Happy Friday, friends and fans!
Earlier this week, the NCAA Division I Council ruled that all D-I student-athletes in football, and men and women’s basketball may return to their respective athletic facilities on campus for voluntary workouts beginning June 1. On Friday, Oklahoma Sooners AD Joe Castiglione spoke with OU radio’s Toby Rowland where he shared his thoughts on when his department plans to welcome back its players. OU’s public stance is that the timing in Norman will not be influenced by others around the Big 12 or beyond, but rather it’ll be largely determined by the opinions of local medical professionals.
I asked Joe C @soonerad if other schools start to open up for voluntary workouts in early June, does that put pressure on OU to move up its timeline to do the same? His response... @Sportstalk1400 pic.twitter.com/LeIGK2Dut5— Toby Rowland (@TRowOU) May 22, 2020
While this line of thinking may be frustrating for fans who want to see sports return in a capacity that’s at least next to normal, Castiglione’s line of thinking (or line of speaking) falls directly in line with Lincoln Riley’s, who has gone on record multiple times during this pandemic period about favoring a cautious, more methodical approach versus a hasty one that could result in risking the health of his team.
It would probably be naive to say that OU won’t be influenced — at least to some extent — by actions taken by other institutions. When one school makes a notable decision, it typically makes it much easier for other schools to go that way from a PR standpoint. Having said that, it’s easy to see why Castiglione or Riley would take this stance, and I also have no doubt that the university truly is doing its due diligence as far as precautions are concerned.
Rowland also asked Castiglione about when a decision regarding the start of football season would be made. Once again, the Sooners’ AD is taking a measured approach to this situation, and he doesn’t feel like such a decision needs to be determined until mid-July at the latest.
In a previous chat w/Joe C @soonerad he said in his opinion a decision would need to be made by early to mid-June if college football was going to start on time. I asked him today if he felt they were on track to make a decision on that timeline? His response... @Sportstalk1400 pic.twitter.com/BuodnKQnND— Toby Rowland (@TRowOU) May 22, 2020
Obviously the hope we all have is that these micro steps Oklahoma is taking today will pay off in the next couple of months and that the college football season isn’t delayed or suspended in any significant way. For now, OU will continue to wait and see before making any drastic moves, and the rest of us will have to practice patience.
Now onto this week’s Friday edition of Hot Links! The Jamar Cain hire continues to appreciate, CeeDee Lamb says he felt no pressure to pick his jersey number, Big Al dons a mask as per Nick Saban’s orders and more!
- On the recruiting front, things have very much been trending in the right direction for the Sooners. The latest positive development has involved four-star defensive end and current Notre Dame commit David Abiara, who is rumored to be rapidly drifting in the direction of Oklahoma. If OU can ultimately secure his signature in December/February, it would be a huge win for Calvin Thibodeaux.
- Check out the fifth episode of Oklahoma’s ‘OUDNA’ series, where DeMarco Murray sat down with a group of Sooners, roundtable-style. In this latest installment, the guys talked about what makes Lincoln Riley’s offensive mind so impressive from each of their perspectives.
- SI Sooners’ John Hoover wrote an insightful piece on OU DE/OLB coach Jamar Cain. While he’s yet to coach in a game for Oklahoma, he’s already proving himself valuable for his work on the recruiting trail. Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman worked with him when they were both at North Dakota State, and although he gives Cain a hard time for his poor barbecue skills, he has nothing but praise for the man’s football acumen.
- According to CeeDee Lamb himself, he felt no pressure from Jerry Jones to wear No. 88. Instead, he says he ultimately chose it after looking more into the history of the past great Dallas Cowboys receivers who wore it before him. I guess I buy that. Or maybe I don’t. I don’t know.
- The Tulsa World’s Eric Bailey recently wrote about former OU punter/kicker Austin Seibert and his drive for continued improvement as he enters his second season with the Cleveland Browns. As a rookie, Seibert was solid in his placekicking and kickoff duties, and going forward he intends to become even more reliable as a weapon on special teams.
- On Friday, returning OU men’s golf senior Garett Reband was named one of five finalists for the 2020 Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award. Boomer!
- Former Sooner OL Bobby Evans just completed his last semester of college, and he did so with a pristine 4.0 GPA. The third round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft is now entering year two with the Los Angles Rams.
- Don’t forget that voting for the Big 12 Male and Female Athletes of the Year begins this evening at 5 p.m. CT. Oklahoma fans can vote for QB Jalen Hurts and gymnast Maggie Nichols. Check here for more details and information.
Around the Sports World
- Later this month, NFL owners are set to vote on a dramatic rule implementation that could change the way the on-side kick strategy is handled. The proposed change would give teams the option to run a 4th and 15 play from their own 25-yard line instead of the conventional on-side kick. Honestly, I’m all for it. Anything to add more excitement to the game without putting any side of the ball at a serious disadvantage sounds good to me.
- New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft sold his Super Bowl LI championship ring at an auction for $1,025,000, with 100% of the proceeds going directly towards organizations that provide meals for those who need them most. That’s pretty awesome.
- Clemson Tigers WR Justyn Ross is scheduled to have surgery in early June for a stinger he’s been dealing with since earlier this spring. The junior led the team in receiving in 2019, and is expected to be heavily relied upon moving forward with the departure of Tee Higgins.
- Whenever college football coaches are called to flex their acting skills, it’s must-see TV (unless it’s Les Miles). Nick Saban has a PSA for Alabama Crimson Tide mascot ‘Big Al’ and college football fans everywhere.
- Jerry Sloan, the legendary 23-year head coach for the Utah Jazz, passed away Friday morning due to complications from Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer ranks third among head coaches in NBA history for total career wins with 1,221. He was 78.
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