NORMAN, Okla. -- A racist video threatened to divide the Oklahoma football team. The leaders on the squad weren't having it.
Players released a statement on their social media accounts Thursday, saying they were committed to eradicating racism and calling for the expulsion of fraternity leaders connected to the video.
"Allowing this culture to thrive goes against everything it means to be a Sooner," said the players, who vowed to "attempt to end the culture of exclusivity" on campus, raise awareness of racism, and show "we are defined by more than the numbers on our jerseys and that we are human beings that desire to get to know our classmates."
A nine-second video caught members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon's University of Oklahoma chapter singing a song that used a derogatory term for black people and referenced lynching.
After the initial outrage among the players, seven of the team's leaders -- Trevor Knight, Eric Striker, Ty Darlington, Charles Tapper, Nila Kasitati, Sterling Shepard and Zack Sanchez -- listened to their teammates and leaders from other athletic teams on campus, then met among themselves over a three-day period to figure out how to proceed.
Who has the best chance to dethrone Samaje Perine as rushing champ?
Brandon Chatmon: I’ve got to agree with Max. People forget Green’s 922 rushing yards largely came during the final half of the season after his carries skyrocketed in November. He didn’t have a game with more than six carries until Nov. 1 against West Virginia, yet he finished with 922 rushing yards, ranking fourth in the Big 12. He’s the conference’s most dynamic back and he will be lining up alongside the conference’s best offensive player in Trevone Boykin. Green could have a monster year.
Jake Trotter: Green definitely could, but I'm going to go with Baylor's Shock Linwood. He has proven to be durable, he's experienced and with the Bears breaking in a new QB this year, I could see Linwood getting even more work. Running behind what would be a stout offensive line that includes All-American Spencer Drango, 1,500 rushing yards is not out of the question for Linwood.
Who in the league will have the best No. 2 option?
Olson: I think it might be West Virginia's Wendell Smallwood, one of the more underrated rushing threats in the league. But I'd have to say I prefer the potential of Oklahoma's No. 2 options. Keith Ford has fumbling issues and has missed eight games over his first two years, but his ceiling is high. Alex Ross is a more dependable choice, Joe Mixon should be electric, and Rodney Anderson has a chance to be special in time.
Chatmon: The conference is full of great No. 2 options but I’m going with Smallwood here, although I’m not sure how long he will be considered a No. 2 option. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry as a sophomore and his 31 receptions led all Big 12 running backs with 700 rushing yards or more. Smallwood should get plenty of opportunities to show his versatility and talent as a junior.
Trotter: Even though he never has played in a college game, I'm going with a hunch and saying it will be Mixon. It's going to be interesting to see how new coordinator Lincoln Riley utilizes both Perine and Mixon out of the backfield. But I could see Mixon getting plenty of work in the slot when he's not relieving Perine. Mixon, remember, was one of the nation's top running back recruits last year. He has the talent to give the OU offense a huge jolt, even as a backup.
Who is the RB to watch about whom no one is talking?
Olson: The Big 12's class of redshirt freshman backs could be sneaky good. Not just Mixon, either. I could name off eight more who have a chance to play, and a few could earn impactful roles. Kansas State's Dalvin Warmack, West Virginia's Donte Thomas-Williams and Donald Catalon at Texas might be at the top of that list right now as rushers you'll soon know more about.
Chatmon: People are talking about Mixon but for all the wrong reasons as his off-the-field mistake and resulting one-year suspension will linger over him for a while. Once he gets on the field in 2015 I have a feeling he’s going to remind people why he, not Perine, was the Sooners’ headline running back signee in the Class of 2014. His size, quickness and versatility are hard to match and he could end up being a nightmare in Riley’s offense.
Trotter: West Virginia's Rushel Shell seems to be flying under the radar. He could easily rush for more than 1,000 yards out of Dana Holgorsen's offense. I think people have forgotten about Texas' Johnathan Gray, too. Gray wasn't overly impressive last year coming back from the Achilles year. But he has another year removed from the injury. And he won't be splitting carries with Malcolm Brown. Gray was a beast two years. If he somehow can recapture that form, he could have a big year.
