There is only ONE Oklahoma

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Jersey fan now an OU Believer

Sometimes, things just need to be retold. After all, many times it is only the negative that gets posted, but this North Easterner 'gets it'


Editor, The Transcript:

As a communications and messaging strategist based in Princeton, N.J., I am blessed (or cursed) with a hypersensitvity to how people communicate, and what message people send through verbal communication, body language and actions.

On a recent business trip to Miami, I spent a few days at the Fontainbleu Hotel, and happened to coincide with the BCS title game. Little did I know upon my arrival that I would spend the next few days with the Sooner Nation, including the team, and what seemed like an endless sea of maroon and white.

I was born on the campus of Purdue University and did my undergrad work at an ACC school, so I was no stranger to college football and passionate fans.

That being said, the sheer number of fans and the intensity and devotion to OU was overwhelming. I didn't know what to expect -- I do know one thing I did not expect was to become an overnight fan of the OU players and the fans from Oklahoma.

In my world, everything you do communicates a message, and I mean everything. This was no different for the OU players and fans.

The reality was that the few acres that the Fontainblue sits on had become Oklahoma with a beach for the week. Maroon and white everywhere. Thousands of fans. I was not wearing maroon and white, I speak with a Northeastern accent, and knew no one else there except for my small group. That didnt stop nearly everyone I encountered from starting a conversation, smiling and generally being warm and inclusive -- I am still wondering if there was a pregame tailgate I wasn't invited to.

I happened to be in the auxiliary lobby of the hotel at the same time as the OU players on the morning following the devastating defeat. That being said, as I was walking through the lobby to the restaurant, I casually told one player in passing, "you guys played well, you should be proud." He, and three teammates standing with him, smiled and thanked me -- and then started a conversation, asking about where I was from, what I did, etc. This cascaded into a number of conversations with a number of players.

These players have been in the national media spotlight all year, had tens of thousands of fans, many three times their age, follow them to Miami, a few will be instant millionaires next year, and they had just had what for many had to be one of the roughest nights of their college lives. I am not a coach, agent, writer or even a fan and was dressed in a sweatsuit. The players could have nodded or just said nothing and it would be completely understandable. They did the opposite.

Everything you do sends a message, and the message sent by the actions and conduct of the OU players and fans did more, in my eyes, for the university and state of Oklahoma than any advertising program could have.

In an era where there are endless stories of players and fans behaving poorly, stories of egotistical and arrogant athletes and stories of big time programs getting into some sort of hot water (stories that have included OU in years past), the class and dignity exhibited by the fans and players of OU did the university and the state proud. You might not have won the game but I guarantee you did gain new fans of Sooner Nation. Congratulations.

Matt Eventoff

Princeton, N.J.

Now it is time to let the LugNutting begin, just a few more weeks till the 500.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Did Elliott Sadler really keep a straight face?

There is damage control, and then there is Sadler Damage Control and yesterday the NASCAR Nation was treated to a taste SDC.

Damage control is the term used in the Merchant Marine, maritime industry and navies for the emergency control of situations that may hazard the sinking of a ship.

Examples are:
* rupture of a pipe or hull especially below the waterline,
*damage from grounding (running aground) or hard berthing against a wharf,
* temporary fixing of bomb or explosive damage.

Sadler Damage Control is the use of a controlled press conference to air ‘his side’ of his professional and personal issues.

Examples are:
*Claim that you were ‘blind sided’ yet you were told this was a possibility of a driver change almost a month prior
*Claim that you ‘don’t think it is fair to say that the team didn’t want me’, all the while this very same team told you to ‘entertain any other offers’.
*Saying it was a ‘family situation’ while allowing your lawyer to name people in a potential suit that you haven’t even respected enough to speak with them one on one.
*After the fact, saying that your employers were ‘very fair and up front’ yet suing to keep your ride, then later saying it was his lawyers ‘strategy’ and his was simply trusting him.
*Comparing other sports such as football and baseball and key personnel changes but omitting that those changes do not involve any type of court case.
*Lastly, claim to be taking the ‘high road’.

