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March 26, 2007

Monday Musings: Football and the Franklins.

Oklahoma returns to the gridiron this week after a one week layoff due to spring break. It's expected that Jermaine Gresham will rejoin the team now that he has had more time to heal.

With all the talk about Demarco Murray and Mossis Madu, the Sooners need to get Gresham on the field. He could be one of the biggest playmakers on the OU offense in 2007.

While most varsity players gave way to scout team members and other young members of the football team during last year's bowl practices, Gresham stayed on and continued to work with the offense.

Kevin Wilson wants the talented sophomore-to-be involved as much as possible. They really feel like they can sculpt the offense around him. He just has to continue to improve on his blocking so he can become an even more dangerous weapon in the passing game.

The good news for you guys is that players and coaches will be available to talk with the media after each practice from here on out.

And to be honest, I haven't really missed open practices this year. Spring practices are not the most exciting activities.

There's no coincidence that last week's opening scrimmage crowd shrunk to half its original size by the end of the scrimmage.

And the odd thing is that scrimmages are the best parts of spring practices.

If you guys can't get excited about scrimmages, you'd never survive a regular practice.

Look forward to a lot of spring coverage over the next two weeks. The floodgates officially open Monday night.

WHAT TO MAKE OF THE WOMEN?

Women's basketball has always been a hot topic on my radio show each morning. Whether it's fan interest, critical analysis or questioning the legitimacy of the sport, people have an opinion on women's hoops.

The one thing I've learned over the years is this -- it's hard to criticize the Oklahoma women's basketball program. It's not that I can't find things to criticize. It's just that when you try and treat Sherri Coale's program like the OU football team or men's hoops team, people think you are being a jerk.

They don't feel that the girls should be held to that same standard.

After watching Courtney Paris' reaction as she walked off the court following Oklahoma's 90-82 loss to the No. 7 seeded Ole Miss Rebels, I think it would be a bit heartless to criticize this team.

So I won't say anything about the fact that senior Britney Brown gave this team a much-needed lift in the second half when the team fell apart under their freshman point guard.

I won't bring up a second straight early exit in the round of sixteen. And I won't bring up the fact that the one player on Oklahoma's team who could have played for Ole Miss on Sunday, Nyeshia Stevenson, has been sitting on the Oklahoma bench all season.

No, I'm not going to go Jimmy Dugan on anybody and start talking about crying either.

Watching as Paris left the court, I don't have to heart to bring up those unpleasant things about Oklahoma women's basketball right now.

I do have a deep admiration for the Oklahoma women's basketball team. People like to talk about how women's hoops is a much truer version of basketball than the men's game.

But to be honest, I think OU women's basketball fans are more attracted to the truer nature of the players.

When's the last time you saw one of the best players in the nation lose their composure while shaking hands after a tough loss?

Adam Morrison is one of the few who comes to mind.

Do you think Kevin Durant was distraught because his dream of winning a national title was dashed when Texas lost to USC?

Nah, he was probably thinking about whether he was going to buy the Escalade or the Land Rover now that his season was over.

The young women who play college basketball are student-athletes in every sense of the word. They are there for each other and care more about their teammates than individual accomplishments.

Courtney Paris wasn't the reason Oklahoma failed to advance past the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row. And it wouldn't be her fault if this program doesn't make it to a Final Four during her career.

So she's off the hot seat.

We'll save those reasons for another day when the hurt isn't as strong. For once I agree, the hurt streaming out of Paris' eyes was enough for me to lay off for now.

RECRUITING BEAT

I had the pleasure of talking with Mike Franklin for quite a while on the phone the other night. Mike Franklin is the father of Habersham Central High School's Daniel Franklin.

I was working on an article on Daniel for an upcoming issue of Sooner Spectator Magazine.

Mike is a really great guy with an interesting story. He was a high school football coach while Daniel was growing up but now he's an ordained bishop.

But Mike still talks like a football coach.

I brought up an interesting topic with the former football coach - recruiting highlight tapes.

I just think recruiting highlights are interesting. You guys get excited watching them and I do to. But the journalist in me just keeps wondering what we aren't seeing.

Mike was asking me about my thoughts on Daniel's film compared to other linebackers and I mentioned that I liked what I saw but that I'm always curious about the things we don't see on highlight films.

Our conversation turned into a discussion about what Daniel didn't do well. And to be honest, it was one of the most refreshing conversations I've ever had with a player's parent.

Based on my conversations with Mike Franklin, I can't believe there is a player more willing or more ready to play for Brent Venables. Daniel wants to be coached because that's all he knows from his father.

Mike doesn't treat Daniel with kid gloves and he's very realistic about what his son does and doesn't have to prepare for at the next level. On one hand, Mike is Daniel's biggest fan. On the other hand, he's realistic about his son as a football player.

He knows Daniel is a special football player, but he isn't singing his praises with blind optimism.

Mike Franklin has officially become one of my favorite football dads after talking to him last week.


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