But with the Sooners transitioning to an air raid offense, could Perine be dethroned as Big 12 rushing champ in 2015? And if so, who has the best shot of dethroning him?
We put the latter question to you in our weekly Big 12 poll.
Baylor running back Shock Linwood is firmly on the list of contenders. Last season in his first as the Bears’ featured back, Linwood finished second only to Perine in the Big 12 with 1,252 rushing yards. Though Linwood got 251 carries last year, the Bears could lean on him and the ground game even more next season with quarterback Bryce Petty gone.
TCU’s Aaron Green could also have a chance playing on the Big 12’s other premier offense. Among backs with at least 50 carries, Green led the conference with an average of 7.15 yards per carry. After stepping into the starting lineup for an injured B.J. Catalon, Green shined with 544 yards over the Horned Frogs’ final five games. With opposing defenses having to game plan against stopping quarterback Trevone Boykin first, Green should have plenty of open running lanes again in 2015.
Texas Tech has never been known for its running backs. But the Red Raiders currently have a good one in DeAndre Washington, who became the first Texas Tech back in 16 years to top the 1,000-yard rushing threshold. Some of Washington’s touches will come via the pass on screens and swing throws. But with Washington in the backfield, the Red Raiders are sure to run the ball often again.
West Virginia could be running the ball often, as well. Quarterback Clint Trickett and wide receivers Kevin White and Mario Alford are gone. But Rushel Shell returns in the backfield. The former Pitt transfer finished fifth in the Big 12 in rushing last year despite missing two games with an ankle injury. With the Mountaineers retooling the passing attack, Shell could emerge as the focal point of Dana Holgorsen’s offense.
Linwood, Green, Washington and Shell aren’t the only backs who could factor into the rushing title.
Texas’ Johnathan Gray won’t be splitting carries with Malcolm Brown anymore. Gray wasn’t quite the same runner after suffering an Achilles tear in 2013. But perhaps another year away from the injury will be rejuvenating for him.
Oklahoma State has boasted several 1,000-yard rushers under Mike Gundy, and four-star junior-college transfer Chris Carson has the potential to be the next to do so.
Kansas’ Corey Avery was one of the league’s top true freshman last year.
Now, it's your turn to tell us what you think. Let us know by casting your vote in the poll.
Oklahoma football players said they would hold a silent protest on Owen Field on Thursday instead of practicing to take a stand against racism on the heels of a video showing members of OU's Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity participating in a racist chant that went viral last weekend.
The Sooners football team was scheduled to practice twice this week but postponed those practices and won't return to the field until after spring break on Monday, March 23. The Sooners players promised to use their media opportunities to "address this issue" and wear black when spring practices resume.
In the statement, the Sooners football team took a united stance against racism and stated a goal of raising awareness of racism and discrimination on college campuses nationwide.
"These type of incidents occur nationwide every single year and our hope is to shed light on this issue and promote meaningful change on a national level," the statement said. "But before we can change the nation, we make it our mission to change our campus."
The university also released a statement Thursday saying that Oklahoma president David Boren plans to meet with the football team's captains and athletic director Joe Castiglione on March 23.
"He has also charged the vice president of student affairs, Clarke Stroud, to investigate each individual officer of the fraternity to determine their level of responsibility and to make recommendations on appropriate disciplinary action," the statement said.
It’s not a good time to be a linebacker in the Big 12.
The conference that was once known for producing NFL first-round draft picks at quarterback could be known for the guys who carry the rock in 2015. Only Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Iowa State enter the spring with real questions at the running back spot, while the rest of the conference has proven playmakers.
Perine could be even better as a sophomore. It’s easy to overlook his journey to those incredible freshman numbers. The Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year was the foundation of the OU offense with minimal help in 2014, particularly after receiver Sterling Shepard was injured midway through conference play. Opponents knew he was the lone legit threat in the offense, yet he still rushed for 1,056 yards in the Sooners' final six games, including a single-game FBS-record 427 rushing yards against Kansas.
This season, offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley will bring his version of the Air Raid to Norman, Oklahoma, with the potential to create additional rushing lanes for Perine while also creating additional playmaking threats that defenses could be forced to account for. Even though Perine will be running behind a revamped offensive line, his open field and one-on-one opportunities could skyrocket in Riley’s system.
