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The Lincoln Riley news overshadowed the College Football Playoff scenarios. Heck, that’s probably even true in Stillwater, where a rousing Bedlam victory was the surrey, and Riley’s departure from OU is the fringe on top.
But OSU finds itself in tall cotton. A Big 12 Championship Game date with Baylor, and a win in Arlington could propel the Cowboys into the four-team playoff.
Alabama’s comeback against Auburn, winning 24-22 in four overtimes, keeps the Crimson Tide alive and probably in the top three. And OSU might indeed be sixth in the penultimate playoff committee rankings, which will be released Tuesday night.
Heck, I suppose it’s feasible that OSU doesn’t rise at all. The committee loves itself some Ohio State. Maybe it keeps the Buckeyes ahead of the Cowboys.
But the real question for Oklahoma State is this. Should the Cowboys jump Notre Dame and/or Cincinnati?
It’s hard to compare résumés of OSU and Cincinnati. One is in a Power 5 Conference, the other is not. At least not yet. One is once-beaten, the other is unbeaten.
But the résumés of OSU and Notre Dame are easy to compare. Each is 11-1. Each played 10 games against fellow Power 5 teams. So let’s compare.
Records against ranked teams: OSU 2-0, Notre Dame 1-1. The Cowboys beat Baylor (ranked eighth last week) and OU (10th). The Fighting Irish lost to Cincinnati (fourth) and beat Wisconsin (14th). Advantage OSU.
Records against teams with winning records: OSU 4-1, Notre Dame 2-1. The Cowboys beat OU, Baylor, Kansas State and Boise State but lost to Iowa State. The Fighting Irish beat Wisconsin and Purdue but lost to Cincinnati. Advantage OSU.
Game control: OSU has five wins by single digits (23-16 over Missouri State, 28-23 over Tulsa, 21-20 over Boise State, 32-24 over Texas and 37-33 over OU), plus two wins that were two-possession games at the finish (Kansas State 31-20, Baylor 24-14). Notre Dame has three wins by single digits (41-38 over Florida State in overtime, 32-29 over Toledo and 32-29 over Virginia Tech), plus three more wins that were two-possession games at the finish (27-13 over Purdue, 44-34 over North Carolina and 31-16 over Southern Cal). OSU’s loss (24-21 to Iowa State) was tight. Notre Dame’s 24-13 loss to Cincinnati was somewhat one-sided. Advantage: even.
Strength of schedule: OSU’s schedule is ranked 38th out of 130 Division I-A opponents. Notre Dame’s schedule is ranked 50th. Advantage: OSU.
So by what measure should Notre Dame be ranked ahead of OSU this week? The Cowboys have the superior résumé.
And if OSU beats Baylor, then there’s no comparison at all. Notre Dame, an independent, does not play this week. Plus the Cowboys would have a conference championship, which Notre Dame will not have. If somehow Notre Dame stays ahead of OSU this week, no way should the Irish stay ahead of the Cowboys next week.
It seems likely that OSU eventually would jump Cincinnati, too. The Bearcats are 12-0 and host 11-1 Houston on Saturday in the American Conference Championship Game. But Cincy’s strength of schedule ranks 96th nationally.
In the traditional polls released Sunday, OSU jumped Notre Dame and into No. 5.
Add it all together, and the College Football Playoff looks quite possible for OSU, provided it can get past Baylor.
Here are the final Big 12 rankings of the season:
1. Oklahoma State (11-1, 8-1)
The Cowboys’ Bedlam was very much like the win over Texas, except OSU didn’t get down against UT. But the Longhorn offense was very good early, then got stuffed in its final six possessions. The OU offense had eight second-half possessions and scored zero points.
2. Baylor (10-2, 7-2)
That inexplicable loss to Texas Christian a few weeks ago is keeping the Bears from playoff contention.
3. Oklahoma (10-2, 7-2)
Lost Bedlam on Saturday. Lost Riley on Sunday. I don’t know which is injury and which is insult, but it doesn’t feel good either way.
4. Iowa State (7-5, 5-4)
The Cyclones finish fourth in the Big 12. What a rollercoaster season. Maybe a season that keeps Matt Campbell in Ames.
5. Kansas State (7-5, 4-5)
The Wildcats were 4-3 in conference with quarterback Skylar Thompson but 0-2 without him, losing relatively close games to OSU and Texas.
6. West Virginia (6-6, 4-5)
Nice rebound for the Mountaineers. Tying for fifth in the Big 12 and becoming bowl eligible seemed unlikely a few weeks ago.
7. Texas Tech (6-6, 3-6)
Interesting team. Beat Houston and Iowa State, dang near beat Baylor.
