Taking the long view, yesterday’s news that Oklahoma must “vacate” all its wins from the 2005 season was pretty tame stuff. Sure, OU fans are pissed at the NCAA for throwing egg on their face, but there’s simply not much substance to the NCAA’s sanctions. The loss of two scholarships won’t mean much: OU has already signed more
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than anyone besides USC. Two more years’ probation won’t do much to damage the Sooners’ reputation, since OU football will still be on TV next year and the team can still play in the post-season.
Most of the online buzz about the sanctions concerns the NCAA’s attempts to rewrite history. OU won a meager eight games in 2005, but, according the committee’s report, “any public reference to these vacated contests, including the bowl game won during this time, shall be removed from athletics departments stationary, banners displayed in public areas and any other forum in which they appear.” Message boards are lit up with outraged fans. Bloggers are calling for similar penalties for USC and Alabama.
The main culprit, golden boy quarterback Rhett Bomar, is gone. Once touted as the second coming of John Elway, Bomar is now toiling away in Huntsville, trying to win a starting job with the I-AA Sam Houston St. Bearkcats next season. Bomar’s big crime was clocking into a job at a car dealership and then leaving, returning only to clock out later in the day. Bottom line, this is small beer compared to OU football in the 1980s, when quarterback Charles Thompson was convicted of dealing cocaine. The Switzer years were, as Sports Illustrated said at the time, “sordid.” One football player shot another and there were three charges of rape. OU was lucky to escape the NCAA’s “death penalty”—banishment of the football program. The late 1980s in Oklahoma felt like the apocalypse. This feels like the morning of January 1, 2000: a big sigh of relief for what didn’t happen. -- Russell Cobb