Baylor’s Linwood could be the most overlooked 1,200-yard rusher in Big 12 history. While Bryce Petty and the Bears’ high-powered passing game was showered with praise, Linwood was the platform that allowed the passing game to soar. Only Perine rushed for more yards after contact than Linwood’s 446. He finished with 1,252 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns.
There’s no reason to think he will take a step back in 2015, particularly with Petty no longer with him in the BU backfield. As the Bears' new starter at quarterback gains experience, Art Briles' team could turn to Linwood to shoulder the burden as one of the Big 12’s top playmakers.
Texas Tech’s DeAndre Washington was the only other Big 12 running back to surpass 1,000 yards in 2015, even though the Red Raiders' 4-8 record cast an impenetrable cloud over his individual brilliance. Washington contributed as a rusher (1,103 rushing yards, 2 TDs) and receiver (30 receptions, 328 yards) and was Tech’s most consistent offensive threat. He could be the most versatile running back in the entire conference while combining cat-like quickness with a willingness to run between the tackles.
TCU’s Green could be the biggest nightmare for Big 12 defenders this fall. The senior will line up alongside Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Trevone Boykin and has the ability to leave any defender grasping for air when they meet in the open field. His 7.1 yards-per-carry was the Big 12’s best, and he should enter the season atop the Horned Frogs' depth chart after starting 2014 as B.J. Catalon’s backup. A 1,200-yard season is well within his sights.
Perine, Linwood, Washington and Green finished 1-2-3-4 in the Big 12 rushing standings a year ago and could be even better in 2015. Add West Virginia’s duo of Rushel Shell and Wendell Smallwood along with Texas’ Johnathan Gray and Kansas’ Corey Avery and the conference has plenty of proven runners who could take it to another level this fall. And several newcomers, including OU’s Joe Mixon and Kansas State's Dalvin Warmack, could make an immediate impact during their first seasons on the field.
The Big 12 has earned a reputation as a quarterback league during the past decade, but a bevy of talented running backs appear poised to steal the spotlight in 2015.
- When West Virginia opens spring practice this weekend, the focus naturally will be on the QB derby, writes Chuck McGill of the Charleston Daily Mail. Skyler Howard's experience gives him up a leg up in the competition. But redshirt freshman William Crest has all the tools to win the job. Dana Holgorsen hasn't given an indication when he might name a starter. But considering he pulled the trigger on Clint Trickett during the summer, Holgorsen won't hesitate to name a starter when he feels one has earned the job.
- Texas Tech All-Big 12 offensive tackle Le'Raven Clark told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Don Williams that he did not receive a first- or second-round grade from the NFL draft advisory board, which made it a simple call to stay for his senior season. Williams noted that this past year the NFL advisory committee changed the grading system for underclassmen, assigning three grades: first round, second round or neither. Clark might not have gotten a high grade. But he's one of the top offensive linemen in the league, and one Tech will lean on next season.
- Oklahoma State has been turning heads in Georgia with its recruiting in the Peach State, writes Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Cowboys most recently flipped Atlanta native Chris Carson from Georgia days before signing day last month. Oklahoma State has three other Georgians on its roster in receiver C.J. Curry, cornerback Darius Curry and linebacker Kirk Tucker. With recruiting in Texas getting more competitive by the year, opening pipelines elsewhere is not a bad idea.
- Speaking of Oklahoma State, The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel points out that QB has returned to being a position of strength. Mason Rudolph isn't the only reason, either. J.W. Walsh is 9-3 as the Cowboys' quarterback, Tramel notes, counting games in which he played the majority of the game. And now he's the backup. Having a quality one is valuable in college football. Just ask the eight Big 12 teams that had to rely on their in critical moments last season.
- Lastly, Oklahoma canceled practice again Wednesday. This is the second time this week they've done so. Monday, the Sooners wore all black and held a short silent vigil instead of practicing. It's unlikely now that OU will practice again until after spring break next week.
