Archive for the ‘daily oklahoman’ Category

With Murray, Believe it When You See It

June 16, 2009

Turf toes. Kneecaps. Hamstrings. It seems like there has been no shortage of DeMarco Murray‘s body parts conspiring to keep him out of the OU lineup.

The past two seasons, an assortment of maladies have prevented the junior running back from finishing the season with the Sooners. Most recently, surgery on his hamstring knocked Murray out of the BCS title game against Florida earlier this year. However, in an interview published in today’s Daily Oklahoman, Murray declared himself “100 percent” for the upcoming season, stating that he has no hesitations about his health.

Obviously, Homerism likes what he’s hearing from the Sooners’ talented runner. I’d caution OU fans about getting their hopes up too quickly, though.

Similar assurances were given heading into last season. Murray put up outstanding numbers, going over 1,000 yards rushing while scoring a total of 18 touchdowns. Yet, anyone who compared Number 7 of 2008 with the dynamic tailback we saw out on the field in 2007 could tell something was holding him back. Something about the way Murray ran just seemed off–not as much burst, less authority, missing his breakaway speed. His yards per carry, a good measure of explosiveness, dipped slightly from 6.0 in ’07 to 5.6 in ’08. Overall, the stats remained stellar, but his play suggested he had yet to fully shake off the lingering effects of knee surgery.

The ultimate proof came in the ’08 Red River Shootout, when the Longhorn defense bottled Murray for six yards on seven carries. It was a far cry from the electric performance Murray gave in ’07, when he went for almost 130 yards on 17 attempts, an average of 7.5 yards per carry. His first RRS appearance also produced an exhilarating third quarter touchdown run that proved to be the turning point in the game. The second time around against UT, Murray looked like a shell of his gamebreaking former self.

Murray did appear to be coming around as the ’08 season wore on. He eventually began to break off long runs, such as his 70-yard touchdown gallop versus Texas A&M. He showed off some receiving skills that were missing in his first season, catching 31 balls for 395 yards and four TDs. Also, Murray proved to be a more powerful back in short yardage than Homerism expected.

That’s all well and good, but the Sooners need a playmaker in the backfield. Especially with OU’s losses at wide receiver. As good as Murray’s running mate Chris Brown is, he’s a move-the-chains back. Murray has to be a home run hitter. After another offseason rehabbing, let’s hope he really gets his swing back.

An Ugly Take on Athletes’ Ugly Behavior

May 13, 2009

Up to now, Homerism has tried to steer clear of the Justin Chaisson issue until the situation had reached some kind of resolution. Until I read Daily Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel’s twisted take on the predicament, that is.

(I’m not going to waste time rehashing the particulars of Chaisson’s plight, but, obviously, it presents a thorny problem for OU coach Bob Stoops and the University of Oklahoma administration.)

If you’re looking for a good indicator of the column’s overall lameness, Tramel uses a dated allusion to Father Flanagan throughout the article, likening Stoops–or at least Stoops’ aspirations–to the saintly priest known for his work with wayward youths.
Anyway, as best I can tell, Tramel reckons big-time football coaches like Stoops believe they can put troubled recruits back on a righteous path by offering them structure and discipline. In other words, it’s just a matter of changing their environment. He points to ex-Sooner recruit Josh Jarboe and Oklahoma State standout Adarius Bowman as examples of kids from troubled homes sent to D-I Boys Town with a chance to turn it around.
To Tramel, however, Chaisson is a different case from Jarboe and Bowman, because his problem is clearly a deep-seated issue of “anger management.” It’s a flawed part of his DNA that likely requires years of therapy to address. Therefore, Tramel concludes, Chaisson presents a bigger risk.
Where to begin?

Maybe it just happens to be a matter of coincidence, but I read Tramel’s column as a tacit endorsement of a shallow stereotype that seems to have been pulled out of Crash or some other hackneyed junk masquerading as pseudo-social commentary playing on Starz over the weekend. Namely, white guys like Chaisson know better than to have screwed up so badly; they have some distinct character deficiency and are an aberration to their species. Black kids, on the other hand, are just too dumb or unrefined to be expected to live up to the expectations of civilized society. Either that, or the parents–strongly implying “welfare princess single moms”–raising these children just aren’t capable of teaching them right from wrong.
Granted, Chaisson is alleged to have assaulted and kidnapped his girlfriend before driving her to the desert and threatening to kill her. The violent nature of the charges certainly is disturbing. Is it really so different from Jarboe carrying a pistol onto high school grounds, though? What, pray tell, did Jarboe need that firearm for? Had he decided to take a detour through the school en route to the firing range? (Note, by the way, that Tramel neglects to mention Jarboe’s latest troubles since leaving OU.)
Conversely, couldn’t it be that Chaisson is the product of his environment, a juiced-up meathead whose background taught him to settle his problems in the manner that he did? Steroids kinda being a hot button these days and all.
White or black, nature or nurture; people screw up. It happens for any number of reasons. It shouldn’t make a difference in how Stoops addresses off-the-field transgressions. Yet, in Tramel’s world, somehow it does.
Jarboe’s dismissal set the precedent for just how “zero” Stoops’ zero-tolerance policy is supposed to be in such cases. Whatever his reasoning, let’s hope he applies an equal standard to Chaisson. And let’s hope that standard doesn’t rest on the same kind of offensive nature-nurture presumptions that appear to underpin Tramel’s analysis.