The Norman Transcript

June 1, 2009

For Sooners, '08-'09 a year of almost


By Clay Horning

Mark down the season that was Sooner everything a fine one.

Several programs moved forward and precious few moved back. Even in the one still kicking, track and field, identifying success is not hard.

Just don’t mark it down as magical.

Magical doesn’t require a national championship, but it does require just a little more from so many programs across the board.

It’s more observation that judgment, but nonetheless clear. For Oklahoma, the school year ending has been one of almost.

The football team doesn’t have to win it all to attain magic in any season but the one it plays for it all. It must, though, win a BCS game after four, now, four straight losses.

Sherri Coale’s women’s basketball team didn’t have to win a national championship as Courtney Paris was so inclined to insist, but it had to play for one.

Not because only the Sooners on a lightning-hot shooting night had a chance to derail Connecticut’s perfection. Instead, because even on a cold-shooting night they were the better team on any floor, just as long as it was Louisville on the other bench.

Jeff Capel’s Sooners had to reach the Final Four. In just three seasons he’s guided the program to a level nobody dared demand so quickly and one his predecessor only reached after eight, yet as March approached, many believed OU had no peer. Consider Capel a victim of his own sudden success.

Sonny Golloway’s baseball team had to go to Omaha, because there’s only one magical place in the college game. The Sooners had a great regular season, yet clearly finished things too soon. They thought they were World Series worthy, but nobody reaches Rosenblatt without starting pitching or a lineup, no matter how dangerous, that can be all but no-hit on the season’s last day.

Patty Gasso’s small-diamond Sooners had another one of those seasons she has to be tired of. Harsh enough is the fact OU’s missed five straight World Series after reaching five straight. Doubly harsh is the fact that this program has never been the same since Jennifer Stewart pitched her last game.

It remains a pitcher’s game and if Gasso can’t find one magnificent arm to ride and ride and ride, she must find two or three she really, really, really likes. But for the last two seasons it’s been D.J. Mathis and a prayer. And next season, even she’ll be gone.

Even Jack Spates’ mat Sooners enjoyed their finest regular season in many a moon before falling apart when the trophies began to be handed out. Spates’ squad didn’t finish a step or two short of anything magical, but that’s not the test facing his program. Nor is that test Bedlam, in which the Sooners achieved a split. The next step for Sooner wrestling is catching up to Iowa State, Nebraska and Missouri.

It is likely a quirk of fate, this past nine months.

Not a single Sooner coach is riding spellbindingly high these days, even while, program for program, the athletic department may not remember a time it was in better shape.

Maybe it was a magical year for somebody.

Heck of a job, Joe C.

Clay Horning