8. Texas (5-7, 3-6)
The Longhorns had a fine weekend, too. Ended their six-game losing streak and arch-rival Riley is headed for Hollywood.
9. Texas Christian (5-7, 3-6)
Wonder if Sonny Dykes turned down Texas Tech?
10. Kansas (2-10, 1-8)
Don’t look now, but KU coach Lance Leopold has been on the job for seven months, yet he ranks seventh out of 10 in Big 12 longevity.
Allie Reynolds back on Cooperstown ballot
Allie Reynolds has been dead almost 27 years. Reynolds retired from baseball 65 years ago. He long ago was dismissed as a candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
But somehow, Cooperstown refuses to let go of Reynolds’ legacy. The SuperChief from Capitol Hill High School, the workhorse pitcher on the great New York Yankee teams of the late 1940s and early 1950s, is back on the ballot.
The Early Baseball committee will vote on 10 nominees next week, for possible induction with the Hall’s 2022 class. Reynolds is one of the 10.
The Hall of Fame restructured its voting process in 2010. Before then, the Hall of Fame voting came via the Baseball Writers Association or the Veterans Committee.
With the writers association, 75 percent of votes were required for induction. Reynolds cracked the top 10 of voting three times but never got close to 75 percent -- 33.6 percent in 1968, 28.8 percent in 1969 and 30.6 percent in 1971. And the Veterans Committee never voted in Reynolds, though it often looked favorably on old Yankees.
In 2010, the Hall of Fame replaced the veterans committee with the Era Committee, which established three separate, 16-member voting electorates – Expansion Era (1973-present), Golden Era (1947-1972) and Pre-Integration Era (1876-1946). The three committees rotated each year.
Reynolds made the Golden Era committee’s 10 finalists in 2011, but only Ron Santo was elected. In 2014, Reynolds did not make the finalists cut.
But in 2016, the Hall of Fame restructured again, to four committees: Today’s Game (1988-present), Modern Baseball (1970-87), Golden Days (1950-1969) and Early Baseball (pre-1950).
The Golden Days committee did not nominate Reynolds in 2020. Reynolds was a crossover pitcher in the eras. He pitched from 1943-54. In the 1950s, Reynolds was 79-39 with a 3.07 earned run average. In the 1940s, Reynolds was 103-68 with a 3.46 ERA.
So Reynolds can squeeze into different eras.
The rotating cycle calls for Today’s Game and Modern Baseball committees to meet twice every five years, the Golden Days Committee to meet once every five years and the Early Baseball committee to meet once every 10 years.
So this might be Reynolds’ last chance, though I’ve said that before.
The Early Baseball Committee consists of 16 voters, comprised of Hall of Famers, executives and media. Here are the 10 candidates, with the Hall of Fame’s condensed biographies:
Allie Reynolds: “Allie Reynolds was 182-107 over 13 years with the Indians and Yankees, with six All-Star team selections. He led his teams to six World Series titles, going 7-2 with a 2.79 ERA. He twice finished in the Top 3 of the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award voting.”
Bill Dahlen: “Bill Dahlen spent 21 seasons in the majors from 1891-1911, playing almost 90 percent of his games at shortstop, compiling a .272 batting average with 84 home runs and 1,234 RBI. He scored 100 or more runs in each of his first six seasons and recorded 120 or more hits 15 times. He retired in 1911 as the active home run leader with 84 and as the all-time leader in games played (2,444).”
John Donaldson: “John Donaldson pitched in the Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues for more than 30 years, earning a reputation as one of the best pitchers in the game. Also playing the outfield and managing, Donaldson helped establish the barnstorming business model that was profitable for Black teams for decades.”
Bud Fowler: “Bud Fowler is often acknowledged as the first Black professional baseball player, having pitched and played second base for teams in more than a dozen leagues throughout his career. After spending part of his youth in Cooperstown, Fowler grew up to excel on the diamond and later helped form the successful Page Fence Giants barnstorming team.”
Vic Harris: “Vic Harris played 18 seasons in the Negro Leagues, primarily as a left fielder for the legendary Homestead Grays. He compiled a .305 career batting average and was known as one of the most aggressive base runners in the Negro National League. Harris also managed the Grays for 11 seasons, winning seven Negro National League pennants and the 1948 World Series.”
Grant Johnson: “Grant ‘Home Run’ Johnson was a shortstop and second baseman in the pre-Negro Leagues era who helped form the Page Fence Giants barnstorming team. A powerful hitter and occasional pitcher, Johnson played for early powerhouse teams like the Brooklyn Royal Giants and New York Lincoln Giants.”
