In life, as in football, sometimes you just need a win. You need something to go your way. You need to catch a break. When it comes to recruiting at OU, that hasn't happened in quite some time. To be more accurate, it doesn't feel like it has happened in a long time. So when reports came in that much needed Juco transfer DT Quincy Russell had made it to campus after all, the excitement level seemed almost disproportionate. DL is one of the very hardest parts of the roster to get a new player in and ready. Unless he's been tearing himself apart working out on his own, Russell likely won't be game ready for two months.
We're still excited. At the time I wrote this, there was a 21 page thread at LandThieves.com which had devolved into equal parts brilliant and breathtakingly silly satire. The pessimism running rampant is perfectly understandable once you look at the recent batting average of OU with recruiting.
When Jalen Saunders transferred in, he was held out of the first 4 weeks of play because the NCAA had its collective cranium securely located in its rectum. As the year went on, it became more and more clear how valuable he could have been if he'd have been playing with the team from game 1. What changed in those four weeks for the NCAA? What was the holdup? Why couldn't we just catch a break? Why were OU fans so resigned to this outcome?
Look at the recruiting of Justin Manning. The kid's older brother, DeMarcus Granger, was an OU starter less than 5 years ago. He was a widely known OU fan. Yet it became clear early on that OU coaches didn't do their homework on Manning, and now he's enrolled at Texas A&M. An OU legacy, at a position of dire need, with a great relationship with the coaches..aaaannd he's off to Aggie Land.
Then there's the fascinating parallel of Reggie Bush and Johnny Manziel. After their respective teams laid enormous beatdowns on OU during postseason matchups, in both cases evidence rapidly mounted that they were breaking the rules, and that they had done so PRIOR to their matchups with OU. (Here, I use the term breaking the rules instead of "cheating" or "dirty" or "breaking bad" because with the first two terms it would imply a support for the NCAA amateurism racket, and applying the third term is no good because neither Manziel nor Reggie Bush could hold Walter White's tighty whitey's. Bryan Cranston is legit, folks.) It's becoming more and more clear that Manziel may get special treatment because of the sheer momentum running against the NCAA combined with the balls of the SEC when it comes to paying players (I'm looking at YOU, Cam Newton), and that's a crime when you look at how the NCAA railroaded Dez Bryant.
I could go on and on. Courtney Gardner, Smoke Patterson, Julio Jones...in the last few years, it just seems like if things are at a toss-up with a player, the safe bet is whatever will screw over OU.
This is why Sooner Nation is so insanely fired up about Quincy Russell making it to campus. Yes, DT is a position of dire need. Yes, Russell is an extremely talented player. Yes, Russell may end up being an extremely needed stop-gap later in the the season. I'll even concede that he might be in good enough condition to get significant playing time and make an impact from the first snap. It's just not likely to happen. It's more likely that he ends up needing until midseason before we can get 10-15 snaps a game out of him.
It's enough that we caught a break. FINALLY. A talented player we needed made it to campus. We caught a break. Soon enough, we will forget about it.
We so easily forget the breaks we do catch. I'm fully convinced that OU ends the season 8-5 if we don't have Justin Brown AND Jalen Saunders on the roster by the time we played. Neither of those guys would normally have been able to transfer over and play the following season without sitting a year. Thanks to a fortunate break for OU and an abhorrent tragedy at Penn State, both were available when they were needed. Make no mistake, both Brown and Saunders were desperately needed. The transfer tandem were OU's #1 and #2 receivers in the nail-biting stretch against Baylor, WVU, and OSU. Without both on the roster, we likely lose all three games. (On the bright side, we'd have probably won our bowl game against whatever sad bunch of cripples we played in the Insight or Independence Bowl.)
OU's last two BCS bowl wins were both largely products of good fortune. In the 2003 Rose Bowl, WSU's Mike Price left and took the Alabama job before the game, leaving his team rudderless and vulnerable to a strong OU defense. In 2010, we landed Connecticut as our BCS opponent. Not even Pharrell Williams gets that lucky.
But we won this one. We needed this win, and we got it. Hallelujah. Now...what has Tim Kish screwed up lately?