I had a chance to talk to ESPN college basketball analysts Jay Bilas and Digger Phelps during a conference call Tuesday. I asked them about the Sooners’ propects for the season and whether Kelvin Sampson should have been fired after his latest violations. By the way, Phelps, a former Notre Dame coach, was still in morning over the Irish football team’s triple-overtime loss to Navy — the Midshipmen’s first victory over the Irish in 44 years.
Jay Bilas: I think they (the Sooners) are going to be pretty good. Blake Griffin is the real thing. He is going to be a horse for them. Even though he is a freshman, I think he is going to come in there and really be an impact player in the league. They did very well on their foreign trip. I think they are on an upward trend. I happen to know Jeff Capel pretty well and think very highly of him as a coach and think he is doing a really good job of sort of building back up in the matter in which he sees fit, which I think is going to serve Oklahoma really well.
Digger Phelps: You go through a season as a coach like Jeff Capel did last year, going 16-15 and 6-10 in the conference, those kids know that, and there are so many games you lose close, whether at home or on the road. You say, “We’ve got to get it going.” What happens is once you get that one win on the road, and team confidence builds — and Jeff Capel has been a winner wherever he has been, including as a college player, so I see where Oklahoma can now make a move forward. When you look past Kansas, I really think the Big 12 is going to have a lot of things happen. Texas is still good, Texas A&M may be good. I think by February when you’re in the middle of conference play, you’re going to see a team like Oklahoma really start to shine and make some wins happen. I think that’s what so great about that conference, plus the conference tournament: They’re going to end up with five teams from that conference getting in the NCAA tournament. Yet when you look at the overall picture, as good as Kansas is, it’s up for grabs whoever is going to be the second, third and fourth teams.
Should Sampson have been fired by Indiana University after the latest telephone call infractions?
Bilas: I don’t get into the whole should a guy be hired or fired thing. I think whatever a university decides is their business. I do think the phone call thing is a little bit overblown. I don’t condone anybody breaking any rule any time for any reason, but the only thing I will say is we seem to beat up on the penny ante stuff that we catch. That’s fine. I understand that. The truth is the folks that are out there really violating this rule are using untraceable cell phones, like they are using a completely different cell phone that doesn’t get paid by the university, calling cards, phones at the airport, things like that. That stuff has gone on all the time. That doesn’t excuse it, but it explains in the landscape of recruiting, there is a lot more going on.
More A.D. coverage: If you’re like me and can’t get enough of record-breaking rookie Adrian Peterson, KOKH-25 has picked up the Minnesota at Green Bay game at noon Sunday, dropping Philadelphia at Washington. Oklahoma fans are jumping on the A.D. bandwagon as KWTV-9’s San Diego-Minnesota telecast Sunday — in which Peterson romped for a league-record 296 yards — drew a 9.9 rating, double the 5.0 rating for Green Bay-Kansas City game at the same time on KOKH-25.
Network analysts are gushing about Peterson. Said Cris Collinsworth on NBC’s “Football Night in America,” referring to fellow NBC analysts Tiki Barber and Jerome Bettis: “I have a new standard for if a running back is good. If Tiki and “The Bus” are jumping up and down,he is a legitimate superstar in the league.”