Lefty O’Doul: “Lefty O’Doul played for 11 seasons with the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, Phillies and Dodgers, winning two National League batting titles. He compiled a .349 career batting average, fourth-best in AL/NL history. After his playing days, O’Doul managed in the Pacific Coast League and was credited with more than 2,000 victories. In 1932, O’Doul and other players traveled to Japan, where they instructed college students on the intricacies of the game. He returned to Japan several more times throughout the decade and then multiple times after World War II, becoming a beloved figure in the history of Japanese baseball.”
Buck O’Neil: “Buck O’Neil played 10 seasons with the Memphis Red Sox and Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League and was named to three All-Star Games. Following his playing career, O’Neil became a scout for the Chicago Cubs and later became the first Black coach in AL or NL history with Chicago. Scouting for teams for much of the rest of his career, O’Neil became a beloved ambassador for the game who helped found the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.”
Dick Redding: “Dick ‘Cannonball’ Redding was regarded as perhaps the fastest pitcher in Negro Leagues history, hurling for teams such as the Lincoln Giants, Chicago American Giants and the Brooklyn Royal Giants. Credited with multiple no-hitters, Redding was also a successful manager with the Royal Giants.”
George Scales: “George ‘Tubby’ Scales played 20 seasons in the Negro Leagues as an infielder, compiling a .319 batting average and .421 on-base percentage. He also managed for six seasons in the Negro Leagues and 12 seasons in the Puerto Rican Winter League, leading the Santurce Cangrejeros to the Caribbean World Series title in 1951.”
Reynolds was the best pitcher on the best team-stretch of all time. The 1927 Yankees are revered. But only the 1949-53 Yankees won five straight World Series. No other franchise has done that.
Reynolds in those five years was 83-41, with 28 SAVES, and a 3.22 ERA. Reynolds was third in the most valuable player voting of 1951, then second in 1952. At age 36 in 1953, Reynolds went 13-7 with 13 saves and finished 12th in the MVP voting.
Reynolds would be a worthy candidate for Cooperstown.
But so would Dahlen and O’Doul. The Negro League players are stout, too. Dick Redding is absolutely Cooperstown caliber. Buck O’Neil should have been in long ago. Heck, they’re all great players.
Baseball history is almost 150 years long. Candidates galore. But something about Allie Reynolds, born in Bethany and starred at Capitol Hill and matriculated at OSU, keeps returning him to the Cooperstown ballot. That something is a glorious career.
Mailbag: Punt return decisions
There are dozens of dispatches I want to share concerning Lincoln Riley, so I’ll save them for maybe tomorrow. Today, we’ll give you a (semi-)break from the Riley news and concentrate on both OSU and OU, in Bedlam, dropping punts inside its own 10-yard line.
Michael: “Can you ask Lincoln or Gundy what the policy is on fielding punts (fair catch) inside 10 (actually 5). It was always thought not to, but this seems to have changed. Seems more risk than reward.”
Tramel: Gundy explained it last night. His rule is the 8-yard line. Feet on the 8, and don't back up. Brennan Presley backed up. He at least has a history of big plays in the return game. Eric Gray does not.
Michael (after the Riley news broke): “Thank you. Don’t worry ‘bout asking Lincoln.”
Classic Flick Pick: 'To Kill a Mockingbird'
The common line for movies derived from books is, it’s not as good as the book.
But “To Kill a Mockingbird” is the perfect relationship between movie and book. The movie’s as good as the book. The book’s as good as the movie.
Harper Lee’s novel about a young girl’s view of life growing up in the segregated and racist Southern town in the 1930s is one of the best books I’ve ever read. The 1962 film is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.
I don’t mean one of the 100 best movies or books. I mean one of the five best books and one of the five best movies. The novel deals with horrific issues, yet still delivers warmth and humor. The film does the same.
Gregory Peck’s portrayal of attorney Atticus Finch, Scout Finch’s father, earned Peck an Oscar. If they gave all-time Oscars, best performance ever, Peck might win for “To Kill a Mockingbird.” In 2007, the American Film Institute produced a variety of top 100 lists, including the top 100 heroes of movie history. Atticus Finch ranked No. 1.
There are heroes and villains in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” gut-wrenching scenes and funny characters. The great Robert Duvall makes his film debut and steals a scene without saying a word.
Ten-year-old Mary Badham made her film debut, too, as Scout, and was Oscar-nominated for best supporting actress. She is great, and is her alter ego. The movie is narrated by an adult Scout, with Kim Stanley delivering the story with a glorious Southern accent. “Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it, that summer I was six years old.”
If you haven’t seen the movie, see it. If you haven’t read the book, read it. If you haven’t done either, do both.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OSU or Notre Dame? Who has best case for College Football Playoff?