Still Standing Alone: How Carroll's Departure Helped the Oklahoma Sooners

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Still Standing Alone: How Carroll's Departure Helped the Oklahoma Sooners
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

55-19. A score that Sooner fans will always remember.

With good reason—it was the final tally of the 2004 BCS national championship game between Oklahoma and USC. Four of the five players (Adrian Peterson, Jason White, Reggie Bush, Matt Leinhart) to take that event-filled trip to New York that year were in the game, and so were the last two Heisman winners (White, '03, Leinhart, '04).

After what looked like what might be an epic struggle for a crown, Southern Cal took control after trailing 7-0 early and never looked back. Trouncing the Sooners handily in what many still consider Oklahoma's worst showing in any bowl game, and Oklahoma has been in a lot of bowl games (43).

Behind it all, with his care-free, beach bum disposition, was Pete Carroll. Love him or hate him, you have to respect him. He "rebuilt Rome," resurrecting past glories in a way that any Sooner fan can appreciate.

Carroll recruited some of the greatest athletes to play the game, brought eight straight conference championships, claimed back-to-back titles, came one fourth down play away from a third in a row, and what would have most likely been anointed "the best team ever".  

So how did Pete Carroll help the Oklahoma Sooners by striking out for the Seattle Seahawks and another chance at NFL glory? By leaving with only a 97-19 record, that's how.

While any school loves to be the "best" or the "only" at something, Oklahoma holds several of those types of achievements—47 wins in a row ('54-'56), 702 points in a season ('08), record three punt returns in a game (Antonio Perkins '03), to name a few. No really, that's just a few.

Some Oklahoma fans may not know (they should) that one of the other records Big Red holds is one of the most impressive accomplishments in all of college football. Being the only school to have four, count them, four coaches to reach the 100-win plateau. 

*In order they are; Benjamin "Bennie" Gilbert Owen, 122-54-16 introduced the forward pass to OU and the southwest; Charles Burnham "Bud" Wilkinson, 145-29-4 didn't lose a conference game until his 79th conference contest; Barry Switzer, 157-29-4 had an NCAA fourth best career winning percentage at .837 percent; and Bob Stoops, 117-29 reclaimed Oklahoma's national prestige by just his second year.

Most fans that were aware of the OU record (and Carroll's) had figured that USC would join the Sooners and their lofty setting, and become the second team to have four 100-win coaches, with the Trojans having three coaches in the ranks already.                                                            

*In order they are: ; Howard Jones, 126-36-13 won all five Rose bowls he coached at USC; John McKay, 127-40-8 famously popularized the power running I-formation; John Robinson, 104-35-4 coached USC twice (1976-82 and 1993-97).

With 97 wins by Pete Carroll, USC came just about as close to joining OU in that regard as a program can. A little to close for comfort to some of the Sooner nation, but now they can rest easy. Because the Trojans may have come close, but now they have to start from scratch if they want to challenge the record again. That means time, lots of time. 

Carrol reached his remarkable record in just nine years, boasted an 81.6 percent winning percentage in conference (Pac-10 record), and had the second best overall winning percent of all FBS coaches (83.5 percent). Very towering numbers, and very unlikely to be duplicated no matter how moving you find Lane Kiffin or his father Monte Kiffin (mastermind of the famed Tampa-Two defense).

So, at least for the next decade, thanks in part to Pete Carroll, it seems that the Sooner nation will stand alone in one more area of the record books and have one more feat to point to and exclaim, "There's only one, Oklahoma!"

There may be one last present that good ol' Pete left for Oklahoma to declare. This one doesn't come by way of the record books, although these two may find themselves in the OU record books (if they choose to play in Norman).

Though nothing is solid here; the shake-up in L.A. has reportedly (http://scout.com ) caused a few recruits to reconsider other schools. Schools that had previously shown a lot of interest in them. Thanks to Bob Stoops fearless recruiting, Oklahoma was one of those schools. Looking at these two kids, you can see how they may alter how the 2010 version of the Sooners offense looks, and performs.

Kyle Prater, Ht: 6'5", Wt: 205, Rank: No. 2 (WR)

This tall talent out of Proviso West HS (Hillside, IL) is what Oklahoma needs. A tall, sure handed wide-out. This prospect hasn't attained such an outstanding rank for nothing. Kyle is a natural at looking the ball in, has a high football I.Q., and loves the spotlight. He really needs work at separating and ability to run after the catch. But that is not a strong knock on Prater, because he can simply out-jump a DB. A player with his skill set could really boost a team's red zone scoring percentage (something needed in Norman). Just put one up in the corner, and he will go get it. A game-changer in waiting.

 

Xavier Grimble, Ht: 6'6", Wt: 247, Rank: No. 1 (TE) 

This hulking athlete is not leaning away from USC, or towards OU, as much as Kyle Prater. But some believe that if he does, being from Bishop Gorman HS (Las Vegas, NV), he will give the Sooners an upper hand. Two former standouts from Bishop Gorman have recently set off for Norman (Demarco Murray, Ryan Reynolds).

Xavier could play most positions on the field, but since his junior year, he has loved the physical play of the TE spot. His power goes unmatched among the TE class, he handles blocks at a very high level. Grimble can also out-quick a LB, or smother a DB who happens to get stuck covering him—a defensive coordinator's nightmare. Unless the opposing team has an exceptional athlete or all-together defense, this prospect will run rampant on you. Oklahoma has a spot for this supreme athlete, and with his blocking skills, could use him now. As before though, nothing is close to solid, not even his chance to start.

Brice Schwab, Ht: 6'8" Wt: 320, Rank: No. 9  (OL-JUCO)

This giant will remind Sooner fans of another JUCO guy that paid off well for Oklahoma. While Brice wasn't "Mr. Basketball" like Phil Loadholt (OT for Minnesota) he has comparable size and skill. While Arizona and Arkansas may have the inside track (if he decides for sure to decommit), because they two school's have been interested from the start. But Stoops has turned his ever-watchful eye towards the big guy, according to Schwab Oklahoma has been "trying to get me out there (Norman,OK) for a visit." ( http://soonerscoop.com )

Good call. Big Red needs a tackle, and this stand-out is built for the position. Great reach and knows how to use his hands. Needs to work on turn-over speed, and all footwork generally. But has the power to help immediatly in the run game. Should he enroll at OU, Brice could become an instant starter. Which may prove to much to turn down. Come signing day (Feb. 3), the Sooners may have just landed another future NFL talent by way of Carrol's abrupt exit.  

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