A couple of odd observations I came away with from this press conference; 1) When Sadler was commenting on the ‘legal’ threats and such, he would say that he had to ‘protect MY sponsors’, then when speaking about the 19 team and the future the tune changed to ‘OUR sponsors’. 2) Sadler commented a couple of times that he feels that a few of hierarchy in the GEM food chain are truly ‘Sadler Fans’. Note to Elliott, being a ‘fan’ and taking an honest and realistic evaluation of performance must be segregated. While I am still your fan, I am also honest about your on track performance.

Those were just obvious examples of the Sadler spin and damage control tactics that this blog has been pointing out for years. But Sadler also said some very significant things about his 19 team and the upcoming season that might get over looked.

“We've got our team headed in the right direction. We feel like we've got a handle on things in the direction we want to go.”

This could simply be another example of the ‘pre-season’ Sadler glad handling, but by saying this he is building a case for a ‘no excuses season’.

“The reason why I really wanted Kevin is the history we had together already. If we had a chance to go get another crew chief or another person that I hadn’t worked with before, of course there would be some type of learning curve that would take longer than what Kevin and mine is going to be.”

So would it be fair to throw out the ‘learning curve’ excuse for the first third of the season then? Sadler made numerous comments about how familiar to two were/are.

“History shows you have to be successful in the first seven or eight races to have a legitimate chance of making the Chase.”

Just for fun, lets take a look at Sadler standings after the first 7 races:
2008 – 20th in driver points (finished 24th)
2007 – 16th in driver points (finished 25th)
2006 – 12th in driver points (finished 22nd)
2005 - 8th in driver points (finished 13th)
2004 - 5th in driver points (finished 9th)
2003 – 20th in driver points (finished 22nd)

So it looks like Sadler has some stats to back up his claim and understanding how important the first 7 or so races are. The reason why this is ‘key’ is the A.J. Allmendinger has sponsorship for only 7 points races so far this season. Sadler’s statement alone would be ‘justification’ for a driver change around race 7 of Allmendinger somehow was in the top 15 or so in points, while Sadler was in the 20s. Just a speculatory thought!

“Last year we were trying to - because Kasey had some really successful runs, and we all want to work together as close as we can. But mine and Kasey's style are just not the same. We just do not drive the car the exact same. We hold the steering wheel a little different. It would be like Tiger Woods playing golf with Phil Mickelson's golf clubs with the same shafts in them. You try to do the same thing, but it's just not tailored to what I was trying to do.”

This is not an excuse for last season’s results be any means, but the fact that Sadler and his new crew chief understand the differences is key. We already know that the equipment between the 9 and 19 is the same and verified not only by Sadler, but his spotter (Brett Griffin) and others associated with the team last season. But now the team is identifying ‘how to use’ that equipment to the best advantage. While this may have been attempted in the past, this is one of the first times in Sadler’s career where they have openly admitted this approach. This can only be a good thing.

“I do know A.J.'s and Kasey's style are very close, probably more than what mine and Kasey's are.”

Another ‘justification’ for a driver change? I seem to remember that Ray Evernham himself thought that Elliott and Kasey had ‘similar’ styles and one of the reasons for Sadler joining the 19 team in the first place, but I guess over time that theory was found to be untrue.

“As we move forward with four teams, I think generally all the cars will be built alike, but each crew chief is going to have to put his own little bit on it to give the driver what he needs.”

Again, the equipment is the same, this is important to remember come ‘excuse time’.

“I'm the senior member of the team; I have to be the leader of the team and initiate conversation and make sure we're all on the same page and stuff like that. I don't foresee any problems going on with A.J. and I. I like his style; he's very aggressive. He's a good guy to be around. We have had our differences, but you know what, I played on a lot of sports teams growing up, and I think any time you get competitive people fighting for the same real estate, you're going to have some type of differences of opinion.”

This is a huge step in the right direction and one that Sadler should be commended for. It does make sense that he would not have much of an opportunity to speak to A.J. during this off-season, as there would be little reason for A.J. to be at the GEM garage since he is/was technically still a free agent.