At 6-foot-5, 236 pounds, Green-Beckham moved like a much smaller man while running routes and catching passes during the workouts. He also recorded a 10-foot broad jump, 33-inch vertical and 4.34 20-yard shuttle. The former Missouri receiver is confident he has improved his draft stock since the start of the process.
"I felt like at the combine my stats really improved my draft stock," he said. "I've gotten great feedback from the coaches about that and them telling me my draft stock has been going up because of how I've been improving and handling myself."
Questions about Green-Beckham's dismissal from Missouri have cast a shadow of doubt over this unquestioned physical gifts.
"At the combine I got a lot of questions," Green-Beckham said. "Overall I got great feedback about it, just showing honesty and showing you're accountable. That's the main thing they want to see. They want to know what really happened, that's when you have to confess to everything and let them know what went on."
Green-Beckham insisted he plans to get his degree from OU and considers himself a Sooner, despite being unable wear crimson and cream in a game after transferring from Missouri and spending one season on the scout team before declaring for the NFL draft.
"I felt like I improved on the field, I took advantage of the scout team and getting better, I took advantage of the school work, I took advantage of everything," Green-Beckham said of his short stint in Norman, Oklahoma. "I didn't take any days off, I became a better person and better player."
Phillips, the other potential first-rounder in action on Wednesday, went through several drills and displayed his exceptional athleticism after measuring at 6-5, 327 pounds. He looked more like a linebacker than defensive tackle in several drills as he aimed to catapult himself higher in the draft.
"I can move a lot better than a lot people out here so I wanted to show my athleticism," he said. "Three hundred and thirty (pounds) normally doesn't move the way I do."
Much like Green-Beckham, Phillips declared early for the NFL draft. He entered the process with questions about his work ethic but is confident he's taking steps to cross that off the list of negatives on his profile.
"Coming out, the question was my work ethic," Phillips said. "I feel like at the combine and here I've proven I can work."
- Tackles Tyrus Thompson recorded a 5.39 in the 40 and 8.02 in the three-cone drill before participating in on-field drills for the scouts.
- Daryl Williams participated in on-field drills as well after skipping the 40-yard dash and other events he did at the combine.
- Converted quarterback Blake Bell, who played one season at tight end for OU, ran routes and caught passes for NFL scouts as his transition to the tight end spot continues. After a stellar combine showing, Bell didn't participate in the timed events.
- Defensive back Julian Wilson made up for a subpar 40-yard time (4.58) at the NFL combine, clocking a 4.49 to secure the spot as the fastest Sooner to run on Wednesday.
- Tight end/linebacker/defensive end Geneo Grissom could be a Sooner to keep a eye on. He went through several offensive and defensive drills, running routes with Bell one minute then going through agility drills with Phillips the next minute. His versatility and athleticism could help him earn a spot. After measuring at 6-4, 261 pounds, Grissom's 35-inch vertical was the best of the day. He ran 4.82 and broad jumped 9 feet, 10 inches.
The racial tension at the University of Oklahoma paints the latest picture of the trouble brewed by 50 years of backlash to Martin Luther King Jr.'s courageous "We Shall Overcome" movement.
Research and cell-phone videos are debunking the notion that white millennials are less racist than previous generations. A busload of drunken Oklahoma fraternity members got Riley Cooper-ed. Someone secretly recorded them singing, "There will never be a n----r in SAE." The short video so disturbed the campus that Bob Stoops canceled football practice and joined his players in public protest, and the school's president immediately kicked the frat off campus and expelled two students.
More troubling than the video is the data Politico's Sean McElwee used to pen an enlightening piece on Monday that argued millennials are not nearly as tolerant as they think they are. His closing paragraph warned that recent Supreme Court decisions that strike against civil-rights gains based on Chief Justice John Roberts' view of a post-racial, colorblind America foreshadow a bleak future.
"This is disturbing for the future of race in America," McElwee wrote. "The Roberts vision of radical colorblindness has irreparably harmed racial progress. If young Americans buy into his vision of a colorblind society -- and a large literature suggests they do -- white America and black America will diverge further, creating a permanent underclass in which people of color are denied equitable access to the American dream."
- The fallout from the Oklahoma SAE video scandal continued Tuesday. Two Dallas students were expelled from OU for "creating a hostile learning environment." Their families later released statements expressing remorse.
