OU football: Officials, Lincoln Riley

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley yells at a referee during the game against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas, on Saturday.

NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma's making do even though it can’t jump into the NCAA open contact period that begins this week.

Sooner coaches can't hit the road in full force to visit prospects because of Big 12 championship game preparation. OU is an extra week behind than normal due to the season ending a week later this year. 

OU assistant athletic director of recruiting Annie Hanson made special note of that in a tweet reminding recruits that if they don’t hear from the Sooners this week, it’s because they’re gunning for a title.

It was a humble brag with reasoning behind it.

Lincoln Riley said OU petitioned the NCAA to recoup recruiting days for teams that lose them because of conference championship games, but it was voted down — presumably by teams who didn’t figure into their conferences championship race.

“I think we had support from 10 teams. Then 50 didn’t agree. Imagine that,” Riley said. “So yeah, it is, it’s challenging. It’s not good. It’s not good for the sport. It makes zero sense that you qualify for your championship game and you’re penalized at the most important recruiting point in the year. The positive is I think those players know why we’re not on the road as much. We’re going to be out bits and pieces this week.”

It leaves OU one full week to hit the road before the Dec. 18 national signing day, which Riley called “not ideal.”

• Redmond: Jalen Redmond is questionable for Saturday’s game (11 a.m., FOX) with an undisclosed medical issue unrelated to the blood clot episodes that kept him off the field for much of last season.

Redmond didn’t travel with the team to Oklahoma State last week after going into the game second on the team with seven tackles for loss.

The most promising news for Redmond is that it’s not a recurrence of the blood clots, which caused a scary situation for the redshirt freshman defensive tackle a year ago.

Riley called Redmond’s situation “totally unrelated to what he went through previously.”

• Baylor changes: Matt Rhule’s been pleased with how Baylor responded after blowing a 28-3 lead in its loss to OU last month. The Bears beat Texas then hammered Kansas 61-6 last week to close the regular season.

“That’s a Kansas team that was beating Iowa State the week before. That’s not 0-11 Kansas. That’s a team that beat Boston College, beat Texas Tech,” Rhule said. “To play the way we played I thought showed tremendous focus by our players.”

Baylor has shuffled its offensive line since playing the Sooners after an injury to center Jake Fruhmorgen, who was replaced by left guard Tecklenburg against Kansas. But the Bears are now healthy ahead of Saturday’s game.

Quarterback Charlie Brewer had been battling an injury, but played against KU and spent plenty of time resting with a big lead.

“Luckily for us we were able to keep Charlie out of the game in the second half, keep Denzel [Mims] on the bench in the second half, the D-line on the bench in second half. We’re full go,” Rhule said.

• A whole new World: AT&T Stadium’s expansive look has been the site of OU’s past two Big 12 title celebrations. It was also the building that housed OU quarterback Jalen Hurts’ collegiate debut when he was at Alabama.

The Crimson Tide handed USC the program’s worst season-opening loss, 52-6.

“My first game being there. That's about it,” Hurts said. “I can't get you some fairy-tale emotional story or about it or something.”

Playing at the Dallas Cowboys’ palace, also known as Jerry World, is still special for players even though native Texans on the roster are now being exposed to it in high school. The stadium has hosted the University Interscholastic League state title games since 2016.

“It’s cool,” OU linebacker Kenneth Murray said. “It’s my third time going down there. Every time I go down there I kind of take it in a little bit. It’s always special driving up to because it’s so big.”

OU’s built up a streak of four consecutive championships. The Sooners last clinched at least five straight titles when winning the Big 8 from 1972 (Chuck Fairbanks) to 1980 (Barry Switzer).

“I think the biggest thing is just focusing on us and just going down there and playing a complete game,” Murray said of the narrative that no class wants to be the one to break OU’s streak. “But definitely it is especially [in focus], given this program's ability to win four in a row and competing for five now.”

• This, that: Parnell Motley earned Big 12 defensive player of the week after forcing two fumbles, recovering one, intercepting a pass and totaling six tackles (five unassisted) against OSU on Saturday. … Alex Grinch missed the cut as a finalist for the Broyles Award (nation’s best assistant coach). Fifteen semifinalists were whittled to Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Snow, Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning, LSU passing game coordinator/receivers Joe Brady and Ohio State co-defensive coordinator/secondary coach Jeff Hafley. … A limited number of student tickets for the Big 12 championship will go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m. They’re available at http://bit.ly/38156V2.


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