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John Rohde comes to Tyler Media after 26 1/2 years with The Oklahoman, during which he served as a columnist and beat writer. Voted Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year five times, Rohde has covered OU football and basketball, the Oklahoma City Thunder, OKC/New Orleans Hornets, Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, the Final Four, Masters and PGA Tour.

Second Westbrook surgery adds to Thunder anxiety

All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook on Tuesday underwent a second operation on his right knee and is expected to miss the first 4-6 weeks of the regular season. This gives anxious Thunder fans time to think things through before his return. Read more...

OU's Irish eyes are smiling

Bob Stoops’ smiling face revealed the truth after Saturday’s 35-21 victory at Notre Dame. Read more...

This college team leaving others green with envy

This team became the first in BCS history (1996-present) to score 28-plus points in the first quarter in three straight games. Read more...

Stoops needs to heed his own words

Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops – as he is prone to do – threw some jabs at the media following Saturday’s 51-20 rout over Tulsa in Norman.

Redshirt junior quarterback Blake Bell had just thrown for more yards than any OU player in his first career start, completing 27 of 37 passes for 413 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Suffice to say, Bell will start the Sooners’ next game when they play at Notre Dame on Sept. 28.

“Well, that’s pretty obvious, yeah,” Stoops said. “So much for your controversy … you can’t deny what he just went out there and did.”

Indeed, it is pretty obvious Bell should be the starter, which makes it equally obvious Stoops never should have named Trevor Knight as such.

Stoops is the one who created this controversy, tabbing Knight over Bell. Outsiders had no clue what kind of passer Bell was. Before Saturday, Bell had 24 career touchdowns, but just 26 career pass attempts.

And, no, we can’t deny what Bell "just did out there," so neither can Stoops.

Bell’s scintillating performance left everyone wondering how in the world Knight beat out Bell.

When Stoops named Knight as starter before opening against Louisiana-Monroe, passing ability was thought to be the determining factor. As an optioneer, Knight shows promise. As a passer, not so much, completing 21 of 48 (.438) for 205 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions in seven quarters of play. Knight’s passing efficiency is 94.6. Bell’s is roughly twice that at 188.6.

Based on Stoops’ selection, we can assume Knight is a much better practice player than he is a gamer. Hey, these things happen. Some players practice better than they play. Maybe it’s nerves. Maybe it’s the stage. Maybe it’s the opponent.

Knight is a terrific kid and teammate. When Bell replaced him in the fourth quarter against West Virginia, Knight was the first person to congratulate Bell on the sideline after a scoring drive.

Credit Sooners offensive coordinator Josh Heupel for a plan of attack that seemed to surprise the Golden Hurricane. Heading into the game, Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said this year’s OU offense had a “spit in your hands” run approach rather than the pocket attack that featured Landry Jones, Sam Bradford, Jason White, at al.

Four touchdowns and 413 yards later …

Most of us expected the Sooners to play smash mouth against Tulsa and run the ball 60 times with Bell at the point. Heupel’s plan instead was roughly a 50/50 proposition with 44 rushes and 37 passes. Bell had 10 carries, but only kept the ball on two option plays.

Bell’s heroics injected some much-needed confidence into the OU offense. More important, it gives Notre Dame something to think about for two weeks. If Bell hadn’t gone off against Tulsa, the Fighting Irish would have been licking their chops at the thought of facing a run-only opponent at home.

If we’re to believe Stoops, his team’s passing prowess was always there, even with Knight. Has Stoops seen anything in the fall that would suggest Bell could throw for 400 yards? “Sure,” Stoops said. “I’ve seen that from our other quarterbacks, too.”

Asked after the Tulsa victory if his team was now reverting back to the passing game and moving away from the run offense it had shown the first two weeks, Stoops – as he also is prone to do – got snippy.

“No. We’re not,” Stoops said. “What are you complaining about? We had 600 yards, 51 points, no turnovers and we ate up the clock. What did we do wrong? What do you want to see? We’re going to mix, we’re going to choose what we run according to what defenses are out there and the personnel we have. If you noticed, their defense is not like what we had seen the last two weeks.”

Thing of it is, the Sooners appear to be much better equipped to do all these things with Bell at the helm rather than Knight, and Stoops should have realized this from the Read more...


Big 12 hoops boasts big talent at KU, OSU

There were modest preseason expectations for the Big 12 in football, but such is not the case in men’s basketball.

Oklahoma State was the preseason pick to win the conference in football, but was ranked at No. 13 nationally, by far the lowest preseason ranking for the Big 12 football favorite since the conference began in 1996. However, the Big 12 boasts two Top-10 teams, according two prominent publications.

Kansas is ranked No. 5 and OSU is No. 10 in the 2013-14 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. Meanwhile, The Sporting News has KU ranked No. 6 and OSU at No. 10.

