As camp is set to get underway in less than a month the only expectation for Oklahoma football is to get better. This is a program that plays for championships on a regular basis and anything less is not accepted. While a winning record, a win over your top rival, and a bowl appearance is enough to get you by at some programs, it gets longtime coaches fired and the entire staff restructured at Oklahoma when an 8-5 record might as well be 5-8.
Yet somehow all is a bit quiet on the plains as the hope is that the Sooners can manage a rebound year in 2015. A new offense brings the expectation of either a new quarterback or a vastly improved old one. A bowling ball for a running back gives hope not everything is a fresh start with the offense as Samaje Perine looks to build on his legacy following a record-setting freshman campaign.
Defensively Oklahoma has to improve and, again, the expectation is that they will. Eric Striker anchors a stout group of linebackers and Zack Sanchez is the household name, in Sooner Nation, when it comes to a secondary that will either key the Sooner defensive revival or cause it to crumble.
It's been a long time since preseason talk around Central Oklahoma was focused on just getting better. It's been a while since conference championships and national title hopes didn't dominate the radio, water cooler, and television discussion. TCU and Baylor are the big dogs now. They're the preseason favorites, they're the ones with the big targets on their backs and the chips on their shoulders after the Big 12 dropped the ball on getting them into the first ever playoff.
Yet when the preseason All-Conference team came out on Wednesday there was Oklahoma right in the thick of it again. With five selections the Sooners tied TCU with the second most players selected and both were just behind Baylor who had seven. Perhaps Oklahoma is right where they need to be as far as expectations go. The all conference selections show that at least the media thinks there's still a lot of talent on this roster...yet it'll be Baylor and TCU that will get the most coverage at next week's media days. So perhaps that puts Bob Stoops in a really good spot, you know, the one where no one sees them coming.
I don't know how the conference is going to play out this fall and neither do you. What we do know is that Oklahoma has to get better and in doing so they may just find themselves back where they've been eight other times since 1999, at the top of the conference standings. Samaje Perine, Sterling Shepard, Alex Ross, Eric Striker, and Zack Sanchez (Oklahoma's Preseason All-Conference selections) are some pretty good building blocks for a championship caliber team if OU could just get a little better in the positions that surround them.