We're dredging up the kind of history no one wants to remember. We owe it you, our valued readers, to give a thorough and complete accounting of such history, the good, the bad, and most certainly the ugly. Welcome to our new series, Bad Beats, the epic beatdowns in the history of Texas College football. Relax, everyone gets a turn.
Yes. We are going there Aggie fans. You can't lose by 77 and expect us not to go there. It's bad beats, of course, we're going there. I'll tell you where Dennis Franchione doesn't want to go - Norman. In three trips, his Aggies lost all three and by a total of 155-44. Of course, most of that came in one, incredible afternoon, November 8, 2003. Tattoo it on your foreheads Aggie fans and vow "Never Again."
Where do we start with Fran? The former Aggie coach took the long, tedious road to the big-time. He made stops at Pittsburgh, Southwest Texas, New Mexico, and WAC'ed out TCU before Alabama came calling. Alabama was not Nick Saban's Alabama. How soon we forget how Bama fell during the Mike Dubose era, Fran inherited a bad team made worse by NCAA sanctions, all while cross-state rival Auburn ascended.
Fran won ten games in his second year at Alabama, then, in a move that shocked the football world, he left Tuscaloosa and took the job at Texas A&M. We can go ahead and pencil that ten win season at Alabama as the last flare out of Fran's Roman Candle. Things went downhill, and he never saw double-digit wins again.
The 2003 Aggies were Fran's first team in Aggieland. A&M hadn't suffered a losing season since 1982, but that changed in '03.
Bob Stoops' Sooners were Godzilla walking through the Tokyo that was the Big 12. Stoops won a title in 2000, won the Big 12 in 2000 and 2002, and played for the National Title in 2003. They walked to the Big 12 title game in 2003, beating Iowa State by 46, Texas 49, Missouri by 21, Okie State by 43, Baylor by 38, and Texas Tech by 31. Colorado somehow managed to get within 14, and of course, A&M lost by 77.
Oklahoma hit a snag in the Big 12 title game, where Kansas State kicked the hell out of 'em 35-7, but the BCS computers didn't care and sent Oklahoma to the title game in the Sugar Bowl.
Oklahoma was the rare finesse spread team that played defense. In the Big 12, defense was becoming a lost art in most places except Norman. Tommy Harris, Teddy Lehman, Dan Cody, and Brodney Pool made yardage a valuable commodity.
On offense, Jason White distributed the ball to Mark Clayton, Brandon Jones and a whole mishmash of blue-chip receivers.
Bob Stoops was into making statements. He liked assuring the Big 12 that the Sooners were the bullies on the block. He especially liked destroying Texas schools who might dare challenge Oklahoma in recruiting. In 1999 Texas A&M traveled to Norman to play lowly, rebuilding Oklahoma and first year head coach Bob Stoops, by the time the Sooners were done, R.C. Slocum suffered the worst loss of his A&M career, 51-3. You wouldn't think it could get worse?
The next year Oklahoma curb stomped a top 15 Texas team while America watched. In 2002, just as Mike Leach was growing his program at Texas Tech, Oklahoma beat the Red Raiders 60-15.
If Stoops liked statements, then his destruction of Johnny Come Lately Dennis Franchione was his masterpiece.
You ever see something so disturbing, yet you can't look away? That was the case on November 8, 2003. The game moved from can Fran's charges compete against #1 ranked Oklahoma, to can A&M avoid a blowout, to can OU score a 100, to should A&M write their blood type on their wristbands for easy identification.
Oklahoma wanted a statement against A&M in part because the Aggies, led by Reggie McNeal, knocked the #1 Sooners off in 2002 at Kyle Field. For Stoops' part, he assured Sooner fans, known for their reason and diplomacy while cashing in scratch-offs at the local Valero, that Oklahoma would not look past Texas A&M and that revenge played no part in motivating the Sooners. He said all this with a straight face a week after OU beat cross-state rival Oklahoma State 52-9, just a year removed from the Cowboys upset of his Sooner squad.
A&M's offensive coordinator in 2002 was Kevin Sumlin, in 2003 he was coaching tight ends for Stoops. We're not saying Sumlin ordered the code red, but he did tell the local press that he shared some ideas about his former employer.
Odd that Sumlin coached tight ends, a position group he seemed to grow allergic to at Texas A&M.
Three Quarters of Perfection
It's one thing to score 77 points; it's another to do it three quarters. That's what Oklahoma did in a real live Division I football game. Oklahoma scored on ten of their first eleven possession. Only a punt on fourth and one prevented a perfect eleven for eleven runs. We should clarify, these were touchdowns on ten of eleven offensive possessions, no need to trot out the kicker.
Jason White completed his first fourteen passes and 16 of 18 overall with five touchdown passes before watching the second half. A&M's McNeal ended up 4-13 for 32 yards on the day. By halftime, the Sooners led 49-0. On the day Oklahoma outgained the Aggies 639 to 54. First downs: Oklahoma 33, Texas A&M 3.
Oklahoma put up 77 by the end of the third quarter. The Aggies then faced the humiliation of the fourth quarter where Oklahoma actively tried NOT to score. After the game, A&M players admitted they hoped for a running clock in the second half so they could get the hell out of Oklahoma.
Then came the play that most viewers remember, on fourth and goal from the six, Oklahoma went for it, and by went for it, we mean ran a dive to run the clock. A&M sophomore defensive tackle Johnny Jolly made a tackle for loss then promptly hopped up and did a bit of a strut to celebrate the play. Never let 77 points keep you from your strut. Life lesson kids.
I saw Johnny Jolly play both high school football and basketball and I would be remised if I didn't share my own greatest Johnny Jolly story. He played at now-defunct Forest Brook High on the glorious Northeast side of Houston. Jolly, in spite of his size, 6-3, and over 300 pounds, was a very agile basketball player for Forest Brook.
Visiting Forest Brook led late in the game and went into the classic Dean Smith four corners offense to milk clock. The home crowd, not appreciating Dean Smith or Forest Brook, began to chant "BORING" in unison. In response, a Forest Brook guard threw a half court alley-oop lob to Jolly who proceeded, at 300 pounds, to run in from the baseline corner, jump, and slam it with such ferocity the home crowd began to chant "EFFECTIVE." Two years later Johnny got his strut on. Down by 77. He later ran into some legal trouble thanks to that greatest of all Houston inventions, Purple Drank.
We digress, for the final eight minutes, Oklahoma tried not to score or injure anymore A&M players. The fight was over long ago, the statement made.
Dennis Franchione coached A&M for four more seasons, but in reality, he was done on that November day in Norman. Sure he guided the Aggies to three bowl games and even a nine win season, but Texas A&M didn't finish better than third in the Big 12. A&M wouldn't bother Oklahoma under Fran. 77-0 guaranteed it.
Stoops retired last offseason. When you compare favorably to Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer, you've done more than your job. Stoops restored Oklahoma after the scandals that rocked the end of the Switzer era and through the mediocrity of Gary Gibbs, Howard Schellenberger, and John Blake.