The Norman Transcript

January 1, 2010

All's well that end's well


Remember where this team was not very long ago, coming off a 41-13 loss at Texas Tech, 6-5 on the season with maybe the best Oklahoma State team in a long time on its way to Owen Field, the offensive line already a shambles and all preseason dreams dashed.

Still, strangely, it will be the most satisfying Sooner offseason of recent memory.

It is the power of winning, the power of finishing strong, the power of turning the tables and the power of success, no matter how small.

The season was not successful.

Not really.

Yet the end of it was and sometimes that makes all the difference. Indeed, sometimes it means more than that, as it might have Thursday in El Paso, where the Sooners not only overcame all the old obstacles to get past Stanford 31-27, but several new ones, too.

Somebody, already, or in the days ahead, will talk about how OU's first bowl victory since the 2005 Holiday was a microcosm of the regular season and they'll be right about everything but the microcosm part, because it wasn't so much a microcosm of the season as it was the whole darn thing.

In a microcosm, maybe one more Sooner gets hurt. But Thursday in El Paso, a whole bunch of Sooners got hurt, even three on the defensive line.

Adrian Taylor suffered a grisly broken leg, Jeremy Beal sprained an ankle and Gerald McCoy endured a hip pointer. For a bit, Frank Alexander was the last starter standing (and he was only starting because Auston English broke his foot weeks ago). In the final moments, even Landry Jones was shaken up trying to run out the clock.

But as they have all season, the Sooners kept going. Not with absolute success, but with enough. Enough to inspire the adoration of their nation and, for the first time in a long time, on the last day of the season, enough to win.

The interception Jones threw was the height of bad decision-making and who knows what OU does with the offensive line next season, even if having Ben Habern and Brian Lepac back and healthy might is enough for line coach James Patton to celebrate.

Defensively, the Sooners weren't themselves until the second half and they're about to lose some great players. While we're thinking about it, is the kicking position even remotely settled?

Yet for every question mark still in play, winning makes everything all right. It is the power of overcoming, of perseverance.

People won't be talking about Jones' single awful throw, but about his throwing for 418 yards, even behind the patchiest of offensive lines.

About the line just has to get better, right? No way Bob Stoops and staff don't figure something out. As for the kicking, somebody's bound to step forward. And when you think about it, how bad can any coming season be as long as Ryan Broyles is on the team.

For the first time in a long time, for all the question marks, the feeling is nonetheless good heading into the offseason, signing day, spring drills and beyond.

Maybe it's all perception, but the power of perception is great. And maybe it's not. Maybe it's all very real. That was a bunch of young men, many coming back, who pulled a season and Thursday afternoon in El Paso out of the fire.

It counts.

Plenty.