- The shutdown of the fraternity, meanwhile, has placed former OU coach Barry Switzer in a weird spot. Switzer is a former OU SAE, and admitted to knowing several of the current members. He even helped them pack once president David Boren shut their house down and gave them a day to vacate. "Most of those kids on that bus -- led by whoever -- they were rookies, freshmen," Switzer told CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd. "I know what the kids are like in the house. They're not associated with that culture." Monday, Switzer and the SAE house mom did a local TV interview, where they both expressed disbelief in what had transpired. But thelostogle.com later released a video with the same house mom rapping the N-word at an SAE party. When asked for comment Tuesday, Boren didn't have much sympathy for Switzer's sentiment for the fraternity. Regardless of his feelings toward the OU SAE chapter, nobody can challenge what Switzer has done for race relations in Oklahoma and college football in general. As he pointed out in his interview with Dodd, Switzer "was playing black quarterbacks before anyone else was recruiting black players." But this is not a debate Switzer can win in the court of public opinion, which has dropped the hammer on SAE.
- In her column, USA TODAY's Nancy Armour praised the way OU has reacted in the last 48 hours. "By blacks and whites joining together," she wrote, "Stoops and his Sooners told everyone there is no room for hatred and bigotry in Norman -- or anywhere else, for that matter." But in another column, Fox Sports' Clay Travis pointed out a glaring incongruity in the way university has reacted, noting that while OU has stood tall against racism, it didn't in allowing running back Joe Mixon back on the team after he punched a female student in the face. "Oh, so the star running back gets a second chance for breaking four bones on a female student's face on video," Travis wrote, "but the guys in a frat don't get a second chance for saying something racist on a video?" Travis makes a legitimate point that is difficult for OU to rationalize.
- OU made other news Tuesday, by announcing it would be scaling back its stadium renovation by roughly $200 million -- at least for the time being -- citing the fall in oil prices, to which the Oklahoma economy is closely tied. Still, the university will shortly break ground on a $160 million renovation that will bowl in the south end zone, build a new weight room and construct new coaches offices.
- Lastly, keep Jamie Pollard in your prayers. The Iowa State athletic director, only 50, underwent open heart surgery in Des Moines after suffering a heart attack at his daughters' track meet Monday.
The University of Oklahoma has scaled down an ambitious renovation of Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium by almost $200 million.
Regents approved an amended design that will cost $160 million, down from the original plan calling for about $360 million in improvements. The new plan will add seats to complete a bowl by connecting the south end zone section to the rest of the stadium. The school will also still add a new weight room, fitness facility and coaches offices.
"(The new plan) will focus on our priorities and it is appropriately scaled to reflect the uncertainty of economic conditions caused by low oil and gas prices," school president David Boren said.
Boren added that $43 million for the project has been accounted for and the remainder will be funded with $117 million of bond money.
Originally, the school had released plans to remodel its press box, renovate the west side of the stadium and add numerous suites, while also improving fan amenities such as better seating, concession stands and restrooms.
Boren said he expects the school to revisit a potential second phase down the line.
Christian in Missoula, Montana, writes: Can I have your take on why some racist things matter and others don't? [The video] will negatively affect OU's recruiting, as it seems to have already. Conversely, Ole Miss is in a state with the confederate flag as the foundation of their state flag and their former mascot is a combination of a plantation master and a confederate soldier. They seem to recruit just fine. Racism is so confusing; why is it still a thing in 2015?
Brandon Chatmon: First off, all racist things matter. But I don’t have the space, nor is this the proper venue, to address this question thoroughly (also, I can't speak for anyone but myself on these issues) so I’ll keep it short and sweet with a focus on the recruiting impact on Oklahoma. The Sooners lost ESPN Junior 300 member Jean Delance in the wake of the video but I’m with Bomani Jones on this one. Unless Delance plans to end up at Prairie View A&M or something, he should probably pump the brakes before pointing to the video as the primary reason he doesn’t want to play football at OU. We’ve come a long, long way, but racism still exists, unfortunately, and Oklahoma is not the only place it is still alive. The video will have an impact on Oklahoma's recruiting, no doubt about it, but I don't think it is something that is impossible to overcome.
