals.com), No. 13 (ESPN), No. 13 (Scout) and No. 14 (247 Sports) recruiting class in the nation.
Instead, it would have wondered why OU can’t land a top-10 or top-five class.
Anyway, it seems like something to remember, that the Sooners aren’t necessarily back to living the football life they led the first five or six seasons of the new millennium.
On the other hand, they might.
That is the takeaway not only from National Signing Day, but from everything that’s happened to the program since the moment it found out the Crimson Tide would be waiting for it inside the Superdome.
It began with the embrace of the opportunity the Big Easy afforded, which had all kinds of things to do with shocking Alabama 45-31. After that, immediately, the program itself, the Sooner Nation and a college football nation began looking at OU in a different light, as a program not trying desperately to hold on to elite status but as one primed to have a lot to say about the next couple or three national championship races.
That segued into a National Signing Day that may not have absolutely harkened back to Bob Stoops’ Norman salad days, even as it provided a narrative that may well be close enough.
A couple of things about that.
One, when Stoops and his assistants have all of their mojo, it may not matter that OU didn’t land a top-five class. Because, under Stoops, though you have to go back a bit, the Sooners have a real tradition of finding guys who only set the world on fire after arriving in Norman. Three quarterbacks come to mind, though it’s hardly limited to one position. Also, given what OU’s potential signing day class looked like the first day of the new year, the fact the Sooners over-performed is meaningful, too.
At the very least strong momentum is sustained. At most, a self-fulfilling prophecy of everything coming up roses is now in place simply because everybody inside the program believes that it will.
Finally, even a simple and seemingly small thing like Blake Bell agreeing to move to tight end is further proof of so many things headed the right direction.
Not 10 weeks ago, OU appeared to have a glut of quarterbacks that nobody was very excited about with still more on the way.
Since, Trevor Knight has stepped forward — as did Bell, frankly, at Bedlam — Kendal Thompson has transferred and Bell, in an unselfish move, has embraced the possibility of giving the Sooners a real threat at a position that’s all but died on the roster.
There’s no quarterback controversy, and if Cody Thomas is called upon to relieve a nicked up Knight next season and fails to perform, Bell will still be available to save the day the way he did in Stillwater.
And, something else that’s worth remembering, when all the little dramas and subplots come to good ends, so much more room is created for the big dramas and primary plots to work out, too.
Can the Sooners go win, or play, for a national championship next season?
It hardly matters.
What matters is this program, which closed the regular season with four straight victories and three straight upsets that paved the way to turning the Tide, has no reason to believe that it can’t.
Everything seems possible again, only because it is.
Follow me @clayhorning
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