The Sooners are so serious about their prospects for a big season that they turned down a chance to see the Rolling Stones. It's true. The Stones wanted to come through Norman in October and play at Owen Field, but the team would have had to give up use of its stadium and locker room for three days—just when it would be preparing for a showdown at Colorado. Coach Gary Gibbs put his foot down, and athletic director Donnie Duncan asked the Stones to come back another time.
The Sooners know they have their best team since the end of their 1980s dynasty. Whether they are better than Big Eight rivals Colorado and Nebraska, however, will depend on quarterback Garrick McGee, a junior college transfer who replaces Calc Gundy, who graduated.
McGee is renowned in Oklahoma, his home state, though he hasn't been there much lately. He spent two years at Arizona State, starting two games in '92 before being charged with theft and receiving a sentence of three years' probation. His grades plummeted, and he transferred to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, where he led the team to a 10-1 record last season and a No. 4 ranking among junior colleges. He earned a second chance at Division I-A in the classroom, too.
"I made a lot of mistakes," McGee says, "but I went to J.C. and did real well, and it's been a trampoline. Maybe what happened, happened for a reason. I think I'm ready."
McGee is not the only talented player in the Oklahoma backfield. Sophomore James Allen, nicknamed Lightning, is an acrobat of a back who rushed for 739 yards last season. Before he's done he'll be mentioned in the same breath as Steve Owens, Billy Sims and the other great Sooner backs of the past. Thunder is sophomore Jeff Frazier, who was Oklahoma's top tailback in the spring of 1993 before a knee injury put him out for the year.
With a schedule that begins at Syracuse on Sept. 3 and moves to Texas A&M, the Sooners will know right away how good they are. Then comes Colorado—"the decision point." Allen says—on Oct. 13. The Sooners probably won't be as good as Colorado and Nebraska this season. But with McGee, Allen and Frazier back next fall, they can say that time is on their side.