“I think that's every team's goal (to make the Chase) at the beginning of the season. I think we can make it happen. I have that much confidence in Kevin who we brought in as a crew chief, and a lot of things are going to have to go right for us, but we can do it. We can be a part of that.”

There is nothing wrong with setting lofty goals. But just don’t ‘give up’ once you realize that the goal has become unattainable.

“Well, I'll tell you what, statistics don't lie no matter what you're talking about or who you're talking about. Not having a Dodge in the Chase I think means that, yeah, we have fallen behind a little bit. Does that mean it's the manufacture's fault? No, it's not. It means us as Dodge teams have to do a better job, whether it's working together more or figuring out more information to run faster.”

Be careful saying that ‘statistics don’t lie’, if you honestly believe that, then you are saying to everyone that you are an ‘average middle of the pack driver with one banner year under his belt in a decade of racing’. Remember, this is a ‘no excuses’ season coming up!

“Maybe I've lost some of that confidence maybe from some of the media and stuff in the sport, but I want to gain that back. I want to be a top tier driver in this sport, and I've got to get my butt in gear and I've got to do good and race hard each and every lap and make that happen. This is the best motivation I've had in a long, long time to make sure when I start at Daytona to start off on the right foot and do the best job I can.”

Yes Elliott, it is put up or shut up time. The clock is ticking.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Who is really driving the GEM bus these days anyway?

Well, Friday afternoon while enjoying the Miami sun I get texted that Elliott Sadler is ‘back in the 19’. Even though I was still in a state of depression from the previous night’s National Championship game, this news was some of the most unusual driver/owner dilemmas I have seen in sometime, probably not seen since the days of Robert Yates, and Ricky Rudd (note; irony alert)

So what happen now? (Thanks once again Mr. Weber) Lets look at a few different aspects of this question:

So Sadler now has his ‘#19’ back for the 2009 season. Or does he? The latest reports say that A.J. Allmendinger will now run the #10 car for the Bud Shootout and 8 ‘other’ races during the season. If GEM is smart (yes, we know that might be a stretch) this means that A.J. will have an ‘8 race showdown/shootout’ with Sadler and the best results may very well get the sponsor(s) for the remainder of the season. The loser goes home or simply becomes a figurehead and back-up driver for GEM . If I do the math right, this
would make the spring Texas race an interesting one.

Because of mergers and other team’s downsizing, the #10 team should be in the top 35 in owner points and like the 19, locked into the first handful of race. That being said, both GEM teams should be considered playing on a level playing field. Sadler has had the luxury for 5 or so years of not having to perform week in and week out in order to keep a ride. Now it very well could be that for eight weeks, he may have to.

Can he step up his game? I really don’t know. Will he give his best effort? Of course he will. But just what happens if things go south early on? One can be a ‘sponsor’s” dream all they want, but over time, even that can wear off with mediocre on track results every week. I don’t see Masterfoods knocking on the door lately, and even with their ‘bad boy’ driver. The appearances in victory lane, the Chase and running up front most weeks far out weigh another ‘TeVee face’ glad-handing his sponsors every interview.

The plus side is that Sadler has a history of coming out of the gates strong in most seasons.

Kevin Buskirk to the rescue!

I have always been a silent fan of Kevin and while he might be considered a ‘journeyman’ in the NASCAR ranks, wherever he has gone, the team he was with has seen success. He brings a lot of COT knowledge after heading up DEI’s testing program this past year and even has an insight to ‘Sadlereeze’ after being his crew chief for 9 races at the end of the 2005 season. Considering my ‘8 race theory’ above, this hire might be the most significant GEM decision in this have fiasco and one that might be the different maker.

While I am optimistic about Buskirk, he joins the long list of crew chiefs for Sadler and will most likely be blamed if the 19 car continues to run mid pack. It is really amazing the revisionist history many of the Sadler faithful present to the table when it comes to former crew chiefs. This blog has showed time and time again, that there is a common denominator that for years has gone unchanged. A dozen or so crew chiefs can’t always be wrong can they? Someday, maybe they can all get together for diner one night, and ‘exchange’ Sadler anecdotes, someone bring a camera, but better get a large table reserved first.