BC: I doubt it. I don’t think a championship game is the top priority for the Big 12 heading into 2015. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby addressed the pros and cons of a title game with fellow Big 12 reporter Jake Trotter earlier this offseason. I don't think a championship game is needed, either. I struggle to see why a championship game is the answer if you’re looking to help the Big 12 secure a spot in the College Football Playoff.
BC: It’s an interesting question, because I think West Virginia has multiple running backs with the talent to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. But I think it is possible having all that talent could result in another season that features multiple backs near the 1,000-yard mark without passing it, and Thomas-Williams is in the mix to be one of those guys. Say West Virginia spreads the ball around, ending up with three running backs with 600 rushing yards or more, but none with 1,000 yards. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think it would be.
BC: Seven wins is asking a lot from David Beaty in Year 1. He has a roster full of Charlie Weis’ guys and major questions at the quarterback spot. I don’t think a seven-win season is in the cards. Jayhawks fans should be much more concerned with seeing signs of progress than a target win total in Beaty’s first season. I think Year 2 would be a better barometer of the future under Beaty as he will start to get more guys who fit into his vision for the program. I’d say 3-4 wins with at least one upset during the second half of the season, would be a good goal for Beaty and the Jayhawks in Year 1.
BC: This is a tough one, Nate, because I go back and forth between Trevor Knight and Baker Mayfield on a daily basis. I’ll go with Knight to finish the year as the starter, Mayfield as backup then Thomas to transfer.
BC: I’d be shocked to see a second Big 12 team get in, in that scenario. I’m glad you asked this question, J.J., because I think people in general are overlooking the importance of being a conference champion when it comes to the College Football Playoff Committee’s decisions. I just don’t see a scenario when the committee leaves any conference champion out in favor of a conference runner-up (Big 12, SEC, Pac-12 or otherwise), even if the conference runner-up has fewer losses. Winning a conference title is at the top of the committee’s protocol list.
BC: I think so. I love what Pierson brings to the table, from his production to setting the tone with his intensity and competitive fire. He’ll need to double his sacks (7-10) and tackles for loss (15-20) and the Horned Frogs will need to have another double-digit win season, but I think both are possible. Other preseason candidates would be West Virginia’s Karl Joseph, Kansas State's Dante Barnett and Baylor’s Andrew Billings and Shawn Oakman, along with Oklahoma State’s Emmanuel Ogbah.
Oklahoma recruit Jean Delance said he withdrew his commitment to coach Bob Stoops after seeing a video that showed fraternity members at the school chanting racist remarks.
"Very uneducated people. I wouldn't want my son or child to go there or to anywhere like that," Delance told CBS 11 in Dallas-Fort Worth on Monday. "It was just very disturbing to me. I didn't like it."
Delance, a four-star offensive lineman who is ranked No. 272 on the ESPN Junior 300, committed to the Sooners in November and visited Norman with his mother, Altavian, last weekend.
But when they returned to their home in Mesquite, Texas, the video, in which members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon also indicated that African-Americans would never be admitted to the fraternity, prompted them to rethink the commitment.
"I've had family history in racial issues, inequality," Altavian Delance told CBS 11. "Jean knows these things are serious to us."
Oklahoma president David Boren reacted swiftly Tuesday, expelling two students he says have been identified as leading the chant.
Boren said in a statement the two were dismissed for creating a "hostile learning environment for others." The students' names were not released. Boren said he hopes the dismissal of the two students will help students realize "it is wrong to use words to hurt, threaten, and exclude other people."
Stoops and several Sooners players attended a protest, which captured the attention of national media, outside the fraternity Monday. Men's basketball coach Lon Kruger also was seen at the gathering.
"It's sad the ignorance that can still be there with some people," Stoops told the Tulsa World. "It's just appalling.
Stoops, Players Want To Effect Change
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
TBD Oklahoma State Central Michigan TBD Northern Iowa Iowa State TBD South Dakota State Kansas TBD South Dakota Kansas State TBD Texas Notre Dame TBD Akron Oklahoma TBD Sam Houston State Texas Tech TBD Georgia Southern West Virginia