Cowboys sophomore point guard Marcus Smart and Jayhawks freshman shooting guard Andrew Wiggins were first-team All-American selections by both publications.

In ESPN's 2014 NBA mock draft, KU has three freshmen expected to go in the first round with Wiggins at No. 1, center Joel Embiid at No. 10 and small forward Wayne Selden at No. 19. Smart is projected to be drafted at No. 3 and Baylor power forward Isaiah Austin at No. 20.

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Rohde on Sports (9/12/13)

"Rohde on Sports" at 6:40 a.m. Read more...

Rohde on Sports (9/11/13)

“Rohde on sports” at 6:40 a.m.

Obviously, there are some bitter former football players at Oklahoma State.

They got paid hundreds of dollars, sometimes thousands of dollars, for making big plays – big hits, recovering fumbles, interceptions. They used drugs and no one made them stop. They failed drugs tests and nothing ever happened. No matter how rarely they attended class or whatever grades they got, they were always eligible. They had Orange Pride hostesses at their beck and call.

For these disgruntled, spiteful, angry former players I have one very simple question: You got paid, smoked dope, blew off school work and got laid. … Why so bitter?

“Rohde on sports” at 7:40 a.m.

All this talk of Oklahoma State malfeasance, for whatever reason, has spawned Bedlam. OSU had a problem last decade, which predictably has led to OU references concerning the Sooners’ past problems.

And since Sports Illustrated is involved, the cover shot of former quarterback Charles Thompson wearing an orange jumpsuit has been mentioned. Twenty-five years later, Kendal Thompson, Charles’ son, has joined a three-legged race to become OU’s starting quarterback.

Charles Thompson overcame his past transgressions. He’s a much different man now, a much better man now. And indirectly, I’m guessing that’s why some people are pulling for Kendal to win the race.

"Rohde on Sports" at 8:40 a.m.

Texas A&M and Missouri left the Big 12 two years ago to join the SEC. There’s been plenty to notice about the Aggies – Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, a terrific team, a terrific coach in Kevin Sumlin. Umm, does anybody know whatever happened to Missouri? Anyone? Bueller?

Last year Missouri finished 5-7 overall and 2-6 in the SEC. This year, 12 of the SEC’s 14 teams are considered to be bowl candidates. Mizzou ain’t one of them.

This year’s Tigers are 2-0 with victories over Murray State and Toledo, but look for them to be 2-1 after Saturday. Next up, Indiana and former OU coach Kevin Wilson.

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Quarterbacks suffer (bad) breaks of the game

It's been a rough start to the season for college quarterbacks.

You can’t blame what happened on the pistol formation, the read option or the fast-break offense. The persistent tweaking of rules on how a person is permitted to tackle is not to blame. No player was “targeted.”

Hey, stuff happens, but what has transpired seems to be happening at a faster-than-normal rate, and several victims have been high-profile quarterbacks.

  • Ohio State’s Braxton Miller left with a knee injury during the opening drive against San Diego State on Saturday. Officially, he’s listed as day-to-day for this week’s game at California.

  • Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a horrifying leg injury in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 45-17 loss to Illinois. “You see freak injuries like that on TV all the time, but it’s different when it happens to your brother,” Bearcats running back Ralph Abernathy said.

  • TCU’s Casey Pachall had surgery and will miss eight weeks after suffering a forearm fracture to his left (non-throwing) arm against Southeastern Louisiana.

  • Texas quarterback David Ash left the BYU game in the fourth quarter Saturday night with an injured head and right shoulder. His status for this week’s game against Mississippi is uncertain.

  • Florida quarterback Jeff Driskell suffered a sprained knee in the second quarter of a 21-16 loss at Miami. He will keep weight off his leg during the team's open date this week and should be ready for the Gators’ home game against Tennessee on Sept. 21.

  • Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell, who suffered a concussion in the third quarter of a 21-3 loss against Oklahoma State on Aug. 31 in Houston, is expected to return Saturday against Auburn after missing last weekend’s 51-7 rout over Alcorn State.

  • Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight suffered a bruised knee late in the second quarter against West Virginia and will miss this week’s home game against Tulsa. He will be replaced by Blake Bell, who will be making his first start.

No telling which quarterback might go down this week. Hopefully, none. But every backup knows he is only one play away from an appearance. Just ask Bell.

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Elway and Baltimore: The trade that keeps on giving

It was May 2, 1983, and the Denver Nuggets were playing the San Antonio Spurs in a second-round playoff game. The Nuggets jumped out to a 72-50 halftime lead, but that wasn’t what had the crowd buzzing that night at McNichols Arena. Not even close.

During the game, word quickly spread that the Denver Broncos had worked a trade with the Baltimore Colts for the draft rights to Stanford quarterback John Elway, the No. 1 pick in that year’s NFL Draft.