Putting on the tin foiled hat for a moment:

In my research of Buskirk, I stumbled across something that I had not connected before. Remember when Sadler finally came clean with Robert Yates and the NASCAR Nation that the ‘real’ reason he wanted out of the two years remaining on his contract had more to do with a ‘difference in team philosophy’ and the direction that the team was going? Well, that may have been the truth, but there is another striking ‘coincidence’ from that season. It seems the Buskirk left RYR in early April of the 2006 season to go to what became a successful stink with RCR. It was two weeks later when the first ‘report’ of Sadler wanting out of his contract from RYR surfaced. So was Burkirk the real missing link? Maybe, maybe not.

We have all heard the stories that Sadler ‘getting his ride back’ was not only ‘dollar/court’ driven, but sponsor driven as well. Even though they are not scientific, I have yet to see an Internet poll that supports Sadler getting his ride back, and most show an overwhelming favor toward A.J. From a sponsor’s standpoint, I wonder if this data is ever considered? I’ll leave that one up to Best Buy.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Not even sure what to say...

But here goes...

I don't even have the words to truly convey how I feel right now. I am ticked off, upset, disappointed, and frustrated as hell about this loss.


I am proud of our team. I am proud of our coaches. We went into the game and played it well-prepared and ready to play. OU didn't lay down and die. OU didn't take Florida lightly. It was a well-fought game between two, of what I feel, are STILL the best 2 teams in the country. Unfortunately, we came out on the wrong side of the W/L column. Florida beat us. No excuses. If they are better than us, they are not better by much. It's no consolation, I know, but it is what it is. So, I extend my congrats to the Gators and their fans (and they were very gracious before, during and after the game, unlike LSU fans from 2004). And many came up after the game when we were leaving Dolphin Stadium (talk about a great venue to watch football) and were honest enough with themselves to thank their lucky stars that they stopped us inside the 10 yard line twice. Otherwise, we all might be feeling a little bit better right now by celebrating our 8th NC.

I don't know what else to say. But again, I'm proud of our team and of our coaching staff. I'll take Stoops and his crew of coaches, along with the magnitude of the success that he has brought back to Norman any day, and EVERY day! Anyway, that's all from me for now, we are off for one last day on the beach and some Florida sunshine.

Again, congrats to the Gators. They were better last night.

Frustrated and Crushed but STILL Proud,

Thursday, January 08, 2009

What I have learned from Florida sports radio this morning

gunna try blogging via the greatness of the blackberry, hope the formating works.

live from south beach (and when did southbeach go topless?)

here is what the guys on 790theTicket have to say:

florida's defense will shut down oklahoma.
tim tebow is god and there is no way oklahoma can stop this offense.

some think Utah is more deserving and may be a better match up.

the big 12 is mediocre as usual...the bowl season proved that.

they have been predicting scores of 49-24, 49-17, 35-14, 55-21 today...nobody and I mean nobody has picked Oklahoma
oklahoma has no shot at staying in this game...they have never faced the speed like this.

urban meyer will out coach bob stoops.

dominique franks is an idiot...he basically gave oklahoma the kiss of death by talking trash about tim tebow


btw, side note: sooner fans are everywhere in south Beach, maybe a 4 to 1 ratio. i guess the gator fans are driving down as we speak. off to do some tailgating and to the stadium. see ya later alligator!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

My fun at the DFW airport this afternoon

So I had to get to the airport at DFW this afternoon around noonish to catch the flight for the 'big game' in Miami Thursday night. I KNEW the place would be crawling with horns, so I made sure to wear an OU sweatshirt and cap...shorts and flip flops and just a general happy feeling and pride for the Sooners.

Not TWO seconds after checking my bags at the curbside check in, out comes, "45-35!!!" A horn fan yells while waiting to catch the shuttle. I quietly speak back, "How'd that work out for ya?" I then pulled out my Blackberry and say, "Give me your address...I'll send you a post card from South Beach!!" He turned and walked away.

Then, while I stood in line to check in, Texas fans double taking all over the place...hundreds of them...completely disgusted to see me. A fresh reminder of their party being over and the REAL party getting started.

So then I am about to go through security and four Texas fans...all men...were right behind me. A lady walking beside me and in a business suit told me I was awfully brave to be wearing that today. I told her, "Brave? I'm just heading to Miami for the national championship!"

So then we are standing in line and I was trying to call my good friend, 'Benny the Sooner fan', to tell him about the fun I was having. Since I knew he was at work and wasn't flying out till Wed. I just acted like he was on the phone.





If looks could kill!

We may get drilled Thursday night, but having a little fun at the expense of a Horn fan is always priceless. We board in 10 minutes, BOOMER SOONER!!

Time to feed that monster! See ya in a few days.

Buenvenidos a Miami!!!!!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Elliott Sadler's shoe is on the other foot, lets go to court!

When the shoe is on the other foot, Elliott Sadler threatens to go to court. Some have called it Karma, others call it ironic, but the firing of Elliott Sadler might be more comical than anything else. One thing we do know is that Sadler appears to have chosen to not air his case in the media and there has not been a peep from the ‘Southern Gentleman’ since this story broke.

A few items we ‘know’ and a few items we ‘speculate’:

Sadler and his attorney John Buric are not only seeking full compensation of the two years remaining on Sadler’s contract, but also asking for that compensation to be trebled (3 times the award)

Sadler claims that he was not aware that GEM was an any ‘active negotiation’ with other driver(s) to replace him and that he was not informed of the decision until Dec 30th (even though the original story broke nationwide three days prior)

Buric conceded that there was ‘communication’ between GEM and Sadler that a driver change was being considered prior to the story breaking.

Sadler signed a contract extension in the spring of 2008 (running through the 2010 season), although it was not officially announced until late May of 2008

Sadler in his two full seasons with GEM finished 25th in points in 2007, and 24th in 2008.

Now a few items who know from Sadler’s past:

Sadler has broken two previous contracts himself and in the latest instance began negotiating his newer contract BEFORE notifying his current owner of his intentions.

In both cases above, Sadler cited ‘performance’ of his equipment and ‘chances of winning a race/championship’ as a justification for breaking the contract.

So if Sadler is willing to break contracts because he feels the race team, as a whole is not as competitive as he would like, then the converse should also be true. It should be fair to say that when Sadler signed his two-year contract extension in early April, he was also saying that he was getting competitive equipment. If Sadler is such the marketable driver (on and off the track), he would be foolish to resign with GEM if there equipment was inferior or inferior enough to be used as a viable excuse for poor performance.

GEM and the sole owner before them, had a history of terminating drivers with remaining years on their contracts based on a lack of on track performance. The most recent being the former driver of the 19 car, and ironically the driver from where Sadler’s current problems came from. Jeremy Mayfield chose a bit different tactic in his court strategy and air much of the team’s dirty laundry with the press prior to filing his claim. His agreement/settlement however also had a ‘gag order’ placed on it, where neither party would/could comment on the details of the settlement.

My hope for a resolution:

Just a guess, but I am thinking that Sadler’s positioning to a nice, quiet out of court settlement would be preferred. From a personal stand point; I hope this will become the furthest from the truth. I truly hope this goes to a court of law where BOTH parties can air the grievances publicly and that we as fans can really see just what happened. AND, if Sadler is truly due compensation, I hope he receives it, and yes treble the amount due to him, as the chances of him ever returning to the ‘Cup Elite’ while not that great anyway, are pretty much dissolved at this point. If the judgment for no compensation is granted, so be it as well. Chances of either happening though is about as good as me getting a CUP ride next year based on my 4.99 Iracing safety rating alone. Like most driver/owner disputes, this will be swept under the carpet and both parties will ‘claim’ victory after the fact.