When Elway refused to play in Baltimore, which was coming off an 0-8-1 record in the strike-shortened 1982 season, the Colts traded his rights to Denver in exchange for quarterback Mark Hermann, the rights to offensive tackle Chris Hinton (the No. 4 overall pick in the 1983 draft) and a first-round pick in the 1984 draft (offensive guard Ron Solt). Less than eight months later, the Colts made a shocking midnight move to Indianapolis.

Many consider this to be the No. 2 most-lopsided trade in sports history, trailing only financially strapped Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee selling Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1920 for $100,000, plus a $300,000 loan.

Five Super Bowls, two championships and 30 years later, the Elway deal is the trade that keeps on giving for the Broncos.

Elway now serves as the team’s vice president of football operations and was the primary reason Denver was able to lure free agent and future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning with a five-year, $96-million deal in 2012.

Elway, Manning and the Broncos open the 2013 NFL season Thursday night against the team that coincidentally hails from Baltimore in the defending world champion Ravens.

Denver wasn’t the only franchise trying to lure Elway away from the Colts. Some tidbits you might not know, many of which came to light last April in ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series “Elway to Marino”:

  • The Los Angeles Raiders tried to work a three-team trade that would have sent future Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long to the Chicago Bears and Elway to the Raiders. Owner Al Davis was convinced commissioner Pete Roselle conspired against the trade.

  • The Seattle Seahawks were interested in Elway, and vice versa. The Seahawks needed a quarterback and a running back and ultimately traded the No. 2 overall pick to the Los Angeles Rams in the three-team deal also involving the Houston Oilers to select Penn State running back Curt Warner at No. 3 rather than Eric Dickerson at No. 2. Thus, the Seahawks missed out on two future Hall of Famers.

  • Another future Hall of Famer, offensive guard John Hannah, headed a deal involving the New England Patriots in an effort to get Elway.

  • San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh, one year removed from winning Super Bowl XVI with Joe Montana, considered trading Montana to the Colts for Elway. Walsh, who had recruited Elway to Stanford, eventually nixed the deal. The Niners went on to win four more Super Bowls in the next 11 seasons.

  • Quarterback Danny White was part of a Dallas Cowboys deal to get Elway. White had played at Arizona State for Frank Kush, who was the Colts’ coach at the time.

  • The San Diego Chargers feigned interest in trading up to select Elway to dupe star quarterback Dan Fouts into re-signing. It worked.

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There appears to be no saving DeAndre Liggins

The NBA’s image has taken several hits lately.

Lamar Odom was arrested last week on suspicion of driving under the influence and friends fear he is battling drug abuse.

Former No. 2 pick Michael Beasley was released by the Phoenix Suns after being arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession.

Boston forward Jared Sullinger pleaded not guilty Tuesday to domestic violence-related charges after allegedly pinning his girlfriend to a bed and the floor.

Houston draft choice Royce White, who missed his rookie season due to mental health issues, reportedly is under criminal investigation after allegedly beating up his then-girlfriend.

New Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was arrested for driving under the influence just three months after getting hired and two months before coaching his first regular-season game.

Perhaps the most disturbing incident involves Thunder reserve guard DeAndre Liggins, who is accused of punching his girlfriend in front of the couple's 2-year-old son last Saturday, according to a probable cause affidavit revealed Tuesday in The Oklahoman.

According to the affidavit filed in Oklahoma County District Court, Liggins’ girlfriend, Jasmine Horton, said Liggins hit her in the head with his hand and punched her in the head when she fell to the floor.

After Horton locked herself in a bedroom, Liggins kicked in the door, pushed her down, dropped a fan on her, stomped on her with his foot and dropped an Xbox console on her head.

Horton had injuries on her arm and fingers, scratches on her back and bruising on her chest. She also told police the couple's 2-year-old son was in the room during the incident at their home.

Liggins was booked into jail on complaints of domestic assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and domestic abuse in the presence of a minor. He was released on $8,000 bail and has not been charged.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement: “We reiterate the serious nature of this issue. We’re awaiting further information and will have no further comment at this time.”

Liggins is easily expendable because he has a non-guaranteed contract this season for the league minimum ($884,293). It seems likely the Thunder will soon release Liggins due to the severity of the allegations, the type of criminal act and the negative light that’s been cast upon the organization.

There appears to be no saving Liggins, even if Horton refused to press charges and recanted her statement to police. Given the details in the affidavit and the injuries suffered, that would be a lot to recant.

If Liggins is convicted of felony charges, there’s a good chance he would never play in the NBA again. There are 16 players on the Thunder roster. Releasing Liggins would put OKC at the league maximum of 15.

In his debut season with the Thunder last year, the 25-year-old Liggins averaged 7.4 minutes, 1.5 points and 1.4 rebounds in 39 games.

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